An Evangelical Elegy
Two years ago, I wrote these words in the midst of a season of disappointment and disillusionment after some men in ministry who I respect and love in the Lord said some things publicly that felt like a personal betrayal.
This weekend I needed to reread them, over and over again.
Last week, The Master’s University held an event to offer a Christian perspective on this year’s election. TMU is my alma mater. Its president, John MacArthur, is one of my spiritual fathers and Grace Community Church is my spiritual birthplace. God saved me there as a college freshman, several months after I first sat in the back of the enormous sanctuary, as the sound of thousands of Bible pages turning swept over me so that something in my soul began to shift.
I was hoping that the summit would offer an honest framing of the differing perspectives on voting – the privilege and right to vote, but also the right to decline. I was hoping that the role of government and the differing perspectives on it, which Christians have held throughout history, might be described with fairness. I had hoped that both candidates would be characterized with equal doses of unflinching honesty, and Christian charity.
My hopes were dashed. We were offered a picture that was stark and bleak and unapologetically one-sided. We were told to vote for our interests and that of our families (not the interests of our neighbor). We were told that a vote was about aligning with an ideology, and we should choose the one that is closer to the Bible.
We were told that meant a vote for Donald Trump.
Sunday morning, Pastor MacArthur stood at the pulpit at Grace Community Church to reiterate those remarks, and expand on them. TMU’s public Facebook page framed his thoughts this way:
“…by casting a vote on Tuesday, (GCC members) are in a small way ‘standing with God’ on issues of life, marriage, family, children, true morality, justice, and the rule of law.”
Pastor MacArthur formed his statement around the stances of the Democrat party’s platform as being a coalition of people who:
“protect evil and punish those who do good…systematically weakens the military protection of its people and systematically weakens the police so that we are left vulnerable internally and externally. Can we vote for a group of people who give license to rioting and destruction? Can we vote for a coalition of people who will put judges into place who will turn good and evil on its head and will make ultimate laws to defend those who do evil and punish those who do good?… Can we defend a coalition of leaders in this country who prefer paganism to Christianity….who have rejected the Bible, banned the Bible, begun to persecute Christians, who of all people are most inclined to do good?”
“Christians can’t vote for those things. We have to vote against those things and we’re given the opportunity to do that in a very simple way, by voting for the other candidate. It’s saying ‘As long as I’m in this world, and as long as I have the opportunity, I’m going to stand with God and against those things that strike a blow against God’s design for government’… If I can punch a hole that stands against that, then I need to punch that hole.”
In other words, a vote for Donald Trump is just a well punched chad, attached to an ideology and coalition that stands closer to God and against unrighteousness.
- To honor law and order, we should elect a man who incites violence at his own rallies, and says we should murder the families of our enemies.
- To honor and protect life, we should elect a racist who disparages and threatens people of different ethnicities and mocks the disabled.
- To protect religious freedom, we should elect a man who said he’d restrict it.
- To honor traditional marriage and Biblical sexual ethics, we should vote for a three-times divorced, sexual predator who assaults women, and promotes and endorses their objectification, including that of his own daughter.
- To choose the ideology that would most approximate doing good and punish evil, we should vote for a man who consistently does evil, and threatens and intimidates those who do good when they call him to account.
Eighteen years ago, I sat in the same sanctuary as Pastor John preached against the destructive sin of lying, in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In that sermon, he argued in the strongest terms that a leader who lied was utterly disqualified from any kind of office, and he decried our country’s approval of him.
Why then, in that same sanctuary, did he build an ideological back door of approval for voting for a man whose identity is predicated on lying more often than he breathes?
How does publicly affirming a vote for evil, suppress it, and not affirm it?
How can tethering an ideology to the words and actions of such a wicked man, and then to the name of God, promote righteousness? How can it be righteous?
So today, I am grieved. I am angry.
But I still have hope.
I have hope when I remember that what is happening among my people, and its leaders, isn’t new. The entire story of redemptive history is one of God graciously revealing Himself and His law to His people, only for them to, to borrow a favorite phrase from the British, utterly lose the plot. Remembering this, and being as resolutely and outspokenly NeverTrump as I am gently but firmly NeverHilary, has actually opened doors with unbelieving friends about the hope that I have, not in wicked candidates for President, but in a righteous, and soon to be returning King.
Because even when we are faithless, He is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
Our restoration will be painful. But it will come.
Even so, come quickly and fix this mess, Lord Jesus.
“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
that they may add sin to sin;
who set out to go down to Egypt,
without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
For though his officials are at Zoan
and this envoys reach Hanes,
everyone comes to shame
through a people that cannot profit them,
that brings neither help nor profit,
but shame and disgrace.”
“And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
as a witness forever.
For they are a rebellious people,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the Lord;
who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel,
“Because you despise this word
and trust in oppression and perverseness
and rely on them,
herefore this iniquity shall be to you
ilike a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse,
whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;
and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel
that is smashed so ruthlessly
that among its fragments not a shard is found
with which to take fire from the hearth,
or to dip up water out of the cistern.”
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling, and you said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”;
therefore you shall flee away;
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
A thousand shall flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you shall flee,
till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
like a signal on a hill.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 30:1-5, 8-18