Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Immediate Thoughts on the Election Results

1. The actions and attitudes of Trump Cult throughout the primaries and the general election made me realize that the only way they would ever accept that they were wrong, and repent, is if Trump became president and then totally betrayed them in every way. If he lost to Hillary, he would always be "the perfect president who never was," a martyr for them, and they wouldn't learn their lesson. They would fight for an even worse candidate in the future (see the After the Republic article in the hub I posted justifying not voting for either Trump or Clinton). Because the outcome of such an presidency would be conceivably worse than either Trump or Clinton's (is that hard to imagine? Not if you have a big picture view of history), it would be preferable to suffer the failures of Trump in order to avoid the failures of an even worse successor.

2. This logic doesn't seem to work for Hillary, since anyone voting for her would not have learned their lesson from Obama's two terms. Therefore, for good or ill, Trump's election would be better in terms of the wake-up-call it would give to the most people.

3. Note: this is quite separate from saying that I could endorse or vote for either candidate. I can not support their character, their policies, or the damage they would do to the church through their hostility. But each one represents a different quality of divine judgment. Clinton would continue the slow rot, resulting in a worse catastrophe, but nevertheless delaying it farther down the road. Trump, I reasoned, would be more likely to cause a catastrophe very soon, which in that sense would be a mercy to us, interrupting the course of our national drift. I looked at the fact that God used various invaders to punish the Israelites and cause them to turn back to worshiping Him, over many centuries. This could be blown up to a full length article, but I'll stop here.

4. Note also: if Trump turns out to be a great president, then it would be my turn, and the others in my camp, spiritually and politically, to admit (but with relief) that we were wrong. So, because both groups - those incapable of ever endorsing Trump, and those unwilling to draw a line in the sand beyond which they would not endorse him - can stand to be proven wrong, and thus, repent and not make this mistake again, the election of Trump is the best possible outcome, speaking from an empirically scientific standpoint.

5. My primary concern is still the witness of the church, as aptly put by both Erickson (here) and Deace (here). The outcome of the election is a separate question from whether we should be seen by the world to be supporting this man and accepting him, least of all as a Christian brother. If the Gospel is a stumbling block to someone (1 Peter 2:7-8), then that is fine, because then they are offended for the right reasons: God, not your personality. But if they are offended and turned off from the Christian faith because of your profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and your personal decisions that have no direct connection to the Gospel, then it is to your shame. Further, God places the responsibility on you to avoid doing just that! 
"He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!"(Luke 17:1)
"When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand." (Ezekiel 3:18)
I refuse to be responsible for putting a stumbling block to faith in front of any unbeliever who is watching to see what people who call themselves Christians will call good by how they vote. That is why I voted blank, rejecting all parties on the ballot. This matter of Gospel integrity is much more important to me than the outcome of the election. God is in control of what the next president will or will not do. To me, He has delegated the responsibility to be an ambassador for His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20), and warned me against doing anything whereby I myself make a stumbling block, that is, cause someone to be turned off to considering Christianity because of my conduct.

Steve Deace said it this way: 
"I am afraid of the message we will be sending this culture by compromising everything we claim to believe in, by supporting a man who embodies everything we supposedly oppose. And I’m afraid the cost for that message could transcend generations, as the culture declares we are the emperor who has no clothes. That when push comes to shove we offer them nothing not already of this world. The same fear-mongering and situational ethics they can get anywhere else. Just minus all that annoyingly sanctimonious moralizing. We will confirm for them they were right to tune us out."
This will continue to be a challenge for the church throughout the next several years, as we deal with the aftermath of the decisions made by people whom the world sees as representative of Christianity.

6. I anticipate that the Biblical analogy of what Trump's presidency may turn out to most resemble is that of Xerxes in the book of Esther. Opening to the very first chapter, we see Xerxes having a party and wanting to impress other powerful men for the sake of his ego. So he commands his wife to serve his ego, by letting these men objectify her and congratulate her husband for his manly prowess. She refuses, and his to-his-mind-perfectly-logical conclusion is to pass a law that warns all women in the entire kingdom against disobeying their husbands, and divorces the queen on the spot. Xerxes begins wife-shopping, and providentially decides to marry a young Jewess descended from a people living in exile and oppression in his kingdom. Later, Xerxes is casually unconcerned about the affairs of state to the point that he signs off on a request by his top official to murder all Jews because one of them insulted the official. Xerxes saves the day when Queen Esther asks him nicely to stop this from happening, and he insists that the law has to be upheld (law before morality) but consents to let the Jews defend themselves. Trump, like Xerxes, is shockingly unconcerned with the consequences of his personal whims, and more interested in his ego than he is in protecting innocents or honoring his wife's dignity. But he has one characteristic that prevents his rule from being a complete catastrophe: he does reward those he favors, like Mordecai and Esther. When someone close to him brings a matter to his attention and suggests a course of action, he usually goes along with it. This has both evil and good outcomes, depending on who has his ear. I would expect a Trump presidency to have the potential to be sheer chaos or surprisingly good-fortunate, depending on the unpredictability of whether or not his closest advisers and people he wishes to impress recommend wise or foolish decisions. From our perspective, we can only pray fervently that God will turn his ear to someone like Esther rather than someone like Haman, and that those who find themselves in positions of influence over his policies would give him sound counsel, not selfish requests.

- W

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