Recently, a friend of mine asked me for my thoughts on Dr. Wayne Grudem's article answering objections to voting for Donald Trump. Dr. Grudem responded to 11 objections and then wrote a lengthy comparison of the proposed policies of Trump and Hillary followed by an appeal for Christians to "seek what is best for the nation." I read Dr. Grudem's article and jotted down the following thoughts in response to his answers:
(1) "My conscience won't let me vote for Trump."
(G) "I fail to see how your conscience lets you help Hillary Clinton get elected."
- "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9) As a Christian, I do not rely on my conscience as a guide, but rather as a warning signal that tells me to check my direction against the guiding principles of God's Word. My conscience gives off warnings when I contemplate voting for either Hillary or Trump, so I then turn to Scripture to see if I can find instructions on how to vote.
(2) "Voting for Trump means you approve of his immoral treatment of women."
(G) "No, it absolutely does not."
- I agree. Voting for Trump does not mean that you approve of his immoral treatment of women. It does, however, mean that you think a man can treat women like chattel and still be a good President.
(3) "When faced with the lesser of two evils, choose neither one."
(G) "We are not talking about doing something evil. We are talking about voting."
- Is voting not an action? The statement regarding the lesser of two evils is not talking about the evilness of the candidates. Rather, it is a reference to the evil of voting for the candidates. Thus, the real question is not if one candidate or another will do the least harm to the country, but rather, if God has provided us with guidelines for voting. If so, then to vote for anyone who does not line up with those guidelines would be a morally evil action. God said "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." (2 Sam. 23:3) To vote for Trump who is not just and who has no fear of God is to vote for someone who does not meet God's minimum qualifications for political leadership. Therefore voting for either Trump or Hillary would be evil in that either such action would be contrary to principles of Scripture.
(4) "If you vote for Trump you'll never have credibility in the future when you say that character matters."
(G) "I disagree. The current chaos over Trump's candidacy (and Clinton's) is mostly because of character issues."
- Actually, the current chaos is mostly because of Christians who wanted Bill Clinton impeached for the same kinds of things that Trump has done are now saying that such actions do not impact a President's ability to lead the nation. The lost world sees this as hypocrisy, and I think that they have a good point. The Bible says that we are to "judge righteous judgment" (Jn. 7:24) and that "It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment." (Prov. 24:23) Therefore, if we claim that Bill Clinton's immorality made him unfit for office, then it would be wrong for us to also claim that Donald Trump is fit for office in spite of his immorality.
(5) "We have to send the Republican party a message that a candidate like Trump is unacceptable."
(G) "the leadership of the Republican party already knew that Trump was the most unacceptable of all the choices we had. They fought tooth and nail against Trump in the primaries, and he won anyway."
- The important thing to note here is that this election's establishment candidates were all more conservative than Romney. This indicates that the decision of principled voters to either stay home or vote for third party candidates in the last election had an influence on the type of candidates that the leaders of the party presented for nomination. If Trump wins, he will have demonstrated to the Republican leadership that conservative values are not necessary for a Republican victory after all.
(6) "It is wrong for Christians to place their trust in a morally compromised man."
(G) "When the apostle Paul was on trial before the Roman governor Festus, he saw that things were going badly, so he said, 'I appeal to Caesar' (Acts 25:11) ... This doesn't mean that Paul was trusting in Nero instead of in God, but it means he wisely decided that he would have a better chance for a fair trial under Nero than under Festus."
- Actually, the Bible tells us that Festus and Agrippa both recognized that Paul had done nothing worthy of death and that he would have been permitted to go free if he had not appealed unto Caesar (Acts 26:32). The Bible also tells us that Paul intended to go to Rome immediately after returning to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21). Paul's real enemy in this situation was not the Romans but rather the Jews (Acts 28:19) who desired to put him to death. Even in this, however, we find that Paul denied that he had appealed to Caesar in order to bring an accusation against his countrymen. Then, in Acts 28:20, we discover the real reason that Paul made his appeal. He appealed to Caesar in order to come to Rome and speak with the Jews there.
However, the original objection still remains even though Paul, as a Roman citizen, reminded the Roman governor that he could not be delivered to a Jewish tribunal without Caesar's permission. It is not only wrong for a Christians to place their trust in a morally compromised man. It is wrong for Christians to place their trust in any man (Psalm 118:8-9, Psalm 146:3). In fact, Psalm 118 and Psalm 146 specifically tell us not to put our trust in political leaders, and Psalm 56:11 along with Proverbs 29:25 teaches us that we should not base our decisions on the fear of man (or woman either).
(8) "We should vote for neither one and trust a sovereign God to bring about his good purposes for the nation."
(G) "Every time I hear this objection, I think of the story of a man who climbed up to the roof of his house in a flood ... The moral of the story is that God often works through human means to answer our prayers."
- The illustration is not a good parallel to an election because the boats and hellicopters in this story are amoral: they are neither moral nor immoral, and the decision about whether to accept the rescue offered is also amoral. Let me present a better analogy from Scripture.
The Bible tells us (II Chron. 16) that, in the 36th year of King Asa's reign in Judah, Baasha the king of Israel built a fortress city along the trade route into Judah with the intent of preventing trade with his southern neighbors. This would have caused Judah's economy to collapse and plunge them into a depression.
Asa did not have the military strength to go to war with Baasha, so he hired the Syrians to fight against him instead. Asa's plan succeeded, and he was able to re-open the trade route, but God rebuked him for trusting in the king of Syria instead of trusting in God. The immediate benefit of Asa's plan was the prevention of an economic collapse, but the long term consequence was five years of war. Asa allowed his fear of Baasha to overwhelm his trust in the Lord, and he placed his trust in a man instead.
(11) "I can't trust Trump to do what he promises."
(G) "This objection ... asks me to believe that Clinton will be a better president than Trump."
- No, this objection asserts that it is foolish to trust a man with a history of lying to tell you the truth. The Bible tells us that "Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince." (Prov. 17:7) And that " A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin." (Prov. 26:28) Trump has proven himself to be a liar over and over again in this election cycle, and the end result of his lying will be destruction.
We would be wise to avoid association with him lest we also share in his ruin. As we read in the Psalms "Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies." (Ps. 40:4) We should adopt the attitude of David who said "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." (Ps. 101:7) David also said " I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD." (Ps. 31:6) And the prophet Jonah warned that "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy." (Jon. 2:8) The whole of Scripture is filled with warnings against lying and liars. Those who associate with liars will always suffer as a result.
(G) "By contrast, I continue to believe that many positive results would come from a Trump presidency."
- Dr. Grudem's view of America under a Trump presidency is idyllic almost to the point of idolatry. If Trump were to do everything that Dr. Grudem has said he would do, Donald Trump would go down in history as America's greatest president. He would be more revered than George Washington, seen as more pivotal than Abraham Lincoln and adored as more timely than Ronald Reagan. About the only thing that Trump could do to exceed Dr. Grudem's expectation is reveal that he is the Son of God with power to heal the body and forgive sins. This sycophantic adoration is hardly worth consideration, but let's take a look at some of its more obvious errors.
(G) "I'm confident that the Republicans in the Senate will hold Trump to his promise."
- I have no idea where this confidence comes from. The Republicans have controlled both the Senate and the House for the past two years, and they have shown a remarkable inability to stand up to anything. How having Trump in the White House will cause jellyfish to grow backbones is beyond me. However misplaced this confidence may be, it also contains a very important admission from Dr. Grudem. Notice that he did not say that he trusts Trump to uphold his promise to select justices only from the proposed list. This reveals that Dr. Grudem realizes how foolish it would sound to say that he trusts Trump to keep his promises of his own volition.
(G) "Such a Supreme Court would finally return control of the nation to the people and their elected representatives, removing it from dictatorial judges who repeatedly make law from the bench."
- Actually, the Supreme Court has enjoyed a Republican majority for more than 40 years. This means that the dictatorial court which has repeatedly made law from the bench is a product of voting for Republicans. The Republicans own the Supreme Court, and it is high time that they were held accountable for the results.
(G) "Such a court would likely overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion laws and the regulation of abortion to the states."
- The Court will not overturn Roe v. Wade under a Trump presidency because Trump emphatically insists that abortions be allowed in cases of rape and incest. If there are legitimate exceptions to the prohibition against abortion, then the prenatal child cannot be protected by the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of the right to life. The Constitutional right to life has no exceptions. It applies to all people within the jurisdiction of the United States regardless of the conditions of their lives. To say that mothers should have the right to kill some prenatal children (like those whose fathers were rapists) is the same thing as saying that prenatal children do not have a Constitutionally protected right to life.
(G)"Trump has pledged to cut taxes significantly"
- Trump also pledges on his campaign website to make the wealthy pay their "fair share." Trump pledges to do this by eliminating tax breaks to the wealthy thereby lowering the tax rate without actually lowering the amount of taxes received. In other words, his tax cuts will have a net effect of zero.
(G) "Trump wants to lower taxes to revitalize the economy, help businesses grow, and provide more good jobs."
- Trump's plan to provide more jobs is to raise tariffs to make it more expensive for companies to produce products outside of the United States than it is to make those same products within the United States. He completely ignores the fact that the reason companies are moving their production facilities beyond our borders is that the cost of production within our nation has become too high for them to stay in business if they remain here. Artificially raising the cost of production outside of our borders will not do anything to alleviate the ailing economy within our borders. In fact, it will likely make conditions here much worse.
(G) "Trump has promised to rapidly rebuild our depleted military forces."
- Trump has also promised to order our troops to commit war crimes, and he has further promised that he will make them carry out those orders. It is not reasonable to cherry pick a candidates promises and pretend that he will only keep those with which we agree.
(G) "Trump has promised to rescind many of the most objectionable executive orders given by President Obama, so he will likely end the compulsory moral degradation forced on us by a liberal agenda."
- Trump recently paraded around a stage holding a rainbow flag with "LGBTs for Trump" written on it. Trump has repeatedly said that people should be allowed to use whatever bathroom they want to use, and he strongly criticized the North Carolina bathroom law because of its economic impact. Trump has not given any indication that he sides with conservatives on the issue of homosexuality.
(G) "Christians should seek what is best for the nation."
- I agree. The question that remains, however, is what is the best that we should be seeking? Does Jeremiah 29:27 really imply that Christians should be willing to vote for Trump over Hillary?
Let's not forget that Daniel was under this same command when he defied the king by praying to God in public. Daniel could have decided to just pray to God in secret after hearing of the king's decree. After all, there is no command in Scripture requiring that prayers be public, and besides, the same prophet who said that the Jews should seek the welfare of Babylon also said "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." (Jer. 23:24) Surely, God would have understood if Daniel had just kept his prayers private from then on.
But Daniel realized that maintaining his very high position in the Babylonian government was of no value if his testimony was destroyed. He determined that the best way to seek the peace of Babylon was for him to publicly defy the king's order, to be stripped of his position, and to cast to his death into a pit of hungry lions. Daniel's example should teach us that seeking the peace of our nation sometimes requires us to be willing to relinquish our positions of power and influence within the government. I am convinced that this election is one of those times.
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Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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