Election 2016: God has final vote

Conservative Christians will be facing a difficult choice on November 8. Past elections have been simplistically framed as “liberal abortion and same-sex marriage advocate” vs. “conservative pro-life and traditional family champion.”

This year the Democratic candidate checks all the liberal abortion and same-sex marriage advocate boxes. However, the Republican candidate has bragged in books about how many women he has slept with, he divorced his first wife after fathering a child with his second wife, then divorced her for a former model who posed naked. In the past he has been very pro-abortion, and there’s his ownership of casinos and strip clubs.

Conservative Christians are divided in how to respond to Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

According to the Pew Research Center three in four are voting Republican, not for Trump, but against Democratic Hillary Clinton.

Sixty percent of the National Association of Evangelicals board members said that Christians should vote for the candidate they dislike the least, while 28 percent said to vote for a third-party candidate and 12 percent said to not vote for that particular office. And that is where the lines are being drawn.

“Trump is God’s man for America”

Jerry Falwell, Jr, son of “The Moral Majority” founder, invited “The Donald” to speak at Liberty University, where Junior succeeds his father as president. Then, before the Iowa caucuses, he endorsed Trump calling him “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”

In response to the backlash, Falwell wrote, “It is sad to see Christians attacking other Christians because they don’t support the same candidate or the candidate who they believe is the most righteous. God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer.”

James Dobson, founder of the conservative Focus on the Family organization, announced on his new Family Talk radio program, “I am endorsing Donald J. Trump not only because of my apprehensions about Hillary Clinton and the damage she would inflict on this great country, I am also supporting Mr. Trump because I believe he is the most capable candidate to lead the United States of America in this complicated hour.”

“Never Trump”

Then there are those who quote famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon: “Of two evils, choose none.”

Best-selling Christian author, Max Lucado, wrote a blog titled, “Decency for President,” which immediately went viral. In it, he wrote Trump wouldn’t pass the “decency interview” he requires for his three daughters’ dates.

      I don’t endorse candidates or place bumper stickers on my car. But I am protective of the Christian faith. If a public personality calls on Christ one day and calls someone a “bimbo” the next, is something not awry? And to do so, not once, but repeatedly? Unrepentantly? Unapologetically? Can we not expect a tone that would set a good example for our children? We stand against bullying in schools. Shouldn’t we do the same in presidential politics?

The popular Christian news site, TheChristianPost, for the first time in its history took an official stand on a political candidate:

      Trump is a misogynist and philanderer. He demeans women and minorities. His preferred forms of communication are insults, obscenities and untruths. While Christians have been guilty of all of these, we, unlike Trump, acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness and seek restitution with the aid of the Holy Spirit and our community of believers.

      Trump has been surrounded by controversy for decades because of his untruthfulness, questionable business practices, reported association with organized crime, and abrupt changes in fundamental positions. Many of these controversies involve defrauding the working class and decisions that compromised American workers. He has taken a political position both pro and con on virtually every subject and major political party. This should give evangelicals great pause and concern about supporting such a mercurial and chameleon-like candidate. Past performance is the best predictor of future behavior.

Meanwhile, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has been one of Trump’s most critical and consistent opponents. He told the Christian Post, “I will be writing in a candidate this year.” He delineated his reasons in a lengthy op/ed in The New York Times:

      Donald J. Trump stands astride the polls in the Republican presidential race, beating all comers in virtually every demographic of the primary electorate. Most illogical is his support from evangelicals and other social conservatives. To back Mr. Trump, these voters must repudiate everything they believe.

      He is, after all, a casino and real estate mogul who has built his career off gambling, a moral vice and an economic swindle that oppresses the poorest and most desperate. When Mr. Trump’s casinos fail, he can simply file bankruptcy and move on. The lives and families destroyed by the casino industry cannot move on so easily.

      He’s defended, up until very recent years, abortion, and speaks even now of the “good things” done by Planned Parenthood. In a time when racial tensions run high across the country, Mr. Trump incites division, with slurs against Hispanic immigrants and with protectionist jargon that preys on turning economic insecurity into ugly “us versus them” identity politics. When evangelicals should be leading the way on racial reconciliation, as the Bible tells us to, are we really ready to trade unity with our black and brown brothers and sisters for this angry politician?

“Vote the lesser of two evils”

Franklin Graham, like his famous father, Billy, has avoided making any political endorsements. Before Clinton and Trump officially became their parties’ nominees, he told one of the fifty state prayer rallies, “You may have to go the polls and hold your nose and choose the less of the two heathens.”

His attendance at Trump’s “conversation” has been cited by some as an endorsement, but Graham told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, “I was asked to come to a meeting and hear Donald Trump and I am glad I did. As you know, I am not supporting or endorsing anyone this year.”

At his prayer rallies at state capitals, Graham cites abortion, racism, and same-sex marriage as “America’s many sins.”

“Friends, we get this stuff because we don’t vote. We stay home. [So,] I want you to vote. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but you vote. God will tell you who to vote for.”

God has final vote

An enormous amount of ink and bandwidth has been expended to argue if a) it’s better to vote for “the lesser of two evils,” or b) for the sake of conscience, vote for one of the many alternate parties’ candidates, or c) simply stay home on election day.

I, personally, could never vote for Hillary Clinton, but I’m not sure I can—with a clear conscience—vote for Donald Trump. I’m leaning toward voting for a third party that aligns with my values, but I really don’t know. This, however, I do know:

I do believe that it’s a citizen’s responsibility to vote, so I will not be staying home on November 8. But I don’t think I am responsible for who is elected for president of the United States.

I do believe that God has the final vote. Consider these truths from his Word:

      But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and just as the LORD had predicted to Moses, Pharaoh refused to listen (Exodus 9:12).

      It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall (Psalm 75:7).

      “Because of me, kings reign” (Proverbs 8:15).

      The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases (Proverbs 21:1).

      [God] controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings (Daniel 2:21).

      For this has been decreed by the messengers it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to anyone he chooses—even to the lowliest of people” (Daniel 4:17).

      Then Jesus said [to Pilot], “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:11).

      God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22).

      Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God (Romans 13:1).

If you are panicking about the 2016 election, then you’re probably not trusting “the Most High [who] rules over the kingdoms of the world [and] gives them to anyone he chooses.” And if you’re involved in partisan bickering at work and online, you are not being a witness for the God who “controls the course of world events; [who] removes kings and sets up other kings.

Turn off the TV and talk radio, take a deep breath, vote for whom you feel is the most qualified, and then trust the God who “decides who will rise and who will fall.”

Copyright © 2016 James N. Watkins

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