My dad was good at asking me to “think again.” When he said it, he meant that I had not thought enough about the answer to a question.
The question everyone is asking right now is, “Who should be the next president of the USA?” Given the rhetoric of election coverage, I am led to say, “Think again!” because I do not believe that people have given sufficient thought to the consequences of their votes. Yesterday, Erick Erickson said the same thing.
I have learned to respect Erick Erickson over the past two years. He has consistently taken the high ground in the battle over numerous decisions within the Republican party. No matter where he stands, he always tells his readers why he is standing there. When Trump took the Republican nomination, Erickson declared his position and the reasons for his position, and I felt sure that even if I did not agree with his conclusion, I surely could respect the process of decision-making that put him there.
Yesterday Erick wrote another chapter in his ongoing process of determining how he will vote on Election Day. Once again, I was compelled to ask myself the questions Erick asked, and I was compelled to answer them. There is no longer any justification for postponing a decision, because the election is upon us. Early voting will start in about a month. It is time for voters to choose their poison. It is time for everyone to rethink what a vote means, whether cast for Hillary or Donald. (I really can’t compare Hillary to Trump, even though those monikers have become the norm. Maybe it is part of my problem with contemporary culture. For me, it is either Hillary and Donald, or Clinton and Trump.)
As Erickson laid out his concerns for the outcome of the presidential election, he said, “Clinton as President will mean the insane have taken over the asylum.” To be perfectly honest, I thought this sad conclusion had already occurred. When I contemplate same-sex marriage, gender confusion, transgender training for the military, and a federal insistence on the immigration of Islamic terrorists, I truly find myself thinking I have already gone through the looking-glass. Is it even possible that things will get worse?
Sadly, as Erick Erickson points out, the answer is, “We have only just begun.” He discusses the current state of social chaos in great depth. Then he looks closely at Trump, the choice who presumably stands for traditional values, and says,” Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.”
Whoa! That certainly is a problem. What exactly does Scripture say? “Purge the evil person from among you.” Apparently a person who said he never had anything to repent of would be an evil person, because Scripture says, “All have sinned.” It appears that Mr. Trump is guilty both of being a sinner and of lying about it. That is not good.
However, Erickson is not engaging in judgmental hypocrisy, the usual complaint leveled by secular thinkers against Christians. He is not interested in making Donald Trump look like a bad candidate. He says, “The whole purpose of shunning the unrepenant [sic] sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent.” Erickson asks Christians to consider what it means for them to gather around Donald Trump and cheer for his success if it prevents him from repenting and receiving Christ.
Erick Erickson is asking Christians to put the kingdom of God ahead of everything else. He is holding up the words of Jesus “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and who among the Christian community can ignore this warning.
Erickson’s concern for Donald Trump’s soul does not lead him to conclude he should vote for Hillary Clinton. He says, “I think Hillary Clinton will do lasting damage to the country. I cannot vote for her.” Whether I think as a secular voter or as a devoted Christian, I concur with Erickson’s view of Hillary. She is a threat to everything most Americans value.
Yet Erickson says of Donald Trump, “I think Donald Trump will do lasting damage to the witness of the Church in America and I therefore cannot vote for him.” This is not a trivial self-serving judgment. It is the conclusion of a man who has looked into the truth revealed by God himself and tried to apply that truth wisely.
Clearly, Erick is not comforted by this conclusion. Clearly, his fears for the outcome in our nation if Hillary Clinton becomes president drove him to reconsider his #NeverTrump position. Clearly, this thought process was both analytical and prayerful.
It is this process that inspires my emulation. I consider myself a thoughtful, prayerful Christian. I want to be faithful and obedient to God’s truth as revealed in his holy Word. It may not be easy being green, but being green is easier than being an obedient Christian faced with a thorny moral choice.
Before I read this post, I had gone down that thorny path with great trepidation. I had concluded that the real choice for a Christian is, what becomes of our country? I comforted myself by saying, If I cannot ask what is best for our country, I can ask what is worst and do the other thing. However, Erick Erickson has brought me face to face with an important truth: God’s kingdom must come first.
It really is odd how the Holy Spirit works. On Sunday, the children’s sermon at church centered on the question: What comes first? After a number of object lessons about the consequences of putting the wrong thing first, the presenter held up a wooden cross and asked, “What does God want us to put first?” The answer was, “The cross.”
On Wednesday, I read this post and then went to a Bible study. As it turned out, the key verse in that Bible study was. “Seek first the kingdom of God.” It seems to me that God is hammering home a truth: he and his kingdom transcend whatever might happen to the country if either Hillary or Donald becomes president. We all know, or think we know, that one of them is sure to be the president after all the dust settles. We all know, or think we know, that third party candidates never win. Therefore, leaving God out of the equation, we analyze the political situation and then choose the candidate that will, we hope, do the least harm.
Erickson is warning us that this is a stupid way to vote if we are really Christians. The Bible is very clear that a lot of people claim the name without submitting to the Lordship of Christ—that is to say that they join the club, but they do not aspire to its goals; they just like the snacks and jokes after worship on Sunday. Erickson is reminding us that if Christ is Lord, and if we have put God’s kingdom first in our lives, we will not vote—or choose a job or get married or buy shoes or choose summer camp for the kids—without putting God’s kingdom ahead of whatever personal comfort might arise from any of those choices. Erickson is reminding us that all our choices, no matter how small, must be subject to the King of Kings and his kingdom. We are certainly not to choose our president based on whether we would like to be persecuted for our belief in Christ; we are to make our choice by asking, what advances God’s kingdom.
Jesus said that there is more joy in heaven when one sinner repents than over a thousand who do not need to repent. That statement suggests that for the church to suffer persecution, because Hillary becomes president is not sufficient justification for a Christian to vote for Donald Trump if we understand that vote to propel him into continued unwillingness to repent, because he feels he has nothing for which to repent. Erickson seems to believe that Trump’s pride keeps him from confessing and repenting his sin. On that basis he says, “ I will not harm my witness nor risk Trump’s soul to serve my political desires.”
If I reach the conclusion that a vote for Donald Trump harms my witness or risks the candidate’s soul, I will agree with Erickson. I am thinking again, and I am prayerfully considering every word Erick Erickson wrote. I recommend you do the same.
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the autumn of 2016.