Christians got Trumped!
Sadly, we’re still being Trumped! Hopefully more and more of us will come around to what this means, and what course we should take this point forward.
I don’t normally write about politics, but this is important and it does directly relate to who we are as followers of Christ and what our mission is in the world. This article is about Christians role in politics and the trouble we find ourselves in right now because of the alliance that is seen between President Trump and the evangelical community.
It’s difficult to say how many Christians stayed home during the 2016 presidential primaries. It’s also difficult to say how many Christians voted for Donald Trump instead of one of the more principled conservative candidates, namely: Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz. Not only do they stand on the issues where we want them to (in general), but they each profess Christ as Lord and Savior. Even if most Christians had voted for one of these candidates, we can’t say for certain that it would have been enough to push him or her past Donald Trump. Therefore, I’m not able to address the impact Christians had or didn’t have during the primaries.
What is certain is that Christians came out in strong support of Trump in the general election. However, I don’t believe it was so much a vote for Trump as it was a vote against Hillary Clinton. I know that is how it was with me. Leading the way in our support of Donald Trump was a large coalition of Christian leaders, such as Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Jack Graham, and Jerry Falwell Jr.—even meeting with Donald Trump to pray over him. So vocal and so visible was, and is, the support of Trump by the Christian community, that we’re now closely associated with him. That is a real problem for us as it applies to our mission in the world.
Having worked through this difficult process myself over the years, I believe that few Christians understand our role in the political realm. I believe this lack of understanding is because of the failure to recognize our place in Christ’s kingdom and what our mission is in the world. As those who have placed our faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, we belong to His kingdom. At the moment of conversion, we’re transferred into the spiritual Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13). We no longer belong to the kingdom of darkness. We belong to the kingdom of light, where Jesus rules over us as our King. As such, we as God’s people, we as the Church, have a higher calling, a greater mission in the world than what we had before we came to faith in Christ. We have a new Master and a new purpose.
What is our mission? What is our purpose? In general, it’s to advance Christ’s kingdom. Specifically, it’s to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20); it’s to proclaim the truth (Jn 1:17; 14:6; 2 Cor 13:8; 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25); it’s to proclaim the Christian message; it’s to take a stand for righteousness against that which is unrighteous, exposing “the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph 5:11). We’re to do all things with eternity in view. In that process, we’re called to work together and to support one another, for each of us are members of the body of Christ, which is His Church (1 Cor 12:13,27; Eph 5:23,29-30; Col 1:18,24; 2:19).
Everything we do in life is to be for Christ and for His glory. Everything we do is to be for the sake of one another as fellow believers and for the sake of reaching the lost. We’re in the world, but not of the world. We’re in the world to live as citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, as members of His Church, not as citizens of the world. When we focus on the world and its values and goals, we lose sight of where we truly belong and what our responsibilities are as servants of our King.
Do you notice who’s missing from the aforementioned list of candidates? Of course that would be Donald Trump. He’s not in the same mold as those other candidates. Far from it. He’s neither a Christian nor is he in the same mold of honor and dignity as they. Trump was not worthy to share the same platform with them. While no candidate is without flaws in their character and life—and the above candidates are no exception (many of whom I can no longer support because of their unconditional loyalty to Trump)—he didn’t deserve the same respect as those others. Personally, Trump was never on my radar. He was at the very bottom of my list, along with Chris Christie. I knew he was undeserving to serve as President of the United States. I never would have voted for him in the primaries.
I was very much encouraged about the primaries. I felt that we finally had a good group of candidates to choose from, and I was excited about who may end up as our Republican nominee. But when the primaries were over, I was in a state of shock that we were left with two of the most despicable and unworthy candidates imaginable. That, of course, would be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I couldn’t believe that out of all those respectable candidates on the Republican side, we were left with Donald Trump! What’s even more startling are the evident number of Christians who supported Hillary Clinton! While I would never vote for a Democrat anyway (mainly because of their support of abortion, but also I think the Democratic Party has become, to some degree, anti-Christian), Clinton is perhaps among the worst of the worst. However, in character there’s no real difference between her and Trump—mostly a difference in policies.
So here we are, as those who represent the Lord Jesus Christ, are also being identified with President Trump. Much of this perceived association with Trump in the eyes of the public is sadly, justified, for many Christians still support him—as evidenced by polls and social media. Talk about a conflict!
As I’ve been discussing, we as servants of Christ the King, it’s our duty to further His kingdom and His message and His plan for the world. Furthering His kingdom means to uphold truth and righteousness, to uphold that which is good and decent and honorable, and to give our support to people who follow the same King and who share the same values and mission as we do…..assuming they’re otherwise qualified for the office they’re running for. This includes those we give our votes to, whether it be for President, Congressman, Senator, Governor or Mayor, etc. If we have a choice between voting for someone who shares our mission or for someone who doesn’t, I believe we have a duty to vote for the person who is devoted to carrying out the will of our mutual King. We have little in common with those who are not guided by the same mandate or principles. Those who follow Jesus will lead in a much different way than those who don’t.
Christians may respond, “but if we vote for a Christian with a strong Christian/conservative message, they won’t get elected. That’s not our concern. Our concern is to vote for someone whom we believe will put Christ and His will first, someone whom we believe will walk in the wisdom He provides — then leave the results to God. If there are no candidates who profess Christ, then we should at least vote for people whom we believe are decent and honorable and guided by core principles that we can support.
If we all do the right thing and vote for honorable and principled candidates, then we have a good chance of seeing someone like that in office. But if we all assume that few others will vote for them and have no chance of winning, and then cast our vote for someone who is polling high – but with less honorable character and reputation – then we may never see the most deserving people in office. It begins with each of us individually. We’re not to be concerned about how others vote. We’re to do the honorable thing and vote for those who are honorable, especially if they profess Christ as their Lord and Savior. We’re to leave the outcome in God’s hands. We’re not to live in fear of what might happen if the “greater of two evils” gets into office. We’re also not to support the “lesser of two evils,” because we’re not to support evil at all.
As in the case of Donald Trump, he does not follow our King. He’s without a moral compass and without core principles to guide him. He lacks the type of character and dignity that is required of his office. And since he’s not even aware of such character, it’s not present to guide his life. Instead, what we see is a man who has no humility, is a habitual liar, is morally corrupt, is an egomaniac, lacks integrity, is unkind, mean, says and tweets terrible things about people, is vindictive to the extreme, has no sense of honor or dignity. He never admits that he was wrong or made a mistake, but instead always puts the blame elsewhere—by his own admission, he sees no need to ask God for forgiveness of sins. Truly, we’ve never seen anyone quite like him.
I want to add that I believe President Trump is a racist. I realize most of his supporters don’t see him that way, but I think there is plenty evidence for it. What’s most important to us as representatives of Christ is that most people do view Trump as a racist. Since it’s mostly the white evangelical community that is so closely associated with him, many view Christians the same way. This is very damaging to our testimony for Christ. It hinders the work of the Lord. It closes doors. We should never align ourselves with a racist, or even someone who is generally perceived as a racist. That’s not who we are in Christ, and we should avoid all appearances of being racist, and that applies to who we associate ourselves with.
Yet, this is the man that so many of us Christians voted for in the general election! You may respond, “it was either him or Clinton.” I understand. Even though we were aware of Trump’s character, we believed that on the issues, he was more in line with where we stand. However, in truth, we didn’t quite know the extent of what we were getting. A “President Trump” was still a question mark at the time. But we did know what we were getting with Hillary Clinton, and so we figured just about anyone would be better than her.
Consequently, since we as Christians came out so strongly in support of Trump, I believe it has hurt our testimony and has hindered our mission as ambassadors of Christ. But you may ask, “what else could we have done?”
Again, we’re not to support the “lesser of two evils.” We have a responsibility to support honorable and deserving candidates, even if it looks like they have no chance of winning. We’re required to do the right thing no matter what—which may require us to write-in someone. Therefore, we could have and should have written-in a candidate whom we believed was worthy of the office, or no one at all. True, we may have ended up with Hillary Clinton, but at least our testimony wouldn’t have taken such a major hit—and nothing is more important than our testimony for Christ. Much of the contempt that people have for Christians right now is because of our association with Trump. Because of the type of person he is, we’re now viewed much the same way by many. This impedes our mission in the world.
I can’t stress this enough: as followers of Christ and as His representatives, we have a responsibility to cast our votes for people who are of honorable character and lifestyle, and who have a record of consistency on the issues that we have a deep concern for. But what did we do? Rather than voting for someone of noble character, who would be led by Christian principles, who would depend upon the Lord for wisdom and guidance, Donald Trump got many of our votes! In the primaries, a vote for Trump was inexcusable; a vote for Trump in the general election was a vote for the “lesser of two evils.” Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no honor in doing that. What would have been honorable, would have been to vote for someone we truly believed in, whom we could genuinely support. Or perhaps, not voted at all. If we don’t cling to our Christian principles, we will be tossed around like the waves of the sea, given to situational ethics.
Therefore, I believe a write-in for a worthy candidate, or a no-vote would have been the right thing to do…..even if it meant the election of someone we don’t approve of, or a party we don’t believe in. No one is more patriotic than me, but we should never put country ahead of Christ’s Kingdom and the mission that He has tasked us with. Because of our support of Donald Trump and our sad association with him, I believe we’re experiencing a significant setback in our effectiveness as His witnesses. I see evidence of this often on social media.
Let’s be clear about what kind of person Donald Trump is. First, he seems to have one general guiding principle: self-gain. He seems to have one guiding principle as it relates to people: the principle of reciprocation. It doesn’t matter what you believe or what your position is or what you stand for, if you speak well of him, he’ll speak well of you; if you support him, he’ll support you; if you treat him well, he’ll treat you well. That is how he’s wired. He has shown this to be true routinely from the very beginning of his political journey. He sings wonderful praises about those who sing wonderful praises about him. However, if you decide not to support him anymore, he strikes back. Suddenly he regards you as “a bad person.” Shortly before, you were his friend and ally, now you’re his enemy. Trump demands loyalty. If you’re not all in for him, then you’ll pay a price for it. This is not the type of person we should be giving our support to.
Christians may respond, “but President Trump is pro-life, appoints conservatives to the Supreme Court, supports a strong military, unemployment is down, economy is better, he’s tried to keep his campaign promises, and is a friend to Christians.” These things may or may not be true. However, as I’ve pointed out, these are not the things that are most important. We have to look at the big picture. We have to recognize the overall plan of God and what our responsibilities are as the Church and as individual followers of Christ. Gaining a president and a party that aligns with our values is always desirable, but not at the expense of opportunities for the message of Christ. If a political win closes doors to share Christ and the Christian message, then we’ve lost where it matters most.
In the primaries, we knew about Trump’s character, or rather, the lack thereof. We knew what type of person he was…..although not to the extent that we do now. We knew his history. We watched him and listened to the things he said in the debates and on the campaign trail—particularly the horrible things he said about other people. We knew Donald Trump was and is a deeply flawed person. He epitomizes narcissism. He belittles people with regularity. Because of a lack of honor and dignity, because of his crude and unruly tongue and bombastic personality, he has severely divided our country. We’ve always had divisions in our country, but not since the 60’s have we seen it as severe as we’re seeing it now. As it relates to the Christian influence, it’s not what it was pre-Trump.
I think it’s true that Obama did a lot to set race relations back in our country. However, we’re seeing a type of division and outrage among Americans that we’ve never seen before under President Trump. If Trump carried himself with dignity, spoke the truth, was kind, gracious to those who oppose him, spoke well of others and non-vindictive, I do not believe we would be witnessing the extreme response from people that we’re witnessing today. If we had a principled and respectable person leading our country (like Ronald Reagan), who was likable, gracious, kind toward others (even his enemies), treated the press with respect, didn’t tweet the type of outrageous stuff that Trump does, I believe it would have created an entirely different response from not only Americans in general, but also from the liberal media. Differences would remain, but I truly believe there would be a reciprocal respect…..and a certain level of peace in our country that we lack now. I don’t believe we would be seeing the level of outrage that we’re presently seeing.
Most importantly, our testimony and influence as ambassadors of Christ would not have taken the nose-dive that we’re seeing today. The association of the Christian community with Donald Trump is nothing we should desire or be proud of. We made a grave mistake. Only the Lord knows the full extent of damage that has been done to our witness. Only the Lord knows the true loss of our influence in our country. But we can be sure that the opportunities to carry out our mission have diminished. All you have to do is read the negative and angry comments on social media about the support Christians have given to Trump, to know that it’s true—calling us hypocrites, or worse. This perception is not without warrant. We’ve given them plenty of reason to view the Christian community in such a negative way. There never should have been such community-wide acceptance of such a man as Donald Trump. We’re now paying a price for it.
We sacrificed much of our positive testimony for the sake of what we thought to be best for America. We got our values mixed up and identified ourselves with the wrong person. We chose to be Martha when we should have been Mary (Luke 10:38-42). We were concerned about worldly matters when we should have been concerned for the things that pertain to Christ. By choosing to associate ourselves with such a man as Donald Trump, we risked marring our testimony for Christ. I think we lost big time. We’re never to do anything that could damage our testimony as followers of Christ. He is the One we represent.
Evangelical Christians are now so closely tied with Trump, that the name of Christ is being associated with that same person. Who we actually represent is not as clear as it used to be. This is what happens when we don’t cling solely to Christ, and instead choose to identify with someone of such deplorable character. It affects public perception. It confuses what we actually believe and stand for in their eyes. What we stand for and who we actually represent as followers of Christ, should never be blurred or in doubt by anyone. If we stick to our Christ-ordained mission and make wise decisions, who we are and who we represent will never be in doubt. We’re to be a light in the world, but our association with Trump has dimmed that light. Jesus is the light of the world, and for our light to shine brightly, we must remain in His light.
However, since Christians chose unwisely, I believe anti-Christian sentiment has increased. It’s an honor when it occurs because of our faithfulness to Christ, but it’s a disgrace when we bring it upon ourselves because of worldly values. We’re called to serve Christ and further His message. But because we failed to understand how it applies politically, because we failed to recognize our responsibility to choose wisely within the context of our mission in the world, we’ve now frustrated that mission. Some may think that I’m blowing this way out of proportion. If you really believe that, then I don’t think you’ve been paying close enough attention to what’s going on.
What do we do to fix this moving forward? How do we restore our good name? First of all, I believe that so much damage has been done, it will likely take many years to restore our testimony. It’s like our own personal life—it takes years to build a good name as a witness for Christ, but only one moment of sin to destroy it. It’s only been less than three years since Trump became our president, and I think this situation will only get worse if we don’t make a united effort to speak out and hold Trump accountable. With one voice we must condemn his atrocious behavior and mean-spirited rhetoric, and emphasize the need for him to carry out his office with dignity and honor.
This really begins with Christian leaders, because many of them are the ones who led us into this, and they need to be the ones to lead us out. I believe they need to rethink their politics in light of the overall teaching of the New Testament, and lead with the primary mission of the Church in view. But regardless of what they do, we have a personal responsibility to do the right thing before the Lord. Individually, we need to reject personal approval of Donald Trump—and the people around us need to know it, especially unbelievers. We must make it clear that who Trump is, is not who we are. People need to know that we now realize that we made a mistake and that we reject any approval of him now. Admitting failure is humility, and people always respect that.
Many Christians continue to make excuses for Trump and continue to support him no matter what he says or does. This has to stop. President Trump must be held accountable for his harsh words and shameful behavior. Again, this really begins with Christian leaders, especially the ones who came out so public and so vocal about their support of him. But no matter how they lead, we as individual Christians are accountable to the Lord to do the right thing. President Trump would likely turn against Christians—as is his natural reaction—but so be it. We’re not here to please Trump, we’re here to please Jesus, our true leader. We’re not to live in fear of consequences. Rather, we’re to entrust our lives and our country to God, who is sovereign over all things.
Let us denounce Donald Trump. Let us move on in faithfulness in carrying out the mission that Jesus has commissioned us with. Let us also pray for Donald Trump, that God would do a work in his heart and life in drawing him to Jesus. As we get closer to the next election, let us pray that God would raise up a man or woman of God who will lead our nation in faithful service to Christ and according to the U.S. Constitution—or at least someone who is principled and decent, a person of honor and integrity. Character matters. It always has. When it comes to candidates, we used to understand that. There was a time when we wouldn’t have given Trump any consideration whatsoever. Let us again make character a top priority.
Final thoughts: As previously mentioned, I would never even consider the Democratic Party. However, I have real concerns about the Republican Party too. It’s become the Trump Party. President Trump is having a very negative influence on the party as a whole, with so many in Congress and Governors supporting him. It has a very cultish feel about it. Trump actually resembles a cult leader in his style and has created a cultish atmosphere. So many of his supporters demonstrate a type of blind loyalty to him that typically characterizes the cult leader/follower relationship. As servants of Christ, we cannot be a part of that.
If we only vote for the “lesser of two evils,” or if we only vote for those whom we believe have a chance of winning, nothing will ever change. If we only vote the way we think most others will vote, we’ll never see the most deserving candidates get elected. Change begins with us. Why should we be the ones to fall in line the others? Why not require the others to fall in line with us? Why should they take the lead? Why should we not take the lead? We must be guided by noble (biblical) principles, and not allow ourselves to be pressured into compromising them. We cannot worry about what others do. We personally must be faithful to do the right thing. If we as Christians all make that decision, who knows what the outcome will be? Let us be true to our calling, and leave the results in God’s sovereign hands.
Personally, I can no longer support the Republican Party, as it is. I now identify as an Independent. Hopefully, the Republican Party will turn around someday. Meanwhile, I’ll do what I believe I’m required to do, with Christ’s mission in view. I certainly won’t be voting for Donald Trump in the next general election, as I shamefully and regrettably did before in 2016.
I’ll not be Trumped again.