On the eve of the 2018 mid-term elections, evangelicals are being told how they should vote. Do not think we’ve failed to take notice that many of those who attempt to guide our vote have little regard for the Scripture themselves. This has not stopped a great many from telling us that our Christian faith demands we cast our ballots for those whose policy positions are contrary to the Word of God. Those who don’t seem to care about the Bible are wagging their fingers frantically and accusatorily, demanding that we vote like Jesus, who they insist wouldn’t be a Republican.
Jesus, of course, is not a Democrat, a Republican, or a Libertarian. Jesus is a theocrat, and upon his Glorious Appearing he will set up a throne in Jerusalem and rule the world with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27). Jesus never cast a ballot, in fact. As the giver of the Law, he had no need to vote for the party of the Pharisees or Sadducees, had that been a thing. Nonetheless, we are convinced by our conviction that God’s Word forms for the Christian the ultimate rule of faith and practice. We are bound, simply put, to apply the Bible to all areas of life. And that includes who we vote for in tomorrow’s election.
As an ever-growing horde of finger-wagging lecturers chastise evangelicals for our typically conservative voting patterns, most of the time from arms draped in rainbow-colored tunics, I feel it’s necessary to explain to secular onlookers why evangelicals seem so beholden to the Republican party. And, I hope to make a case for why we should continue to feel beholden to the principles that undergird Republican political ideology.
First, let me emphasize that no one is saved by political affiliation (does that need to be said?). Political conservatism is not the type of righteousness that saves, although it is indeed righteous. Conservatism is not capable of propitiating our many sins or expiating them from our eternal record. The question here is not how one is justified (which is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone), but how we bear fruit in keeping with repentance, even in how we exercise our right to vote in the Republic given us by God.
Secondly, let me emphasize that (most) Christians are not under the assumption that Republican politicians are inherently more personally moral than Democrat politicians. Neither do we assume that Republican politicians are necessarily believers in right standing with God. We do believe it’s ridiculous to assume that Democrat politicians are right with God (how could they be?), but that does not mean that Republicans are right with God by virtue of their party affiliation. To be abundantly clear, most evangelical believers aren’t under the assumption that Donald Trump is a born-again believer. To make this clear, let me make some analogies:
Donald Trump is no more a Christian than Bill Nye is a scientist.
Donald Trump is no more a Christian than Elizabeth Warren is Native American.
Donald Trump is no more a Christian than Adolf Hitler was a racial trauma counselor.
Could I be clearer? I doubt it. The man explicitly claimed to have never asked forgiveness for his sins. He’s as lost as an albino goose in a snowstorm. He has shown no remorse for being a serial adulterer, serial marrier, fornicator, womanizer, and – frankly – a habitual liar. Any Christian minister to preach his funeral, should he “preach him into heaven,” should have his ordination revoked for dereliction of duty. The one who vouches for having led him to Christ – and his spiritual leader – is an adulteress herself, who likewise needs to be saved. In fact, Donald Trump is the spitting moral image of exactly who you would expect to be a convert of prophetess, Paula White. Donald Trump is morally repugnant. It’s been said that Trump’s sexual liaisons make Bill Clinton look like a choir boy (this is untrue because Bill Clinton’s liaisons outnumber Trump’s and involve rape), but regardless of the apples-and-orangeness of the comparison, Donald Trump is a pile of steaming, putrid godlessness. We can all agree on that, right? No matter his pandering to the evangelical base, no matter his invocations of prayer before events, no matter his rescue of Christian missionaries from hostage situations, no matter his policy objectives, the man shows no fruit of an authentic conversion experience and he certainly does not seem to be conformed to the image of Christ.
As with Donald Trump, evangelicals need not be so naive as to think that among Republican politicians there are fewer instances of adultery, fornication, homosexuality or abortion. It probably seems like there are less of these sins among Republicans because they’re not built into our party platform and we don’t have parades to celebrate these sins. Nonetheless, Republican politicians are not immune to rampant immorality.
Third, it should not be said that the immorality of Donald Trump or any other politician (whether Republican or Democrat) doesn’t matter. Please do not take that as the evangelical position. Morality does matter. It mattered when Bill Clinton was a scumbag, and it matters when Donald Trump is a scumbag. Character does count. Anyone who says, “We are not electing a pastor, but a president” should read Romans 13:4. The government is indeed a “minister of God.” This doesn’t mean that the government is an ecclesiastical office. This means that the government serves the same God as the pastor, bishop, elder, or deacon. The government’s job is to punish the wicked and reward good (see Romans 13, 1 Peter 2). Ministering justice (or “administering justice,” which means the same thing) is the enforcement of morality that we have legislated, because all legislation is the legislation of morality. That which is considered “wrong” is seen as criminal, and that which is considered “right” is incentivized if, by nothing else, a lack of punishment. Without an adequate moral bearing of basic right and wrong, the government will fail to adequately administer justice on behalf of God.
Those foundational understandings laid bare, let me explain why even in spite of those things, evangelicals have typically (and should typically) vote Republican. Forgive the creation of another list, which may serve to confuse.
1. We want people to stop murdering other people.
This one is kinda the biggie. Stop killing people. Babies are people. Christians don’t believe in discrimination based on things like age. Stop murdering infants just because they’re smaller than you, you dirty, dirty bullies. Just because they can’t fight back and you can’t hear their screams through your uterine wall doesn’t mean you aren’t committing murder. We don’t care if the baby is going to keep you from maximizing your potential, realizing your dreams or ruin your vacation. We don’t care how you got pregnant, whether it was by your inability to know how science works in regards to procreation, whether you were so drunk you couldn’t appropriatley use a condom, whether your vasectomy doctor made a mistake or even – God forbid – you were raped. You do not have a right to murder another human being, let alone a completely innocent one.
If I went around murdering the children of rapists you would want me locked up in the same prison as the rapists. If you murder your child, that doesn’t make you “not a mom.” It makes you a murderer and it makes you the mother of a dead child.
Let’s say, just for kicks and grins, that all the social justice agenda is perfectly legit. Let’s say that it’s a commendable use of time to get puppies adopted instead of euthanized. Let’s say trees have feelings and shouldn’t be made into Dunder Mifflin paper. Let’s say that plastic bags really are ruining the ocean and smothering sea turtles to death. Let me make it very clear…when you stop killing babies maybe I’ll give two flaming red pennies about cockfighting and universal healthcare.
Here’s a health care tip; stop killing people. Universally. Just stop doing it.
We do not believe that “being kind to the alien and sojourner” (or as the Democrats mean it, “letting our country be invaded by criminals”) somehow undoes the reality that these same politicians advocate for unbridled infanticide. Forgive us while we gag ourselves during your moral lecture.
2. We don’t believe in theft or slavery.
There’s the 8th Commandment. It exists. We didn’t make it up. God wrote it at Sinai and give it a long time before that. “Don’t steal” is a command. The command presupposes the individual’s right to private property. We don’t believe in socialized medicine (or socialized anything) for the same reason we don’t believe in slavery. It is intrinsically immoral to demand that man provide to you his labor. That is theft. It is intrinsically immoral to demand another person’s wealth. Again, that is theft.
What Bernie Sanders (and most of the Democrat Party) promotes is unmitigated theft. Their platform is stealing. To get votes, they want to steal from one man and give it to other men who deserve it less and to whom it doesn’t belong. Bernie Sanders is basically promoting slaveholding. He’s not a racist. He’s a communist, and that’s basically the same difference. Both systems argue that people are not ultimately free and that their labor can be commandeered by someone else and forcibly given against their will to other people. Communism is the 20th and 21st Century version of slavery, and it’s as equally as repugnant.
This means that because Christians have a basic grasp of human decency as found in God’s law, they have a general aversion to the redistribution of resources, or as the Bible would call it, sin.
3. We don’t trust people (and therefore we don’t trust the government).
Christians typically share an understanding of what is commonly called “Original Sin.” We Calvinists believe in something known as “Total Depravity.” Plainly put, we believe people are generally bad. Call us pessimistic; it’s true. The framers of our Constitution, after a great deal of debate, set up a system known as Federalism. This system, with different branches of government and separation of powers, was designed the way it was designed because they believed men were evil. Because men were evil, they needed to be governed. But because men must govern (and men are evil), the government must be kept in check and regularly balanced also.
Therefore, Christians have a natural dislike of a government that seeks constantly to grow stronger. We do not want more government, we want smaller government because the government is run by men and men are wicked. We believe history is on our side and that our fears are well-founded. Liberty naturally rests in the individual. Liberty is naturally curtailed by the government. We want to worship freely, engage in free commerce, speak freely, assemble freely, and so on. We recognize that a government big enough to take care of our problems is big enough to control our lives. As Christians, we don’t think they’re qualified.
Democrats could possibly have more evangelical votes if they weren’t trying to force us to do things against our will all the time, from making gay wedding cakes to
4. We don’t believe the government is God.
Secular humanism, of which – let’s face it – is the religion of most Democrats, is an opposing worldview of Christianity. In secular humanism (consult the Humanist Manifesto II or III), humans are at the center of their interests, philosophy, and affection. Their suppositions begin with humanity as the epicenter of the universe. In Christianity, in juxtaposition, we believe that God is at the center of the Universe and humans are peripheral. Secular humanism has a religious zeal and affection for mankind, so much as to (effectively) make man into God. The secular humanist believes that man can provide the solution to all of man’s problems. We believe that God provides the solution to all of man’s problems.
Christians notice that the government’s war on poverty has made poverty worse. Christians have noticed that the government’s war on drugs has made drugs worse. The government cannot eradicate poverty, bring social harmony, or change the human heart. And so Christians are naturally aligned with Ronald Reagan who said, “Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.
A FINAL CAVEAT
This article is not suggesting that there is never a time to vote for someone with a “D” behind their name on a ballot. Perhaps there is a hypothetical scenario in which the Democrat in a race holds to a more Biblical worldview than the Republican. This is theoretically possible, and it has happened before. Likewise, this article is written from a binary perspective, assuming (for the sake of argument) that the only choice on a ballot is between a Democrat and a Republican. In reality, there are usually other options, including any number of third parties or simply not voting (another ethical dilemma best reserved for another time). And finally, it should be understood that certain local offices, ranging from dogcatcher to coroner, may require a party line ticket but the actual job performed has no relation to the party platform. I do not mean to imply that all elected offices have the same moral burdens.
But one point should remain; the Democrat Party platform is largely a list of things that Scripture explicitly says God hates, from theft to murder, and evangelical Christians will not be easily convinced otherwise.