I write to and for my friends, some of whom will disagree with me. If you can’t agree with me then perhaps you will, at least, be able to better understand me. I hope to better understand my friends as well. We come from different places, circumstances and experiences. We look at the world from differing vantage points, interpreting the world with our own presuppositions. We all have an ultimate authority (even if that authority is our self). My ultimate authority is the Bible, and that’s a central part of what makes me an evangelical Christian.
Genuine humility, respect, and love for one another can enable our disagreements to sharpen us. It’s commonly said that friends shouldn’t talk about religion or politics. However, these are two of the most important topics in life, and if friends can’t talk about these things, I wonder if there’s a real friendship at all. If we huddle only with people we already agree with we might feel safe, but we’ll likely never grow. Over the years some of my ideas have changed and others have been confirmed. Friends with differing views have helped me in both cases. Since I care about our country, its future and its standing before God, I hope you will consider the following.
Many have questioned why so many evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and likely will do so again in 2020.* Given Trump’s many moral failings, along with his crass, petty and self-congratulatory style, the argument seems to be that evangelical support for him is hypocritical and totally contrary to traditional Christian values. Surely, evangelicals could find a nicer, more likable candidate to support. Since evangelicals’ defense of this President seems incongruous, they often are written off as ignorant, gullible or deplorable; all of which may be true in some cases. By design, it seems, inarticulate and small-minded “representatives” are specifically sought out by some in the media to be spokespersons for all evangelicals. Unfortunately, there’s always someone on your side that you wish was on the other side.
I don’t purport to speak for all evangelical Christians. I assume there are a variety of reasons, some good and some bad, as to why many will vote for Donald Trump in 2020. There are few choices in life that are truly between the ideal and the truly awful. Most often we’re left with making choices between two less-than-ideal alternatives. The world and all the people therein are broken. In a system with two dominant political parties, every four years we’re basically given a binary choice and, under the best of circumstances, we’re forced to vote for the “lesser of two evils” (I don’t mean “evil” absolutely). No angels have yet been nominated, and thus we’re left to choose between Spam and bologna, not Spam and filet mignon. Given the state of our political culture, any candidate whom I could enthusiastically get behind probably couldn’t get past the first straw poll.
So here we are again, and knowing that “character is destiny,” we’ll ultimately have to choose one of the two major candidates. Our destiny will be significantly impacted by that choice. I wrote this in an article in July, 2016:
So, I have been looking hard to find some positive reasons to vote for Trump, and not just to vote against Clinton. There are some reasons, mainly that I am certain as to what kind of Supreme Court Justices Clinton will appoint and I am simply not sure what kind he will appoint—a sure thing vs. a crap-shoot. I wish I had enough confidence in his character to trust what he says he will do.
We tend to think the next presidential election will be our salvation, but our problems are much too severe to be remedied by a single presidential election. Electing the ”perfect” President would not address America’s moral collapse and gross idolatry. This is not to say that electing a wise and godly President isn’t a worthy goal but that such a goal must be kept in its proper context. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Ps. 127:1). I believe most of us are prone to expect quick solutions to complex problems. Yet, God has most often worked slowly—even generationally—throughout history, both in blessing and in judgment. Our spiritual decline as a nation has occurred over many generations, and a spiritual revival will either entail considerable effort over many years or a cataclysm that brings even unbelievers to their knees. We’re still benefiting from the prosperity of the leftover capital (moral and material) of our country’s Christian roots but, like the prodigal son, our inheritance seems to be running out.
We have one party, and its prospective nominees, who, among other things, proclaim and promote the utterly unacceptable idea that a person has the right to end the life of their own child up to the second before birth (and in some cases beyond birth). This is a threshold issue that cannot be compromised.** We have another party whose nominee is egocentric and often lacking maturity and self-control. Both parties are spending us or some future generation into oblivion. The hubris of political leaders of all stripes is beyond measure.
A lot can change between now and November 3rd, but as it stands now the choice is imperfect but still perfectly clear. On the one hand, there is much about Donald Trump that I neither like nor support. Nevertheless, the current alternatives to Trump are far worse, promoting policies that would fundamentally change the nature of our republic and usher in a socialist nanny state, existential threats to and increased restrictions on religious freedom, and (most critically) the continuing slaughter of millions more innocent children in the womb. In regard to these three non-negotiable areas, President Trump has proven himself to be far better than I ever imagined he would be. So, convince me that these three notions mentioned above are good ideas, and the Democrats will have my vote. But, if convinced of these three things, I would no longer be an evangelical Christian and a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.
* For a more detailed explanation, see Andrew T. Walker’s article: “Understanding Why Religious Conservatives Would Vote for Trump,” (National Review Online, Feb. 10, 2020): https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/02/2020-election-religious-conservatives-trump-voters/
** For an excellent presentation of the foundational issue at stake, I recommend Nancy Pearcey’s book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2018).