I hear it all the time.
“Not voting for Donald Trump is the same as voting for Hillary!”
“You are wasting your vote!”
I understand the argument. There’s already a high probability Hillary is going to win the election, and unless everyone throws their support behind Donald, the presidency will go to Hillary.
If Hillary is elected, she will appoint liberal Supreme Court justices who will strengthen Roe v. Wade, further gay rights, and take the United States on a crash course with destruction. She is another Obama (or worse) who will ruin everything good about this country and promote wickedness.
There is certainly some validity to this argument. People I respect hold to this position and will be voting for Trump. Hillary is clearly not a good candidate for so many reasons, and I absolutely will not support her this election. She will not get my vote.
But does this mean I must vote for Trump? Is a vote for a third party, such as Evan McMullin, a waste?
I don’t think so.
The Question Of The Hour
It seems to me that, as a Christian, the question I’m confronted with is:
Is this election only about outcomes?
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In other words, is a vote only a godly vote unless it truly influences outcomes, both of the election and of other issues, such as abortion, gay rights, and the Supreme Court?
To put a very fine point on it: do the ends justify the means?
Donald Trump is very clearly a man of horrendous character. He has a long, well-documented history of blatant racism, withering misogyny, sexual aggression, infidelity, bad business practices, corruption, and a host of other problems.
Some are arguing he has become a Christian recently. Maybe, but I find his change of heart oddly coincidental with his attempt to woo evangelicals this election. Additionally, he has a history of “changing” to forward his own agenda. After all, he was pro-choice until recently and a Democrat until 2001. I think suspicion is well-warranted.
Character matters, right?
As a Christian, I believe that character matters. I believe there is a clear, Scriptural connection between a person’s ability to lead well and their personal character. Does this mean I’ll only support a Christian president? Of course not. You can be a Christian and a terrible leader (see Jimmy Carter). But there is also a clear connection between terrible character and terrible leadership (see the entire Bible).
I also believe that voting is more than a numbers game. It is not a neutral activity. When I cast a vote, it says something about me as well. It is an indicator of what I believe about God, sin, people, my country, and a host of other things.
My vote reveals what I think is most important. It shows the lengths I’m willing to go to make something happen. To influence an outcome.
If I vote for Donald Trump, who I would never trust to run anything, who I would not let in the same room as my wife and children, who I would put under church discipline if I were his pastor, who I would keep away from all my minority friends, who I would fire if I were the boss and he was the apprentice, who I would never appoint to a political position under any other circumstances, what am I really saying?
That the ends justify the means.
That I’m willing to do whatever it takes to further my political agenda.
That some of God’s commands are more important than others.
That policy and issues are more important than racism, sexual purity, righteousness, integrity, and wisdom.
And really, if the ends justify the means, why not go further? If we’re willing to leverage ungodly people to accomplish our godly ends, why not push further? Many white extremists are pro-life. Should we make an effort to get them appointed to positions of political power to further our agenda? What about using criminals to harass liberal politicians to the point where they are forced to drop out of races? Is that off the table?
I realize it sounds crazy, but I think that logical loophole at least exists if the ends justify the means.
This seems like suicide to me.
Losing Our Prophetic Witness
If I support Trump, I lose my ability to effectively speak biblical truth to a lost and dying world.
Consider how this will play out for me. I become friends with an unbeliever who has had multiple affairs and is currently living with his girlfriend. “You need to stop sleeping with her, “I tell him.”
“But you voted to put someone just like me in the White House. You didn’t oppose him, so why are you opposing me?”
“Right. But see, that was different. It’s okay for a president to do that. Just not you.”
Or I’m trying to share the gospel with a man who is clearly a racist. “You need to turn to Jesus and stop treating minorities like garbage,” I say.
“You supported a man who clearly has no respect for minorities,” he fires back. “Why should I listen to you?”
“No, technically I didn’t support him. I just voted for him.”
It just doesn’t work. How can I call people to repent and simultaneously give my support to a man who has so many well-documented cases of unrepentant sin?
I know the response to this will be, “Yes, but Hillary…” Or, “I’m far more worried about Hillary’s emails than Trump’s words.”
I get it. That’s why I’m not voting for Hillary.
But I’m also not voting for Trump.
I’m not willing to trade my prophetic witness to give my party political power, even if that power will be used for good. As crucially important as Supreme Court justices are, sacrificing the power of speaking prophetically for the power of the courts is a terrible trade.
Is This Our Daniel Moment?
The book of Daniel contains some profound lessons about the relationship between God and power. Daniel correctly interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and he, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were promoted to positions of political power and influence. They had the ability to influence the decisions of the king and his court. They had the ear of the king. They could use their power to accomplish good.
Then Nebuchadnezzar erected his statue and commanded all people to bow before it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had the chance to preserve their power and influence, and all it would have taken was a simple bow. They could have justified it by saying, “We’re not really worshipping him in our hearts.”
There were clearly important issues at stake in Babylon, and they had the opportunity to change the outcome.
But they refused to sacrifice the truth for power. They refused to sacrifice integrity for the advancement of God’s people.
Daniel made the same choice later when he chose the lions over the king. He was willing to sacrifice godly political influence for the sake of God’s word.
Fear rarely leads to godly choices. Fear almost always leads to self-protection.
Am I willing to make the same choice as Daniel?
Do I believe that God is bigger and more powerful than politics? Do I believe he can achieve his ends without the power of the Republican party?