And I'm certainly not going to tell you to vote for Hilary. What I am going to do is write down the principles I believe we have in Scripture when our nation is faced with such a choice as is before us today, and what I plan to do in light of them.
But before I do that, let's go in reverse order as to why I'm not going to tell you to [fill in the blank]:
Why I'm Not Going to Tell you to Vote for Hilary
At first, I would think this should be obvious. She is a corrupt political leader, as has been demonstrated ad nauseam with Benghazi, the email debacle, the questionable (to be generously nice) funding of the Clinton Foundation, and her unapologetic support for the murder of roughly 3,000 infants a day (yes, the abortion rate in America is about 3,000 innocent lives being murdered each day). The list could go on and on, but you get the point.
But there have been some articles written by prominent theologians as to why they are voting for Hilary. They take the view of voting for the lesser of two evils. While I don't agree with their conclusion, I can see the practicality of it. It goes basically like this: With Clinton we're getting predictable evil. With Trump we're getting unpredictable evil. We should be safe and vote for Clinton.
However, I don't see voting for Hilary as safe or predictable (neither do I see it as Biblical; though I obviously love my brothers and sisters in Christ who are convinced otherwise). I see it as dangerous and very dangerous.
However, while she is a contender, Hilary is not going to be a main contender for the evangelical vote, which leaves us with these remaining options: third party, write-in, or abstain; or vote for Trump. Let's examine those.
Why I'm Not Going to Tell You to Vote Third Party, Write-In, or Abstain
It seems pretty appealing to vote third party, to write someone in, or to abstain. I mean, I wasn't at all bashful (and am still not) about my distrust of Trump and my apprehension of him being the next president. And like I said at the outset, I hate the two-party system. (For some very good, brief videos on why it doens't work and some alternatives we should seriously consider, I recommend the links below the "Share" line of this post.)
And I understand the principles behind it. Scripture is pretty clear who we are to choose for ourselves in terms of political leaders:
Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads. -Deuteronomy 1:13
And many faithful brothers and sisters cite those as their reasons for voting third-party or write-in. The problem that I see though, is that these rules were given to a society that was relatively, as a society, walking with God. In a godly society, where the majority of people recognize the LORD as King (Deut. 33:5, and Lawgiver, and Judge - Isa. 33:22), yes, definitely only choose those who are qualified per His guidelines and command.
But what happens when that society is no longer, as a society, walking with the LORD, and there is really no option to choose qualifed men? [Note: I'm speaking of political matters here, in a civil government setting. Please don't see this as something I would apply to the church.]
I believe Scripture gives us principles to meet even that need. When there is no godly option, what are we left to do?
Why Not to Abstain
At first glance, there does seem to be good pull for the option to abstain. "To your tents, O Israel!" (1 Kgs. 12:16, cf. 2 Sam. 20:1) seems to be the battle cry of abstaining. And in part, I get why the Israelites did it when they sounded that battle cry. Rehoboam, the leader in question, was a wicked ruler (1 Kgs. 12:1-15). So why not each one go his own way?
Well, what happens is that even those abstaining by "going to their own tents" will ultimately end up with a civil ruler (whether of their own choosing and approval or not).
Historically, and please pay attention to this: that bunch in Israel who rejected Rehoboan as their wicked ruler (by abstaining from consenting to his rule) ended up with an even more wicked ruler: Jeroboam, who became the first of an unbroken line of wicked rulers in divided Israel for the northern ten tribes. Note also, that after Jeroboam was made "King of Israel" (the northern ten tribes), there were faithful men in Israel who left their inheritance there and fled to Judah to serve under the civil leadership of the "lesser of two evils," Rehoboam (2 Chron. 11:13-17, 16).
Now I realize that we're basically comparing secession to abstaining-to-vote. I realize the analogy is not perfect. At the same time, I think there are good principles to glean from God's Word at this point; and based on those principles I would not counsel to abstain from voting in the general election. Whether you abstain or not, Hilary or Trump will be the next President of the United States, and there are practical ramifications for that, for you and your families. And unlike the Israelites, we won't have the option of choosing the lesser of two evils after the election (unless of course we plan on seceding; but remember what happened the previous time people in this country planned that).
Why Not to Vote Third-Party or Write In
For me this is pretty simple. We don't have a multiple party system. Yes, I know we technically have the theoretical option of third or even fourth and fifth parties. But it will not work out in the current state of affairs. In the current state of affairs, the way votes are cast and tallied do not lend support to more than two parties. Add to that the unofficial 4th branch of our current government (the mainstream media), a third (or fourth or fifth) party has no actual chance of winning.
The strategic move here would be to actively engage in politics a lot more than every two to four years and try to achieve, through the legislative channels, a way of casting and tallying votes that lend themselves to a wider range of options (again, see the videos below the share button).
But please let me elaborate more than just using practicalities. For I certainly don't want to sound unsympathetic to voting third-party. Truth be told, it really is tempting. However, I don't see any principles from Scripture to move forward with that option. I know it would be ideal to choose among ourselves godly men to rule and govern our civil affairs. This should be the norm in a godly society (see above).
But we're not living in a godly society. Neither was Israel when they had to decide between wicked Rehoboam and more wicked Jeroboam. Absolutely I'm sure there were qualified men to rule Israel and Judah at that time (remember, there were godly people living at that time - 2 Chron. 11:16). Yet none of them were actual choices for civil leadership.
Similarly, there were godly people in the time of Judah's demise when they were seized by Babylon. The people of Judah could have said, "Jeremiah is a wise, godly man. Let's appoint him as our ruler."
But even Jeremiah himself told them they only had two evil options: Coniah (also known as Jehoiachin and Jeconiah), the ruler of Judah; and Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. Jeremiah did not counsel his people on choosing a third party at this point in time of their history; but he told them if they wanted to save their lives and secure a future for their families, in terms of civil government they needed to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 21:8, 9, 10, 29:7):
“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’"
Two evil choices, and Jeremiah told them to choose the lesser of those two evil choices.
It seems at this point I'm primed to tell you to vote for Trump. But believe it or not, in God's goodness, I'm going to be a man of my word...
Why I'm Not Going to Tell You to Vote for Trump
For many people, it's an issue of conscience. If you view voting as giving your unbridled support to someone, then you can't, in good faith, vote for someone with whom you disagree on so many things and in whose character is so incompatible with a godly, Christian character.
And Scripture is clear, to do something against your conscience is sin (Rom. 14:22-23). Absolutely, you must, must, must vote your conscience. However, (and this is a big however): be sure your consicense is informed and governed by the Word of God (Ps. 119:11). Be careful friends, consciences can be led astray (1 Tim. 4:2).
I'm honestly not sure why voting to some means giving unbridled support. If I vote for Trump, you better believe it will be by way of gritting my teeth the whole time.
And that brings me to the last section of this post...
Biblical Principles for Voting
I know there are more able and scholarly Christian ethicists and apologists out there that might have a more Biblically faithful system. But as far as I know and as far as I've studied, here are my conclusions on the matter.
In a society that recognizes God as Lord (and as Lawgiver, Judge, and King - Isa. 33:22), we are certainly to only select godly, wise men per the above referenced guidelines and commands.
In a society that does not recognize God as Lord, and as His judgment on us, only two evil options are before us, as I've written before, the question is not so much, "who is the lesser evil, I'll vote for that person," as it is, "who will allow my family and me to best live, build up our welfare, and most importantly worship the Lord, I'll give my consent to be governed by that person."
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
I believe this to be in accordance not only with Old Testament principles and history (Jer. 21:8, 9, 10, 29:7) but New Testament principles as well (1 Tim. 2:1, 2, 3). And again, while I understand the Old Testament examples are not perfect analogies, I do still think they lay out valid principles that are applicable to our own time and situation.
Of course, whether or not you're convinced of any of this, you must vote (or abstain from voting) according to your conscience (Rom. 14:22-23).
Regarding the practicality of a Trump win being better for our families, our states, and us (rather than Hilary)...
If you read my previous post, this is the exact thing I was fighting against in the primaries (a Trump GOP nomination); because it makes this decision more difficult.
I will admit, Trump has been (at least from what I've seen) slightly less abbrasive and obnoxious than he was at the start. He wasn't nearly as ridiculously absurd to Hilary in his debate with her as he was to the other GOP candidates in the primary debates. Perhaps he's maturing (I know, "don't hold your breath)?
And remember, I'm not a Trump supporter by any stretch of the imagination. If you think I am, just read what I wrote earlier this year regarding him in the primaries.
But, if going on the principles as outlined above, and the knowledge that he at least has the potential to appoint a constitutional justice (and perhaps more than one), I don't know what else to do than to vote for him while gritting my teeth [the justices don't have nearly as much power as we typically think they do; but that's a separate post].
I know the argument about it is that conservative justices who, when given the opportunity to act rightly, have often been the ones to make key swing decisions with terrible, dreadful outcomes (from Roe v. Wade to Obamacare to Obergefell).
However, the conclusion that we can't trust any conservative justices doesn't follow. While I'm sure there is a technical name for this, I'll call it the bad apple fallacy:
Imagine that we know every green apple we pick is bad when we pick it. And that some red apples turn bad after we pick them. Now we have a crate for nine apples. Four of them are green (and are, by definition, bad). One is yellow (and who knows what it does). And three are red. We have space for one more apple. If we pick a green apple we know it will be bad. If we pick a red apple, we don't know. Hopefully it will stay red after picked (as have many red apples done in the past).
Yes, it's a gamble. But we know by definition the green apples are bad. (And the yellow ones are just rare and even more unpredictable than the red). I say pick the red apple. Or, in this case, pick the person who is at least in theory going to pick the red apple.
But now back to the principles for voting. The ethics for Christians in civil government does not stop with the general election for the President of the United States. Obviously the president is not the only thing that's in question. The Representatives and Senators have their own races going on as well.
But even a 'Merica dream(?) of all red states in both houses and a Trump(!?!) presidency does not mean the Christian's job is done. There is a lot wrong with the Republican party that needs to be changed (yes, there is even more wrong with the Democratic pary). And we need to put pressure on those we elect to govern and pass laws in accordance with God's Word.
We need to stay active in politics and civil government more than just every two to four years. And we absolutely must be more and more involved in our local and state governments - and even more importantly, our families! As I've written before, the repentance of a nation starts at home.
In other words, regardless of who wins the upcoming election (in any of the races, from local to state, to the federal level), don't think your work is done after November 8th. Your work as a member of a society for whom you are to actively seek its well being (Jer. 29:7) has only barely begun at election day.
I don't like Trump (I really don't like Trump; and I really don't trust him at all). But I do still believe he will provide a better opportunity for my family, myself, and the welfare of those around me than will Hilary (Jer. 29:7).
Of course, I love and admire my brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with me on this issue, and I feel no animosity toward them for voting for third-party/write-in, abstaining, or even voting for Hilary (to some extent ;).
However, for my part, I believe we are, as a nation, being judged by God - especially for all the innocent blood we spill every day (2 Kgs. 24:3, 4). And as part of that judgment we are in this predicament of having to choose between two evils. One will provide us slightly more opportunity to live and prosper our families and our societies. And I say, from the principles outlined above, we choose that one (though we may not like him and do it with gritted teeth).
However, we do need to remember that our involvement in civil government only begins with the election this cycle - it doesn't end there. It's a continual thing all throughout the year, at local, state, and federal levels. But it starts at the home.
Either way, no matter how we vote or who we vote for, I pray we all remember God's commands for living as exiles (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 1:17, 2:11; cf. Phil. 3:20, 21) in this broken world:
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
May God grant us repentance in our lives, in our families, and in our societies, until that day when we all cry out with one voice:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
I don't know if the author of these videos is a Christian, and I don't agree with everything he says. But these are very informative; and I think they would be helpful in helping us get serious about reconsidering (and I mean through legislative channels) the way votes are cast and tallied in the U.S.