This is my first full piece on Donald Trump, but it more than likely will not be my last. The front-runner for the Republicans for the White House is certainly generating plenty of discussion and controversy, and it is vital for all true Christians to consider him – and the other remaining contenders – very prayerfully and carefully.
And as usual, I must quickly dispense with various wrong answers or unbiblical extremes. As I recently said in a radio interview, the idea that believers can just pray while ignoring politics is greatly mistaken. That is to renounce our responsibilities as believers to be good citizens and to be salt and light.
But equally wrong is the idea that some politician or political party is going to somehow save us – or in this case, America. The Christian understands that ultimately only Christ can save a nation, and no mere human can even come close.
But government is God’s idea, and righteousness exalts a nation. So who is governing does matter, and clearly some politicians, parties and policies are better than others. So we need to get the biblical balance right here. We must pray of course but we must also get involved in the political process, if at the very least by voting wisely.
The original field of 17 Republican contenders has now narrowed to five: three conservatives (Cruz, Rubio and Carson), one RINO (Kasich) and Trump. At first I and many other Christians and conservatives thought Trump might have a few things going for him, but the more we learn about him, the less appealing he becomes.
One can certainly see the appeal of someone like Trump. He socks it to ‘em. He speaks his mind. He is not a Washington insider. He is willing to say what many will not say. He is not PC. He is riding on the high levels of disillusionment with both major parties.
As Christian commentator J D Hall explains:
I’ll tell you why people like Donald Trump. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what Hollywood celebs think. He doesn’t care what Beltway career politicians think. He doesn’t care what Russell Moore thinks. He doesn’t care what journalists think. He doesn’t care what CNN or MSNBC or even FOX thinks. I kind of get the impression he doesn’t care what the crowds he speaks to think. If he doesn’t win the presidency, he’ll go back to being rich and famous. Frankly, that’s a breath of fresh air. For 30 years, everyone in America has been walking on politically correct egg shells. We’ve all been hunkered down in fear of being called what evangelicals are calling Trump – racist, misogynist, jingoistic, bigoted, egotistical, self-centered. We all want to vote for a guy who doesn’t care. Trump is almost guaranteed to bring the “change” we’ve been hearing about every four years. The only question is if it’s good change. But for many voters, any change is good change.
That is the real issue. Obama of course promised hope and change, but look at how that turned out. Not all change is good change. Yes I too am sick of the Washington cartel, as Cruz puts it. Yes I want some bold, fearless and non-PC leaders to come and clean things up in Washington big time.
But I really question whether Trump is the man. He of course is not a Christian, and one can strongly argue that he is not a conservative either. Most of his life was spent pushing progressive and liberal causes, and much of his wealth has gone to Democrats.
It is not just politics, but questions of his character. And character does matter. As I wrote long ago, if you cannot even be true to your own wife, how can we trust you to be true to the nation? As I wrote 18 years ago:
Our real problems today are not economic problems. Nor are they political problems. Our real problems have to do with values, with character, with morality. A country can survive a current account deficit, but it cannot for long survive a value deficit. And the first place to begin in restoring this value deficit is to reaffirm character, integrity and morality, both private and public.
It is interesting to note that character was the only consideration enumerated by the American founding fathers as relevant to qualifications to serve in public office. A person’s politics, philosophy or ideology may be important, but the most important qualification is character. Without good character, good government is not possible. Indeed, more than one commentator has noted that morality, more than anything else, is the key to a healthy and lasting democracy. Politics skills can be learned, policies adjusted. But without character, a nation will soon flounder on the rocks of moral relativism.
We are seeing such an unravelling of the commonweal now. The need for leadership based on character and values is now our most pressing need. We need to recall the words of George Washington in his farewell address: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
We have paid a terrible price in the false separation of morality from social problems. Australia’s (and America’s) rising tide of social pathology will only be reversed when we once again acknowledge that character and morality are not optional extras, but are the essence of civilised society.
And plenty of evangelical leaders of late have been writing about Trump’s character – or lack thereof. George Otis Jr is one of many, and he just penned a piece today on this. He writes:
The truth is Donald Trump has two ruined (of his own) marriages, and is now on his third (with a woman who has posed for lesbian porn). He has made a bank-full of money from casino operations, owned strip joints and a vodka business, and acknowledged no need of repentance before a holy God. And yet he has garnered the endorsements of Christian luminaries like Sarah Palin, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Phyllis Schlafly, and Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson. Go figure.
A Trump vote is primarily a protest vote: ‘a pox on both your houses’. And fair enough in one sense. But we need more than a mere protest. One can argue that various dictators got in on a protest vote. Simply lashing out at what is broken, while simply opting for something or someone else that is broken is not the answer.
But the Trump supporters will say we need someone who is a strong leader, who speaks his mind, and is not worried about what others think. ‘Trump is a winner’ they say. Yes, but the same can be said about plenty of other leaders, including Hitler.
We need a principled winner, not a megalomaniac whose only priority is himself. Simply winning may solve nothing, and just make matters worse. Indeed, unless we address America’s spiritual problems, no mere man – no matter how strong and forthright – will make much difference. As Otis says:
If we think the dysfunction in Washington, DC is anything other than a reflection of our own selfishness, compromise, and neglect, we are seriously deceived. And it does no good to talk of deliverance if we are unwilling to break the habit of blame shifting. It is easy to fixate on the government’s shortcomings, but we cannot afford to overlook our own. As Os Guinness so aptly puts it, “The problem is not the wolves at the door. It is the termites in the floor.” Whether Evangelicals will recognize this danger in time is an open question — but our recent migration to ungodly, narcissistic candidates is not an encouraging sign.
Or as Michael Brown recently put it, “Simply stated, I firmly believe that our greatest problems are moral and spiritual, not economic or otherwise, and to think that we can make America great again by securing our borders, defeating ISIS and rebuilding our economy, without first addressing the moral rot in our society, is to deceive ourselves gravely.”
Yes quite so. Yet everyone prefers the quick fix and the easy way out. They think that a quick vote at the ballot box will deal with our troubles and make everything good again. Far too many Christians think this way as well. After all, if they think they can pop a magic pill for instant spirituality, why not for the political arena?
Lazy and carnal Christians prefer a political messiah to come along and solve everything instead of doing the biblical hard work of 2 Chronicles 7:14. Why bother to repent and humble yourselves and pray and seek God’s face when you can just vote for Trump?
Why get on your faces before Almighty God and agonise over your own sins and the sins of a nation when you can just pin your hopes on a fast-talking political contender? Getting Trump to restore America to greatness sounds good, and is a pain-free option.
But the only ultimate answer to America’s malaise and decline is if God’s people get on their knees and repent. Until that happens, we are likely toast. Yes if it ends up between Trump and Clinton, I may still very grudgingly vote for Trump. However, each new day makes me really wonder about that.
Just opting out from voting is not the biblical answer. But what then are the best alternatives if a genuine conservative does not get the nomination? Do we go for an independent, or third party? Both options will pretty much guarantee Hillary or Bernie will win and finish off Obama’s job of destroying America.
All avenues are looking real grim and will take a lot of careful praying and thinking by believers if Trump does win the bid. Political realists will argue (and I have at least some sympathy for them) that if we opt out of voting for Trump and allow the Dems to get in, we are creating real trouble. The debate in part centres on how much less bad – if at all – Trump will be than the two Democrats.
We are in a difficult place here and need a lot of divine wisdom on all this. But for the time being we still have much better choices with folks like Cruz who are real Christians and real conservatives. And in future articles I will seek to make the case for why we need someone like Cruz as POTUS.
We really must pray and work like never before here. Even if a real solid conservative gets in on November 8, that still guarantees nothing as to America’s future. It may just slow down the rot for a few years, and God’s judgment may well still be upon the land.
John Calvin spoke in his Institutes about how God allows evil rulers as a form of punishment on a nation. If Clinton or Sanders get in, and maybe even Trump, we may well be in for some real divine – and rightly deserved – judgment. Lord have mercy.