Can Christians vote for Trump in good conscience?
There was recently released audio of Trump speaking of kissing or groping women, presumably in an unwelcome way. Several Christian pastors have spoken against voting for Trump, on the basis that Christians cannot condone Trump’s sins by voting for him. A vote for Trump, it is alleged, is like telling the world that God approves of sin.
Pastor Burwell Stark believes that the views of Christian Trump supporters may be summarized, “In other words, the ends justifies the means.” Stark is not alone in condemning a vote for Trump for moral reasons, given Trump’s insults, the lewd tape or allegations of misconduct.
This kind of analysis neglects the Biblical record and the experience of the Christian church since the time of Constantine.
Every Christian would agree that God chose David to be king and God made him king. Yet, during his rule, David slept with Bathsheba and had Uriah the husband killed to help cover up the adultery.
Nathan the prophet confronted and rebuked David. David admitted his error. God apparently took the life of Bathsheba’s child with David but God left David in power as king. God used David to accomplish God’s purpose, despite sins David would commit while king.
God and Nathan choose and promoted Solomon as king after David. Yet Solomon would later marry various wives of foreigners and worshiped their gods.
About 300 years after Jesus, there was the Constantinian revolution. Constantine defeated several armies who badly outnumbered him. In one case, his son Crispus led the navy against the navy of Licinius. (Licinius was the Roman Emperor in the East while Constantine ruled in the West.)
The navy of Licinius outnumbered the navy of Constantine more than two to one, yet it was defeated. Part of the reason for the defeat was a storm that arose and smashed the ships of Licinius on the shore.
The Christians of the day generally rejoiced and many of them regarded Constantine’s victories as the work of God, freeing them from persecution. Yet Constantine was at times murderous, paranoid and in several of the early years of his rule, he coined coins saying Sol Invictus.
Was God at work in the life of Constantine to free Christians from persecution? Or, did God abstain from favoring one side over the other, because of Constantine’s sins?
In our day, the vast majority of Christians in America regard the American war in WWII as just and good. In fact, many Christians believe that God helped the British by giving good weather at Dunkirk, that God helped the Allies at the beaches of Normandy with the weather, and that God answered Patton’s “weather prayer” during the battle of the Bulge. The “weather prayer” of Patton is so well known it is included in the Hollywood movie of Patton’s life.
Yet, many of these same Christians and many Germans believe that Allied pilots committed war crimes by firebombing Dresden and Hamburg. Would war crimes by Allies against civilians and the women and children of Dresden and Hamburg have prevented God from answering Patton’s prayer for the weather to destroy the Nazi armies and relieve the siege of Bastogne?
Did God take a side to help promote liberty? Does God abstain because of the sins of leaders? How bad of sins would it be that leads God to no longer favor one side over another?
Like Trump, Winston Churchill was known for insulting people. What would we think of God if God had refrained from taking “our” side against the Nazis, on the basis that Churchill insulted people?
The stories of the lives of King David, of Constantine and of Churchill indicate that God may choose and use leaders who have moral flaws.
The question is not the moral flaws of king David, Constantine, Churchill, George Washington or Donald Trump. The question is the cause in which they fought. For the men who were chosen and helped by God, the cause is larger than the man.
Whether Trump is favored or chosen by God is not yet clear, but a Christian can vote for Trump, because a vote for Trump is a vote for a cause we can all support.