I will be voting for Donald Trump this coming November for President of the United States, and I’m not the least bit ashamed of doing so. My support does not mean that I agree with everything he does or says. Nor does it imply that I approve of his previous life choices. But it does mean that I believe he is the most fit person for the position this election cycle.
Recently Tim Keller posited the argument in the Twitter-sphere that a Christian cannot tell a fellow believer who they should vote for (Biden or Trump). He has taken the position that to do so would be an attempt to bind the conscience of another; evidently, a severe “no-no” in Christian etiquette. To be honest, I find that a bit strange.
As a pastor, is it not the job of leading the flock of God by helping shape and mold their conscience in order to curb their behavior to pursue righteousness (i.e., right versus wrong living)? Keller goes on to argue that the Bible teaches many things, principles even that we may infer from, but it does not give us direct answers on some of today’s political issues. “Therefore,” says Keller, “we cannot insist that all Christians, as a matter of conscience, follow one or the other.”
The famed Protestant Reformer once argued on similar grounds.1 He stated when challenged to disavow some of his teachings, and in so doing condemn much of his writing, that unless they be
“…proved to be wrong by the testimony of Scripture…it is impossible for me to recant. [For] my conscience is bound to the Word of God. It is neither safe nor honest to act against one’s conscience. Here I stand. God help me. I cannot do otherwise.”2Martin Luther, Diet of Worms, 1521 A.D.
However, there is a vast difference between what Luther defended as a matter of conscience and what Tim Keller is proposing.
Politics is an area deemed off limits for many in terms of religious convictions. To say that social policy (practice of politics) ought to be regulated in terms of religious beliefs causes a choking spasm for those who cherish the false dogma called neutrality. For those unfamiliar with my terminology its called being “bipartisan” in our day. To be partisan (i.e., following a particular party line and thereby denying the aforementioned cherished dogma) is extremely vilified by a great number of people. Sadly, it is not just those outside the Church of Jesus Christ who are so affected but those inside as well. What Keller seemingly wants is for us to be bipartisan in our approach to this election year, and he is not alone. The call for unity is being propagated on all fronts.3
You see, Trump plays by the beat of his own drum. He does what he believes is right, often times to the chagrin of others. He doesn’t play bipartisan politics, for his positions and the policies that he desires to enact are very partisan. This is one of the many reasons why Trump is so hated. He says what he thinks (sometimes not a good thing), and he doesn’t appear to give two thoughts to what others might say regarding it. Which is just another way of saying that he doesn’t succumb (in most cases) to peer pressure.
An Illustrative Ad…
One such example was sent to a few nights ago by a friend through a Facebook link that had the current president speaking about how he was for protecting the rights of the newly born. Why would he find a need to address that topic? Because there are leaders within this nation that are for infanticide. Governor elect Ralph Northam of Virginia is one such individual in favor of terminating the life of the newly born, as an extension of current abortion practices in this country. He once stated on a radio program that he’d have no problem after a baby is born having the mother and her doctor(s) discuss whether or not that child should live or be terminated.4
Such savagery is supported by many within the party of the Donkey.5 The termination of a mother’s offspring in the womb is one of the chief selling points (platform is the more formal term) for this party. Trump’s ad was no doubt a promise to his supporters (and some who are not) that he will not give even the slightest nod to such practices.
Weighing the Issues…
In light of such things, who should I support in the upcoming election? Should I follow Keller’s haphazard claim that it is wrong to attempt to bind the conscience of another?6 Bear in mind I am not talking about my personal standards (that would be self-righteousness), but God’s objective standard of truth. His ethical claim on what is right, holy and good.
“Oh, but you’re just being a one-issue guy. There are so many other issues that must also be taken into account. According to the Bible, we as Christians are to care for the poor. What’s Trump ever done for the poor!” comes the critic’s response.
I’m sure you’ve heard this argument. I’ve heard quite a few times from those that bear the name of Christ. The claim that we need to have a more holistic approach to political involvement rather than just focusing on one issue out of many. What of racism? What of employment? What of the sojourner? What about education? What about healthcare? Etc.
Ethical Considerations in light of Current Ethical Matters
Okay, what about those things? There is more than one way to approach such concerns. First, are all ethical matters weighed the same? According to our Lord they are not (e.g., John 19.11)
Ethics refers to right and wrong practices based off of some upheld (preferably objective) standard. So, are all issues of right and wrong measured the same? For example, it is it ethically wrong according to Scripture (which is to say, according to God) to murder another human being? Yes ,of course it is. Is it wrong to steal from another human being? Yes, of course it is. Is it wrong to lie about another human being? Yes, of course it is.
All of these things are ethically wrong, but are they all weighed the same? What is the penalty according to God’s holy law when someone takes the life of another unlawfully? What of theft? What of lying? Depends on the context of the sin committed.
If the murder was accidental then the penalty is less than if it was premeditated, but a premeditated taking of another’s life requires the death penalty (Numb 35.16-34). Whereas stealing normally results in paying back what was stolen by a factor of 2 or 4. But if the theft results in the enslavement of another’s life, then the death penalty is the result (Exod 21.16). The same could be said of lying. Lying about yourself or your neighbor is ethically wrong, but it is not a crime. Unless, of course, your lying is in a court of law in order to pervert justice. In that type of circumstance the liar (perjurer) will be held accountable by the court by the very punishment they sought to inflict on their neighbor through their lying (Deut 19.18-19).
A little kickback…
So, when someone says “yes, killing a baby in the womb or on the table after birth is wrong, but so is not caring for the poor!” my response is that they are not equitable in terms of injustice. Christians are commanded to love their neighbor (Lev 19.18), which means we are to be concerned for the poor, but God places more value on the life of another being wrongly taken (Prov 24.11). To kill is worse than to neglect the impoverished. One is a crime punishable by death (life for life, blood for blood), but the other is a wrong that the Lord above shall tally on His Day.
Identifying Differing Spheres of Governance…
Secondly, I would add that many of those other matters mentioned are not governmental responsibilities. Whose job is it to care for the poor? Is it the responsibility of the Church or the Civil Government? Does not the Lord lay that burden at the feet of His own in order to test their hearts (cf. Deut 15.7-11)? Isn’t it the responsibility of the individual as well to work so that they might eat (2Thess 3.10)? Not all of us will amass the same amount of wealth in this life (cf. Deut 8.18), but we are all required to be content with what we have been given (Phil 4.11-13). This is true in terms not only of talent and gifts and abilities, but in terms of accepting our station in life and not being envious of others around us (1Pet 2.1).
Education, healthcare, poverty, racism (i.e., tribal bigotry) are all biblical issues, but they are biblical issues concerned about self-governing individuals within the family and ecclesiastical governments. These are not issues that a free societies’ civil government are supposed to be dictating, monitoring, delegating. Though I am somewhat inclined to agree with those of Keller’s mindset in that the Bible gives many guiding principles in how one handles each area, and direct “This is how it must be done” commandments are naturally (and purposefully) limited by the Lord, there is a caveat that needs to be added.
God’s Law-Word does lay out what is holy, righteous and good (see Psa 119). The ethical norms prescribed in the Bible are more than principles from where one might draw from at leisure, but they are objectively prescribed measures by which all men, women and children are required to live by.
To say that you are a Christian and that you can support the redefining of marriage, allow government sanctioned child abuse (called gender reassignment), stand by approvingly for theft from one group (“the haves”) in order to redistribute their property to another group (“the have-nots”), all the while having a seared conscience toward the millions of defenseless ones whose lives are snuffed out on a daily basis is asinine to the highest degree! To vote for a party that promotes the systemic abuses of power based on ethnicity is nothing more than calling evil good. And let us not forget that the freedom to speak against tyranny, against the abuse of power, and to proclaim the gospel message of Christ is being squelched by the party of Biden/Harris.
So as I said in the opening I will vote for the reelection of Donald Trump for President of the United States of America, and I hope others are wise enough to do the same.
1When I say similar I do not mean that the intention of both men (Keller and Luther) is the same. Both use a similar form of the argument (speaking about not going against a bound conscience), but I tend to believe that Luther had a better idea of political climate in the 1500’s in his day than Keller does in our own. Not to mention the fact that Luther’s intention was to bind the conscience of fellow believer’s to trust in the justifying work of Christ on the cross over and above indulgences and any other service that the Pope or another leader might insist would help such individuals “work out their salvation.”
2Ray Comfort, Luther Gold: Pure. Refined, Mary Ruth Murray, ed. (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2009), 22. This was Luther’s testimony at the Diet of Worms before King Charles V of Spain in 1521.
3Should we seek unity for unity sake, or should we seek unity in light of the truth? Which do you suppose is the better path to live by?
4Andrew Kugle, “Northam on Abortion Bill: Infant Could be Delievered and Then ‘Physcians and the Mother Could Decide if it Lives,’” The Washington Free Beacon, January 30, 2019, https://freebeacon.com/issues/northman-on-40-week-abortion-bill-infant-would-be-delivered-and-then-a-discussion-would-ensue-between-the-physcians-and-the-mother/.
5In stating this fact, I am not denying that many within the elephant party are also guilty of such reasoning. The only difference, as of right now, between these two political parties is the rate (speed) in which they continue their descent into the abyss. Though the donkey’s are leading the race, the elephants are not too far behind!
6By the way, Keller’s tweets work in the opposite direction. If it is wrong to bind the conscience of another believer, then why is Keller attempting to bind the conscience of his readers that it is wrong to “bind the conscience” in political matters? In other words, his standard cuts both ways and is therefore not a consistent model to follow.