Dear Christians: We Can't Change Our Beliefs For the Sake of Our Politics. It Doesn't Work That Way.
If you haven’t been following the latest Trump and Hillary drama, tracking the poll numbers or listening to the campaign speeches, I applaud you. Obviously you have a more exciting life than I do. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for mental punishment and emotional anguish. I don’t know. Either way, there’s certainly no denying that this entire election season has been utterly ridiculous and nauseatingly stupid. I wish I could be more positive. I really do. But think about it: In just a few days, America will elect a lifelong liberal-progressive-egomaniacal-incompetent-reality-TV-star-billionaire-turned-Republican or a lawless-tyrannical-ultra-leftwing-feminist criminal. If you can find some positive vibes anywhere in that scenario, by all means, let me know. For God’s sake, the FBI has even reopened the investigation into Hillary’s e-mails and she’s on the path to winning the White House.
Anyway, I came across some interesting data a couple of days ago. It discusses the challenge many voters in the so-called conservative “evangelical” demographic have had in deciding whether or not to vote for Donald Trump. This isn’t surprising. After all, the man is a moral train wreck with a history of bragging about his adultery and other sexual sins (and then apologizing for them only when he’s running for office and asking for your vote.) He’s made millions from building strip clubs and casinos, scammed people through dubious ventures like Trump University, mocked the mentally disabled, insulted war veterans and referred to women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” It’s hard to call yourself a Christian and pull the lever for a guy like that, unless you do it under the lesser of two evils argument or the separation of faith and politics viewpoint.
In short, the research shows that over the last five years, many evangelicals — those in the Catholic and Protestant denominations, among others — have gone from placing a high importance on a candidate’s personal morality to placing almost no importance on it. In fact, 44 percent said that a candidate who had committed immoral acts in their personal life could still be ethical and effective in their political life. That number has now risen to 61 percent within the last year. Also, as the article notes, evangelical Protestant Christians “went from being the least accepting to being the most accepting” of private immorality — even more accepting than Democratic and unchurched voters.
Now, before my inbox is flooded with hate mail from all the thin-skinned Trumplings out there (more than the usual), let me be clear: No, I’m not saying The Donald is wholly to blame for such a dramatic shift over the last year, although it’s clear that he’s at least played a part in it. I think the truth is actually more alarming than that. The real issue here is that so many Christians have changed their minds about morality and Biblical principles altogether. That’s a problem, because unlike Hillary’s e-mails or Donald’s net worth, The Word of God is unchanging, accurate and eternal. It’s always right and always true — no matter who’s running for president or how we feel about our candidate. As American Christians, we would do well to remember this when it comes time to elect the next Leader of the Free World.
If we choose to vote, we should realize that we have a grave responsibility to vote in accordance with the tenets of our faith and the teachings of Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthian Church, the Apostle Paul commands us to do everything that we do “to the glory of God.” I’d say that how we vote and who we vote for ought to fall under that directive. Sometimes that might mean going against the flow. It might mean voting for a third party candidate. (Yes, even if they won’t win, third party candidates can still fuel movements for future elections.) It might mean opting for a write-in. It might mean not voting at all. (Remember, even Jesus Himself was silent when faced with the absurdity of two impossible choices within a government judicial context.)
If the two leading candidates from both major parties are so morally and ideologically disqualified by Biblical standards (and they obviously are), then how can we — in good conscience and in keeping with our Christian faith — put our names on either one of them? Sure, we can say things like, “Well, it’s all about the lesser of two evils.” or “I’m just focusing on the Supreme Court, not the president.” or “We’re not electing a pastor-in-chief here.” But, the fact remains: As Christ-followers, our actions matter. When faced with two blatantly immoral options, we simply can’t rationalize voting for one immorality over the other just because we see the alternative as worse. The Bible is clear that we won’t only suffer consequences from sins in our own personal lives, but also when we “give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32) Granted, there will never be a perfect candidate because every human being is flawed and has "fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) But, to use that as an excuse to intentionally support such brazen and obvious evil is simply not an option for a Christian.
Even more dangerous, though, would be to change what we believe — what we know to be true based on God’s Word — merely for the sake of politics. So, for any Christians who might be unclear on Biblical morality, here’s just a handful of relevant passages:
And He [Jesus] was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” -- Mark 7:20-23
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” — 1 Corinthians 6:18
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly in darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of the Light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them…” — Ephesians 5:6-11
Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” — 1 Corinthians 15:33
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” — 1 Peter 1:14-16
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word.” — Psalm 119:9
Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have..." — Hebrews 13:5
One of our presidential frontrunners has lived a life of obscene sexual immorality, adultery, infidelity, crass behavior, financial and corporate corruption, greed and shameless dishonesty. The other has committed governmental crimes, jeopardized national security, lied repeatedly, contributed to the deaths of innocent Americans, defended partial-birth abortion and praised gay marriage. Trump says Hillary is worse. Hillary says Trump is worse. As Christians, we’re left wondering how we could possibly justify electing either and then look God in the eye and explain our decision with a straight face.
If you subscribe to the notion that our faith shouldn’t have any major influence on our political views, then none of this really matters and you can vote however you want on November 8. But, if you’re onboard with Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 10, then you’ll have to vote in such a way that brings glory to God. For starters, this will mean following His Word and maintaining your Biblical principles and values in spite of whichever candidate you admire.
Everything contained within the passages I listed above is true. It’s always been true and will always be true. Sexual immorality is still sexual immorality even while Donald Trump is running for president with an “R” behind his name. Greed is still greed. Fraud is still fraud. Lies are still lies. Corruption is still corruption. God has not temporarily suspended the Scriptural truths about sin for this election season so that you could vote for the Republican nominee with a "clear conscience." You might not like that. You might struggle with what the Bible says about morality, sexual purity and righteous living. You might find it unfair. But, that doesn’t make it any less true or any less of a command for our lives. We’re instructed by God to accept all of His teachings, not just the ones we find comfortable or convenient in the moment.
So, I would ask the Christian Trump supporters in this polling data, and many Christians in the evangelical demographic in general: What’s happened over the last couple of years to suddenly change the Biblical definitions of morality and sin? What truths have you discovered that allow us to brush things like sexual immorality off to the side? What makes us think we know better than God Almighty Himself?
Regardless of how you’ll vote in a few days — Trump, third party, write-in or not at all — don’t comprise or change your Biblical principles, values and beliefs in the process. If you feel that you must pull the lever for Trump, then by all means, do it. But, you can’t do it in the name of Christianity or under some false assertion that he’s the “moral option.”
I'm not saying the president has to be morally perfect. (That's impossible, anyway.) I’m not even saying he has to be a Christian. But, I am saying that, as believers, we have to ask ourselves if we can really throw our support behind someone whose actions are so at odds with the tenets of our faith.
If you’re a Christian, morality is not relative — even in the voting booth.
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