Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Does God Want Us to Support Or Oppose Donald Trump?

 

Although I am confident that God agrees with me on just about every issue, I am very reluctant to offer that as persuasive evidence of the rightness of whatever profundity I happen to be offering at any given moment. It would be great if eternal salvation were determined only by the depth and sophistication of one’s political opinions but nothing worthwhile is ever that simple. Worse, declarations of one’s own piety and righteousness invariably lead to the discovery of hypocrisy on a significant scale.

Christians do not get much in the way of partisan guidance from the New Testament. The closest we get is the cryptic lesson from that time when some snarky MSM-type jerkweed thought he could trap Jesus into expressing a controversial opinion. Jesus would either have to back the nationalist struggle against Roman rule and get in big trouble with the authorities or go squish and endorse Rome and thus alienate many of his followers. Here is the version in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 20:

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

I estimate that in the two millennia since this incident that there have been about 20 to 22 billion sermons, homilies, meditations and exegeses on this event. I could also expound, of course, but let me just say that this passage means that in political matters (and all else) you must always consult (a well-formed) conscience, then do what you gotta do and make the best choices you can under the circumstances. Clear, universally agreed-upon, unambiguous answers are probably not going to be forthcoming most of the time. And you will sometimes find yourself in disagreement with people of goodwill.

For example, there has been a mini-revival on the Catholic left to express both criticisms of the social costs of capitalism and a fondness for political movements to compel a more ordered economy. While I have very smart friends who hold these opinions, I happen to regard these leanings as anachronistic (the tech innovation genie is never going back in the bottle), blind to the political distortion and potential abuse of power needed to stifle economic change and a distraction from a need to build support structures to deal with change instead of futilely fighting change.

While it is obvious that I am right about all this, it is by no means obvious that their misguided positions are immoral or inconsistent with the spirit and substance of Christianity. Similarly, we may ask whether is a war immoral because of death and damage or right and just because of the evils opposed. The war in Vietnam, the nuking of Hiroshima or war by drone strikes can be debated on moral terms by well-intentioned people of good conscience who reach opposing views.

But none of those great moral questions have the scope and centrality of the overriding theological issue before us today: Does God want us to support or oppose Donald Trump?

Trump is venal, often treats underlings badly, is given to subjective stylings when more disciplined deliberations would be preferable. Like Bill Clinton, Trump has a history of sexual infidelity but unlike Clinton, it has not carried over into his to time in office. (For the record, this comment should be regarded as a loving fraternal correction and not a judgment of either President.)

Even though I already know what God would prefer in this regard, as an exercise, let’s explore the possibilities:

God Wants Us to Support Mr. Trump. (“Favors”) Let us dispense with the pro forma notions of a prayerful wish for the well-being of all our elected leaders, rendering respect for the office, etc. and look to Mr. Trump specifically. In the Favors position, one knowingly supports a conspicuously flawed man because he has delivered policies and outcomes largely consistent with the preferences and interests of people who practice or allow their political outlook to be shaped by religious faith. This preference for the Favors position is further driven by the fact that the opposition party, while committed to a dialogue of compassion, acceptance, and community is also overtly hostile to all orthodox religious beliefs, practices, and institutions.

I should point out that defending religious values, traditions and institutions against assault and persecution is not prima facie evidence of a sanctifiable intent or action. A favorable secular outcome and a loathing of one’s avowed culture-war enemies is not necessarily proof of morally correct intentions. So the claim that to support Trump politically is to advance the cause of righteousness and is thus the morally superior position is not necessarily theologically correct, especially in light of traditional Christian indifference to adverse temporal outcomes where higher goals are sought.

God Wants Us to Oppose Mr. Trump. (“Opposes”) The opposition to Trump by the forces of perversion, servitude and socioeconomic rot that collectively go by the name “Democratic Party” is mere politics in a debased age. The more interesting theological question involves those who oppose both the tenets of the Democratic Party and the continuance in office by Donald Trump.

The Opposes position focuses on Mr. Trump’s past behavior, rude utterances, venal spontaneities, and ad hominem style. These are said to demean the highest political office in the land, threaten to produce dangerously inconsistent policies, lower the tone of American political discourse and forever tarnish the image of the party of Lincoln and Reagan. The rescue of what is good in the American system of governance and the preservation of the major conservative political party require the removal of Donald Trump. Moreover, it is simply wrong to tacitly or expressly condone such unacceptable behavior.

This is a nominally coherent moral position. (At this time, we will not explore the dangers inherent in a moral position founded on beliefs concerning someone else’s sins.) However, if the Favors position seems too dependent on positive secular outcomes for its justification, the Opposes position suffers from a strange indifference to the material consequences of its posture. The amelioration of evils attributed to the presidency of Donald Trump requires that he be replaced but someone who will not be similarly evil or worse. The notion that history will applaud a principled stand that actually ushered in le déluge seems oddly solipsistic.

Conclusion. God and I agree that the Favors position is way too presumptuous about its spiritual righteousness –one can be an atheist pervert and still loathe and oppose Marxism and its variants. Combatting temporal evils is not necessarily a sanctified undertaking. We also agree that the Opposes position too readily devolves into a kind of narcissism, a mere declaration of personal moral superiority to a particular sinner without regard for larger personal obligations and consequences of taking that position.

In short, God wants out of this debate. God does not want to be invoked when it is not about what God expressly wants. When we consider that the Highest Being in the universe can forgive even the likes of Pol Pot, Ted Bundy or Brian Stelter we should be humbled and strongly hesitant to think our partisan preferences carry divine endorsement. We are all equal on Ricochet, sinners all, required to address temporal matters on a temporal plane as best we can with mutual respect and humility. Thus endeth the sermon. Cheers.

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  1. Henry Castaigne Member

    Old Bathos: one can be an atheist pervert and still loathe and oppose Marxism and its variants.

    Could I be an agnostic pervert instead?

    Though honestly, I’m pretty tame compared to what politicians and celebrities get up to.

    • #1
    • February 11, 2020, at 8:36 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Old Bathos, you stated that wonderfully. And I agree with you, so you are absolutely correct.

    • #2
    • February 11, 2020, at 8:55 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Old Bathos, you stated that wonderfully. And I agree with you, so you are absolutely correct.

    Such insight, discernment, and wisdom is rare these days. 

    • #3
    • February 11, 2020, at 8:56 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    A redneck friend told me the other day he had read something about ruins near Christ’s home being discovered with markings that foretold of Trump. Sadly, there is a lot of silly hero worship around Trump. Many people show more enthusiasm when talking about Trump than they do about Jesus. 

    Ethics are moral principles applied to specific circumstances. Christianity focuses on morals and advises the virtue of prudence in application. It’s good to always check back with God and pray for ethical guidance. But ethics generally require balance and prioritization of competing values.

    It’s a messy business. On many dilemmas, but not all, good people can differ.

    • #4
    • February 11, 2020, at 8:56 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  5. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    A redneck friend told me the other day he had read something about ruins near Christ’s home being discovered with markings that foretold of Trump. Sadly, there is a lot of silly hero worship around Trump. Many people show more enthusiasm when talking about Trump than they do about Jesus.

    I think that after decades in which Hollywood, academia and Democratic politicians got to call us troglodytes, and hate-filled racists and our response was personified not so much by Rush Limbaugh as by weak polite smiles from Bush, Bush, McCain, and Romney, the fact that Trump hits back seems cathartic and exciting.

    The fact that the enemy now expressly endorses infanticide and the banishment of all orthodox organized religion and compulsory pubic affirmation of all manner of deviance elevates Trump’s role as champion of the normals. It is a unique phenomenon.

    • #5
    • February 11, 2020, at 9:03 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  6. Henry Castaigne Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    A redneck friend told me the other day he had read something about ruins near Christ’s home being discovered with markings that foretold of Trump. Sadly, there is a lot of silly hero worship around Trump. Many people show more enthusiasm when talking about Trump than they do about Jesus.

    I think that after decades in which Hollywood, academia and Democratic politicians got to call us troglodytes, and hate-filled racists and our response was personified not so much by Rush Limbaugh as by weak polite smiles from Bush, Bush, McCain, and Romney, the fact that Trump hits back seems cathartic and exciting.

    This is true. Satan enters our lives through sin and then uses us. We have the authority through the power granted through God to rebuke Satan. "No weapon formed against me shall prosper" Isaiah 54:17

    I understand that Trump fights. I appreciate his policy and I appreciate how he attacks the media which exists just to spread hatred and the unconstrained vision that never worked. But the dude is a jerk. He isn’t the kinda person I want to be and he isn’t the kinda person I want my nieces to become. I have decided that we need him because he can cut through the polite lies and Truth has to come first

    But I don’t want to have to hate half of my fellow Americans just because they believe in crazy stuff. 

    • #6
    • February 11, 2020, at 9:19 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. jeannebodine, Verbose Bon Viva… Member

    Has anyone told David French? I am told he is the premier moralist in the country, a Top Man who can spot a mote in a sinner’s eye from 20,000 feet. Why, just the other day, he had this to say:

    “The proper way for Christians to engage in politics is a rich subject—one worthy of book-length treatment—but there are some rather simple foundational principles that apply before the questions get complex. For example, all but a tiny few believers would agree that a Christian should not violate the Ten Commandments or any other clear, biblical command while pursuing or exercising political power. 

    But of course we see such behavior all the time from hardcore Christian Trump supporters. They’ll echo Trump’s lies. They’ll defend Trump’s lies. They’ll adopt many of his same rhetorical tactics, including engaging in mocking and insulting behavior as a matter of course.”

    And this regarding Trump and his supporters:

    “Here’s the end result—millions of Christians have not just decided to hire a hater to defend them from haters and to hire a liar to defend them from liars, they actively ignore, rationalize, minimize, or deny Trump’s sins.”

    And finally this on why Trump’s pro-life work is to be scorned:

    “But in more than three decades of pro-life work, I’ve understood two things quite clearly—the defense of the unborn does not justify sin, and the battle for the unborn is far more spiritual and cultural than it is legal and political.” “Love isn’t optional, not even when lives are on the line.”

    Your essay is excellent but I think you’ll agree that it can’t hold a votive candle to the soon-to-be canonized St. David of Dispatch. Therefore, I will defer to Mr. French (not Buffy & Jody’s butler) to tell me how Christians should vote. French Davidians unite!

     

     

     

    • #7
    • February 11, 2020, at 9:30 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  8. Guruforhire Member

    god makes all kinds. Shrug.

    There is a time for all things. shrug.

    • #8
    • February 11, 2020, at 9:30 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. EODmom Coolidge

    I listened to pre-rally interviews of people waiting in Manchester while I drove home last night. One was with a very articulate and composed 26 yr old seminarian who drove to Manchester from Portsmouth with his parents. This question was asked of him and his very insightful response was: “I don’t expect my President to be my spiritual guide or teacher. I expect him to be the protector of our country and the defender of our Constitution.” With more well chosen words and explanation. (I’d go to his church to hear him preach, too.) Either job is hard enough, so I’ll “hire” the best for the job as it requires. I guess that comes under the rubric of giving back to Caesar what is Caesar’s. And I’m really sure I would reject a President who strayed from that job description to tell me how to worship. 

    • #9
    • February 11, 2020, at 9:42 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  10. Guruforhire Member

    jeannebodine (View Comment):
    Has anyone told David French?

    pharisees gonna pharisee. shrug.

    • #10
    • February 11, 2020, at 10:15 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  11. Umbra Fractus Coolidge
    Umbra Fractus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I don’t believe God cares who you support as long as you do it for the right reasons. It is not a sin to be ignorant in worldly matters. 

    For instance, there are those who support income redistribution out of a sincere belief that inequality is a major problem facing the United States, and then there are those who envy the rich and want to tear them down out of spite. That they end up with the same policy proposal does not make both groups equally condemnable; the second group is malicious while the first is merely wrong.

    • #11
    • February 11, 2020, at 10:39 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  12. Juliana Member

    Old Bathos:

    Although I am confident that God agrees with me on just about every issue,…

    Things that make you go hmmm.

    I agree with the seminarian that @eodmom quoted. I am more interested in what Trump is doing for the country than who he was when or how he responds to his critics (enemies). I don’t trust that most of what he says is reported accurately. I do trust that God has granted me the intelligence to make a decision based on my perception of right and wrong as taught by Him, even if the issues are complex.

    You used the word ‘venal’ a couple of times in your description of Trump. Do you really think he is on the take? Venal generally is associated with bribery. This is how rumors get started.

     

     

     

     

    • #12
    • February 11, 2020, at 10:42 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Stina Member

    God’s direction in how I make certain choices is a personal thing and while I can be personally convicted in my politics based on my faith and understanding of scripture, it is not politically edifying to use it as sole justification for my position when others come to other conclusions with access to the same information.

    I think it’s worth discussing and debating, but not for beating others over the head for being lesser christians.

    Now that’s rich coming from me. I’m well aware that I’m aggressive, can be a bit insulting, and proceed with so much ill-founded confidence it’s amazing I have any humility at all. I like to argue. I like the back and forth. Sometimes I learn something. Sometimes I hope someone learns something from me.

    • #13
    • February 11, 2020, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. Rodin Member

    God does want out of the debate, and should be. But the Democrats want to weaponize religious philosophy against Trump. “We can do what we do because we make no claim other than to worship progressivism, but you….” So it is left to simply vote for what best meets your needs — as always. Persons of faith have to assess how the particular policies of Candidate A versus Candidate B affect their own religious freedom first, then the tendency to promote a more or less moral society, second. I see nothing in progressivism that promotes a moral society so its an easy call for me.

    • #14
    • February 11, 2020, at 11:04 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  15. MarciN Member
    • #15
    • February 11, 2020, at 11:16 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    It was generally accepted at the time of the country’s founding that the success of the revolution and the way the different religious sects worked together was a sign that it was God’s will that the USA be formed as nation based on the idea of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Assuming that is true, then politicians should supported, when they promote policies that are faithful to the founding and denounced when they don’t. 

    • #16
    • February 11, 2020, at 11:29 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  17. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos

    Juliana (View Comment):

    Old Bathos:

    Although I am confident that God agrees with me on just about every issue,…

    Things that make you go hmmm.

    I agree with the seminarian that @eodmom quoted. I am more interested in what Trump is doing for the country than who he was when or how he responds to his critics (enemies). I don’t trust that most of what he says is reported accurately. I do trust that God has granted me the intelligence to make a decision based on my perception of right and wrong as taught by Him, even if the issues are complex.

    You used the word ‘venal’ a couple of times in your description of Trump. Do you really think he is on the take? Venal generally is associated with bribery. This is how rumors get started.

    I should not have used “venal.”

    I live in fear that people don’t know when I am kidding and/or merely being cute. Woody Allen made a joke about the rabbi whose sense of humor launched a thousand pogroms…. hmmm.

     

     

    • #17
    • February 11, 2020, at 12:26 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. The Reticulator Member

    Re the OP title: 

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he does. 

    • #18
    • February 11, 2020, at 1:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    My take as a former Catholic and a current American is that God (assuming He exists) concerns Himself with how we treat Him and how we treat our fellow man. Regarding how we treat each other, it is individual actions or lack of action that count most, and not second or third order consequences. 

    It is legal to have an abortion in the US – and in most other Western countries. If you believe that God judges us in the collective, that’s a big deal. 

    But Testament 2: The Sequel suggests that we are judged as individuals. If abortion/murder is wrong, don’t do it. Prevent it in specific instances where you can, but your responsibility for a given abortion or abortions in general is so tenuously linked to your general election vote that…well, let’s just say that if you don’t have any more pressing concerns for your immortal soul you’re a better man than…pretty much everyone. 

    • #19
    • February 11, 2020, at 3:28 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. JoelB Member

    23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”

    “Caesar’s,” they replied.

    25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

    Jesus, knowing that Man was made in the image of God and was to have His word written on his heart, was telling the spies that their expressed concern was of secondary importance. Their true allegiance was to be to God.

    • #20
    • February 11, 2020, at 3:36 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Stina (View Comment):

    Now that’s rich coming from me. I’m well aware that I’m aggressive, can be a bit insulting, and proceed with so much ill-founded confidence it’s amazing I have any humility at all. I like to argue. I like the back and forth. Sometimes I learn something. Sometimes I hope someone learns something from me.

    That’s some high order nosce te ipsum right there. 

    • #21
    • February 11, 2020, at 3:55 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Bart Marcois, who did outreach and fundraising for Romney (particularly among Mormons) starting in 20003, now thinks that Romney betrays Republicans and Utah.

    His reasons are relevant to this discussion:

    Mitt’s Betrayal in 2012

    Mitt’s first betrayal was his choice to lose the 2012 campaign. The whole nation had seen him snuff Obama during the first debate. He looked like a winner. We thought he was fighting for us. But in the next debate, he soft-pedaled his criticism. He declined to criticize Obama for his failure to protect four Americans killed in Benghazi, although I knew he had been well briefed about what happened there.

    I was with him and his team that night. I asked why he had pulled his punches. “Criticism didn’t play well with independent women in Ohio,” a senior aide told me. He stopped fighting because it didn’t look decent.

    My family and I were with the Romneys and his inner circle in Boston on Election Night, and for breakfast the morning after. All we could think of was the devastation that four more years of Obama meant for us. Mitt gave up America’s victory for what he perceived as his own private decency.

    Mitt’s Betrayals in 2016 and 2018

    At the height of the 2016 campaign, Mitt called Donald Trump a “fraud” and a “con man.” He encouraged Republican voters to throw away their votes, allowing Hillary Clinton to become president.

    I told people that while Trump may burn down the Washington establishment, Hillary was an invasive species. She would choke the life out of everything, and the country would never recover. I could believe Mitt was principled if he had called out the Clintons in a similar way, but he didn’t.

    Mitt knew what the Clintons are, and the destructive policies they would implement. But he let his personal pique at Trump cloud his judgment. I have written elsewhere about Trump’s pleasant manner in private. My family knocked on over 5,500 doors for Trump, and we knew the hope he gave American voters.

    In spite of Mitt’s attempt to sabotage the Trump campaign, President-elect Trump interviewed him to be secretary of state. I would believe Mitt’s opposition to Trump was principled if he had politely declined the position. But he didn’t. He interviewed for the job.

    When Mitt became a senator from Utah, he used his position to attack his own party. Again, had he called out the unconstitutional, unlawful, and vulgar behavior of the Democrats, we could believe that he was motivated by principle. But he has not criticized a single Democrat for any action, no matter how egregious, in all his tenure in Washington.

     

    • #22
    • February 11, 2020, at 4:02 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    It was generally accepted at the time of the country’s founding that the success of the revolution and the way the different religious sects worked together was a sign that it was God’s will that the USA be formed as nation based on the idea of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Assuming that is true, then politicians should supported, when they promote policies that are faithful to the founding and denounced when they don’t.

    When Kennedy was elected it was in spite of fears that he would give preference and power to Catholicism. 

    Trump’s watery, vanilla religiosity is the kind I like best in a politician – not least because it isn’t a virtue signal or a claim on a sectarian constituency. 

    • #23
    • February 11, 2020, at 4:03 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. EHerring Coolidge

    Easy. What offends God more, insulting Democrats or killing babies? Biblical heroes were imperfect, too. 

    • #24
    • February 12, 2020, at 5:11 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Old Bathos, you stated that wonderfully. And I agree with you, so you are absolutely correct.

    Such insight, discernment, and wisdom is rare these days.

    …and modest, too

    • #25
    • February 12, 2020, at 7:09 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Kevin Creighton Contributor

    God wants us to be Christ-like, and advance His kingdom here on earth. 

    The rest, well, that’s just not that important. 

    Consider this. In both the American Revolution and the American Civil War, both sides were 100% convinced that God was on their side. 

    They were all wrong. God is on God’s side. It’s not our duty to rope Him into our cause, it’s our duty to align our cause as much as possible with Him. 

    • #26
    • February 12, 2020, at 7:15 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  27. Kevin Creighton Contributor

    And a quote that I’ve used as a life beacon for many years comes to mind here: 

    “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamont

    • #27
    • February 12, 2020, at 7:17 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  28. Bob Thompson Member

    I see a certain consistency between Christianity and the American Ideal. The basis for that lies in the individual and individual action. Trump as POTUS does far less to interfere with the existence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of individual fulfillment for every American than any other potential leader in plain sight. We have just over four years to conjure up a successor to continue Trump’s legacy. We are not approaching perfection. I do not see God’s will in those who will force Americans to live their lives in some specific collective mode.

    • #28
    • February 12, 2020, at 7:34 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I see a certain consistency between Christianity and the American Ideal. The basis for that lies in the individual and individual action. 

    I see this too, but I am distrustful of it as the Bible is very hierarchical and king-conscious; might it be that we Americanize God because we are Americans? 

    • #29
    • February 12, 2020, at 8:59 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Bob Thompson Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I see a certain consistency between Christianity and the American Ideal. The basis for that lies in the individual and individual action.

    I see this too, but I am distrustful of it as the Bible is very hierarchical and king-conscious; might it be that we Americanize God because we are Americans?

    Collective cooperation is not a bad thing as long as it is not mandatory. Christianity involves a process of individuals striving for a form of perfection, that form involves learning to distinguish right from wrong and then choosing the right. Nothing in that says those individuals cannot still be choosing different right things. Factual conditions and events recorded in the Bible are only a snapshot in time and certainly don’t show us the conditions in which we live. I’m no expert on Christian theology but this is what I see.

    • #30
    • February 12, 2020, at 9:17 AM PST
    • 3 likes