If a car salesman offered you a car and said, “It has a less than ten percent chance of running,” would you buy it? What if it were birth control? These are the odds of a third party winning the presidential race, yet many feel compelled to vote for them anyway. Why?
We in America are cursed with a two-party republic. There is no third option. I mean, there is, but there’s almost no chance a third-party candidate will win. Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will win. That’s it. Voting for someone else, no matter how “principled” or “protestant” it may be, is like “screaming into a vacuum,” as someone told me recently.
Some, like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Wayne Grudem, support voting for Mr. Trump because he’s the lesser of two evils or because this is the system given to us. It’s not our fault we have only these two candidates.
Needless to say, Mr. Trump’s policies are rather conservative, even if his character and language are not. He at least believes that there are trade-offs in business. Either you spend your money here to get this, or you spend your money there to get that. There is no other option.
Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, believes that by the year 2021, “every student from a family making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public college or university without paying tuition.” Ah, yes. That sounds wonderful, but who will pay for it? That tuition burden will go somewhere. “All community colleges will offer free tuition,” she says, but when those community colleges need to pay the electric bill, where does that money come from?
Some, however, like Russell Moore and others, are voting third party or opting out of the election process altogether. One prominent pastor told me yesterday that we are not morally obligated to vote because our citizenship is in heaven, not earth, and certainly not America, at least primarily. “Jesus offers us a change of allegiances,” he said.
“People always make the case that there is a straight-line, no-questions-asked logic between Romans 13 and a moral obligation to vote, but there isn’t,” he continued. “Opting out of the system altogether says, ‘We’re not playing this game anymore. My allegiance is to Christ, not to America.’”
But is there a straight-line, no-questions-asked logic between casting a vote for someone and placing our hope or allegiance with them? Perhaps not.
In the book of 2 Kings, there is an interesting story about just that.
There was once a great commander of the army of the king of Syria. His name was Naaman, and he was a leper. One day, he wanted to be healed of this leprosy, so he went to see the prophet Elisha.
The prophet told him to bathe in the river seven times, to which Naaman snorted and walked away. After being convinced, however, he washed and was healed. He then said to the prophet, “From now on, [I] will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord.”
But there was a problem.
Naaman’s master, the king of Syria, worshiped another god named Rimmon. “When my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there,” he said, “leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, [may] the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.”
What do you think the man of God said? Show your true allegiances? Suffer for the name of God? Now that you are converted, proclaim your trust in God by public opposition, civil disobedience?
No. He said, “Go in peace.”
In the Bible
If you read the Bible enough, you will be deeply confused. It’s troubling at times. Throughout its grand story, though, you will notice a trend: God works through creation. He uses flesh and bones to get things done. He uses plants and weather and rocks. He even uses corrupt politicians.
Reading through the historical books of the Bible—Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles—you will think, “How could God put that person in power?” But he does, over and over again.
Look at a chart of Old Testament kings of Israel like this one. Look at whether they were good or bad, and then look at how long they reigned. Judah had some good kings, but Israel had horrible kings, not even one good one. Some of them reigned for over forty years.
Could you imagine living under Stalin or Hitler for over forty years? King Manasseh of Judah, arguably the worst of them all, reigned for fifty-five years. That’s fifty-five years of complete and total corruption, mass murder, and sexual perversions of the worst kind. He was the king over God’s people for half a century.
But God uses these stories. You could even argue, quite easily in fact, that God put him in that position of power. It was God’s election, in other words.
In the New Testament, too, we see this trend. Tax collectors were known for their corruption and greed, yet Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” The Pharisees he called a “brood of vipers,” yet they were the academic elite, the powerful religious leaders of the time. Pilate was as corrupt and weak a politician as they come, but to him Jesus said, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.”
Paul even, when he was arrested multiple times, submitted himself to the system for appeals, for punishment, for false imprisonment. He went before a council and appealed to Caesar, locked in chains as he was. Yet it was him who said in Romans 13, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
There is no authority except from God. Those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. God, in other words, uses pagan kings to accomplish his will. What makes this election any different?
God has given the American people two options for our leader: either Donald J. Trump, the Republican billionaire reality TV star, whose comments and character are highly questionable, or Hillary R. Clinton, the Democrat and Secretary of State.
Whose policies will you choose? Or will you not choose either one?
After this election is over, when sorrows like sea billows roll, there is one thing I know. There will be a day when faith shall be sight, when the clouds shall be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend.
One day, this Trump or that one will be the Lord’s will. Even so, it is well with my soul.
Editor’s note: The views represented here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Fathom.
Cover image by Gage Skidmore.