Recently another Christian said the following to me because I have decided to vote for Joe Biden: “I can and do say dogmatically you are no minister of God that I would sit under and based on the scriptures you have no place in the holy sacred pulpit. It’s people like you that compromise the word of God that’s leading the lost straight to hell.” In the same setting, another person accused me of liking pedophiles.
I have observed as many evangelical Christians have become more increasingly vicious, and quite frankly, hateful towards other Christians and non Christians alike who do not agree with them politically. It is an indoctrination that runs contrary to the Christ-like virtues that those who have put their faith in Christ are called to live by.
Being republican rather than democrat is not a spiritual virtue. Yet the belief that the republican party is doing God’s work, and the democrats are doing the devil’s has taken root within evangelical beliefs. This ideology is deceptive and dangerous because it indoctrinates Christians to believe they are engaged in a kind of “spiritual warfare” against evil forces when the reality is they are the ones who have been taken captive.
When you do not have any patience to listen to fellow Christians who may differ with you politically, when you have no desire to understand why others differ with your views, when all that comes out of you in response is a condescending and hateful attitude, you’re not the truth warrior in any spiritual warfare. You’re the captive.
VOTING CHRISTIAN VALUES
Voting Christian values has become the defense mechanism cited by evangelicals when they need to justify their support of a candidate. In this article, that candidate is Donald Trump. Yet this position of “voting Christian values” is a fallacy when applied to Donald Trump whose life and history is everything but Christian. What makes this even more concerning is that Trump is believed to be a Christian by some evangelicals, and one minister in his fervent support of Trump claimed that Donald Trump is a test whether or not we are even saved!
Rather than Biblical evangelism which glorifies Jesus Christ though the love, grace, and mercy of God more and more evangelicals are embracing Christian Nationalism (an ideology which helped give rise to Hitler in Nazi Germany). Attempting to Christianize America through political warfare against Muslims, undocumented immigrants, and prejudice attitudes toward those within the LGBTQ community is not something we have learned from Christ.
Remarkably, the moral character of a candidate doesn’t even matter anymore to those who often used the “voting christian values” position. Once upon a time it did. We only need to reflect on the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky saga. The outrage from Pastors and Christians was loud and clear. Bill Clinton was an adulterer and he had desecrated the Oval Office. In fact, George W. Bush ran in part on the platform of bringing honor and respect back to the Oval Office, because of Bill Clinton’s moral failures.
So why doesn’t moral character matter anymore?
As a Christian, should I feel compelled to cast a vote for a man who has publicly scoffed at the idea that he needs God’s forgiveness? No that’s not fake news. In an interview before the 2016 election, Donald Trump claimed he doesn’t regret never asking God for forgiveness. He went on to say that he doesn’t have much to apologize for. This is the same man who also said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters…” Imagine if a well known lesbian, or a democrat had publicly taken this same position. There would be outrage and sharp criticism from evangelicals.
The very essence of the message of the gospel is our need for God’s forgiveness because we are all sinners. To claim to not need God’s forgiveness, is a blatant denial of God and Christ. This is a fundamental aspect of the gospel, but unfortunately we have embraced someone who has turned us against the truth of the gospel. I write as one who is guilty of the very errors I am pointing out because I voted for Donald Trump in 2016. I will not make the same mistake twice.
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.~ 1 John 2:22-23
Does voting “Christian values” obligate us to vote for a man who constantly lies, who is a known adulterer, who admires dictators, who insults our military generals, who expresses disdain for POW’s, who privately knew how deadly Covid is yet publicly played it down, who expresses no humility, who consistently demonstrates vindictive behavior, who doesn’t reach across the political aisle to better the country, who stirs division and hate, and who constantly boasts of his “great achievements”?
Shouldn’t real Christian values lead us to be discerning with the ability to see the truth about one’s character? If a Christian observes “dictator-like” traits and tendencies, and the possibility of authoritarianism, is that Christian not free to vote accordingly without his Christianity being maligned by other Christians?
It is not uncommon to hear leading evangelical ministers refer to Donald Trump as a type of “savior” for Christianity and America. Those who make such claims promote their version of patriotism as if it is a spiritual virtue. However, patriotism is not a spiritual virtue. Nowhere in scripture will you find any of the apostles preaching or teaching patriotism and mixing it with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The truth is, there is patriotism on both sides of the political aisle, not just on the right. An atheist or a lesbian can be just as patriotic and love the United States as much as a gun toting Southern Baptist.
The reality is Donald Trump has garnered the support from those who seek the Christianization of American, not through biblical evangelism, but through political means. For this reason, they have sanctified Donald Trump as a beacon of light for the Kingdom of God. This has done much damage and evangelicals are steadily losing their influence for Christ with regards to the lost in America.
We would do well to consider Paul’s words to his fellow Jews who had the law but did not obey it, “the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.” ~ Romans 2:24
CHRISTIANITY IN POLITICS
Many evangelical pastors and ministers who bring politics into their pulpits promote the narrative that the United States of America was founded on Christian values. This simply is not true, unless you consider slavery and the rape of slave women by white slaver owners as Christian values.
Were there some Christian values embraced by our founding fathers? Absolutely! But this does not mean that the United States is a Christian nation or ever has been, especially when we consider that segregation was still an issue midway through the 20th century, and our current President (Donald Trump) on numerous occasions has failed to adamantly denounce white supremacy. We are not a Christian nation.
The real tragedy with Christianizing America is that we have drifted from evangelizing the world with the gospel into politically fighting to keep those who need the gospel out. How has our understanding of Christianity fallen from preachers who feared God and who trembled at his word, to those who now promote the visions of their own heart, who tell their followers to load up on firearms and ammunition in their support of Donald Trump?
Why do we want to live in a “Christianized America” where the beauty of the gospel is compromised by a political agenda which teaches us to hate anyone who doesn’t think like us? If Christian values are politically imposed on the rest of the country, we will lose our influence. If the rest of the country has to abide by the so-called “Christian values” of those who are often not Christ like in character, the real gospel of Jesus Christ does not advance.
If we stand for religious freedoms and equity for all, we then must demonstrate Christlikeness in the grace of the gospel of Christ to have influence on others. This is the biblical pattern for real evangelism, not the political Christianization of the nation.
That which gives Christianity its effectiveness is its distinction from the rest of society. If everyone is forced to obey our ideas and beliefs, there is no longer any distinction between us and the world, and ultimately we lose. Rather than being people of compassion, mercy, and grace, offering hope and healing, we become like the Pharisees enforcing our own will on others, and thus causing the ungodly to blaspheme the name of the Lord because of our hypocrisy.
WE ARE NOT VOTING FOR A PASTOR
Somehow, it has become justifiable to ignore the moral character of Donald Trump because he’s not a spiritual leader. This is a dangerous position to take especially when we consider how much influence Donald Trump actually has over evangelicals. Trump has been touted as divinely chosen by God, as a great leader like King Cryus in scripture, and as a savior of Christianity and America. If that isn’t the definition of a spiritual leader, what is?
Donald Trump may not be the Pastor of a local church, but he certainly has become an “icon” of God saving America within evangelicalism. I have observed his divisive rhetoric repeated by Christians and ministers. When you sound more like Donald Trump than you do Christ, that’s cultish.
When Christianity Today published Mark Galli’s article holding Trump accountable, there was major backlash from the loyal Trump Christian leaders while Christians (secretly troubled by Trump) were grateful because someone finally spoke up. Mark Gali, who has been faithful to the Lord, was marginalized by fellow Christian leaders and Donald Trump was defended. Why? Because Donald Trump has become a spiritual leader much like a pastor, and he is beloved by many evangelicals who seem to care more about his bullying policies, than the condition of his soul.
Consider the following from a Christian minister:
Please do not tell me that you are a Christian but plan to vote for the Biden-Harris administration. While I realize that President Trump is not perfect, you need to realize that nobody said he is. In fact, no one is perfect! Jesus didn’t even call himself good! However; Trump’s politics and policies are much more parallel with the word of God, than the extreme radical leftist of today’s generation. Whatever makes you feel safe, even if it means wearing a mask, do your part and go to the polls and vote! If you’re not registered to vote, get registered! Your vote counts! I will not stop being a martyr for Biblical principles and Good vs Evil! WE MUST TAKE A STAND!
Notice how this minister undermines Jesus’s perfection in his comment in order to defend Donald Trump, saying, “While I realize that President Trump is not perfect, you need to realize that nobody said he is. In fact, no one is perfect! Jesus didn’t even call himself good!”
This minister bordered on declaring that Jesus is not perfect. Donald Trump’s name should not even be mentioned in comparison with the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the scriptures, Jesus is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. ~ Hebrews 7:26
As I have already pointed out, many evangelical Christians have been sabotaged by the ideology that republicans are doing God’s work, while the democrats are doing the devil’s. One prominent minister who Pastors a mega Church in the state of Texas referred to the democratic party as. “the atheist group who hates religion.” This same Pastor has also made a comment that anyone who is serious about their faith could not vote for Joe Biden. This sentiment is parroted often by evangelicals. The same Pastor has also said, “the only evangelicals who are going to vote for Joe Biden are those who have sold their soul to the devil.”
The real truth is many evangelicals (not all, but many) have been indoctrinated with an ideology which politicizes Christianity in such a way that it has become acceptable behavior to insult and demonize anyone who is a democrat, or even supports democrats. The verbal abuse that some Christians endure because they cannot in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, is disturbing. Especially when their Christianity is marginalized and their salvation is questioned. Undermining the faith of others because of political ideologies is not a Christian virtue.
Abortion is the “Ace” that is played when Trump’s character is brought up. It is the “go-to” argument. It doesn’t matter how bad Donald Trump is, since he checks the pro-life box all his sins are atoned for, but Trump isn’t truly pro-life. On May 18th, 2019, the President tweeted the following: “As most people know, and for those who would like to know, I am strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions – Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother – the same position taken by Ronald Reagan.”
If Joe Biden had said the exact same thing he would have been called a baby killer by many of Trump’s loyal supporters. Trump claims to be pro-life as he stated in his tweet, even though the the position he takes on abortion is the position of the pro-choice movement. Claiming to be pro life helps him politically with evangelicals, but what happens when he doesn’t need evangelicals any longer? Trump has a history of using people and then discarding them. Many evangelicals are completely unaware of this, but it’s true nonetheless. They are ill informed of his history and are convinced he is fighting for them and for good as “God’s chosen”, yet Donald Trump’s history as a shyster is well documented.
Character matters, and entering into a covenant with such a man is dangerous.
POLITICALLY WEAPONIZING ABORTION
For many evangelicals how one votes with regards to abortion is the litmus test as to who is a Christian and who isn’t, but this is not a not a good idea.
I had a friend in Bible School 31 years ago who was pro-choice. It took some time, but he eventually came around to embrace the pro life position. He wasn’t won over by condemnation. He was won over by love and having the scriptures opened to him. His mom was heavy in the pro-choice movement and there were some hurdles he had to get past. Every preacher that addressed the issue, he tuned out, but he was open to what I had to say because I treated him as a friend, and eventually won him over. I don’t know if he stayed the course, but he did change his mind when I was with him. He was won with acceptance, and not rejection and condemnation.
Do you think I would have won my friend if I would have spoken derogatory of him, and condescending to him because of his position on abortion? I think not! What if I had been mean spirited to him, could I have won him over? The central problem with weaponizing abortion and using it to draw lines in the sand as to who is saved and who isn’t, is that you can literally be as “mean as hell” and justify it because you are pro-life. But God doesn’t justify such behavior. When we weaponize abortion with ungodly attitudes, we become the salt that has lost its savor which Jesus Mentioned in Matthew 5.
Wouldn’t it be better if we could engage in conversation with opponents of our views in a manner which expresses kindness, understanding and discretion? How is insulting and condemning going to win over anyone? Wouldn’t be better for those who differ with our views to see and hear the wisdom and counsel of God when we speak to them rather than hatred and rage?
I get that some evangelicals may feel justified in their disgust over the number of abortions since Roe V. Wade became the law of the land, but is that all we’ve got – wrath and disgust?! If we really want to save lives, we must think outside the political box. How about Biblical evangelism, and really caring for real people?
Jesus told his disciples to look on the fields for they are white unto harvest. Jesus died for all, and this includes those democrats and everyone who is pro-choice.
What if Roe V. Wade is never overturned, what then? Do we just stay mad and outraged waging political wars on our adversaries, as we insult and condemn to hell anyone who doesn’t think like us? If we really care about saving lives, if we really value the lives of the unborn, we need to find another way to display our pro life values than just going to the polls. Rather than hearing the call to political warfare, we need to heed the call to gospel ministry, by seeking to save the lost.
ROE V. WADE
Voting to overturn Roe V. Wade is commendable, but it’s not the “end all” and it’s not not going to save us from all the other sins we face as we fail to do right by those who were born.
Before Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, conservative justices were in the majority on the SCOTUS, yet Roe V. Wade wasn’t overturned. William T Cavanaugh points out the following in an article published by America Magazine on 9/23/2020:
There has been a majority of Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court for 49 of the last 50 years. The lone exception was the year after Antonin Scalia died, when there was a 4-4 split.
Furthermore, as recently as June 2020, the SCOTUS had the opportunity to take a step in the direction of overturning Roe V. Wade in a case that involved abortions in the state of Louisiana, but failed to do so.
Will another conservative judge make a difference? Possibly, but what if that doesn’t happen? What if Roe V. Wade remains the law of the land, how do we move forward? What happens if we lose our democracy because of our loyalty to a man who used our abortion platform for his own political gain?
There are many important issues that voters consider beyond abortion: namely, democracy vs. authoritarianism, immigration, systemic racism, fair housing, fair wages, affordable health care, the ability to reach across the political aisle, uniting the country rather than dividing it, the ability to manage the pandemic and all other national emergencies. Empathy, compassion, and integrity, matters. Though important, there is far more at stake in the upcoming election than abortions, and no Christian who is uncomfortable with Donald Trump’s personal character and politics should be shamed over abortions.
If you don’t know their heart – don’t shame them!
Furthermore, overturning Roe V. Wade isn’t going to eliminate abortions in the United States. Should it ever be overturned, the issue of abortions would revert back to states rights creating a scenario where people would cross state lines to seek out abortions. Others may seek to privately induce miscarriages, which could affect the health of the mother.
The fact is, abortions were happening before Roe v. Wade, and they are going to happen if the ruling is ever overturned. What then?!
We need to have the right attitudes towards those with whom we differ politically, And being educated rather than indoctrinated would go a long way in that effort. Many who are hostile in their “abortion rage” and condemn anyone who votes democrat aren’t knowledgeable to the fact that the actual data shows the number of abortions have declined over the last 30 years (since 1990). Bill Clinton and Barack Obama occupied the White House 16 of those years.
While the fight to overturn Roe V. Wade is commendable, we need to understand that we have other options in making a difference in saving the lives of the unborn – that is, if that’s what our end game truly is. Abortions are not madated, and if people felt they could trust Christians, just maybe we could find other avenues to make a difference.
Growing in grace and godly kindness would go a long way in making such a difference.
WHAT EVANGELICALS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SCOTUS