GK Chesterton once wrote, to the chagrin of those who demand a person’s political and religious views remain in the private sphere, this:
I never discuss anything except politics and religion. There is nothing else to discuss. Nothing of importance can be separated entirely from its social effect, which is politics, or from its ultimate value, which is religion.
As a tandem post to my last political piece, “Never Trump and Never Hillary (Letter To Those Stuck In Two Parties)”, I wanted to add a small political and religious addendum (which may grow).
Many well meaning conservative Christians have thrown in the political towel this election cycle. They admit the two major choices aren’t inspiring. They concede Trump has many character deficiencies as a candidate and is likely not as conservative as he lets on during his speech rallies. But all those glaring weaknesses matter little compared to this: He’s not Hillary Clinton at least (overtly pro choice progressive).
The fragile hope of these reluctant Trump supporters is that at bare minimum he seems open to the conservative view of things, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll appoint brilliant political minds around him to cover his deficiencies. Maybe even God will knock him off his high horse like Saul of Tarsus and he’ll grow to be an unlikely champion of Christian ideals (different post). Even if no personal epiphany occurs, look at Scripture they may say:
And Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 43:10).
I mean, shoot, God can use a donkey if he wants! (Numbers 22:28)”
The following is why I believe we can reject such fatalism in our current political climate.
As the American electorate we’re in a unique position the ancient Israelite citizens never were. Our constitutional republic affords us certain rights, one of the greatest is our ability to vote concerning our political leaders. At the birth of the US, the power was placed in the hands of individual people, “We the people” specifically, not an over-reaching central government leader.
Israel’s political climate was much different and typical for its time. As a monarchy Israel was given a king or a judge (1 Samuel 12:13). You don’t vote in a monarch you simply submit to it. God preferred to be the only King of Israel but reluctantly conceded the Israelite people’s impatient urging and gave them over to Saul (1 Samuel 8). Saul wasn’t voted in. World history shows kings in other nations gain their position by family lineage or outright violence but the greater populace has little to do with his position of presumed power. Kings are not voted in. In contrast, Americans, and hat tip to the collective genius of our constitutional forefathers, have an active role in voting in the most principled men and women of character we have available to us.
I am a strong believer in God’s sovereignty in human affairs, even the current wonky political affairs that make my stomach churn (Daniel 2:21). He can and does use whomever he pleases for his glory.
But the fact that God used an unrighteous Babylonian King for his glory 2800 years ago is no reason for his people to clamor around modern day unrighteous Babylonian authoritarians. Ancient autocratic political structures limited the involvement of the masses to mere recipients of the given King’s graces. Modern democratic political forms seek (or at least should seek) to energize and empower the masses to actively participate in the process of electing their given leaders. Electing especially those leaders who would consider authoritarian power to be anathema to the founder’s ideal.
We have a litany of choices before us. Not one. Not two. But many.
And yes, God used a Donkey to speak on his behalf once. But 1. That is not the normative way he wants to get his message across, and 2. That is not license for us to vote Donkey’s into the highest office in the land.
To the donkey’s defense, he’d probably be less of a jackass than the limited choices now before us.
And it goes both ways.
To apply ancient Israel’s governance to the modern American model will lead to hermeneutic headaches.
If God can use evil Kings and donkeys, why care whether Trump or Clinton is elected? He can use either of them right? Such a view inevitably leads to an impotent fatalistic view of personal ethics. Christians should not be forced to make choices that sear their personal conscience just because one candidate is better at pandering to them than the other. The same could be said of every evil totalitarian this side of Nero. God can use them, right? So let’s just wait and see what happens. This logic is a slippery slope that will leave everyone paralytic and tumbling down a ravine of shrugging inaction.
I still plan on voting in the general election. As far as president, I’m still not sure who that will be. The Libertarian Party and apparently David French are becoming more viable options as I write this. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write in a literal donkey as my choice on election day.
Couldn’t be much worse than what we’ve produced thus far.