I’ve been trying of late not to post about politics – even though I’m a political junkie and the son of a political junkie (it’s really an addiction. I need help).
I’ve just been convicted about all the hate and vitriol I’ve been spitting out about candidates and people groups. It’s really not befitting of the loving Savior I claim to represent.
The Lord, through His patient Spirit and life-altering Word, has been changing my political perspective. And I just want to share what He’s been doing in my life. I don’t want this to come across as controversial or looking for debate. In fact, PLEASE don’t start a comments war over this. I’m specifically writing against such things.
I’m also going to try not to wade into my own opinions – although, as a sinner, I can’t be completely unbiased. I’m an opinionated person. In fact, my fiance gets onto me for being so critical – and she’s right (Did you read that, Carissa?). So in the spirit of truth, I just want to lay out a reminder – first to myself and then to all Christians – of what we must keep in mind in the midst of this crazy presidential election.
Sick of hearing blown-out-of-proportion perspectives? Sick of reading Christians reviling each other on social media? Sick of so much #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary that you think all Christians have become #NeverUnity? Here’s a helpful and refreshing dose of biblical truth to calm our weary souls.
1. All Christians MUST vote their conscience.
Wow. I can’t believe I just agreed with Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz – both of whom were some of my least favorite politicians at the beginning of this cycle. Now, I understand some people’s angst over this statement since it seems to encourage not voting for the Republican nominee. They raise good points. But in our quest for partisan unity, we cannot afford to deny biblical truth.
As Governor Mike Pence (a great guy, really) pointed out, “I’m a Christian. I’m a conservative. And I’m a Republican. In that order.” We’d be wise to follow that standard.
And as Christians, we must firmly believe in Romans 14 – an oft-neglected passage but one that speaks directly into this political firestorm. I encourage you to study this complicated passage (as well as parallel passages in 1 Corinthians 8). Don’t argue over who is the weaker and stronger brother – that misses the point. See Paul’s main argument: “We cannot cause our brothers to stumble.” What he means by that is not to cause our Christian brothers to sin against their consciences.
Our consciences can be wrong. They need education – as some in Corinth needed about meat offered to idols. But it’s not our job to yell at “weak” brothers and change their minds. Especially not on social media.
I don’t know what your conscience is telling you in this election. If voting for Hillary Clinton would go against your conscience because of her liberal policies, don’t vote for her. However, if voting for Donald Trump would go against your conscience because of many of his statements, then don’t vote for him. To vote for him when your conscience says no would be to sin. However, if NOT voting for Trump would be a sin against your conscience because it would help promote a liberal to the White House, then by all means vote for him.
Whatever you do, and however you vote, DON’T VOTE AGAINST YOUR CONSCIENCE. To do so would be to sin, even if your conscience is wrong. And at the same time, don’t encourage a fellow believer to vote against their conscience.
Some things are more important than an election.
For a better analysis of this passage and issue, see Andy Naselli’s brilliant article.
2. All Christians must refuse to hate people.
The whole “Love trumps hate” thing has been hijacked by the liberals (particularly as a slogan for Clinton) to be used to promote a “do-what-you-want” lifestyle that is pointedly anti-Bible. But the fact remains: the New Testament calls us to love more than anything else! And it’s at the core of our salvation – God loves all sinners.
In the midst of the craziness, let me state a fact: God loves the world (John 3:16).
Therefore, God loves Hillary Clinton. God also loves Donald Trump.
Jesus died for them both – and all their supporters, even the racist and abortion-loving ones. God wants to save them.
Therefore, things like chanting “Lock her up!” or “Hillary for prison” do not strike me as things Jesus would say. Similarly, calling Trump an “idiot” or even taunting his wife with cruel comments are things that are clearly anti-Christian. And I’ve been guilty of saying these sorts of things of both candidates! In fact, I even wrote a blog article a couple months ago apologizing for the choice words I’ve had against Trump. Unfortunately, since then, I have again gone back and committed sin by saying many more rude things.
Once again, Mr. Trump, I apologize. I pray God protects you, your wife, and children. I apologize to you as well, Secretary Clinton. I hope you and your family are spared from any attacks and that your new grandchildren can grow up in safety. May Christ draw both of you to Himself. I strive to pray for you both (hopefully not imprecatory prayers!).
Titus 3 is another good passage to read before Election Day. Verses 1-2 always convict me:
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
3. All Christians will not agree on who to vote for.
And that’s okay! The beauty of the church (as I wrote on my other blog) is that there can be differences in opinion and still unity. So that when the world looks at the church, they see amnesty supporters and Trump supporters working together to win souls. They see people not voting at all, people voting third party, and people voting for the Republican all worshiping the same God. IN UNITY.
We’ve got to admit – there are good Christians on every side of this presidential election. I even know good Christians voting for Hillary! A good friend of mine for whom I have the greatest respect could not vote for Romney in 2012 because he was a Mormon – and he voted for Obama! I don’t agree with him, but that’s okay. We don’t all have to agree to be united.
If we are all called to vote according to our conscience, we WILL be voting differently. No matter what we do, let’s keep in mind Romans 14:19:
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
4. All Christians should refrain from heated debates, particularly on social media.
If good Christians can disagree, if we are called not to hate people, if we are called to vote our conscience, then getting into a comments war with a fellow believer – for all the unsaved world to see – doesn’t strike me as wise or edifying.
In fact, I’d like to give you a challenge that I plan to do from now till Election Day:
DON’T POST ABOUT THE ELECTION AT ALL.
Is that so hard? Is it really worth posting your #NeverTrump view if you know good and well it will only lead to arguments with people in your church? Is it really worth posting something about the foolishness of third-party-voting when you know your brother in Christ is going to do that?
I’m trying to take a fast from posting about the presidential race – hopefully until November. Now, I’ve retweeted some things. I’ve liked some things. But I’m trying not to make my position abundantly clear. I don’t want people to look at me differently because I’m voting a certain way. I want to be able to shake the hand of my Christian friends at church and not have to think, “Oh, he’s not voting how I am.” It’d be better to just not know at all.
And social media is never really a good place to debate anyway. If you want to have a peaceful discussion, recognizing that good Christians can differ, do so in person or at least over private message.
Maybe it’s time for us to delete some posts. I know I had to go back through my Twitter and delete a bunch. I finally gave up when I realized I’d have to delete my entire feed (so please don’t go back and read my tweets from awhile ago).
If Paul said he wouldn’t eat meat because it might cause his brother to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13, Rom. 14:21), then I’m not going to post about an issue if all it’s going to do is stir up disunity in the body of Christ. In fact, I plan to recant from an earlier position and not put out any endorsement at all this election cycle – at least on public social media. I’d recommend the same for all Christians. I think you can vote for Trump or not and have a clear conscience. But maybe it’d be best for our unity and for our Christian witness if we didn’t tell everyone one way or another.
Some things are best left unsaid.
(NOTE: I do plan to share my views on my political podcast. However, unlike previous episodes, I’m going to strive to do it in a more loving and balanced way.)
I think another passage is good to read this election cycle – er, actually a whole book! 1 Peter was written to Christians living in a turbulent time – worse than even what we’re facing! And Peter, throughout the letter, encouraged the Christians to be careful how they act before a watching (and oftentimes hateful) world.
So I’d like to end with God’s words, not mine. Words we should read over and over until November. 1 Peter 2:12-17:
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.“