So, I teach Political Science part time at Corban University, a small Christian university here in Salem, OR. One of the key questions we ask our student is this: Should Christians be involved in politics? For some, the answer is a resounding, YES! For others, they point out that Jesus never actually took a political stance and clearly separated following Him with following the state. It’s always a fun debate.
As someone who believes that as Christians we should be influencing the culture around us to include the political culture, I have been somewhat uncomfortable with how I have seen evangelical leaders support our current President. I believe it goes beyond what Jesus would consider appropriate. Let me share why.
First let me say that I don’t think evangelical is a bad word! In fact, every Christian is called to be an evangelical (remember that part in Matthew 28 where Jesus tells us to go throughout the world making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them everything He taught us – the Great Commission?). So, to label people such as Franklin Graham, Paula White, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed and others as evangelicals doesn’t really bother me.
What bothers me is their blind support – and even unsupported prophetic pronouncements – about President Trump.
Let me make this very clear: God chooses leaders. There is no debate there. However, if you study scripture you will see that of the 39 kings of Israel and Judah – all of whom were chosen by God – only eight were considered “good” kings and the rest “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
Yes, God will allow you to have a bad king!
I have argued here before that the election in 2016 was a choice between two bad kings (or in that case a bad king and a bad queen). I haven’t changed my mind.
I like how Sharon Hodde Miller put it in a guest article in Mere Orthodoxy magazine (February 9, 2017):
“This year has changed me. I say this in all earnestness and with no dramatic intent, but this year really has changed me. I am not the same person I was, and my calling has shifted too.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint when the change occurred. Perhaps it was a series of events. It began when conservative evangelicals began to endorse a presidential candidate whose rhetoric, lifestyle, and priorities resembled nothing of Christ, but much of the fool as described in Proverbs.
“I watched Christians use dubious biblical interpretations and downright bad theology in an “ends justify the means” kind of ethic. I watched those same Christians bend over backwards to prove that this man, who possessed no discernible fruit of the Spirit, was a Christian. I watched Christians remain silent as the man they put in office continued to lie, name call, belittle, and slander. And I watched conservative Christians take up the mantra “Do not judge” in lockstep with the liberals they used to deride, as if Jesus’ words were intended to silence sound judgment. This wasn’t just hypocrisy. This was a forsaking of basic Christian doctrine and our primary citizenship in the Kingdom of God. And it changed me.”
I don’t think much has changed since this article was published. While as a conservative evangelical Christian I appreciate the President’s support for religious freedom. As a Republican I appreciate some of his policies (although I think he has mis-stepped several times). But I cannot go so far as these other evangelical leaders and claim that Trump is God’s leader taking on the dark forces of Satan in the world.
No, Trump’s just a rich guy that got elected and happens to support some of the same things Christians do even if he himself doesn’t hold to those beliefs in practice.
Jesus told us that we would know His disciples by the way they love one another. He also told us that we would know people by their fruit. Hmm….
What troubles me the most is the blind commitment some Christians have made to Trump – it’s almost like a cult of personality! As someone who is on the tail-end of the baby boomer generation, I learned that you respect the office even if the person in it may not be respectable. I also served in the military where you respect the rank even if the person wearing it is toxic. I certainly support the office of the presidency, but each man or woman who holds that office is to be judged by their character and actions not just because their title.
I guess my point today would be this: If you are a Christian involved in politics don’t forget whom it is you serve. We serve the King not any man. Trump may indeed have been chosen by God to lead this nation, but it doesn’t mean that he’s always doing the right thing! Even King David had to be held accountable a couple times when he did wrong (doing the census and by the prophet Nathan over Bathsheba).
Pray for the president; support policies of the president that are in line with our Christian beliefs; support his re-election if you’d like. But don’t blindly support anyone just because part of what they do aligns with what you believe while much of what they do cuts directly against our values as Christ followers.
As Christians we must use our discernment to distinguish between political policies we support vs the actions of the person making those policies if those actions are unbiblical. In other words, we must be mature Christians, as well as mature citizens.