Today the first thing I saw in my news feed was that Wayne Grudem, the famed author of Systematic Theology, has decided that as Christians we have a moral obligation to vote for Donald J. Trump. I am deeply saddened that this has happened but we live in a democracy and he’s allowed to endorse anyone he wants. However, myself and many other Millennial Christians disagree. Amy Gannett wrote a great piece on this very subject just a few days ago. (It appears I am late to the party).
I am not going to rehash her article, which is linked above, but I do want to talk about why Grudem came to his decision and why he is flat wrong. Dead flat wrong. Neither candidate is a fully Christian choice.
Wayne Grudem’s endorsement of Trump
First, Wayne destroys his own thesis in the middle of trying to present it.
I do not think that voting for Donald Trump is a morally evil choice because there is nothing morally wrong with voting for a flawed candidate if you think he will do more good for the nation than his opponent. In fact, it is the morally right thing to do.
If we are morally obligated to vote for the one that will do the most good then that means we must analyze our own values and believes and decide which one is the lesser of the evils. Not surprisingly, my values are not 100% identical to Wayne Grudem’s values. The same is true for many people in my age group.
Grudem then goes on to describe all the flaws Trump has…. which ironically is exactly why people do not trust him or believe anything he says.
He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.
Shortly after listing his flaws Grudem gets to the meat of the issue. Mainly that it’s the policy that makes him the right candidate, not his character.
I think he is deeply patriotic and sincerely wants the best for the country. He has been an unusually successful problem solver in business. He has raised remarkable children. Many who have known him personally speak highly of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. But the main reason I call him “a good candidate with flaws” is that I think most of the policies he supports are those that will do the most good for the nation.
While we can debate all day about how successful he actually is at business or great we think his kids are, the only thing that really matters is his policy and whether or not he can be trusted to support the policies from start to finish rather than shift and flop as he has already done so many time.
Are Trumps policies Christian?
The simple answer is: who really knows? He’s flip flopped so many times on every issue that it’s impossible to know if he seriously wants to push the policies tomorrow that he is speaking about today. But what policies does Grudem list that are specifically right for the nation and Christian valued? We will look at some of the main ones now.
The evils of liberalism
Under President Obama, a liberal federal government has seized more and more control over our lives. But this can change. This year we have an unusual opportunity to defeat Hillary Clinton and the pro-abortion, pro-gender-confusion, anti-religious liberty, tax-and-spend, big government liberalism that she champions. I believe that defeating that kind of liberalism would be a morally right action. Therefore I feel the force of the words of James: “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).
First Grudem starts listing things that are basically Fox News talking points. Has Obama seized more control over our lives? By what metric would we measure such a thing? Is this a strictly liberal policy? Of course it’s a silly premise. Our government surveillance has increased under Obama but then again it did under Bush too. So how is it a liberal problem? Furthermore, besides the implementation of Obamacare (which isn’t that great I’ll admit) there is no obvious way in which anyone can assume our “liberal” president has been taking control over our lives.
Now, let us address the initial list of items. I am not a defender of liberal policy even if I differ on some of these listed items. There are many areas that I repudiate the liberal policies and others that I agree with, much like any other sane individual.
- Pro-Abortion: Grudem rightly points out the liberal defense of abortion. Though, many would point out that abortion rates have been dropping regardless of the legality of abortions. However, it’s obvious that as Christians we should oppose abortion. It’s a shame that very few democrats or liberals oppose abortion but even the republicans who oppose it have done nothing about it. Only on the state level has anything been done about abortions. Also, abortions were still happening even when it was illegal. Making it illegal would not get rid of it. Moreover, statistics have proven that education is much more effective in lowering the abortion rate but conservatives wont support it. We need to stand against abortion but we also need to promote safety and education.
- Gender-Confusion: I am not sure that liberal policies promote gender confusion, though it’s clear they stray from the biblical model. Liberal policy does make allowances so that no matter how a person identifies they wont be discriminated against. I can see why Grudem would be opposed to any policy giving legitimacy to more than the two basic genders. Anytime a ruling entity declared that there is more than 2 genders or that gender is fluid, the public will take note of that and the Bible does support the two gender model.
- Anti-Religious liberty: Well, this is just flat out wrong. It’s been 8 years and still hardly a single shred of evidence has appeared to show that the liberals have supported anything that is remotely anti-religious liberty. Yes, there were scuffles about baking cakes but there is no serious demonstration to show that liberals are against religious liberties. Plus, Grudem assumes that somehow the liberal party doesn’t have Christians in it. Liberals are not out to get Christians. They just want to be left alone from the zealots who force their faith on everyone.
- Tax and spend: I am not going to deny that liberals have consistently wanted higher taxes than the conservative but lets get real for a minute. No one increased the deficit as much as the last 3 republican presidents. Bush was handed a surplus and ended with a deficit of 1.3 trillion dollars. That is just shameful. Obama was given that 1.3 trillion dollar deficit and we are now running a deficit of about 400 billion dollars. It’s been reduced by 2/3rds. No one has been more reckless with spending than the republicans. The same was true for Clinton #1. He was given a deficit of about 400 billion and ended with a surplus of about 300 billion. It’s no contest.
So these are the first 4 reasons that really bother Grudem, though he lists others in more detail later on. Most of them are half-truths or debatable issues. Some of them are fair issues as well that should be considered. But I am not here to defend liberalism, even though I lean left. I am here to liberate the Christian from feeling like they HAVE to vote one way or another because it’s the “Christian thing to do.”
The evils of conservatism
I won’t be exhaustive but I want to highlight that neither party are actually “Christian” parties. Grudem is insisting that his Christian policy priorities are more important than the Christians on the left or center but he doesn’t get to decide which Christian values are the most important values, each voter gets to decide for themselves.
- War war war: I am tired of war. the last 40 years of republican leaders have been war-hawks, chomping at the bit to dump every cent of government taxes into the war machine. They spread lies and half-truths to convince the public that wars is necessary. They even preemptively attack countries that we were not at war with. They refuse to try any amount of diplomacy and Trump even wants to use nukes. He wants torture. He wants to kill the families of Muslims. The war mongering has to end.
- Money and corruption in politics: I am not saying that Hillary isn’t corrupt. But it was the republicans who created the laws and means to corrupt the system. Every piece of legislation that passed by congress or the supreme court was championed by republicans who want as much money as possible in politics. Only liberals (though not enough) have supported getting money out of politics.
- The planet: God gave us the earth and it is our responsibility to tend it. Republicans have consistently proven that they only care about the planet when it can profit them financially. They make up all kinds of fallacious reasons why renewable energy is evil and that fossil fuels are completely save, even though it goes against 99% of all research done on the subject. They continually make the claim that they want foreign oil Independence but then turn around and pass legislation to allow our US oil to be sold over-seas rather than kept in the US. They have continually deregulated manufacturing to the point that industries like the Koch industries have given thousands of people cancer and our food and water is completely contaminated. They spread lies about the global warming data and pay fake researchers to come on the news to lie to people. The list could go on.
- The poor: Anyone who thinks it’s the job of the church and not the nation to take care of the poor has not read the Bible. There are dozens, if not 100, references to how we are to treat the poor. The closest examples are found in God’s instructions to the Israelites. If you think democrats are bad, you haven not read the Pentateuch yet. There is a reason why Jewish people have supported socialism over the centuries. It’s because God’s people are not created to live in a vacuum. A nation that neglects it’s poor is a nation that does not goes against the instructions of God. The right are constantly demonizing the poor and making excuses why they should be neglected and even jailed. That’s right, many states jail the homeless and poor people who can’t pay fines. Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea, all had incredibly harsh words for Israel when their poor were neglected. God simply does not tolerate the weakest in society being cheated or neglected by those who have so much. We are the richest nation on earth and there is no reason why we need to chastise our poor.
- Religious liberty: It’s funny that this issue is on my list and Wayne’s list. But I am referring to a different religious liberty. I am referring to the right to not be Christians. So many right wing leaders have sought to force Christianity on the nation or their states. Idaho even made the Bible it’s official state book. But that’s not legal. The governments have no business telling anyone how to practice their religious or even endorsing a religion. It’s an obvious violation of the 1st amendment.
Who is the most Christian candidate?
The simple answer is neither. Neither Clinton nor Trump hold fully Christian policies. Neither political party holds the cards on Christianity, though the republicans like you to think they do. Is Trump the “moral” vote in this election? Of course not. Is Clinton the moral imperative? The answer is still a resounding NO! It’s completely dependent on your interpretive view of Christianity and the theology that is most important to you as a voter.
In the end, every Christian has to decide for themselves which issues they feel are the most important and then vote on those issues. For me it’s the issues I listed above. But if abortion is the biggest issue for you as a voter then I encourage you to vote conservative. I can’t say (and neither can Grudem) that my hierarchy of Christian morals is more important that yours. What is worse: war or abortion? Who gets to make that decision? They are both terrible. What is worse: dangerous deregulation or constricting over-regulation?
You will get to decide when you get to the polls and I encourage you to vote your conscience whether it’s for a conservative or a liberal. Do not let anyone rob you of the chance to decide which candidate reflects your values best.