Monday, August 8, 2016

A Rock, a Hard Place, and God

A friend sent this email and gave me permission to post it online. 


Though I spend so much time on it, politics is one of my least favorite subjects. For a few years now, I have been “this close” to absenting myself from all matters of government, having long since grown weary of its abundant emptiness. Alas, for the time being I am still a good citizen and show up to vote practically any time the poling places are open.
For the same reason, I do care somewhat how other people vote, though I don’t like dictating policy, and I certainly don’t like the attitude of “if you’re a real Christian, you’ll vote for....” While I try to pry very little into how my fellow Christians vote, this particular election facing us in a few months has me worried that Christians might be casting their votes based on a false premise, which is why I am sending this unsolicited email.
Christians have begun to make the argument that we must, absolutely, vote for Donald Trump for President, simply because this is the only way to prevent Hillary Clinton from using presidential power to further suppress the rights of Christians in this country. But I am convinced that this argument is erroneous. I would just like to make sure, no matter how you vote, that you aren’t thinking like a worldling when you cast that vote.
Americans are truly getting much bolder in their opposition to any proclamation of the gospel. If you are not aware of this, I recommend signing onto the news feed or newsletter of the First Liberty Institute (a group I have followed for some time) because they blow the whistle on many such attacks. School students are told that they cannot write the word “God” in essays. Soldiers are court-martialed for posting Bible verses on their desks. Preachers get fired from their day jobs, not for anything they said on the job, but for something they said in their own churches on Sunday. Not too long ago, somebody even tried to sue a church for building a cross on the church’s own property. Thankfully, many of these cases, when they reach courts of law, end in favor of religious liberty. Judges, as well as the general public, are still often quite lenient toward us...legally speaking. But still, it’s all very disquieting.
In that context, I can see why Christians are intimidated by the prospect of the Democrats controlling the presidency for another four years, perhaps even eight. Democrats are extremely dismissive of religious liberty, preferring instead to advocate a culture in which no one is ever “offended”...unless of course you are not a progressive, in which case you are to be offended on a regular basis. Republicans have similar double-standards, but the Democratic variety is usually more hostile toward Christians, and so it gets our attention more readily.

And now Clinton stands a great chance of winning. And since people often vote for congressional offices in the same way they vote for the presidency, Congress would also likely turn a deeper shade of blue. And then there’s the final blow: the vacancy on the Supreme Court would then likely be filled by a judge of similar mindset. It’s enough to make any Christian uneasy about the future of evangelism, or living according to our beliefs in any kind of visible way.

In light of this imminent liberal takeover, we naturally think of turning our support to the right side of the aisle. Since Republicans have proven more willing to defend the free exercise of religion, this would normally be a plausible plan. Unfortunately, the Republican nominee is Donald Trump. This is the very man that many Christians recently said was unfit to be President. But now that he is the Republican nominee, the same Christians have started to make the argument that we have no other choice but to vote for him, because the only alternative is to let Clinton win, starting a dangerous chain reaction. We are allegedly faced with only two options, and must again choose the lesser of two evils, even if Trump is only slightly less evil than Clinton.
I’m not so certain that Trump is actually less evil than Clinton, but I do know this: we are most certainly not limited to two options, because God is not limited to two options. Do Christians still have so little faith in the power of God to act on our behalf, after two thousand years of Christianity prevailing over impossible odds in various cultures across planet?
Let’s imagine a scenario in which the Democrats have indeed acquired all the power structures in our culture, and that they are ready to hit the Go button for eradicating any public Christian presence, demoting us all to second-class citizens. Now imagine that they hit that Go button...and nothing happens.
If biblical history and church history tell me anything, it’s that God loves to stack the deck against Himself so that He can win anyway, leaving unbelievers to scrape their jaws off the floor with a spatula. Without much effort, I’m sure you can compose a list of times God has done so, everything from the exodus out of Egypt to the spread of house churches in Iran. That same God is our God, and I doubt that He is looking to Donald Trump for salvation in the kind of anxious way many Christians are.
God could do any number of things in the event of a Clinton victory. God could send the Third Great Awakening, in which case it would be difficult for even the Democrats to keep the gospel from spreading, since many of them would become the newest converts. Or God could leave most Americans unconverted but give us such favor in their eyes that politicians wouldn’t dare touch us...since even they must cave to the majority. Or God could expose Clinton as such an inept, corrupt leader that no one is willing to follow her. Or God could provoke the Democratic Party to eat itself alive in its own factionalism...and in that regard, I think Bernie Sander’s former supporters look pretty hungry these days.
And if the worst case scenario unfolds, and the Go button works, God has always blessed the Church’s growth to the same degree that it has been afflicted. It would still be better to trust in God and see what He has planned. His imagination is as infinite as His love for us.

We have no reason to believe that we “must” vote for Trump, as so many Christians are saying. That is worldly thinking, bereft of any consideration given to prayer, the word, and the Holy Spirit. Has it occurred to anyone that God might be waiting for us to become totally powerless in America, in the worst of conditions, so that He could then show Himself powerful in overcoming all opposition by His own strength? That sounds like God to me.

If you can find a compelling reason to vote for Trump, be my guest. I am not claiming a monopoly on political insight, nor even spiritual insight. But if you really don’t want to vote for Trump, and find it morally objectionable, then don’t vote for him. Your conscience should be more valuable to you than that. In the name of Christ, let’s not believe the nonsense that the soul of America can be healed by a bombastic, adulterous blasphemer.

If you are desperate to see better things befall us in this country than what Clinton promises, turn to God instead of Trump. God is more than able to protect us and even empower us at our weakest moments...especially if we keep our consciences clean before Him. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in Man; it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Ps. 118:8-9).
I’m Stan Choate, and I approve this message.

No comments: