A version of this piece was originally published by Erick Erickson’s site The Resurgent. Erickson is editor of TheResurgent.com and host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB radio.
The polling has drawn ever closer. More and more people wonder if those of us conservative Christians who are NeverTrump should finally yield, knowing that we can beat Hillary Clinton. I am in an odd position.
I am mindful that should Donald Trump win, the Republican establishment will blame conservative Christians for giving rise to Trump. Likewise, I know if Trump loses, the Republican establishment will blame people like me for giving rise to Trump and Trump supporters will blame people like me for his loss. I suppose I should say not that I’m in an odd position, but that I am in a no-win position.
With Trump’s rise in the polls and the increasingly competitive nature of the race, it is time to heavily weigh my opposition to Trump. After all, I view Clinton’s candidacy as anti-American.
I realize saying Clinton’s candidacy is, in my view, “anti-American” offends some or comes off as hyperbolic, but I think her candidacy is fundamentally anathema to and in opposition to basic, historic American values. I believe the founders of this country recognized individual liberty as negative liberty. It was not what individuals could do if government helped them that made this country great. Rather, it was what individuals could do if government left them alone.
Clinton’s vision of a leviathan nanny state runs counter to those ideals. She would expand the government, engage the government in social experimentation and advance the agenda of the sexual revolution against the church. I am under no delusions. With Clinton as president, the church in this country will be in for a difficult time, besieged from the outside. The forces of Mordor will be fully on the march.
With Clinton, the Supreme Court will fall into the hands of the left for a generation at least. The devastation to our social fabric will know no end. Trading in the idea of negative liberty, Clinton and a left-wing Supreme Court will pursue expansionist federal policies and concepts of positive liberty that advance the individual prurient interests of those who behave deviantly against the church in ways the founders would not have anticipated and no rational person would think wise. But Clinton as president will mean the insane have taken over the asylum.
Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized. … As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant. The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral — the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called — is now seen as pathological.” Clinton’s presidency will lock that in.
In short, I see the election of Clinton as the antithesis of all my values and ideas on what fosters sound civil society in this country.
At least with Trump we might, might get a better Supreme Court. We might get better Cabinet picks. In fact, in terms of my view of the country the odds are pretty great that my side has a greater chance of prevailing with Trump than Clinton. What most would identify as my side would have control of the executive branch and the powers of appointment and regulation that come with it.
So I should at least here and now, as the race draws close, reconsider my opposition to Trump. I’ve been doing it in conversation with friends, in prayer, and in quiet time dedicated to considering the future.
But in so doing, I have to admit that while I may view Clinton’s campaign as anti-American, I view Trump’s campaign as un-American.
The American spirit eschews the idea of a strong man in Washington fixing all our problems. We are supposed to be against the imposition of values set by Washington and instead should embrace our heterogeneity as a people. Not only does Trump not do that, but his views pervert the liberal order of things as much as Clintonian illiberalism. Clinton offers neither safety nor freedom and Trump offers safety at the expense of freedom. While I see Clinton as having no virtue, I see Trump corrupting the virtuous and fostering hatred, racism and dangerous strains of nationalism.
More importantly, while I think Clinton will do long-term damage to the country, I believe Trump will do far more damage to the church, which must be my chief priority. A Clinton administration may see the church besieged from the outside, but a Trump administration will see the church poisoned from within.
I see it happening even now. This past Friday I debated the merits of Trump and sat next to a Christian who argued that because God chose sinners, we should choose Trump. She argued that a bunch of other presidents were terrible, immoral people so we should be okay with Trump. She argued that God chose Abraham, Samson and David, so we should choose Trump.
I do not recall John F. Kennedy writing books bragging about his affairs. I do not recall Bill Clinton telling a television audience he wanted to have sex with his daughter. How far a Christian must fall to justify the low morals of one man by tearing down the reputations of others in sometimes exaggerated manners. And I do recall God choosing Abraham, Samson and David and all of them repenting of their sins. That repentance stands in studied contrast to Donald Trump, who has three times said he never had to ask for forgiveness and only recently said his advance of the church, if he is elected, might be the only thing that gets him into heaven.
That is a far cry from sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, et soli Deo gloria
When I see Christians defining deviancy down to justify a political decision, I see a real problem for the church. When I see Christians saying we have license to choose bad men because God chose bad men, I see the sparks of apostasy. Many of my friends have turned themselves over to the anger Trump displays. I see friends on Twitter in meltdown, tweeting profanity at others, spending their time on radio attacking friends by name for refusing to yield. That is not healthy. But not only is it not healthy, it reeks of desperation.
The level of fear many of my friends have toward what a Clinton administration may bring has turned to desperation and desire for a protector. But we already have one and neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
So many pastors who email me to beg me to reconsider and so many others who write do so because they think this is the last best chance to get this nation right. They think we will turn a corner after which we cannot turn back. While I concede they may be right, what I see is a level of desperation causing them to place their trust in one strong man instead of God. And, in truth, I do not concede they are right, but have concluded we are already past the point of redemption when the best either party can do is offer up Clinton or Trump. The seriousness and virtue of the voter is in the grave already and my Christian brethren for Trump yearn for an idolized past that never existed in a future that is not theirs, but God’s, to shape.
Christians looking for a strong man to protect the church instead of the strongest man who conquered death is a terrible thing to see. Many Christian leaders are engaging in a kind of syncretism, trying to blend patriotism with Christianity. They seemingly argue that if the nation falls, the church falls and for the church to rise the country must rise. But Christ has already risen so the true church is in no danger of falling. The gates of hell shall not prevail.
Seeing men like Wayne Grudem and others beclown themselves trying to justify support of a man like Trump makes me weep for the shallow faith of a church more wrapped up in its Americanness than its godliness. I have to say I was truly blown away by having a Christian sit next to me on Friday and argue that we should support an immoral adulterer who had never asked for forgiveness because of what he might do for Christians.
Just read Grudem’s attack on Rudy Giuliani in 2012 to see his hypocrisy derived from desperation now:
“So it seems to me that if evangelicals don’t support Romney in a significant way, Giuliani will be the Republican candidate. So then we will have a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights candidate who is on his third marriage and had a messy affair prior to his divorce from his second wife. Then we will lose any high moral ground and the enthusiasm of the evangelical vote (many of whom will just sit it out), and the difference between Giuliani and Clinton will be only one of degrees as he shifts leftward in the general election to appeal to the ‘middle.'”
How now can Grudem advance his witness to questioning unbelievers? He now praises an unrepentant man both guilty of and proud of the very sins he attacked Giuliani for. Even Giuliani never wrote a book bragging about his affairs with married women or boasting of taking advantage of others through strategic bankruptcy filings and shorting laborers. One can hardly escape the conclusion that had Giuliani been the nominee, Grudem would be chastising Christians for not wanting to vote for the man.
Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.
“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one.” For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[a] whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
This is the inerrant word of God and Christians are choosing to ignore it because they have convinced themselves they are not electing a priest, but a president. Therefore they have segregated the commands of their faith from the desires for themselves. I cannot bifurcate my faith in that way. I cannot in good conscience support anyone who bears the name of brother when he is unrepentant of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler.
Here now is a man in Trump who sees no need to be saved and has no understanding of a faith he professes. And he sees Christians cheering him on in his rebellious state, defending him when they blasted others for the very same sins.
The whole purpose of shunning the unrepentant sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent. All Christendom should be ashamed we are putting our needs in this temporary place ahead of saving a soul bound for eternity.
That I see so many Christians justifying Trump’s immorality, defining deviancy down, and turning to anger and despondency about the future tells me I cannot in good faith support Trump because his victory would have lasting, damaging consequences for Christianity in America. We harm our witness by embracing the immoral, unrepentant strong man. We harm our American virtue by buying into the idea that one man can make America great again. Further, we risk losing Donald Trump’s soul for the sake of our selfishness.
Lastly, for those who compare Trump to Cyrus, God never asked his people to support Cyrus’s cause, only to accept him as their ruler. God never asks his people to choose between the lesser of two evils. God uses all men, from pharaoh to Trump. And he can do so without making Christians endorse the person’s sins. God did not tell the Jews to throw open the gates of Jerusalem for Nebuchadnezzar. God did that himself. God shut the door of the ark and brought the rain and dried again the land. He holds the entire universe in the palm of his hand. God can see us through all things if we aren’t so busy pretending his will and exercising pretended divine authority. His will be done. If God wants Trump in the White House, he does not need me. To think otherwise is to think God is not God.
I think Hillary Clinton will do lasting damage to the country. I cannot vote for her.
Having fully weighed my opposition to Trump, I think Donald Trump will do lasting damage to the witness of the Church in America and I therefore cannot vote for him.
I am without a candidate. I will not harm my witness nor risk Trump’s soul to serve my political desires.