“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
A highlight of this crazy election is the division among conservative Evangelicals. As long as I’ve been a voting adult (beginning with Ford vs. Carter in 1976) we’ve tended to back the same man, but 2016 is nothing if not a year of contention. So today, supporters and opponents of the Republican candidate find themselves side by side in the pews; miles apart in the polls.
Granted, there are Evangelical Democrats favoring Hillary, some of whom I know, communicate with, and worship alongside while enjoying the occasional
I’ve no patience with people questioning the spirituality of someone on the other side of the aisle so I won’t go there, other than to insist “Devout Democrat” is absolutely not an oxymoron, and I’ve certainly known my share of
Still, we who are often labelled Religious Conservatives usually occupy the same page. But browse Facebook and note how heated things have become, not between Reds and Blues, but between the Pro and Anti-Trump believers.
Stating your take on the man can spark a high-octane dispute, but blogging affords a chance to explain your position on issues that matter. Since this issue unquestionably does, please let me explain where I’ve landed.
There are four general points I weigh when choosing who gets my vote:
1. The principles and policies the candidate promotes
2. The principles and policies of the party the candidate will elevate
3. The appointments the candidate will make, particular in the Supreme Court
4. The general trajectory the candidate will take the country if elected
Based on those four considerations, I’ve decided my vote and support will go to Trump. Let me take each of these four categories and explain why he’s my choice.
Principles and Policies of the Candidate
A candidate’s principles on questions of big versus limited government, American exceptionalism, immigration reform, national defense, taxes, and personal liberties, will guide her or his policies. Those two items – Principles and Policies – carry more weight with me than the temperament, character, or personality of
If I were choosing a Pastor, sound character, like sound doctrine, would be a non-negotiable. And if both candidates for the pulpit were of questionable character, I’d say “forget it” and find another church, because within the Body there’s no room for leadership which is not high in both character and competence.
But while I’d prefer any leader – City Councilman or Police Chief or Governor or President – to be godly, I won’t demand godliness in secular leadership. Nor will I even place it above policy, because ultimately, I believe the policies of the President have more lasting impact than her or his character. Mother Teresa was, after all, a woman of immeasurable character. I’m not at all sure she would been an effective Commander in Chief. It’s a President we’re electing this November, not
At this point quite a few sisters and brothers I respect probably just got off the bus. I get that, and I’ve heard from many close friends and associates that voting for a blustering, quick-tempered, multi-married hothead is akin to being in communion with the unrighteous.
But my concept of being in communion is more about the believers I interact with inside the Body, my own congregation especially, and less about the secular leaders I vote for in society.
Indeed, the most enthusiasm I ever felt at the ballot box was generated by Ronald Reagan, yet as a supporter I was also aware of his wife’s unrepentant practice of astrology. I loathed Nancy’s willingness to engage the occult, much as I loathed Mr. Reagan’s quiet acquiescence to it. But personal shortcomings, however blatant, couldn’t diminish my conviction that his governing principles and policies were in the best interest of the country.
As far as personality goes, I’d say Ms. Clinton presents herself in a far more mature, professional manner than Mr. Trump. I’ll also admit without malice that I don’t trust her, but I do find her general demeanor contained (if a little controlled) and she doesn’t make me wince the way Trump often does.
For that matter, when it comes to moral temperance, she may have a much cleaner bill of health than he, from all we do or don’t know. I give her that, but my objections to her governing policies outweigh her strengths.
To put it more plainly, my question to any candidate is more “How will you run the country?” and less “What sort of person are you?”
Principles and Policies of the Party
I am not just voting for an individual, but for a party platform as well. On that point, while not finding the Republican platform perfect by any means, I strongly prefer it to the alternative.
On the issues raised above – national defense, immigration reform, taxes, and personal liberties, I have far more confidence in my own party’s goals, even if the one representing the party would not have been my first choice. (Full disclosure – he wasn’t.)
On this point, as a believer, I have a growing fear of the open hostility which will surely be levelled towards the church under a Clinton Administration.
I don’t think that’s because of a personal animosity on Mrs. Clinton’s part, who identifies as a Christian and I’m not about to assume I could judge such a claim. If she says so, I accept it.
But her party is largely beholden to groups whose commitment to silencing the Christian influence is unyielding. The LGBT movement in particular, along with the more radicalized facets of the feminist movement, have already shown their hand brazenly around the world, and certainly in our own nation, as groups intolerant of opposing views and more than willing to punish individuals and institutions promoting values different than their own.
Especially the Church, a fact which can only be denied by ignoring countless incidents of lawsuits and sanctions, and both current and proposed legislation.
Some Christians are shrugging this off, suggesting that even if the Church in America should suffer censorship and limitations, it will only make for a purer church. Hardship refines Christians, no doubt, so the argument has some merit.
But it misses a larger point: If our ability to speak truth is crippled, we may indeed become better believers. But our potential hearers, now unable to receive a message which has been muted by endless statues and limitations, will be that much more lost. If we lose our voice, those who would benefit from it lose much more. Is there any virtue whatsoever in letting that happen?
The Early Church was birthed in an environment unfriendly to the faith, but the same cannot be said of the American church. It thrived for centuries in a nation celebrating religious freedom, and if modern believers, through poor decisions, timidity, or laziness, forfeit those freedoms, let’s not call it persecution. Let’s call it failure, one which we’ll answer for both to future generations and to the God
A President’s legacy lies largely in his appointments, and nowhere is that legacy more keenly felt, often for decades, than in the Supreme Court. That’s where more and more of America’s future is being decided, and on this point, I find it simple to support the candidate who I consider more likely to appoint non-activist justices who view the Constitution as an authority rather than a friendly guide.
Domestic issues in particular are less than ever in the hands of the voting public, and more than ever in the hands of unelected judges. Our liberties, then, will be secured or decimated by a select group with unbridled powers.
It matters less to me whether the group’s dominated by left or right leaning justices, and more whether it’s dominated by people who commit to interpreting laws rather than imposing or composing them. Trump’s choices in this matter would be, to my thinking, far safer.
I’m way past believing that any candidate will, if elected, fulfill all promises made. But while looking at specific “I Will Do Such and Such” commitments stated during a campaign, I also look at the general trajectory the candidate seems to be going and will, if empowered, take the rest of us.
That’s a bit vague, I know, but I still see it as crucial. So when considering the direction this person already moves, I ask myself:
-Is the Presidential aspirant someone who moves towards expanding government powers or reigning them in?
-Will she or he consider the protection of current Americans to take precedence over the benefits available to non-Americans wanting to enter the country?
-Is our safety important enough to this person that she or he will take an unmistakably aggressive posture towards any ideology, group, or nation threatening us?
-Does he or she believe in the fundamental greatness of America, or view us as good but not exceptional?
-Will expression of personal conscience and religious liberty thrive or wither under this person’s administration?
Answering these questions has helped me decide. If making this decision was difficult, tempting me to say, “None of the above” in November, it became more difficult for me to see any virtue in withholding my vote – and thus granting one to the candidate I don’t support – just because my party’s candidate doesn’t pass my own moral muster. Because while it’s true that I can leave my church if there’s no godly leadership available there, I cannot just pack and leave my country.
Someone is going to sit in the Oval Office, and it will only be one of two people. If I choose what some call the lessor of two evils, I am also choosing the better of two options. I see that as both reasonable and responsible, and I feel that throwing my chance to influence the future leadership of my country away out of distaste for the options available would be a poor stewarding of my responsibility to vote.
Let’s Say Grace after November
After this election, some of us will have to forgive some of us.
Trump critics, should he win, may be angry with those of us who supported him, feeling we introduced an unqualified blowhard into the highest office. Should he lose, those of us supporting him may be angry with fellow believers who, we may feel, helped plunge us over a cliff.
Either way, grace is certainly going to be called for.
But let’s not wait until November to show it. Disagreeing is fine, and as adults we should be able to do so without questioning each other’s integrity or sanity. I am persuaded to vote according to my conscience, as are you. And I promise I will assume you have made your choice carefully and prayerfully. Please assume the same of me, because I think you and I both deserve that courtesy.
So here we go. And as we go, God bless us. God bless His church. God bless, and have mercy on, America.