Four years later, just change the names of the candidates, and this article is still relevant.
Originally published May 6, 2016
It’s been said ad nauseam that, in polite company, it’s not wise to discuss religion or politics. They’re hot button issues that people often have strong, differing opinions about, which can lead to arguments, which can ruin a perfectly nice party, picnic, or wedding reception.
This is one of the reasons I’m loath to write about or discuss politics. To me, biblical Christianity and sound doctrine are worth going to the mattresses for. When it comes to politics, though, I’m usually fine with keeping my opinions about the governor, president, or candidate du jour to myself.
But in light of recent events, there are a lot of differing points of view even among Christians who are, theologically, very like-minded. Christians who want God to guide every aspect of their lives, including voting. And I think it’s a political conversation worth having.
Earlier this week, Ted Cruz suspended his candidacy for the office of the presidency, leaving Donald Trump as the heir apparent to the Republican nomination. Strong feelings, opinions, and hand wringing among Christians ensued.
Why? Well, laying aside the entire election for just a moment and evaluating Trump only on his personal character and personal opinions on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, biblically literate Christians would be hard pressed to describe him as a virtuous, godly man whom they have zero qualms about enthusiastically supporting. (Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever voted for someone who fit that description. I’ve had at least a couple of qualms about everyone I’ve ever voted for. Haven’t you?) Quite the opposite, in fact. Most of the Christian people I hang with find Trump odious. Arrogant. Dishonest. A blowhard. Unkind. Immoral. And, now that it seems he will be the nominee, the lesser of two evils (the greater being Clinton or Sanders). But even the lesser of two evils is still evil, and nobody’s crazy about feeling she has no choice but to vote for someone she considers evil.
So what’s a Christian voter to do with Trump as the only “conservative” candidate who has a chance of winning the election? I’ve heard three predominate stances:
1. “I’m voting for Trump as the lesser of two evils. Assuming he adheres to at least some of what he has promised, fewer babies will be murdered under his administration, and the homosexual agenda will be stemmed at least a little more than it would be if Clinton or Sanders wins.”
2. “I just can’t, in good conscience, vote for someone whose character and policies are so ‘bottom of the barrel’. I don’t trust Trump to keep his promises, and I don’t see much, if any difference, between voting for him and voting for Clinton or Sanders. I’m sitting out this election.”
3. “I think it’s important to vote, but I can’t bring myself to vote for Trump. I’m voting third party/write in. I don’t like that it will probably give the White House to Clinton or Sanders, but at least I’ll be voting and the GOP will hear my voice and change its ways.”
I know good, godly Christian people who fall into all three of these categories. I have fluctuated back and forth among all three myself, and, to be honest, I’m still not sure where I’ll land come November. As I’ve begun to think about this issue, here are seven thoughts I’ve had about voting for the lesser of two evils:
1. If there’s a passage in the Bible that addresses voting in a democratic republic in an election for secular governmental officials, I haven’t run across it, and I don’t think anyone else has either. This makes sense if you think about it, because, in the Old Testament, God’s people lived under a theocracy (God was their king), and even during the period of the Old Testament kings, the people didn’t get to vote for the candidate of their choice. The New Testament was generally written to people under Roman rule who didn’t get to pick their leaders either. So, there’s really nothing specific in Scripture we can point to about voting as we know it today.
2. I’m starting to hear a new (to me, anyway) false teaching floating around: “God commands us to vote.” I don’t know which, if any, passage of Scripture is being mangled (and it would have to be mangled because the Bible doesn’t say this at all) to create this nonsensical notion, but the Bible doesn’t any more say God commands us to vote than it says God commands us to drive electric cars or refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. If you’re following a preacher or teacher who’s pushing this junk theology, run away and don’t look back. God does not command that we vote. If you pray and study the Scriptures about it, and your conscience still prevents you from voting in November, you are not sinning.
3. Because, in America, we do have the privilege of voting, Christians should take that responsibility soberly and vote in a way that best lines up with biblical principles. That means we do not vote for candidates who actively promote or encourage sin, for example, someone who promises to expand abortion, legislatively encourages and celebrates the sin of homosexuality, or endorses the persecution and prosecution of Christians and biblical values. If you’re on the fence about voting for Trump, you’ll have to do the research to see where he stands on the important issues, compare his stances to Scripture, and decide for yourself whether or not you can vote for him.
4. This is not something to break fellowship over or be judgmental towards brothers and sisters in Christ about. If you’re such a vehement proponent of view 1 (or 2 or 3) that you’re breaking ties with Christians who hold views 2 and 3, politics has become an idol for you and you need to repent. There are many Christians out there praying for wisdom, seeking to do what’s godly, and following their consciences according to biblical principles. They are not necessarily in the wrong because they come to a different conclusion from yours. If one botanist focuses on a daisy’s petals and another focuses on its leaves, that doesn’t make one right and one wrong. They’re just focusing on different aspects of the same flower.
5. I’ve seen this quote by Spurgeon posted all over social media:
“Of two evils, choose neither.”
I love Spurgeon as much as the next guy, and it’s a fine quote, but let’s be careful that we’re not subconsciously elevating this quote to the level of Scripture. It’s not. Spurgeon may have been the Prince of Preachers, but he wasn’t the King of Kings (and he’d be the first to tell you that).
6. Anything could happen between now and November. Trump could keel over and die of a heart attack. Clinton could go to jail. A conservative dark horse could emerge, get people excited, and run away with the election. A revival could sweep America and thousands of newly saved Christians could demand a godly candidate. Trump could get saved. Clinton could get saved. Sanders could get saved. (Let’s just daydream on that a little. Wouldn’t it be great to have the dilemma of trying to decide between two candidates who were both on fire for the Lord? Don’t think it can’t happen. After all, God saved Paul.) Matthew 6:34 says:
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Pray, yes. Study, yes. But let’s not invest time in worrying about an election that’s still months away.
7. God is sovereign, and He is the one responsible for the outcome of every election. Romans 13:1b says:
…there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Ultimately, however you decide to vote, you can’t mess up the results of the election. God has already decided which person He’s going to put in the Oval Office, and He’s not depending on your vote or anyone else’s to accomplish it. We seek to do what’s right and biblical in the voting booth because we love Christ and want to honor Him, and we trust God with the final results.
Give it some thought. Do some research. Study your Bible. Ask God for wisdom. Then, make the wisest and most godly choice you can. And stop worrying. God’s in control of all of this, and He will have His way and continue to care for His people. Trust Him.
As I mentioned, politics is a hot button issue, so I’m going to be a little more restrictive on the comments on this article. Before commenting, please make sure you’ve read the entire article as well as the “comment parameters” section of the “Welcome” tab at the top of this page. Also, please recognize that the focus of this article is limited to the idea of voting for Trump as the lesser of two evils. There’s a time and place to debate policy, whether or not you think Clinton and Sanders are evil, problems in the Republican party, whether Clinton should go to jail, etc. This ain’t it. Please stick to the topic at hand. Thanks :0)