The day the Democrats have been eagerly anticipating for four years is finally upon us. In two weeks they have the opportunity to bring America out from under the oppressive, fascistic, narcissistic, leadership of the bad, incompetent “Orange Man,” Donald J. Trump. They are rallying around a stalwart, charismatic, dynamic candidate to lead them to victory, Joe Biden. He brings a new vision of free abortion, free health care, free education and free baby-sitting for us, and even for our children! He promises to take care of us all, cradle to grave.
I trust you picked up on the fact that I was being sarcastic in the previous paragraph, although some would actually believe that version of the situation—with the exception of the description of Joe Biden. No one could believe that!
Back in August, as the campaign was getting underway, I shared with you my decision on who I would vote for this year, and how my evaluation of Trump, based on the five biblical qualifications for a civil magistrate, has changed. In 2016, using this same standard, he got a 10% overall grade, and I wrote in “Ted Cruz” for President on my ballot. I could not, in good conscience, vote for Trump. Those postings, explaining that process, are accessible in the blog archives on my website.
Today, his grade, using the same system, is a solid 76%. How has Trump changed to improve his score so dramatically? Really, not by much. He still has habits I consider irritating, self-destructive and, yes, narcissistic. He does always stand for what he sees to be true, no matter the cost to him, but does so, not with love for his enemies, but with anger, his dukes up, inviting a brawl. Political brawls where truth is at stake are necessary and godly (witness Jesus and the money-changers in the Temple), but only when done with love extended to one’s enemies, our opponents in the fight!
No, Trump has not been remade into a more attractive package, as much of the old-guard Republican leadership would love to have happen. But I have seen him in a new light, as I have had the opportunity to observe him. He associates constantly with evangelicals (has one as his vice president!} who are praying with him and for him, constantly. Some of His messages, at The National Day of Prayer and at Mt. Rushmore, for example, are spiritually memorable.
Who knows if Trump has been born again yet? That is in God’s timing, but it doesn’t matter. When Jesus’ disciples saw someone else, not in their apostolic band, performing miracles in Jesus’ name, they tried to stop him. Jesus told them not try to stop him, because “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:40). Trump may not be, for some of us, in the traditional evangelical mold and “one of us,” but he is definitely not “against God.”
Before one can decide to vote for Trump as I did, one must first decide to vote at all! In 2016, only about 55% of evangelicals eligible to vote even did so. Why do we not see the importance of a civil government that “We the People” have the privilege of determining for ourselves? The reason may be that many of us have learned a theology that teaches a defeatist attitude: “Politics is a dirty business. Christians should stay out of it and wait for Jesus to come back!” We have not seen civil government as one of the three, essential institutions God is using to spread His kingdom over the earth.
But what of the evangelicals who do vote, but will not vote for Trump? Why not? They have nothing good to say about him. They somehow are oblivious to the campaign promises he has kept and all the other innumerable things he has accomplished. All those achievements are not exactly what all Christians themselves would prescribe, but what President has ever accomplished even a fraction of the good, “Christian” things Trump has gotten done? So, why so hostile?
I think I have figured out what is at the heart of that hostility (besides, of course, TDS – Trump Derangement Syndrome!). Within the last few years, I have become aware that the very same attitude in these Christians has lurked, unrecognized. in my own heart for decades. What is it? Drawing lines!
I believe the hostility comes from a smug attitude of self-righteousness, an attitude of which I am very well aware in myself. My natural response to all whom I meet is to immediately judge them, after a brief time, make a snap evaluation, and then, if possible, draw a line between them and me. I am on the right, good, insightful, or knowledgeable side of the line, while they are on the wrong, bad, blind, or uniformed side.
I am also an insufferable know-it-all, always able to tell you what you should do in any situation, i.e., to cross the line to be on “the right side” with me! I may not tell you, because I have learned over the years that you don’t want to hear, but I still reflexively think this way in my heart.
This is classic Phariseeism. “I am thankful, Father, that I am not like that despicable tax collector (Donald Trump)!” This is my baked-in response because of the Fall. This is also wicked sin—self-righteousness—the sin of the Pharisees, for whom Jesus had His harshest words.
“So, Andrews, are you saying character doesn’t count at all?” Of course not. I am saying, with Paul, “Not even one person is righteous. No one understands. No one searches for God. All have turned away. They have become completely worthless. No one shows kindness, not even one person” (Romans 3:10-13 ISV)! This describes both me and Donald Trump fully, and completely. “No one,” “all,” and “not even one” describes us all. None of us is righteous, understands, searches for God, nor shows kindness, and is completely worthless—except to God. To Him, He loves you, and you are priceless. He is in the process of building His character into your life.
It is a matter of where God has each one of us in our spiritual growth, as we learn to face our sin and repent. I have shown you a logical process by which I determined Trump is qualified to be POTUS. Like all of us, he is stronger in some areas than others, but it is not an emotional decision and has nothing to do with personality, likability or assumptions we have made about his motives for his actions that we can never know. May you conclude whom to vote for in like manner.