Tribulation Saint

Historic Christianity in the Twenty First Century

Tag: Donald Trump



  Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein

          In this very unusual and unprecedented election cycle attention has been turned to possible third party alternatives to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump.  One such alternative sometimes mentioned is the Green Party and its candidate, Jill Stein.

The Green Party has a very long and detailed platform, and a quick survey shows it to be very liberal and “progressive.”  Yet on closer examination we can see the underlying moral contradiction of the political left.

The party’s platform has a great deal to say about various kinds of “rights,” and in one sense it presents a very idealistic agenda.  But it raises the fundamental question of where these rights come from.  What exactly is their foundation?

The section on “Social Justice” begins by saying that “Historically, America has led the world in establishing a society with democratic values such as equal opportunity and protection from discrimination.”  But the U.S. Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . .”  And at one point the Green Party platform itself says that “We acknowledge the spiritual dimensions of life, and we honor the cultivation of various types of spiritual experience in our diverse society.”

But then the platform goes on, under the heading of “Religious Freedom and Secular Equality,” to call for “the elimination of displays of religious symbols, monuments, or statements on government buildings, property, websites, money or documents,” including the removal of the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of  Allegiance.

But if we are not “one nation, under God,” where do our rights come from?  At one point the platform mentions the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” which would imply that rights are man-made.  Something is “right” because everyone says so.  But that would mean that we are subject to the moral guidance of an international body made up of the likes of Russia and China.  Are foreign politicians like Vladimir Putin or the Chinese Communist Party really safe guides to right and wrong?

At other points the platform appears to appeal to raw pragmatism.  It points to a variety of social, economic and environmental problems, and takes it as a given that we would all be better off if these problems were resolved.  But that is tantamount to saying that what is right is what happens to be convenient at the moment.

But in the absence of any clear moral standard the platform is led into some perplexing contradictions.  Perhaps the most astonishing of all is its position on “Youth Rights.”  Remarkably that section begins with the statement that “All human beings have the right to a life that will let them achieve their full potential.”  That is, unless they have a right to life itself.  For in the section “Women’s Rights – Reproductive Rights” the party insists that “It is essential that the option of a safe, legal abortion remain available.”  But if a mother has the right to terminate the life of her unborn child in utero, then the whole section about “Youth Rights” is utterly meaningless.  There is no guarantee that the youth will even make it out of the womb alive, let alone enjoy “a life that will let them achieve their full potential.”

All of this raises a profoundly disturbing question about the nature of morality itself.  Presumably the reason that women must have the right to have abortions is that “Women’s right to control their bodies is non-negotiable.”  “Unplanned conception takes control away from individuals and makes them subject to external controls.”  Moreover, “The Green Party affirms the right of all persons to self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex.”

“The Green Party affirms the right of all individuals to freely choose intimate partners, regardless of their sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”  It calls for “ending governmental use of the doctrines of specific religions to define the nature of family, marriage, and the type and character of personal relationships between consenting adults,” and “the use of religion by government to define the role and rights of women in our society.”  And yet the platform itself notes that “Single mothers are the largest and most severely impoverished group in the United States, which explains why 22% of the children in our country live below the poverty line.”  Duh!

But if people have a “right to self-determination” and “to control their bodies,” why would they be required to do anything against their will?  And if the government cannot use religious doctrine to define sexual relations, then what does govern such relationships?  What would a society, free from such restrictions, look like?

The answer is, Donald Trump.  When asked about his numerous bankruptcies, lawsuits and use of eminent domain to force people out of their homes, and the fact that he hasn’t had to pay income taxes for a number of years, he replies by saying that he is a smart businessman who knows how to take advantage of his legal options.  In other words, his concept of right and wrong is whatever he can legally get away with.  For him life is all about the right of self-definition and self-determination.  Welcome to the Green Party’s vision for a secular America!

The Green Party, then, is caught on the horns of a moral dilemma.  It professes to believe in the lofty ideal of social justice; but it advocates a social philosophy of raw narcissism.  What it gives with the one hand (a vision of a just and humane society) it takes away with the other (the radical autonomy of the individual).  Absent some transcendent moral authority (God) we have exactly what we see today: a society of self-serving individuals looking for ways to game the system.  Any notion of character, duty, honor or integrity has all but vanished.

We must all face the fact that we live in a universe that was created by an intelligent Supreme Being.  And as human beings we are ultimately subject to His moral law.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you

But to do justly,

To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God?”

(Micah 6:8; NKJV)




In this current election cycle we are confronted with an unpalatable menu of two presidential candidates, both of which have serious character flaws.  Neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Trump are noted for being particularly honest.  In addition Mr. Trump has a reputation for being a ruthless, cutthroat businessman and a twice divorced adulterer.  In his campaign so far he has repeatedly made wild, unsubstantiated claims against some of his opponents and openly ridiculed others.  When called to account he has refused to back down or apologize.  Never in American history have we seen such a spectacle at such a high level.

Nevertheless the argument is being made in some Christian circles that a Christian must vote for Trump in order to keep Clinton out of the White House.  To vote for a third party candidate, or to stay at home, the argument goes, amounts to a vote for Hillary.  But this amounts to saying that we must vote for a rogue in order to keep a scoundrel from getting elected.  In either case we wind up with a bad president.  It is a bit like asking the voters to choose between the hangman’s noose and the firing squad.  We are dead either way.

But does character really matter in a presidential candidate?  Mr. Trump may not be a Christian, it is argued, but neither are most politicians.  And the policies advocated by the Democrats (abortion, homosexuality) are abominable.  So why not vote for “the lesser of the two evils”?

The fact of the matter is that character is important – it determines how a person will perform once in office.  A government position is a public trust, and as such it requires trustworthiness on the part of the person who holds it.  Someone who is corrupt, dishonest or unwise will routinely make bad decisions, or decisions that run counter to the public interest; and that, in turn, has an adverse effect on us all.  One does not make a thief the president of the bank.

The Book of Proverbs in the Bible has a great deal to say, in fact, about government and human relations.  Most of it was written by King Solomon, the ancient king of Israel who was renowned for his wisdom.  He certainly had much occasion to reflect on the principles of good government.

We much begin by asking, what is the purpose of government in the first place?  Why have a government at all?  The obvious answer is to protect the lives and property of its citizens from foreign invasion and domestic violence.  In order to do the latter the government must enact laws, apprehend criminals, try them in court and punish the guilty.  The ultimate goal is to establish justice.  “A king who sits on the throne of judgment / Scatters all evil with his eyes” (Prov. 20:8; NKJV – cf. Prov. 17:15; 24:24, 25; 25:2).

How well a government discharges its responsibility has an effect on everyone under its jurisdiction.  “The king establishes the land by justice, / But he who receives bribes overthrows it” (Prov. 29:4).  And this, in turn, requires good character on the part of those who exercise power.  “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; / But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2).  “It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, / For a throne is established by righteousness” (Prov. 16:12).  If the civil magistrate is to administer justice effectively, he must not be a criminal himself.

So what, then, are the specific qualities of character required in a civil magistrate?  First and foremost is honesty.  The Solomon describes a dishonest person this way:

“A worthless person, a wicked man,

Walks with a perverse mouth;

He winks with his eyes,

He shuffles his feet,

He points with his fingers’

Perversity is in his heart,

He devises evil continually . . .”

(Prov. 6:12-14a)

He doesn’t say what he means; he disguises his real intentions, and his intentions are invariably bad – that is why he takes great pains to disguise them.  And what does he accomplish by doing this?  “He sows discord” (v. 14b).  People who have been cheated are rarely happy about it.  Most will desire revenge of some sort.

Dishonesty, however, eventually results in failure.  “Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; / Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy” (v. 15).  The pretense cannot be maintained forever.  Eventually the liar is found out and the scheme collapses.  “What a perilous web we weave / When first we practice to deceive,” as the old saying goes.  It is no wonder then, that “Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool, / Much less lying lips to a prince” (Prov. 17:7).

Beyond the question of basic honesty one can also look at a candidate’s basic temperament.  If he is proud and boastful, “wise in his own eyes” – “There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 26:12).  “Pride goes before destruction, / And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).  Does he speak before thinking?  “Do you see a man hasty in his words? / There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 29:20).  “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, / But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil” (Prov. 15:28).  Does he slander others with false accusations?  It causes needless divisions and conflicts.  “A perverse man sows strife, / And a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Prov. 16:28).  How does he respond to criticism?  “Do not say ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; / I will render to the man according to his work’” (Prov. 24:29).

Mr. Trump, in fact, fits the biblical definition of a “scoffer”: “A proud and haughty man – ‘Scoffer’ is his name; / He acts with arrogant pride” (Prov. 21:24).  He is incorrigible (Prov. 9:7,8), and as a result knowledge eludes him (Prov. 14:6).  “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; / Yes, strife and reproach will cease” (Prov. 22:10).

In a democracy the people are supposed to be sovereign: the ultimate authority to make decisions rests with them.  Government officials are supposed to be public servants, serving the people.  The President of the United States arguably occupies the most powerful and important position   He is commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military.  He controls the nation’s nuclear arsenal, state secrets, and treasury.  He has sworn to uphold the Constitution.  The people, the voters who put him into power, are counting on him to perform the duties of his office in good faith and in the public’s best interests.  But if he / she is a liar and a crook, if his word cannot be taken at face value, the people’s trust has been betrayed and the president becomes a lawless tyrant.  Grasping and corrupt politicians are the undoing of a republic.

In this election neither majority candidate is fit for high office.  The evangelical community cannot afford to be identified with either one of them.  “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues’” (Rev. 18:4).



Well, last night Donald Trump gave his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.  It was, in many respects, a masterful display of salesmanship.  He addressed the fears of many Americans, presented himself as the law-and-order candidate, and reached out to key blocks of voters, including Bernie Sanders supporters, inner city residents, the LGBTQ community, and evangelicals.

It remains to be seen, however, what kind of president he would make if elected.  He has no prior experience in public office, has no clearly defined political ideology, and has a reputation as a ruthless, cutthroat businessman.  It is hard to see how he could keep some of the promises he made in his speech, such as ending violence (“and I mean very soon”), defeat ISIS, and end wasteful spending.  It is easy for an outsider to make promises; it is harder to keep them.

Thus we are faced with an uncomfortable choice in November.  Hillary Clinton is predictably liberal; Trump is unpredictable.  Many evangelicals feel that we must vote for Trump because nothing could be worse than Clinton.  But the fact of the matter is that we do not know whether Trump actually would be a better president that Clinton.  How, then, should a Christian vote in a situation like this?

It must be remembered, first of all, that we are voting for the next President of the United States, not the pastor of our local church.   A president does not necessarily have to meet the biblical qualifications for a church elder.  The United States is not, strictly speaking, a Christian organization.  “The kingdom of God,” we are told in Scripture, is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17; NKJV), not a bunch of corrupt politicians catering to the whims of greedy businessmen.    Biblically speaking, the United States, just like every other human society on the face of the earth, is a part of what the New Testament calls “the world” or “this age,” and in that sense any secular, human government will only be sub-Christian at best.  As Christians “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 2:20).

That does not mean, however, that civil law can be separated from morality, or that a secular government is free to do whatever it pleases.  As human beings we were all created by God, we must all learn to function in a universe that was created by Him, and ultimately we are all accountable to Him.  In the Old Testament the Canaanites, who had no special covenant relationship with God at all, were nevertheless condemned for their sexual immorality and infanticide (Leviticus chapter 18), and in the New Testament book of Revelation “Babylon,” the symbol of worldly power, is criticized for its arrogance and sensuality (Rev. 18).  When governments engage in oppression and injustice they betray the whole reason for their very existence.

The Christian, then, lives in the world but is not really a part of it.  But that does not relieve us of our responsibility to our neighbors.  We are to “do good to all” (Gal. 6:10), pray for those in authority (I Tim. 2:1-4), and pay our taxes (Rom. 13:6,7); and yet all the while we are to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27).  The church’s job is to proclaim “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), which includes God’s moral standards for the human race.

Should we become involved in the political process, then?  In America we have been blessed to have a constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion, speech and assembly.  We have the right to vote and to elect our own political leaders.  It is certainly appropriate to write letters to our public officials and to the editors of our newspapers about issues that concern us.

Yet we must be careful about engaging in partisan politics.  “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:14).  And yet the major political parties represent exactly that.  They are attempts to form electoral majorities for the purpose of taking over the government.  Each party inevitably contains a variety of special interest groups, each pursuing its own agenda.  And in many cases these agendas are far from righteous.  In some cases politicians can be downright corrupt.

In particular a Christian cannot vote for “the lesser of two evils” because that would still involve him in voting for evil, and that in turn would make the Christian complicit in the evil.  There comes a point at which the Christian must recognize that the world system is corrupt and that he is not to be a part of it.  It is no longer “God and country” but “God or country.”  What Christians are told in Revelation about Babylon is pertinent here as well: “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).  America may very well have passed the point of no return with the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same sex marriage.  Sodomy is now enshrined in the law of the land, and the decision makes it virtually impossible to return to the social norms, and the stable family life, of the past.  America may now be beyond redemption, and the current election campaign may very well be God’s righteous judgment upon the nation.  In situations like this, when the church finds itself in the midst of a wicked and corrupt society, it needs to be a prophetic “voice crying in the wilderness,” and speak truth to power.  But what it needs to speak, clearly and unequivocally, is truth, not the corrupt agenda of some crooked politician.  Voting for a seriously flawed candidate, no matter how bad the other candidate is, does not advance God’s kingdom.