Open letters are so over-done these days, and here I find myself writing an open letter to you, my fellow American Christians, particularly those who support Donald Trump. I’d like to talk to you about Mr. Trump – and also about what the Bible says – because that’s our collective standard for decisions and life, is it not?
You may think we have little in common. I live in France, and I’m a Christian liberal. “How can you support someone who supports abortion?” you ask, as you cover your eyes and ears. But I don’t want to talk about abortion today, except to address this one thing. Jesus did not die only for the sin of murder; he also died for:
sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Jesus died for our impurity, our selfish ambition, and our fits of rage (and for the entire extensive list). On Judgement Day, we will not be measured solely on whether or not we have murdered. Likewise, abortion is not the sole issue to consider when choosing a candidate worthy of leading our nation.
So what should we consider?
From where I stand, you can take two views when choosing a presidential candidate. You can separate religion and politics – apart from the faith that guides you in every decision you make – knowing that you’re choosing a government official, and not a church elder. You can submit to their authority, like it says in Romans 13. You can follow Jesus’ lead in Luke 20:20 as you surrender to Caesar (the government) what belongs to the government, and surrender to God what belongs to God. You can pray for peace as you look forward to heaven, living your lives here as strangers on earth, like in Hebrews 11:13-16.
If you go this route, you’ll choose the candidate you think most likely to bring security, wealth, and dignity to our nation. You’ll choose someone who upholds the Constitution and the Bill of Rights set by our Founding Fathers and early American leaders, such as the promise of equal rights to all men and women – no matter what race or religion – the right to assemble and protest, the right to free speech.
On the other hand, you can decide religion and politics are inseparable and choose someone you think is worthy to lead a Christian nation – someone you think will make our nation greater, more Christian, more powerful, more secure. This is the view I’d like to address.
What makes a man worthy of leading a Christian nation, if we’re going with that approach? Should we look for a man like David where we overlook the sin of adultery and focus on his success in battle? He certainly made Israel into a great nation.
But if we’re going with that logic, we must ask Mr. Trump to step aside. David’s success had to do – in large part – with the fact that he was a man after God’s own heart.
So David went to bring up the ark of God to the City of David with rejoicing. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (Excerpts from 2 Samuel 6:12-22)
Mr. Trump may dance in his underwear and become “even more undignified than this,” but he won’t be doing it for the glory of God.
Instead of an Old Testament role model, should the leader of a Christian nation be like the overseer of the church? (You know, if we’re looking for someone to lead a Christian nation). If we think this way, shouldn’t we look for the following attributes?
Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
True, Mr. Trump has not been faithful to his wife…ves, like many politicians before him, and perhaps we cannot use this as a gauging point for our president. However, Donald Trump is not temperate. He is not self-controlled. Not respectable. Not hospitable. He is not not given to drunkeness. Not not violent. Not not quarrelsome. Not not a lover of money.
He does not manage his own family well, nor does he have a good reputation with outsiders. I’m afraid by this standard, we will again have to ask Mr. Trump to step aside from running for political office.
Perhaps none of this has made the slightest impact on you, so maybe it’s time to take off the gloves and be blunt. The bottom line is, of all the candidates, Mr. Trump is the least like Jesus. Should that matter when choosing a candidate? Well … if you’re basing your choice on making America “that Great Christian Nation” once again, then yes. Yes it should.
The thing is, Jesus is all-inclusive. He includes all people in his love and compassion (whether or not they ask for it), and in his salvation (to those who ask for it). All people – including Jews, Muslims, non-believers, Mexicans, Chinese people, black people, tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners, and murderers. After his resurrection at the end of Matthew 28, and again at the beginning of Acts 1, he sent his disciples to all nations.
Trump, on the other hand, is trying to build a wall to keep people out, and he’s encouraging his followers to heckle, abuse, and shove people who are on Jesus’ list of those he considers worthy of love, compassion, and salvation. Do you think Jesus doesn’t notice?
Jesus says this:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
and Trump says this:
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.” –Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa January 23, 2016
Do you think Trump will escape judgement for saying these things?
… For cheering him on, do you think you will?
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. … This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. (1 John 3-7-10)
God is not the God of coercion, but of free will. Therefore, if you insist on Trump, He will give you Trump.
But oh friends… Friends. Where, then, will we be?
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)