October 30, 2020

Not Voting Against Trump: I’m Voting for the Healing of our Country’s Heart

 “…Someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ – James 2:18

 “…their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. Shall I not punish them for these things?” declares the Lord, “and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?” – Jeremiah 5:27b-29

I’m a Christian, a lifelong evangelical and Reagan Republican and I’m NOT voting for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Why? I believe my relationship with God and how I interpret the teachings of the Bible compel me to vote against the president from having another term.

In a recent blog I explained that I’m not against Trump, but am against the mindset that got him elected in the first place. I am greatly grieved by that mindset – our country’s corporate heart condition – that I see represented in Trump’s leadership. The healing of that corporate heart means much more to me than any “Christian” policy used to justify evangelical support of this ill-fitting leader.

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WE CHOOSE OUR LEADERS AND OUR LEADERS REFLECT OUR HEART

Many of my Christian friends believe God sovereignly puts leaders into positions of authority and there’s a biblical case to be made for that idea. However, I believe the Bible tells us the chosen leader of God-followers is a reflection of the corporate heart of that people. That choice is a fulfillment of their deepest heart-desires.

Some say President Trump was chosen because he is a leader like King David, a man ‘after God’s own heart’ even though a bit ‘rough around the edges.’ I see Trump as a direct parallel to less able leaders, like King Saul and King Herod – pragmatic. amoral kings who molded themselves into whatever was needed to maintain power. Of Saul’s ascension, the prophet Samuel said this about the people of Israel:

“…(W)hen you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you.” – 1 Samuel 12:13-13 (italics added by me.)

Twice Samuel tells the people that Saul was THEIR choice of leader, not God’s. Out of their fear for safety and comfort, the people of Israel unwisely chose a king they believed would be their “strongman” to save them. They had lost trust in God’s ability to do so. Saul was corrupt. He was small & petty; attacking anyone who tried to hold him accountable or whom he viewed as a threat. He played to the crowds because he needed their adulation, even taking it upon himself to lead the religious, pre-battle ceremony of the sacrifice to keep the people happy and liking him. Sound like any other leader you know?

Because the heart of the people was self-focused, and out of alignment with God’s model of a loving, self-sacrificing life that would lead to peace, they choose an unjust and unfit king. It cost them dearly. Today, I believe Trump is that same supposed strongman unwisely chosen by a people to save them, as they’ve lost their trust in God’s ways to bring justice and shalom to their land. In my estimation, that choice is also costing us dearly.

GOD CARES A GREAT DEAL ABOUT JUSTICE & THE CORPORATE HEART OF A NATION

I hear many evangelical Christians say “I’m not voting for the man, I’m voting policy.” I don’t see such pragmatism endorsed in the Bible.

In Jesus’ day there was a leader named King Herod the Great. Though not a Jew, and certainly not a man of the religious integrity, he was trusted by the Jewish leaders to save their religion and their nationalistic heritage from an evil government. Due to this loyalty, Herod was able to live a lascivious life, free from accountability.

Similarly, President Trump, though never displaying a bent towards Christianity in his lifetime, has attracted the fealty of religious leaders and, in exchange, he pragmatically meets their desires in order to maintain power. He gives them conservative judges, an unchecked support of modern day Israel and some ‘religious freedom’ that appeals to the evangelical desire to believe they’re ‘persecuted.’

POLICIES GOD CARES ABOUT IN A GOVERNMENT

Throughout the Bible we see God’s command for people groups – cities and nations. I quoted Jeremiah 5 above. In that passage, the accusation of God towards the nation is that its people desire to be wealthy and comfortable, while no longer caring about justice for the needy. Never mentioned: the location of embassies, income tax percentages, stock market levels or unemployment rates. God’s judgment is always based around the corporate heart of the people. When that heart is to be financially comfortable versus taking care of the poor, the marginalized, and the foreigner; God’s reckoning will eventually come. Evangelical support for Trump is not, today, simply moral issues like abortion. It now is an ever intertwining religious/political/economic belief system. It’s anchored as much in the  belief that Trump will make us wealthier, less taxed and safe from any prophetic charge of hard-heartedness to God’s command for justice and welfare in a nation.

Shall I not avenge myself against people such as this” is God’s biblical response to such a belief system. I believe those words should cause a shudder to go through our corporate spine.

Jesus, while on earth, spoke judgments against people groups: “Oh Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets.” He was accusing the people of having such a desire for freedom from accusation of ignoring God’s commands that they were willing to kill any religious leader who brought such an accusation against them. Do we, likewise, “kill” these voices today? We call “fake” or “sheep” anyone with a differing viewpoint than the going partisan, right-wing evangelical mindset.

“Capernaum, on judgment day Sodom will have a better day than you,” Jesus said. In the people of Capernaum he saw a people with access to detailed knowledge of God’s commands and goodness, yet still refused to repent of hard-heartedness. Thus their judgment day fate was slated to be worse than a city famously known to have been destroyed for its overt sexual appetites. Could our desire to use political power to impose laws be seen by God as more hard-hearted than the “sins” we hope to ban?

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I’m convinced our corporate heart matters a great deal to God (not just our individual salvation) and when our corporate heart says “make me fat and sleek” (make me financially prosperous,) then Christians should expect to come face to face with God’s demand for the presence of “welfare” in a city.

THE IDEA OF A CHRISTIAN NATION

I’m not convinced God is nearly as concerned about our “Christian-ness” as a nation as Christians are. However, if Christian MAGA beliefs mean going back to a 50’s-style of America with a veneer of being a “Christian Nation,” is Donald Trump a good embodiment of such a nation? Trump may be a Christian, as men like Franklin Graham tell us he is, but shouldn’t that faith show up as “good deeds” in Trump’s life? If Trump, as our government leader, is the primary display of our national corporate heart, shouldn’t those James 2 ‘good deeds’ show up in our policy?

I think more than being a Christian nation, God would like to see “Christlike-ness” in us. Evidence of such, says the Bible, are the attributes of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” How many of these attributes can we see displayed by our president on a daily basis? When a leader is willing to use the Bible to justify cruelty to foreigners coming across our borders. When that cruelty is celebrated and used to justifying the separation of children from families in order to attempt deterring future families from coming – is that a corporate heart of kindness and gentleness? Aren’t we supposed to be the ones who “focus on the family?”
 
Jesus said there were two commands for a Christian: “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Then he went on to explain that our ‘neighbor’ is the person we don’t like – our enemy, the foreigner, the person who follows a different religion. When our leader regularly excoriates anyone who disagrees with him and denigrates women, members of the opposite party, those of a different heritage and different religions, is our soul being revealed to be “great?”
 
The biblical sermon on the mount says “Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…” Does that sound like the heart being displayed by a leader who claims “winning” is the only desired goal and that anyone displaying a self-sacrificial love or empathy for others is weak and a “sucker?”

MY HEART FOR THIS ELECTION

I know many of my friends will claim I’m a victim of the mainstream media or am suffering from the right-wing media created malady of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” My view of Donald Trump, however, isn’t ultimately about the president at all. My vote is against the spirit that got him elected and the heart of our country he represents.

I’ve been calling out this sickened corporate heart of the right-wing Church for many years, even as far back as the first GW Bush administration – long before Donald Trump ever called Barack Obama a Muslim or made his glitzy entrance down the golden escalator.

I’m voting against another four years of our corporate heart being twisted to justify a constant stream of falsehoods and to endorse constant cruelty towards human beings. I’m voting against a leader that endorses our desire for riches, safety and comfort at the cost of our care for the vulnerable and needy. I’m voting against a leader that gives us permission to kill any “prophet” who may ask us to sacrifice in the journey for justice for the minority and the marginalized.
 

For me, I see our corporate heart positioned just as those people who over and over were told by God “shall I not avenge myself against these people?”

Our country is divided, it’s hurting, it’s coming apart at the seams and, unfortunately, our Christians seem happy to have a leader that feeds, rather than attempts to heal, those ills.

After choosing to vote neither candidate for president in 2016, I’m voting for Joe Biden in 2020. But I’m not so much voting for Biden, I’d likely pick someone else if I had another choice; but I’m voting for the last hope I see in making us “good” again, as a nation – to display good deeds that manifest our belief in our Christian nation status. That we can once again come together as one people. To pray that my evangelical church can repent of a heart condition that would cause us to choose race-baiting over healing and “other-ism” over loving those who look and believe differently than us.

To my friends who say Trump is the “chosen one” to save a “Christian” America, I finish this piece with another passage from the biblical book of Jeremiah – a tome written in another time when a country was coming apart at the seams:

 “(The prophets) have spoken falsely of the Lord and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine… An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” – Jeremiah 5:12; 30-31

Perhaps its too late to heal our land. God does have a big heart to heal when we repent, but these past four years, perhaps, have already ruptured our corporate heart beyond repair. I am certainly convinced that four more years of Donald Trump’s presidency will do irreparable damage to our corporate heart. And I believe that corporate heart matters to God a great deal.

This is why, in 2020, I have already voted against Donald Trump for president of the United States.

6 comments

  1. Marina Magdaleno says:

    I do hope your vote was for Biden! To not vote for Biden is a vote for Trump!

    1. Thanks Marina – did you read the blog? I spoke to this.

  2. Rebecca Vaiz-Kulow says:

    I get your point

  3. Linda says:

    Hi Paul.
    I just recently found your blog and pod casts. They really speak to my soul. Most of my Christian friends are Trump supporters or at the very least reluctant Trump voters who say they are voting for his policies. My husband and I, having only a handful of like minded friends, have felt great frustration, lost in a sea of disinformation coming from those who believe that God has sent Trump to save America. Thank you for what you do and what you say. You and Ashley are truly inspiring.

    1. Thanks so much, Linda. Let me know if I can help support you guys in any other ways! Paul

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