I do not tend to publicly write or post on explicitly political matters. However, due to the seeming popularity of Wayne Grudem’s recent article, as well as the notability of someone such as Wayne Grudem publicly changing their opinion in supporting Trump for president, it seemed fitting for me to post this publicly.
Wayne Grudem recently published an article on Townhall.com entitled, “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice.” Others have already written responses to Grudem’s article; you can click on the links to see responses by Warren Throckmorton, Joshua Parikh, Scot McKnight and Thomas Kidd, who links further responses to Grudem. Russell Moore and Al Mohler have also both expressed their opposition to Trump at the most recent Southern Baptist Convention, and Matthew J. Franck has recently written against the notion of “lesser of two evils” for the Witherspoon Institute.
I first saw this article going around the other day, and I have to say that I think it’s entirely unbefitting of a theologian who has gained such a notable name and platform to write something of such poor quality and substance. I vehemently disagree with Grudem’s notion of voting for the “lesser of two evils.” This is, in my mind, a false perception of the political world, in part simply because there are actually more than two options, but also because to ask for a Christian to cast a vote for a lesser evil is nonetheless to ask a Christian to vote for evil.
I have a serious problem as a Christian being told that I ought to vote for “an evil,” even if it is a “lesser” one than the other. I morally cannot vote for Clinton, nor can I morally vote for Trump. For me, to vote for either major party candidate would be to vote for evil, so I shall be voting for a different candidate in November. I take great objection to Grudem’s contention that this is an immoral thing for me to do: It would be immoral for me to vote for a candidate who I cannot consider morally upright and appropriate for the presidency. Indeed, I consider it, if not immoral, then most certainly improper of Grudem to insist that I do something I consider immoral.
I also take great issue with Grudem’s reason for why Trump would be the morally correct candidate to vote for. He uses the argument that “the ends justify the means” – I beg to differ. The means are just as important as the end to which we strive. Indeed, to vote for such a “flawed” candidate as Trump (to use Grudem’s contorted language to defend Trump’s character) is for me horridly problematic, for his character and his behaviour has proven that he is simply interested in trying to win the approval of whoever is in the room with him at the time; he has flip-flopped on countless issues seemingly on a whim. I don’t consider Trump to have demonstrated himself an appropriate medium to accomplish the policies which Grudem so adamantly asserts he will accomplish. Moreover, it is dubious as to whether Trump will actually do anything Grudem has said he will do.
Another factor which Grudem has quite simply neglected to even consider is how evangelical support for Trump will reflect upon the global witness of Christ to this world. Trump is seen as a bigoted, vile, misogynistic, and racist man. He has repeatedly denounced demographics as problematic – in his announcement for his presidential campaign, he infamously denounced Mexicans as rapists and drug-runners; more recently he has turned his attention to denouncing Muslims. He perpetually scapegoats, and looks to identify demographic groups upon whom he can assert his anger, and upon whom he can direct the anger and bitterness of his most vehement supporters. For evangelicals to express this sort of person as the bastion of Christian political uprightness is to present to the watching world a severely compromised Christian morality, and is to only add fuel to the fire which burns against Christianity in so much of the world. I consider an evangelical affirmation of Trump’s candidacy for President to be horridly counter-productive to removing barriers to the gospel. It is to create a bigger barrier. If evangelicals vote for Trump, Christians will continue to lose their platform for effective evangelisation and gospel-witness, and all Christians ought to recognise this as an indictment against themselves.
I find myself agreeing with Throckmorton that, “Given how inadequate his analysis of Trump’s positions and character is, I think it is an abuse of [Grudem’s] position as an evangelical leader to imply that there is a choice that good Christians should choose.” Grudem has, for me, joined the ranks of Christian leaders who have failed to listen to the voices of Christians throughout the centuries who have stood up against oppressive leaders and politicians. They have failed to listen to the warnings of Bonhoeffer. They have closed their ears to the cries of the oppressed. They have disregarded the moral ethics of Augustine and the Church Fathers. And I consider them to have stopped up their ears to the words and witness of Christ, himself. And it greatly distresses me as a Christian and as a seminary student that there are people like Grudem who have seemingly followed Esau’s example in giving up their birthright for a bowl of soup. I don’t agree with Hillary, although I do consider her more politically adept than Trump. I will not vote for Hillary. But I refuse to vote for Trump. Rather, I shall be exercising what I consider an appropriate and moral decision to write in a candidate on my ballot who I can support morally and politically for the office of President of the United States.