To say that this election season has been one wild ride is putting it mildly. It has been insane. It’s been a roller coaster ride that folks will not soon be forgetting. Part of what has made this election season so different has been the candidates presented to us as voters, and the people who are finding themselves supporting those candidates.
At this point in the game, the RNC has a presumptive nominee in Donald Trump. And in light of this presumptive nominee many people have made the proclamation of #NeverTrump as well as #NeverHillary (meaning they will vote for whoever the RNC person is…merely to keep Hillary out of the office of President).
The #NeverTrump crowd and the #NeverHillary crowd have now run into quite a philosophical quagmire.
The #NeverTrump crowd is voting (or not voting) based on principle (be it biblical or personal) while the #NeverHillary crowd is voting based on pragmatism.
The #NeverTrump crowd says, “We will never vote for Trump because he is the complete opposite of what I value, and I will not compromise my values in order to simply beat a Democrat out of the office for president.”
The #NeverHIllary crowd says, “We have values, in fact, we don’t even like Trump and agree that he doesn’t reflect our values, but if it means preventing another Clinton presidency, then we will do whatever is necessary to ensure she never sees the inside of the White House again.”
But which side is right? Principle? or Pragmatism? Are both right? Are both wrong?
In order to gain some clarity on this very pressing issue, especially as a Christian, we should use scripture as our baseline foundation (period) for understanding what the best approach to this year’s election should be.
So here we go…
To the #NeverTrump crowd…arguments have been presented to me that we can’t really use the bible to understand how we should operate in a democratic voting context because in the context of the bible, voting for government officials was not really a thing.
There is a partial truth here…the Bible doesn’t speak directly to voting in the context of a democratic voting process of government. It does, however, absolutely provide a TON of meat concerning what we as Christians should look for in a leader.
“Where’s your evidence?” – some #NeverHillary folks may ask.
How about Exodus 18 (Jethro’s advice to Moses concerning governing officials for Israel)?
“That’s the Old Testament. We are New Testament believers.” – some may say.
Yes, but the Old Testament wasn’t voided out simply because Jesus changed the repercussion of breaking the law. It still applies. But if one is insistent on finding New Testament evidence for choosing a leader…how about 1 Timothy 3, the qualifications of an elder?
“But Paul was talking about elders in the bible and their relation to the leadership of the church.” – some may also say.
Correct, but let’s examine the word elder in that passage for a moment.
The word used there is “overseership“…and it means:
“visitation (of judgment), oversight, supervision, overseership”
So, while Paul was indeed applying this directly to leaders in the church, the word itself is reflective of anyone providing oversight and supervision of something. And, in the case of civil government, a visitation of judgment (see Romans 13).
Does our civil government not provide supervision and oversight of our safety and well-being as citizens of the United States? Does the President not provide supervision and oversight of the Executive Branch of federal government? Is the government not responsible for visiting judgment on those who break the law?
If the answer is “Yes” to either of (or all of) the above questions, then, believe it or not, I think we can rightly come to the conclusion that the bible provides a sound application for Christians regarding the “overseership” found in the office of President.
There are certainly more passages in scripture that cover the qualifications of a leader. These are merely 2 examples (1 from the Old Testament, and 1 from the New Testament), that I feel speak pretty clearly to what we should look for in a leader…no matter the sphere they are leading in (church government or civil government).
Now, from the pragmatic side of the argument (the #NeverHillary crowd)…I understand what you’re saying. I really do. Hillary is definitely bad for this country. Her policies and platforms are disastrous for marriage, the unborn, religious freedom, and the economic situation in our nation. I too do not want her anywhere close to the White House or given more power than she has already accumulated for herself.
However, I have to ask the question, based on the evidence we’ve seen in Donald Trump’s life and behavior (which is very public, so one does not have to look hard to find it) and even throughout his campaign, can we rightly assume that he would actually be better than Hillary as president?
I personally answer that question with a firm no. In fact, I would support my no response with evidence found in just the 3 or 4 days following his “presumptive nomination” where he very literally flopped on 4 major campaign promises and went totally the way that Hillary would go. That’s just in days of being named “presumptive nominee”.
After examining both sides of this argument, I have to say that I have come to this conclusion concerning principle versus pragmatism from a biblical worldview, and that is:
Obedience to the Word of God in choosing a leader does not trump pragmatism in the booth in an attempt to keep the reigns of the nation out of the hands of one tyrant by giving it to another tyrant.
I’ll close with this final thought:
God is indeed a sovereign God who is in complete control of everything including politics. He may very well choose to raise up a Trump and yes…even a Hillary for this hour in order to accomplish His purposes on this earth.
However, simply because He MAY choose to raise either of those tyrants (or even another) up to the office of president, it does not in any way, shape, or form, negate or nullify our need for obedience to His word.
God’s word is clear on what our responsibility is in seeking to raise up leadership and it is clear on what we should look for in those leaders, and we are commanded to be obedient to His statutes as our King…nothing less. Jesus himself said in John 14:15 NKJV,
If you love me, keep my commandments.
If we as Christians are engaging in anything other than obedience to God’s word and then leaning on His sovereignty as some form of a support structure for our disobedience, then we are not only cheapening His sovereignty (and grace), but we are also engaging in sin.
As Christians, we shouldn’t just push a button in the voting booth in an attempt at being pragmatic and beating a Democrat and then leaning on His sovereignty and grace to cushion our disobedience. Instead, we should first be faithful to His commands and THEN lean on His sovereignty and grace for the ultimate outcome.
In the words of John Quincy Adams:
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.