The Trumping of Christians

Christians got Trumped!

Sadly, we’re still being Trumped! Hopefully more and more of us will come around to what this means, and what course we should take this point forward.

I don’t normally write about politics, but this is important and it does directly relate to who we are as followers of Christ and what our mission is in the world. Hence, this is a message strictly for the Church. This article is about Christians role in politics and the trouble we find ourselves in right now due to the perceived alliance that we have with President Trump.

It’s difficult to say how many Christians stayed home during the 2016 presidential primaries. It’s also difficult to say how many Christians voted for Donald Trump instead of one of the principled conservative candidates, namely: Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Carly Fiorina. Not only do they stand on the issues where we need them to (in general), but they each profess Christ as Lord and Savior. Even if most Christians had voted for one of these candidates, we can’t say for certain that it would have been enough to push him or her past Donald Trump. Therefore, I’m not able to address the impact Christians had or didn’t have during the primaries.

What is certain is that Christians came out in strong support of Trump in the general election. However, I don’t believe it was so much a vote for Trump as it was a vote against Hillary Clinton. I know that is how it was with me. Leading the way in our support of Donald Trump was a large coalition of Christian leaders, such as Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham — even meeting with Donald Trump to pray over him. So vocal and so visible was the support of Trump by the Christian community, that we’re now closely associated with him. That is a real problem for us as it applies to our mission in the world.

I believe that few Christians understand our role in the political realm. I believe this lack of understanding is because of the failure to recognize our place in Christ’s kingdom and what our mission is in the world. As those who have placed our faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, we belong to His kingdom. At the moment of conversion, we’re transferred into the spiritual Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13). We no longer belong to the kingdom of darkness. We belong to the kingdom of light, where Jesus rules over us as our Lord and King. As such, we as God’s people, we as the Church, have a higher calling, a greater mission in the world than what we had before we came to faith in Christ. We have a new Master and new purpose.

What is our mission? What is our purpose? In general, it’s to advance His kingdom. Specifically, it’s to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20); it’s to proclaim the truth (Jn 1:17; 14:6; 2 Cor 13:8; 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25); it’s to proclaim the Christian message; it’s to take a stand for righteousness against that which is unrighteous, exposing “the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph 5:11). We’re to do all things with eternity in view. In that process, we’re called to work together and to support one another, for each of us are members of the body of Christ, which is His Church (1 Cor 12:13,27; Eph 5:23,29-30; Col 1:18,24; 2:19).

Everything we do in life is to be for Christ and for His glory. Everything we do is to be for the sake of one another as fellow-believers and for the sake of reaching the lost. We’re in the world, but not of the world. We’re in the world to live as citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, as members of His Church, not as citizens of the world. When we focus on the world and its values and goals, we lose sight of where we truly belong and what our responsibilities are as servants of our King.

Do you notice who’s missing from the aforementioned list of candidates? Of course that would be Donald Trump. He’s not in the same mold as those other candidates. Far from it. He’s neither a Christian nor is he in the same mold of honor and dignity as they. Trump was not worthy to share the same platform with them. While no candidate is without flaws in their character and life, Trump didn’t deserve the same respect as those others. Personally, Trump was never on my radar. He was near the bottom of my list. I knew he was undeserving to serve as President of the United States. I never would have voted for him in the primaries.

I was very much encouraged about the primaries. I felt that we finally had a good group of candidates to choose from, and I was excited about who may end up as our Republican nominee. But when the primaries were over, I was in a state of shock that we were left with two of the most despicable and unworthy candidates imaginable. That, of course, would be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I couldn’t believe that out of all those respectable candidates on the Republican side, we were left with Donald Trump! What’s even more startling are the evident number of Christians who supported Hillary Clinton! I think she’s even worse than Donald Trump. While I would never vote for a Democrat anyway – since the Democratic Party has become very anti-Christian – Clinton is perhaps the worst of the worst. I’m bewildered how any true Christian, who understands the Bible, can possibly identify themselves with the Democratic Party. However, the focus of this article is not Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump.

So here we are, as those who represent the Lord Jesus Christ, are also being identified with President Trump. Much of this perceived association with Trump in the eyes of the public is, sadly, justified, for many Christians still support him — as evidenced by polls and social media. Talk about a conflict! How so? As I’ve been discussing, we as servants of Christ the King, it’s our duty to further His kingdom and His message and His plan for the world. Furthering His kingdom means to uphold truth and righteousness, to uphold that which is good and decent and honorable, and to give our support to people who follow the same King and who share the same values and mission as we. In other words, those who are one of us. This includes who we give our votes to, whether it be for President, Congressman, Senator, Governor or Mayor, etc. If we have a choice between voting for someone who shares our mission or for someone who doesn’t, we have a duty to vote for the person who is devoted to carrying out the will of our mutual King. We have little in common with those who are not guided by the same mandate or principles. Those who follow Jesus will lead in a much different way than those who don’t.

Christians may respond, “but if we vote for a Christian with a strong Christian/conservative message, they won’t get elected. Question, if Jesus ran for the presidency (or any other office) and spoke against abortion, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and sin in general, and had little chance of winning against someone who was more middle of the road, would you still not vote for Him? I think you would. And this proves that we should always vote for someone who stands where Jesus stands (as closely as possible), for we are His representatives, His ambassadors. This should always be our guide.

As in the case of President Trump, he does not follow our Leader. He’s without a moral compass and without core principles to guide him. He also lacks the awareness of the type of character that we see even in many non-Christians. And since he’s not aware of such character, it’s not present to guide his life. Instead, what we see is a man who has no humility, is an habitual liar, is morally corrupt, is an egomaniac, lacks integrity, is unkind (even mean), says and tweets terrible things about people, is vindictive to the extreme, has no sense of honor or dignity, and by his own admission, sees no need to ask God for forgiveness of his sins. Truly, we’ve never seen anyone quite like him.

Yet, this is the man that so many of us Christians voted for in the general election! You may respond, “it was either him or Clinton.” I understand. Even though we were aware of Trump’s character, we believed that on the issues, he was more in line with where we stand. However, in truth, we didn’t quite know what we were getting. A “President Trump” was still a big question mark at the time. But we did know what we were getting with Hillary Clinton, and so we figured just about anyone would be better than her — who deserves to be in prison.

Consequently, since we as Christians came out so strongly in support of Trump, I believe it has hurt our testimony and has hindered our mission as ambassadors of Christ. But you ask, “what else could we have done?” We could have and should have written in a candidate whom we believed was worthy of the office. True we would have ended up with Hillary Clinton, but at least our testimony wouldn’t have taken such a major hit…..and nothing is more important than our testimony for Christ. Much of the contempt that people have for Christians right now is, because of our association with Trump. Because of the type of person he is, we’re now viewed much the same way by many. That impedes our mission in the world. It closes doors.

As followers of Christ and as His representatives, we have a responsibility to cast our votes for people who are of honorable character and lifestyle, and who have a record of consistency on the issues that we have a deep concern for. Rather than voting for someone of honorable character, who would be led by Christian principles and would depend upon the Lord for wisdom and guidance, Donald Trump got many of our votes! In the primaries, a vote for Trump was inexcusable; a vote for Trump in the general election was a vote for the lesser of two evils. As Christians, we’re never to choose evil at all. If we don’t cling to our Christian principles, we will be tossed about like the waves of the sea, given to situational ethics.

Therefore, I believe a write-in for a worthy candidate would have been the right thing to do…..even if it meant the election of someone we don’t approve of, or a Party we don’t believe in. No one is more patriotic than me, but we should never put country ahead of Christ’s kingdom and the mission that He has tasked us with. Because of our support of President Trump and our sad association with him, I believe we’re experiencing a significant setback.

Let’s be clear about what kind of person Donald Trump is. First, he seems to have one general guiding principle: self-gain. He seems to have one guiding principle as it relates to people: the principle of reciprocation. It doesn’t matter what you believe or what your position is or what you stand for, if you speak well of him, he’ll speak well of you; if you support him he’ll support you; if you treat him well, he’ll treat you well. That is how he’s wired. He has shown this to be true routinely from the very beginning of his political journey. He sings wonderful praises about those who sing wonderful praises about him. However, if you decide not to support him anymore, he strikes back. Suddenly he regards you as “a bad person.” Shortly before, you were his friend and ally, now you’re his enemy. Trump demands loyalty. If you’re not all in with him, then you’ll pay a price for it. This is not the type of person we should be giving our support to.

Christians may respond, “but President Trump is pro-life, appoints conservatives to the Supreme Court, supports a strong military, unemployment is down, economy is better, he’s tried to keep his campaign promises, and is a friend to Christians.” All these things are apparently true. However, as I’ve pointed out, these are not the things that are most important. We have to look at the big picture. We have to recognize the overall plan of God and what our responsibilities are as the Church and as individual believers. Gaining a president and a party that aligns with with our values is always desirable, but not at the expense of opportunities for the message of Christ. If a political win closes doors to share Christ and the Christian message, then we’ve lost where it matters most.

In the primaries, we knew about Trump’s character, or rather, the lack thereof. We knew what type of person he was. We knew his history. We watched him and listened to the things he said in the debates and on the campaign trail….particularly the horrible things he said about other people. We knew Donald Trump was and is a deeply flawed person. He epitomizes narcissism. He belittles people with regularity. Because of a lack of honor and dignity, because of his crude and unruly tongue and bombastic personality, he has severely divided our country. We’ve always had divisions in our country, but not since the 60’s have we seen it as severe as we’re seeing it now. As it relates to the Christian influence, it’s not what it was pre-Trump. It’s true that Obama was the “Divider in Chief.” He set race relations back 30 or 40 years.

However, we’re seeing a type of division and outrage among Americans that we’ve never seen before. If President Trump carried himself with dignity, spoke the truth, was kind, gracious to those who oppose him, spoke well of others and was not vindictive, I do not believe we would be witnessing the extreme response from people that we’re witnessing today. If we had a principled and respectable conservative leading our country (like Ronald Reagan), who was likable, gracious, kind toward others (even his enemies), treated the Press with respect, didn’t tweet the type of outrageous stuff that Trump does, I believe it would have created an entirely different response from not only Americans in general, but also from the liberal media. Differences would remain, but I truly believe there would be a reciprocal respect…..and peace in our country that we lack now. I don’t believe we would be seeing the level of outrage that we’re presently seeing.

Most importantly, our testimony and influence as ambassadors of Christ, would not have taken the nose dive that we’re seeing today. The association of the Christian community with Trump is nothing we should desire or be proud of. We made a grave mistake. Only the Lord knows the full extent of damage that has been done to our witness. Only the Lord knows the true loss of our influence in our country. But we can be sure that the opportunities to carry out our mission has diminished. All you have to do is read the negative and angry comments on social media about the support Christians have given to Trump, to know that it’s true — calling us hypocrites (even worse). This perception is not without warrant. We’ve given them plenty of reason to view the Christian community in such a negative way. There never should have been a such community-wide acceptance of such a man as Donald Trump. We’re now paying a hefty price for it.

We sacrificed much of our positive testimony for the sake of what we thought to be best for America. We got our values mixed up and identified ourselves with the wrong person. We chose to be Martha when we should have been Mary (Luke 10:38-42). We were concerned about worldly matters when we should have been concerned for the things that pertain to Christ. By choosing to associate ourselves with such a man as Donald Trump, we risked losing our association with Christ. I think we lost big time. We’re never to do anything that could damage our testimony as followers of Christ. He is the One we represent.

But now evangelical Christians are so closely tied with Trump, that the name of Christ is being associated with that same person. Who we actually represent is not as clear as it used to be. This is what happens when we don’t cling to Christ and instead choose to identify with someone of such contrary character. It affects public perception. It confuses what we actually believe and stand for in their eyes. These things should never be in doubt with anyone. If we stick to our Christ-ordained mission and make wise decisions, who we are and who we represent will never be in doubt. We’re to be a light in the world, but our association with a Trump has dimmed that light. Jesus is the light of the world, and for our light to shine brightly, we must remain in His light.

However, since Christians chose unwisely, I believe anti-Christian sentiment has increased. It’s an honor when it occurs because of our faithfulness to Christ, but it’s a disgrace when we bring it upon ourselves because of worldly values. We’re called to serve Christ and further His message. But because we failed to understand how it applies politically, because we failed to recognize our responsibility to choose wisely within the context of our mission in the world, we’ve now frustrated that mission. Some may think that I’m blowing this way out of proportion. If you really believe that, then I don’t think you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on.

So what do we do to fix this moving forward? How do we restore our good name? First of all, I believe that so much damage has been done, it will likely take many years to restore our testimony. It’s like our own personal life; it takes years to build a good name as a witness for Christ, but only one moment of sin to destroy it. It’s only been less than two years since Trump became our president, and I think this situation will only get worse if we don’t make a united effort to speak out and hold Trump accountable. With one voice we must condemn his atrocious behavior, and emphasize the need to carry out his office with dignity and honor.

This really begins with Christian leaders, because they are the ones who led us into this, and they need to be the ones to lead us out. They need to gain a more biblical perspective and start leading responsibly in this important area of life. Individually, we need to reject personal approval of Trump, and the people around us need to know it — especially the unsaved. We must make it clear that who Trump is, is not who we are. People need to know that we now realize that we’ve made a mistake and that we reject any approval of him. Admitting failure is humility, and people always respect that. Many Christians continue to make excuses for Trump, and continue to support him no matter what he says or does. This has to stop. From individuals in general, to Christian/conservative politicians, President Trump must be held accountable for his harsh words and shameful behavior. Again, this really begins with Christian leaders, especially the ones who came out so public and so vocal about their support of him. But regardless of what they do, we as individual Christians are accountable to the Lord to do the right thing. President Trump will likely turn against Christians – as is his natural reaction – but so be it. We’re not here to please Trump, we’re here to please Jesus — our true leader.

Let us repent and confess our sin, and move on in faithfulness in carrying out the task that Jesus has assigned to us. Let us also pray for President Trump, that God would do a work in his heart and life in drawing him to Jesus. Moving forward to the next election, let us pray that God would raise up a man or woman of God who will lead our nation in faithful service to Christ and to the U.S. Constitution. Character matters. It always has. When it comes to candidates, we used to understand that. There was a time when we wouldn’t have given Donald Trump any consideration whatsoever. Let us again make character a top priority.

Final thoughts: As previously mentioned, I would never even consider the Democratic Party. However, I have real concerns about the Republican Party too. It’s become the Trump Party, which has a very cultish feel about it. President Trump actually resembles a cult leader in his style, and has created a cultish atmosphere. So many of his supporters demonstrate a type of blind loyalty to him that typically characterizes the cult leader/follower relationship.

As followers of Christ, we cannot be a part of that. Personally, I’m considering leaving the Republican Party and changing my status to Independent. I’ll wait it out for a while to see how things go, but right now I don’t like where the Republican Party is or where it’s headed. President Trump is having a very negative influence on the Party as a whole, with so many in Congress and Governors supporting him. If things don’t turn around, I’ll do what I believe I need to do. I certainly won’t be voting for Donald Trump in the next election — if he even makes it that far.

I’ll not be Trumped again.