Election ’16 seems to be the most contentious presidential race of my lifetime…by far.
There is ample evidence of real hatred on display on each side, from the leaders to the supporters. This has become a terrible, terrible shame. People apparently no longer know how to differ with civility. Is it possible to disagree without being disagreeable?
Chances are good that something I write below will be in direct opposition to something you believe. The temptation will be to stop reading or to simply jump ahead to leave a comment before giving me a full hearing. I would like to encourage you to do your best to go the distance and read this in its entirety. Even then, pause, count to ten, look for the bigger point, and say a prayer before responding. I promise to do the same in return. I’m going to write about both Clinton and Trump…but I want to address something I think is even more important than our impending election.
I watched all the presidential debates, though sometimes with only one eye. I could hardly stand to witness the vitriol and personal attacks that took up substantive portions while a real discussion of the issues remained woefully deficient. If we are to judge by their debate performances, our current candidates seem ill-suited for the job. How very sad and unfortunate for all of us, regardless of which party we support.
Beyond the debates, the candidates are a mess. As of this writing, Hillary Clinton remains under five separate and serious FBI investigations. Each of them is its own horrific scandal, worthy of disqualifying her from the office. These are in addition to the other issues that are a problem for me, including: her blatant, proud support of abortion (even the sickening late term “partial birth” option), her apparent misjudgment during the Benghazi terrorist attack that contributed to the loss of American lives, and what I believe is a proven history of lies and corruption for the sake of personal gain or self-protection.
These only scratch the surface for me. While I love the idea of America electing a female president, Senator Clinton is not my gal. (Condoleezza Rice, why, oh why, didn’t you run???). The list of reasonable and serious objections to her presidency is lengthy, as any random Google search can verify. If Hillary wins, she will be the first president-elect to be simultaneously facing possible criminal prosecution. That’s truly deplorable.
Donald Trump, in my view, is equally problematic, though for different reasons. For one thing, he doesn’t seem to be able to control his mouth. From his misguided slur against John McCain for being a POW and his mocking of reporter Serge Kovaleski’s heart-breaking disability, to his repeated estimation of women according to their appearance (anyone remember his words to Carley Fiorina or Heidi Cruz?) and his downright sick depictions of sexual activity and abuse on many, many occasions both on the air with Howard Stern (and others) and in print (including Playboy magazine). It all belies a judgment that seems sorely lacking.
Regarding Trump, numerous Christian leaders (whom I greatly respect in other matters) indicate that the Don is a changed man. I want that to be true. They inform me that he began to change in his demeanor and attitude after his third marriage, and that he recently made a decision to give his life to Christ. I really want that to be true! I will be absolutely delighted for Trump to go to Heaven (Hillary too, for that matter!). I’m not so sure, though, that any such conversion therefore merits the Presidency.
Some Christian leaders have described Donald as being anointed by God to be the 45th president. They quote Isaiah 45 which depicts King Cyrus and references how God used him to help return the Jews to Jerusalem despite the fact that the king didn’t know God for himself. I don’t know if Trump is the recipient of this “Cyrus anointing” or not. I do believe that God can use anyone He wants. He is not daunted by our personality or history. If God wanted, Hillary could easily be His Cyrus too. Regardless of whether God is choosing to use Trump in this capacity, there is one thing I can guarantee: Cyrus didn’t become king through any vote of the people.
I understand why people are so distraught. I’m on the same page with those who think that a Hillary Clinton Presidency is rife with disaster. I differ to a degree, however, with many of my fellow Christians, as they push forward on the Never-Hillary bandwagon, because I am resistant to “the end justifies the means” ideology. I am not in favor of Clinton winning the White house, but in that opposition, I am also not willing to compromise or sacrifice Christian values that remain important to me. So pray for me; I haven’t fully decided what I will do on election day.
There are serious issues with Trump. Businesses associated with his brand include casinos and strip clubs. His hotels include the availability of hard core pornography. Multiple women have accused him of unwanted sexual advances and abuse. In December, he faces court hearings regarding the rape of a 13 year old girl. I can hardly accept that I’m supposed to look the other way and pretend that these things don’t really matter.
Some tell me that he is repentant. I did hear him take responsibility and admit he was wrong for the horrid sexual and misogynistic remarks he made to Billy Bush of Access Hollywood. That was somewhat refreshing in this current political climate of “deny, deny, deny.” Yet what about the many other terrible statements he has made? What about his current on-going business dealings in darkened corners? I deal regularly with broken people caught up in the traps of pornography and sexual abuse. Gambling has destroyed countless lives. These issues are rampant in our society. How can I vote for a man that profits from and still contributes to such heartache?
Now let me turn to the fuller point. I don’t really expect to change anyone’s vote with this post and that is not really my intent in writing. Rather, I want to simply express the idea that it is at least reasonable for someone, and especially a follower of Christ, to have serious reservation about supporting either candidate. A real test for all of us, then, is the character that gets revealed in us when a person’s vote is revealed as something different than our own. Can we still respect someone for carefully making their own informed choice?
Recently, national headlines showcased that Ohio Governor John Kasich wrote-in John McCain’s name as his Presidential vote instead of either Clinton or Trump. Though McCain wouldn’t be my choice, I get why Kasich felt he couldn’t vote for the candidates on the ballot. Yet, I’ve seen those whom I would meaningfully describe as solid Christian people rush to social media to vilify Kasich as childish, arrogant and a turncoat to the party. Not only do they seem unwilling to consider his reasons for voting the way he did, they instead assign motive and go on the attack. Further, they are ready to inflict revenge by pledging not to vote for him in his next gubernatorial race and wishing him harm. Really? Wow. I am surprised that the way of Christ and such a vindictive spirit could go so hand in hand. Blessing and cursing flowing from the same mouth. Yikes!
In the writings of many Christian leaders, there has been a tendency to label those who are reluctant to vote for Trump as being “self-righteous” and “unforgiving.” They argue that because Trump is more apt to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, we need to look the other way on his serious ungodly shortcomings. Afterall, so the thinking goes, Trump is far better than Hillary! So again: the end justifies the means and anyone who thinks otherwise deserves a derogatory label.
I want to ask, “What’s happened, Church, to our trust in the Lord?” Do we still believe that when it’s all said and done that it is God who establishes our governing authorities? (Romans 13:1). Will not the judge of all the earth do right?
As an American, it has always been important to me to participate in the process. I still encourage everyone to vote. Yet, I can understand why some want to abstain rather than vote for either of the two main candidates. I can also understand why others would instead choose to vote for a third party candidate with whom they have fewer qualms. In so doing, they are not handing their vote to Hillary. They are standing by tried and true values, regardless of the outcome. I can remember a story about three Hebrew guys in the Old Testament who were willing to die rather than compromise their convictions before God, even as they trusted Him for deliverance. Seems relevant now.
Surely Father God is not expecting anyone to violate their understanding of Christian character in order to make the “right person” the next President of the United States. Why are we so quick, then, to demonize those who are not ready to vote for the candidate we would prefer? This should not be. To do so is a poor reflection on Christ who lives within us.
On November 8th, many will vote for Trump because they believe he is the man God has chosen for the highest office in the land. Others will make another choice or perhaps even abstain because they believe that a vote for Trump dishonors Christ. In both cases, people are doing their best to honor God. Who are we to judge them in this matter? That right belongs to God alone. Our command, rather, is to love one another in both word and deed. For those of us who consider ourselves to be Christians, that must remain our priority, and mutual respect will go a long way toward expressing that love.
Some things are more important than the election. Loving God first and foremost stands out to me. Loving our neighbors as much as ourselves floats near the top too. Trusting God in difficult circumstances and not trying to take matters into our own hands is something that remains worth pursuing. Showcasing the Gospel of Christ to lost and broken people is probably still a worthwhile priority. Maintaining a credible witness would serve that well.
No matter who gets elected, America will still need to see Jesus in us…perhaps more than ever. I vote for that. The President is not the Savior of America. We shouldn’t act like he is. Instead, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Let’s acknowledge Him in all our ways…He will make our paths straight.
Okay…pause…count…get the point… pray… now you can respond. 😉