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Why I, as a Christian, Cannot Vote for Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Portland, Maine.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The nation is in peril. It would seem the only recourse would be to choose the lesser of two evils to preserve the future of the State. Instead of trusting God, Asa the king of Judah aligned himself with the king of Syria in order to break the economic stranglehold threatened by his long time enemy Baasha king of Israel (2 Chronicles 16:1-9).

The rebuke of the prophet Hanani to King Asa and the foretelling of future calamity (vs. 7,9) is just as applicable today for Christians as it was to Asa who chose a “lesser evil” (like Trump) than a known immediate threat (like Hillary). To paraphrase the words of the prophet: you have relied on [Trump], and not relied on the LORD thy God.

Hanani argued that the Lord had delivered the kingdom of Judah in the past against overwhelming odds and could have easily done so again (2 Chron. 14:9-12). As one reads the context of Hanani’s indictment against Asa several things stand out as it concerns Christians in this ominous 2016 presidential election…

1. God is Sovereign and deserves our trust no matter how dire the circumstance… “LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power” (2 Chron. 14:11)

2. The faith of a Christian should rest on God, not a politician or a political party… “help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee” (2 Chron. 14:11)

3. There are consequences to forsaking biblical principles… “The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2)

There is no question that a Christian should not vote for a pro-abortion, unethical, wicked candidate like Hillary Clinton. The taking of the innocent life of the unborn is an evil accepted by far too many people and it is especially vile that Hillary not only supports abortion on demand but also abortion just hours before delivery. In addition, her professional and political career is replete with scandals, corruption, incompetence, lies, and cover-ups. Her failures that led to the deaths of four American citizens in Benghazi, use of a private e-mail server in her home for classified information, and the likelihood that the Clinton Foundation received multi-million dollar donations from foreign nations in exchange for positive treatment from the State Department should all disqualify her from being elected president. The reasons not to vote for Hillary seem endless. However, as a Christian, I cannot in good conscience vote for Donald Trump either and will therefore vote third-party. Below are the scriptural principles that have influenced my decision. I’m not asking anyone to agree with me, rather, I believe we as Christians should base our decisions on the word of God and not from emotion, fear-mongering or misplaced hope.

“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” Proverbs 11:3

Ideally a president would be guided by biblical principles. At a minimum, there should be moral ideals that govern the decision making process of the leader of the most powerful nation in the free world. However, Donald Trump does not appear to be guided by integrity, moral ideals, character, or core values but rather by no higher authority than Donald Trump himself.

John Adams, Founding Father and second President of the United States, said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” As such, we have seen the disastrous results of immoral presidents breaking their oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Not only has Donald Trump evidenced a gross misunderstanding of the Constitution but also he has proven himself to be unethical and immoral and one in whom the American people cannot expect to uphold the supreme law of the land. [1]

Donald Trump has proven that he will enrich himself at the expense of others. Throughout his campaign he has repeated his support of, and attempts to use, eminent domain in which the government confiscates private property. [2] In the first presidential debate when he was accused of rooting for the housing crisis so that his real estate firm could benefit from the financial loss that affected over 9 million people, Trump retorted, “That’s called business, by the way.” [3] In 2005, Trump announced the launch of Trump “university” which promised to teach students his real-estate development secrets. The school shut down in 2010 over complaints that it was a scam. The litigation continues as the State of New York alleges Trump bilked students out of $40 million [4] [5].

The list of unethical practices of Trump and allegations against him are numerous: tenant intimidation, four bankruptcies, taking advantage of undocumented Polish workers, openly advocated for revenge “as viciously and as violently as you can,” allegedly raping his first wife Ivana, antitrust violations, refusing to pay workers and contractors, using the Trump Foundation to solicit money from others then give it away as though from himself, and the list goes on. [6]

Beyond his selfishness, narcissism, and egomania, what has disturbed me from the beginning has been the immorality and perverseness embraced by Donald Trump and his degradation of women. He has openly bragged about his sexual exploits, has a history of groping women, was the first to bring a strip club to the Atlantic City casinos, as a frequent guest on The Howard Stern show Trump often reveled in his sexually immoral lifestyle and even allowed Stern to debase his own daughter Ivanka. He himself said he would date Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter. He has publically called various women “dogs,” “pigs,” and vulgar words that I will not reference. [7] The most recent revelation came from a tape made in 2005 in which Trump openly talked in the most coarse and vile way about having sexually assaulted women and openly approved of adultery. I have been surprised by Christians repeating the narrative that Trump’s reprehensible words were merely locker room talk. Jesus said in Matthew 12:34, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” As my wife likes to say, “you are your words.”

Initially, Trump did not offer a genuine apology for how he was caught talking about women. He said, “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. I apologize if anyone was offended.” Notice his “apology” was not for having said those vile things but rather if “anyone was offended.” He later offered what appeared to be a more somber apology. Was it genuine? Scripture speaks of two kinds of sorrow: “godly sorrow” and “the sorrow of the world” (2 Corinthians 7:10). The difference being the former is a contrite spirit for having sinned against God whereas the latter is regret for having been caught and the shame that it brings before the world. If Trump were genuinely sorrowful you would think that when asked by moderator Frank Lutz if he had ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions at the Family Leadership Summit (Ames, IA July 2015), he would have replied something like, “There are many things that I have done and that I have said of which I am ashamed and for which I have asked God to forgive me. I’d rather not go into the details.” Instead, however, Trump replied that he could not remember having ever asked God for forgiveness. He said, “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture.” [8] If he were truly sorry for his behavior he would not have bragged about his affairs with married women in his book The Art of the Deal, which he has continued to uphold as his “second favorite book” after the Bible throughout his campaign. There is a difference between forgiveness and trust. As Christians we are commanded to forgive those who trespass against us however trust is something that is earned over time. For example, a convicted child molester who is repentant can be forgiven and restored in a church but that does not mean he should be trusted in a children’s ministry. Trump can be forgiven but he has shown a continued disregard for humility and has continued to debase women on the campaign trail and at this point I see no reason to trust him to govern with integrity.

Dear Christian, what guiding principles in Trump gives you confidence that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” and appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court? Does he have a history of conservative values that guide him? [9] Did he mention abortion one time in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in August? [10] Trump is not one to swim against the tide of corrupt times.

In the words of Samuel Adams, “Father of the American Revolution” and signer of The Declaration of Independence:

When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public office, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to chose for rulers, ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.’ The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded if a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.” [11]

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4

The election of George W. Bush was a referendum on the scandals and immorality of Bill Clinton. The mantra of the time was that character counts. How things have changed.

In his book The Art of the Deal, Trump boasted about his affairs with married women. He wrote, “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller.” [12] Trump has been married three times to different women, he left his first wife after having an affair with the woman who would become his second wife.

Jane Eisner, journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the Forward, wrote an article titled “Sorry, Evangelicals, You Can’t Play the Trump Card and the God Card at the Same Time”. In her last paragraph of the article she wrote:

If character and behavior don’t matter to you and your candidates, they shouldn’t matter in judging me, or people like me. This year’s embrace of Trump robs white evangelicals of any justification for judging others’ behavior, for legislating against us, for preaching about family values and the necessity of maintaining religious tradition. If they want to be unabashedly pragmatic voters who don’t walk the walk, fine. But they’ve lost the moral high ground. I don’t know what their gospel looks like anymore.” [13]

For all the talk about the Supreme Court and religious liberty being preserved by a Trump administration, should Christians not consider at what cost it will be to the ministry of the gospel? Furthermore, at what cost will it be to instructing our children? How can I tell my kids the ends do not justify the means if I’m willing to ignore a man’s lack of character in hopes of what he might do for the country? How can I teach them to stand on principle even if it means standing alone if I see voting third party as just throwing my vote away?

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

God hates pride (Prov. 6:17). Trump constantly beats the refrain “Only I can fix it.” If his moral failings were not enough this pride from a ranting egomaniac would give me grave concern for the nation as it is a challenge to God’s sovereignty. It was Lucifer’s pride that caused his fall, as five times he said “I will” in attempt to make himself “like the most High” (Isa. 14:12-15). Nebuchadnezzar’s pride led to the loss of his throne until finally he concluded that “those that walk in pride he [God] is able to abase” (Dan. 4:37). Herod’s pride led to his sudden death because “he gave not God the glory” (Acts 12:23). What will the result of Trump’s pride be for America?

The solution for America is not in the White House but in God’s house. Only the Lord can heal the land and it will come only through humble contrition, not self-sufficient pride or the Republican party: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Yoni Appelbaum wrote an article in The Atlantic titled “I Alone Can Fix It” on July 21, 2016 in which he aptly portrays the prideful boasts of the Republican nominee compared to his predecessors. He writes:

Has any American political leader claimed so directly to embody the nation, to speak for it, to be its sole hope for redemption?

In 1968, Richard Nixon spoke of a nation torn apart by crime at home, and by wars abroad. But, he promised, better days were ahead. ‘Without God’s help and your help, we will surely fail; but with God’s help and your help, we shall surely succeed.’

In 1980, Ronald Reagan painted a similarly dark picture of a troubled nation, and offered a similar message of redemption. But his acceptance speech called on Americans to work together to solve their problems. ‘I ask you not simply to ‘Trust me,’’ Reagan said, ‘but to trust your values—our values—and to hold me responsible for living up to them.’

In 2000, George W. Bush called a troubled nation to renewal, and ended with a note of humility. ‘I know the presidency is an office that turns pride into prayer,’ he said, ‘But I am eager to start on the work ahead.’

In 2016, Donald J. Trump mounted the stage, and told America that the nation is in crisis. That attacks on police and terrorism threaten the American way of life. That the United States suffers from domestic disaster, and international humiliation. That it is full of shuttered factories and crushed communities. That it is beset by ‘poverty and violence at home’ and ‘war and destruction abroad.’

And he offered them a solution.

I am your voice, said Trump. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order. He did not appeal to prayer, or to God. He did not ask Americans to measure him against their values, or to hold him responsible for living up to them. He did not ask for their help. He asked them to place their faith in him.

He broke with two centuries of American political tradition, in which candidates for office—and above all, for the nation’s highest office—acknowledge their fallibility and limitations, asking for the help of their fellow Americans, and of God, to accomplish what they cannot do on their own.” [14]

As I have sought the Lord’s direction regarding my vote there has been the resounding voice of Scripture warning me not to compromise my integrity and testimony by aligning myself with this man (Amos 3:3). In addition to my concerns mentioned above, Trump has shown a long history of lying and exaggeration (Proverbs 19:9), volatile and vengeful anger (Proverbs 14:17), recklessness with his words (Proverbs 29:20), and double-mindedness (James 1:8) in his policies. He is an unprincipled and incompetent man who I believe does not have the right temperament to protect the Republic [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]. Certainly Hillary shares in many of these same undesirable attributes and many more. It should cause us to pause for reflection why these two horrific candidates are the two main choices for the highest public office in the land. We are in this predicament because too often we have settled for the “lesser of two evils” and each election cycle seems to produce a lower standard of what is acceptable.

Thousands of years ago King David desired the ark of God to be moved to Jerusalem. Rather than obey the prescribed method to move this symbol of the presence of God, David adopted the method of the Philistines and moved it upon an ox cart. When the ox stumbled, Uzzah put out his hands to steady it, even though it was forbidden to be touched, and God struck him dead. Instead of obeying and trusting God, Uzzah was punished for his disobedience. Humanly speaking his motives seemed genuine and reasonable, he only wanted to do the “right thing”. Would God have let the ark fall to the ground because David had compromised in the method of its transportation or would God have miraculously held it up? I don’t know. Nor do I know what will happen if Trump, or Clinton for that matter, becomes the next president. I do know that God is sovereign and it seems like many think that Trump is the only one that can save the nation from falling into the abyss (2 Samuel 6).

I have read post after post and article after article on Facebook that is designed to scare me into voting for the Republican nominee. The scenario is usually something like this: Trump is far from perfect. I know what we’ll get with Hillary and at least I can hope that Trump will do the right thing. If elected he will nominate conservative Supreme Court justices and our religious liberties will be protected under his administration.

I would like to offer up a different scenario: Trump wins and is so hated that many Republicans in Congress lose their election and the Democrats increase their numbers in November. He shows no restraint during his presidency, makes a mockery of the office, does what is best for Trump and proves to be a disaster. As a result, the Democrats win the mid-term election in a landslide thus taking over both houses of Congress with the largest majority they’ve had in recent memory. Trump is unable to get conservative judges approved through Congress and leaves the country and the Republican Party in shambles at the end of 4 years and the Democrats in control of the government without any checks and balances.

What scenario will play out? Only God knows. It is a fact that Democrat presidents get their judicial nominees appointed with relative ease whereas Republican presidents usually get less than 50% of who they first nominate [20]. Reagan nominated liberal Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. George H.W. Bush nominated liberal Justice David Souter. It was George W. Bush’s nominee, Justice John Roberts, that sided with the court’s liberal bloc to uphold Obamacare. It was during Nixon’s presidency that Roe vs. Wade occurred legalizing abortion. It was during Reagan’s presidency that the first partial-birth abortion was performed. It was during George W.’s presidency that the first same-sex marriage occurred. Why do Trump’s supporters believe he will get a conservative justice appointed? Why do they think he will be a lion for conservative causes when he has been a liberal most of his life?

God alone knows the future. He is in control, whoever wins in November. Instead of being like “Uzzah” and trying to help God out, why not stand on biblical principles and trust him with the results?

 

[1] http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/08/19/donald-trumps-abuse-of-eminent-domain/?utm_term=.af34e8209ea8

[3] http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/trump-housing-collapse-228708

[4] http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/trump-university-its-worse-than-you-think

[5] http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-university-fraud-suit-to-go-to-trial-judge-rules-1461707442

[6] http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/donald-trump-scandals/474726/

[7] http://townhall.com/columnists/rebeccahagelin/2016/02/28/meet-donald-trump-the-king-of-sleaze-n2126157

[8] http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/

[9] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435273/donald-trump-liberal-conspiracy-theorist

[10] http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/07/22/the_2016_republican_convention_was_strangely_silent_on_abortion_and_religion.html

[11] http://restoreamerica.org/pastors/quotes/

[12] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marriage-rules-according-to-donald-trump_us_576c3886e4b0dbb1bbb9e5a8

[13] http://forward.com/opinion/345668/sorry-evangelicals-you-cant-play-the-trump-card-and-the-god-card-at-same-ti/

[14] http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/trump-rnc-speech-alone-fix-it/492557/

[15] (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/trump-lies/)

[16] https://askdrbrown.org/library/donald-trump-anger-and-violence

[17] http://fortune.com/2016/09/30/trump-twitter-rant/

[18] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/30/why-donald-trump-tweets-late-at-night-and-very-early-in-the-morning/

[19] http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/full-list-donald-trump-s-rapidly-changing-policy-positions-n547801

[20] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/marc-a-thiessen-why-are-republicans-so-awful-at-picking-supreme-court-justices/2012/07/02/gJQAHFJAIW_story.html?utm_term=.ab98dfe2acad

As a postscript, I would like to thank my wife Sandy for being such a tremendous editor. I am grateful for your insight and wisdom. I would also like to thank my friends Chris Blackwell and Brian Nibbe for reviewing my blog and giving their feedback. I respect you both greatly and appreciate your character, investment in your families, and boldness of faith.

Snapshots – Tocatì

Verona hosts a festival each September called Tocatì (dialect meaning “it’s your turn”) in which games are played throughout the city both from regions of Italy as well as a chosen foreign country. This year Verona hosted games from China.

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The playful child sign points in the direction of various events. When a sign is red it means games are in that direction.

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Jianzi is a game in which the players must pass a heavily weighted “featherball” in the air by using their bodies, apart from their hands.

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Flowersticks consists of manipulating one stick in order to juggle one or two others.

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The experts make it look easy.

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Traditional chinese music was played throughout Verona.

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The Chinese were happy to share their culture with young and old alike.

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There were various exhibitions of martial arts, fan dancing, and dragon kites.

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We enjoy learning about new cultures and playing games as a family each year at Tocatì in our beautiful city of Verona.

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Life Lesson from an 8th Grader

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As we sat around the dinner table Sandy asked the kids how their first day of school went. Pearl casually mentioned that there were two new students in her class and one of them was Chinese and he didn’t speak any Italian. Hearing this Isaiah fixed his eyes on his little sister and, compared to his usual dinnertime conversation, he became uncharacteristically sober. “Pearl,” he said, “do you have any idea how that little boy must feel?”

Sandy had homeschooled Isaiah until he entered Italian public school four years ago as a 4th grader. It was difficult, especially for my wife, to see our son engulfed in the crowd of students as they swarmed into a school in the south of Rome – a Midwest American boy new in a foreign culture, unable to speak Italian, his first time in public school and the lessons to be taught in a foreign language.

We were relieved he was his cheerful self at the end of that school day. Although at the time he confessed it was difficult, he had never expressed the emotions he held deep within and what he felt that first year until he related to his sister through the eyes of a scared and nervous Chinese boy entering the 2nd grade in Verona.

Isaiah continued, “Imagine how he feels standing by himself with no friends, feeling all alone, hoping someone will ask him to play; being nervous that they’ll laugh at him if he does something that is normal for his culture but different from their own. Then when kids do start to talk to him, he wonders if they’re saying things to make fun of him because they know that he doesn’t understand a word.”

As Isaiah spoke Sandy and I glanced at one another as we heard our son tenderly empathize with a boy he had never met. He continued, “You might not understand but you can see by the other kids’ expressions what they’re thinking. You feel like you’re on exhibit as kids stare, some whisper as they look at you from the corner of their eye, and others point and laugh. You feel stupid as you spend all night on homework that you know wouldn’t take five minutes in your own language.” Then as the big brother he added sternly, “You better be nice to him Pearl.”

As a parent you never want to see your child experience pain, whether physical or emotional. However, we understand the axiom that strength comes through adversity as the poet has eloquently penned:

“The tree that never had to fight, For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out on the open plain, And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king, But lives and dies a scrawny thing…
Good timber does not grow in ease, The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”

Certainly my kids have a tremendous example of an empathetic person in their mother and we teach them to be sympathetic and kind to others but the struggles that Isaiah has faced as a kid growing up in a foreign country is a lesson in character that he could have never learned from a textbook.

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