October 17, 2016
In the piece Chosen by God: The Man Who Ate Honey, But Pulled Down Pillars the author intriguingly compares Donald Trump with Israel’s judge, Samson. You may or may not be aware of how morally reprehensible Samson was as a political leader, but the book of Judges paints his character in a very troubling light even as it tells how God sovereignly used Samson to accomplish a level of deliverance for the nation. So the basic premise of “Chosen by God” is that God can and may use Trump in a similar fashion even though his character is deeply flawed. I am sharing the link because I think the perspective is a helpful one that Christians should carefully consider.
But I also suggest that a much needed overarching perspective is missing from the piece, and I explain below. Before reading any more of my thoughts, I encourage you to read the piece.
The author gives some thoughtful reasons to vote Trump even in light of his many moral shortcomings. The basic gist is that Trump’s platform is certainly more promising for the cause of freedom than the authoritarian socialism of Clinton and that Trump just might be the guy that God uses to tear down some pillars of big government oppression.
Backing up this logic are the author’s belief in the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of citizens. One the one hand, God’s sovereignty enables him to use imperfect instruments for good purposes. On the other, citizens should vote, not for a perfect option, but for the best option they have: “As voters, we should cast our vote for the individual who is most capable of improving and protecting our country.” I agree with both premises.
But also I think that this article misses the overarching point of the book of Judges and the role of Samson that Christians should understand.
The overarching point of Judges is that the national spiral of corruption in Israel was increasingly out of control and would eventually lead the citizens to give up their personal freedoms for the sake of an authoritarian form of government which God did not desire for them (1 Sam 8). The majority of the people became so incapable of responsible living before the Lord that they eventually resorted to the sad appointment of a king who would “fight their battles for them” (1 Sam 8:20). The increasing moral problems with Israel’s leaders were signs of that decadent spiral and an indication that the nation was moving toward that radical shift. So though Samson accomplished some temporary good for the nation, his character is not primarily in the scriptures to show progress, but regress.
That being said, it was good of God to use him for the preserving accomplishments that Samson did have. Could God use Trump in some similar ways in America? Yes. But the deeper question still hangs over us of whether we should view a candidate like Trump as a sign of hope or an omen.
Of course, voting for Clinton is basically like Israel’s surrender of their freedoms in 1 Samuel 8. She likes to criticize Trump for “admiring dictators,” but I believe her criticism is a diversion tactic to deflect the fact that she is the candidate who wants big government control over our lives. Between the two of them, she is the authoritarian for sure. (It is baffling that Trump and Pence don’t say this in their debates when the issue is brought up.)
So voting Trump gives some hope for the delay of a complete loss of our freedom whereas voting for Clinton further seals that loss. But viewing him as a top-down hope for long-term positive change and not as an omen stemming from the bottom-up problem of irresponsible citizenship ignores the bigger picture of Judges. When even your good leaders are not good, your country is in major trouble and in need of repentance on a national scale. This is especially true when your leaders are elected by people who do not use their freedom responsibly to vote for quality candidates.
Should Christians vote Trump in spite of his character for the sake of what good might come from it? Perhaps.
Should Christians be skeptical of viewing Trump as an agent of long-term positive change? Probably.
Should Christians be fervently praying for God to send a sweeping revival in the hearts of America’s citizens as a real basis of long-term hope? Definitely.