Today is the opening arguments phase of the debate between Robb and Jason on voting in the upcoming election. For details, read their joint statement here, and be sure to check out Jason’s opening argument here.
How should a Christian vote in the 2016 general election? In the final days leading up to November 8, many Christians are wrestling with this question. Donald Trump is at the top of the Republican ticket. Donald. Trump. The casino magnate. The proud adulterer. The longtime Democrat who at one time said he “was very pro-choice” and did not oppose partial birth abortion. The donor to the Clintons (the irony is palpable). The man who as a Republican claimed that Planned Parenthood does “good things.” Yes, that Donald Trump.
As conservatives we read Trump’s resume and wonder how we came to this point. While that discussion is important, what is more important over the next two weeks is what we are going to do this election now that we are here. Whether we want to be here or not (most of us don’t), this is where we are. The primary season is over, there is no going back, and Trump is the Republican nominee. Should we vote for him?
Christians can vote for Trump with a clear conscience and should vote for Trump on November 8 for several reasons.
In the United States, we historically have had a two-party political system. The two-party system we know today took shape in 1828. Throughout the past 188 years we have had some exceptions where a third-party candidate has garnered significant votes, but such elections are rare, and 2016 will not be the year the trend breaks.
In a two-party system, one thing is certain: One of the candidates from the two major political parties will win the presidency. This year that means the winner will either be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. As a citizen with a vote, the implication of the two-party system is that by your actions you will help either Trump or Clinton win this election. Yes, you could vote third-party and support a Mormon like Evan McMullin. You could write in someone not on the ballot. You could even stay home and not vote at all. However, conservatives must understand that any of these options results practically in supporting Hillary Clinton because of how a two-party system works. Your write-in candidate will not win the election, and neither will McMullin. Withdrawing your traditionally conservative support from the GOP nominee will hurt his ability to win the election, which means it will help Clinton win.
Whether you mean it this way, if you do not vote for Donald Trump for president and you historically vote for conservatives, you are aiding and abetting Hillary Clinton’s quest for the presidency. The same would be true in reverse for liberals who refuse to support Clinton; their withdrawal of support from her would help Trump’s campaign. That’s how a two-party system works. Perhaps at some point in a future election we can break the grip the two-party system has on American politics, but it won’t happen this year. Therefore, your vote (or lack thereof) will help Trump or Clinton. There is no neutrality. There is no third option.
For anyone who is a Christian, supporting Hillary Clinton in any way in this election is indefensible. While we certainly could review a host of issues where Clinton would violate the divine mandate to governing authorities in Romans 13, we really only need to focus on one: the holocaust happening all over this country in abortion clinics. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, we have murdered more than 59 million babies in this country through this horrific practice. 59 million babies. Clinton supports this mass murder, even praising it as a woman’s right. Clinton made clear in the third presidential debate that she still supports partial-birth abortion, where the baby is partially delivered only to be murdered by having his brains sucked out.
Let me make this clear: If you claim to be a Christian and you vote for Hillary Clinton, you should examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. 1 John 3:15 says, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (emphasis added). A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for hate. It is a vote for murder. It is to support murder by the millions. And we know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them.
Most Christians I know would never consider voting for Clinton, yet many of them are considering not standing in her way in any practical sense on her march to the White House because they will not vote for Trump, the only alternative to Clinton in a two-party election. While I understand and share the concerns of my brothers and sisters who think they cannot vote for Trump or Clinton, I would urge you to consider the practical impact of your non-vote or third-party vote.
Some object that Trump is no more pro-life than Hillary. Such an objection is understandable given Trump’s history of pro-abortion stands, especially in the 1990s. However, Trump claims that he is now pro-life, admitting that his views have changed. As Christians, while we might have our reservations about the circumstances in which his views have changed, are we not to show grace and allow for people to change their minds on issues? Do we really think it impossible that someone could see the horrors of abortion and change their opinion about it?
Trump has opposed partial birth abortion since 2000. He has listed a potential slate of Supreme Court nominees that contains all pro-life judges or potential judges. Even if Trump is flat out lying about his views on abortion, the people he would put on the Supreme Court are known to be pro-life and will be serving on the Court long after Trump has left office. If Trump changes his mind and fails to appoint the people he has promised, we have ways of dealing with that too, including blocking nominees that do not live up to his promises and removing Trump from office in the primary election in 2020. If Hillary wins and appoints SCOTUS judges, we have virtually no recourse for the next thirty or more years.
Based on what each candidate has said throughout the campaign, Trump’s early and erroneous comments on Planned Parenthood notwithstanding, Trump provides a pro-life option on the ballot. True, he is not the pro-life option most of us chose, but he has promised to champion the most important cause in American politics today: the cause of the voiceless unborn.
Another aspect of this election conservatives need to consider is the differentiation of platform and personality. Every voter should take the time to read the platforms of the two respective parties in this general election, contrast them, and see which party most closely aligns with his or her viewpoint. Conservatives often lose elections because we fail to understand the nature of politics and how it shifts from the primary to the general election. In the primary election we are voting on a particular person we think best represents who we are, what we believe, and what we want to see happen in this nation. The differences among the candidates in the primary election are sometimes significant, but the candidates by and large line up with the party platform.
When we get to the general election, we are voting for our platform. As an Arizona voter, I voted for Kelli Ward over John McCain in the GOP primary. As much as I would love to retire McCain (as the Twitter hashtag went), I will vote for him in the general election. I don’t doubt that McCain will often compromise my values and govern in a more centrist or liberal way than I would prefer, but I also would rather have a GOP senate than a Democrat senate. As a whole, a GOP senate will represent my beliefs even if certain senators betray them from time to time.
To see this, we can consider two important areas of contention in American politics today: homosexuality and abortion.
On homosexuality, the Democrat party platform boasts (p. 19):
Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love. We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.
The GOP party platform takes the opposite view (p. 11):
We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a “judicial Putsch” — full of “silly extravagances” — that reduced “the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.” We pledge to defend the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard religious institutions against government control.
On abortion, the Democrat party platform horrifyingly asserts (p. 37):
We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.
The GOP platform, in sublime contrast, reads (p. 13):
Accordingly, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth. We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare.
The GOP party platform aligns with biblical principles concerning life and human sexuality while the Democrat platform aligns with the most egregious sins Paul condemns as being evidence of God’s wrath on a culture in Romans 1:18-32.
Christians need to understand that a vote for Donald Trump is more than a vote for Trump; it is a vote for the GOP party platform, the platform that aligns most closely with biblical principles. A non-vote for Trump in any form cedes power to the Democrats and their vision for America, which is a vision of a nation under the manifest wrath of God.
Practically, voters need to recognize that more is at stake than the presidency, and Christians need to vote GOP down the ticket as well.
It is, to me, unfortunate that Trump is the GOP nominee. But it would be far more unfortunate, even tragic, if the Democrat party was given unrestricted political power to unleash their vision of a godless society on this nation. The catastrophic harm that would come to millions of unborn children is unthinkable.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul wrote:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
For this we are to pray because, as verse 3 says, this is good and acceptable to God. Whenever we are exhorted to pray for anything in Scripture, it is a fixed rule that in whatever way possible and lawful we are commanded to act toward the same end. A vote for Clinton and a non-vote for Trump both work against the things for which we are to pray for our governing authorities and ourselves as citizens. Christians, therefore, should vote for Republican party candidates running for office, including even Donald Trump, and pray we may continue to live tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity in the United States of America.