“To say no to President Trump is to say no to God”
“One cannot really love Jesus and wish to follow him and also vote for a person (like Donald Trump)”
The first quote is from a recent interview with one of Trump’s spiritual advisers. The latter is from an old article from a few years back from the Dallas Morning News.
Do you see what’s happening here?
Do you see what’s been happening for years?
Do you see what is being ascribed to various political views?
The very name of God.
There is a reason you will never read on this blog or hear from the pulpit my political viewpoint on who to vote for. There is certainly been many times where I have spoken about my views in a sinful way on secondary or tertiary political issues on Facebook, but I strive to only address theological issues when it comes to what I say about voting and politics.
What I have been seeing in myself recently however is me breaking the Ten Commandments. Or being on some unsure footing regarding the Ten Commandments. Here’s what I mean.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. – Exodus 20:7
One of the Ten Commandments is to not take the Lord’s name in vain. While this does have an application when it comes to saying “oh my God” when surprised or angered, the primary implication of this command is to not ascribe to God what is not His doing.
Does that make sense?
All one has to do is look for even a moment of world history and you will see vile atrocities committed by people doing such things in the name of God. We all are aware of these situations. Sinful acts and wicked evil have been done in the name of God for millennia. God’s name is taken in vain.
I recently took God’s name in vain.
I took a grey issue, gun rights, and made it into a black and white issue, where my stance was fully in line with God and anyone who opposed me was outside of God’s will and grace and commands. This was not my intention, but it is certainly what took place. You may have even seen the Facebook post. Now, I apologized on Facebook and even apologized from the pulpit.
I remind you of that moment to make it abundantly clear that I have been guilty of the very thing I’m addressing.
We must stop equating our political beliefs with God’s name. Everyone does it. I shared those two quotes at the beginning of this blog to show you that it’s not coming from just one direction. It’s everywhere.
Let me address three dangers of saying “a Christian should vote for this candidate”.
1. We Forget Our Hope
Biblical theology is a necessary study. Biblical theology is the practice of tracing one theme all throughout Scripture. The importance of this is to see the important themes of the Bible story.
Here’s one issue for example. There are a few verses, references about not cursing. There are however dozens and dozens of commands of Scripture about caring for the orphan. Our churches often prioritize the former way of life without addressing the latter. I am grateful for serving a church that takes up the cause of the orphan. Biblical theology shows us that God is more concerned with the orphan than He is our language. They are both commands from God, but one has more weight.
Biblical theology shows us that politics, government, authority, these things are secondary issues. Jesus, Paul, and Peter all talked about submitting to authority, none of them said to put all your hope in them. The whole “God will save our country if such and such person is elected” is a misplaced hope. God will work in our country primarily through the local church, not the White House. Biblical theology shows us the prophets regularly getting on to the people of God for trusting in their political, financial, or military might for their primary hope.
Biblical theology tells us to respect, submit to, and engage with government.
Biblical theology does not tell us to hope in those things.
(I have written a whole lot over the years on this topic: Jesus Isn’t On Your Team The American Flag or The Cross No Country)
2. We Forget God’s Sovereignty
I would encourage you to read Jerry Bridges’ book Trusting God. It is a valuable resource that reminds us that God is in control of all things, from the weather to the governments of our world.
God is in control. So yes, vote, if you feel led to do so.
But the outcome of elections, the rise and fall of leaders and nations, all of these things are in the hands of God. Saying that God wants a Republican or a Democrat in the White House is to assume the desires of a God we can’t even begin to comprehend (according to Romans 11).
God has used wicked and evil men, as well as godly (and yet still imperfect) men to bring about His purposes in the world.
Don’t assume you know His plans.
3. We Will Lose The Next Generation
This is honestly the real reason for my post. The truth that absolutely breaks my heart apart as a Family Discipleship Pastor.
Students are backing away from the church.
That’s the reality of the world that we live in.
Lifeway recently shared statistics about why they are doing so.
Look at this.
Linger on this.
Pray about this.
66% of students will back away from the church, from coming regularly while in college.
25% of them will do so because the church propagates political beliefs that they don’t agree with.
As much as I want to address the 29% listing disconnect as a reason for leaving, and the 32% saying that church members are judgmental, let’s focus on the political views.
Two weeks ago, we had forty-eight students on a Wednesday. This was the largest I think we’ve ever had, and it is by no means the average attendance. But, let’s say I had 50 students.
According to Lifeway’s research, 34 of them will back away from church.
Eight of them will do so because they see and hear pastors and older church members say that the Christian view is this or that when it comes to politics.
They aren’t backing away because they are constantly put away from the rest of the church in their own building (although 10 will). They aren’t backing away because they are judged by pastors and older Christians or their peers (although 11 or 12 will). No, they will back away because they hear the church tell them that they aren’t a good Christian if they don’t vote a certain way.
That is absolutely gut-wrenching and heart-breaking.
I can’t even wrap my head around that.
Church, I plead with you, watch what you say on Facebook and in conversations you have with others. Do not assume that there is only one right way to vote on every single matter (again, I have sinfully done so regularly).
I am not even remotely concerned with whether or not my students end up Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. I am concerned that they stay plugged into the church and that they know Jesus as Lord.
Because, at the end of their life, they don’t get into heaven because of political views. And, when they get to heaven, they will be with people of all parties.
Church, watch what you say.
I plead with you.
I beg you.
For the sake of the next generation, don’t take God’s name in vain.
In His Name,