Ends and Means

In a previous life I was a political consultant. I was one of those operatives that ran political campaigns at the local, state and federal level, as well as state-wide ballot initiatives and whatever other work I could get. In the old days I was absolutely sold on the idea that the ends justified the means. Getting my candidates elected was vital no matter what I had to do short of breaking the law.

As most of you know I am a conservative Republican and I used to say that any Republican is better than any Democrat any day of the week. I voted for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump. Of this group Trump was the hardest to cast my vote.

You may recall that when he ran during the 2016 election his character was less than stellar. But like a lot of Americans I thought that a DC outsider businessman should get a shot at the presidency – we’d already seen what DC insider failed to do. I also thought the job would temper him – within 18-24 months he’d learn what it meant to be presidential and his combativeness, arrogance, and honestly inexperience would subside.

I knew then, as I have written several times on this blog, that he was not a Christian. However, we had heard that numerous Christian leaders were working to bring him to faith, and he seemed genuinely interested in doing so.

Why do I write all this?

Well, I voted for myself for President of the United States this time around. As a conservative R I cannot in good conscious vote for Joe Biden and what the Democrats stand for and as a Christian I cannot in good conscious vote for Donald Trump.

Here’s an interesting twist – I teach politics at a local Christian university where I share with the students who to follow your faith as you engage the political system. I have a unique perspective because I’ve seen how the sausage is made – I’ve been the guy doing the opposition research, the hit pieces, the debate prep and all the rest. I’ve been in the backroom deal meetings where people arrange the outcomes outside the view of their constituency. I’ve leaked information to the press to make someone look bad. I’ve done it all to ensure Republicans came out on top. And not just any Republicans – pro-life, social and fiscal conservative Republicans.

So, what changed my mind?

Jesus.

Since those old days I’ve had a significant transformation in my life where Jesus has literally taken the clay out of which I am made, slammed it on the pedestal and reshaped it into His image. I now see things through His eyes not my own fallen eyes.

It’s not that I didn’t know back when I was in politics that it’s a dirty business. I’ve done dirty things to people and believe me they’ve done them back to me. If you’ve not had your nose bloodied you’ve not played the game. But now that I see things differently through my Christian lens, I understand the ends do not justify the means. There is no right way to do the wrong thing.

I recently told my class that the problem with today’s Christian voter is their faith is informed by their politics instead of their politics being informed by their faith.

As an evangelical Christian I can tell you that the only thing that matters in this world is sharing Jesus with people. Jesus told us that if we love Him, we will do as He commands (John 14:15). And He’s commanded us to do a lot of things that should inform our politics such as:

  • Love your enemy
  • Don’t judge others
  • Forgive as you’ve been forgiven
  • Pray for those who persecute you
  • Don’t take offense (Turn the other cheek)
  • Be reconciled to one another
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • Love your neighbor as you love yourself
  • Humble yourself
  • Honor God’s law
  • Be a servant
  • Settle matters quickly with an adversary
  • Place God first
  • Care for those in need
  • Oh yeah, don’t lie

You get the idea.

Unfortunately, our political system looks very little like this. In fact, it looks a whole lot like the exact opposite!

Now, I don’t hold non-Christians to this standard. Paul is very clear about this in 1 Corinthians 5:9-12. However, I do hold those who claim the faith to these and Jesus’ other standards. Not that we meet them all the time but that we strive to meet them! You will know His disciples by the way they love one another. You will know them by their fruit. If you don’t love your brother, the love of Christ isn’t in you. Recognize these verses?

As a Christian, I have realized that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. There are some basic policy things I like from the R side and some basic policy things I like from the D side. But Christians should not fit themselves into one party or another because our faith demands us to be conservative on some issues while quite liberal on others.

So, why did I vote for myself and not just vote R again this time around? Well, several reasons.

First, while many high-profile evangelicals keep telling us that Trump has accepted the faith there is absolutely no fruit showing that he’s been born again, become a new creation in Christ, or been transformed in any way. I’ve heard him say “God” before, but I’ve never heard him say the name “Jesus” in any of his speeches. Only God knows what’s in the man’s heart but while he’s good at supporting religious liberty and some of our issues I just don’t see him being a Christian.

Now understand that if he’s not a Christian I don’t really care. Again, don’t hold a non-Christian to our standards. But what I do care about is someone who claims the faith and then doesn’t follow it. There’s where the accountability comes in. I’d rather him just say that he’s not following Jesus which would then make sense for all the crazy stuff he does. But as a follower – even a baby Christian – he’s not loving his neighbor, loving his enemies, praying for those who persecute him, turning the other cheek, not judging, forgiving, being reconciled or any of the other things that are basic requirements to the faith. Yes, he supports the right Supreme Court judges and has done great things with the economy but do the ends justify the means? The old Tom would emphatically argue yes – it doesn’t matter what a jerk he is so long as he pushes our policies! The redeemed Tom can’t cross that bridge.

Second, I’m very concerned about how Satan has divided our nation and by Satan I do not mean Trump I mean SATAN. We are in a spiritual battle and America is losing that battle. We are at each other’s throats and no matter who wins the election it’s not going to get better. The only thing that drives out darkness is light and as Christians involved in politics we have to shine light – we have to not be hypocrites and actually stand up for the moral beliefs we profess and not give a guy a pass just because he’s in our political party. We have to tell God’s truth that He loves everyone but doesn’t love everything they do. We have to humble ourselves and serve our communities, listening to those in pain and need and respond as Christ did. We have to help people meet Jesus through our thoughts, words, and actions! We cannot play the game of politics like everyone else – it cannot be when in Rome do as the Romans! The only way we get our nation to pivot from the ugly path it is on is through the love of Jesus through our acts. Who the president is has very little to do with that – this is a Christian grassroots issue in your own communities.

Third, Jesus is King – I keep my eyes on heavenly things and not on earthly things. All the doomsday stuff about what will happen if you elect this guy or that guy is all hyperbole. Obama didn’t destroy the nation nor did Trump. Biden is not the new Stalin and four more years of Trump will not result in the nation being ripped apart. I remember when Reagan was running the left was absolutely convinced the guy would start World War III with the Soviets. Of course, it didn’t happen. The hysterics of politics is laughable. For those who don’t have Christ I get that the world is a scary place with huge consequences because you don’t understand eternity. But for we Christians there is nothing for us to be concerned about no matter our nation’s circumstances. I like how Paul put it, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Remember, my Christian brothers and sisters, there is nothing in this world that has any value. Solomon tells us that after trying everything there was to try under the sun the only thing that actually mattered was the fear of the Lord. Jesus tells us plainly not to be concerned about the things of this world. Stay focused on the mission of sharing His love and relationship with people. John tells us to hate the world and that love of the world is enmity toward God! Politics included I’m sure!

I’ve been told that I’m throwing my vote away by voting for myself – which in all honesty is me just being funny. I’ve also been told by others that they take their vote seriously implying I don’t. They may be right – I don’t take my vote seriously; I take my faith seriously. I get that one of these two men are going to win the presidency and I should just hold my nose and vote for one. And if I did it would be Trump; his administration is more in line with what I support than what the Democrats are proposing. But as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ there are times when you have to stand up and say, I’m just not going to go along with this stuff. The ends that I want politically do not justify the means of voting for a guy that acts so brashly against the values I hold as a Christian. Would I not be a hypocrite to support someone like that while preaching to my flock that they themselves cannot act like that?

So, my vote for Tom Mann is a protest vote. Is this really the best we can do in America – Biden or Trump???? Alas, fear not – God is in control and things will work out just as God has known since the beginning of the world. In the mean time I’ll be out introducing people to Jesus.

6 comments

  1. We are faced with two choices for our future- Biden or Trump. People are going to have to choose between the two. Voting for yourself is putting your head in The sand. I understand your heart, though. I voted for a third candidate four years ago, because I didn’t like either Hillary or Trump. And, God was in control back then, as He is today. Trump has done so much in four years, most of it good, for this country, I’m astounded and he has my vote this time around. I don’t have to like him. He doesn’t have to be a Christian. He does, however, work for me and the laws and policies he has enacted these past four years line up with my values and the direction I want my country to move forward in. I’m doing my part as a citizen. I’m voting for someone who could win and who aligns best with my vision for my future. God is in control. And, for whatever reason, God does not have a candidate available to us who acts Christian-like, presidential-like….so, that’s something to talk to God about. For now, I want my vote to count. And it will.

    1. Hi Andrea! Thanks for your comment! Appreciate your thoughts!!!

      Tom

  2. Elizabeth · · Reply

    Excellent post, thank you. I have to agree completely. We are to be Christ followers even before we are Americans. We need to keep in mind how unbelievers are viewing this, as apparent in a recent conversation I had with an unsaved acquaintance. When we are willing to support, or give a “mulligan,” to someone who has hitched his wagon to Christianity, and then openly mocks and disregards the very values Christ espouses without regret or repentance, we (Christians) are once again (and IMO, correctly) viewed as hypocrites. Our primary purpose is to be light to a lost world. Let’s not do anything to dim that light when we are needed most.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth!

      Liked your “mulligan” comment!!

      Tom

  3. There is an addition option available to the believer, one seemingly rarely considered but perhaps more consistent with a devoted Christian walk. It is well laid out in the following post:

    https://www.patternsoftruth.org/2020/10/22/my-conscience-is-bothered-by-both-choices-in-a-political-election-what-do-i-do-qa/

  4. Sweet!!! My college buddy Larry has a blog!!!!!

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