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I was hoping Hillary Clinton would win.
Before you jump to conclusions, allow me to explain.
Creatures of Habit
From the standpoint of our respective socio-political worldviews, the former Secretary of State and I could not be more diametrically opposed to one another.
Hillary Clinton’s self-professed admiration for eugenicist Margaret Sanger, founder of The Negro Project – the precursor to what is today Planned Parenthood – augmented with her unabashed support of same-sex marriage, or what progressives like Clinton prefer to call “marriage equality”, are but two examples of where she and I part ideological ways.
Nevertheless, that Donald Trump is now President-elect of the United States has left me feeling somewhat disappointed.
I say this not because of what a Trump presidency might portend for America in terms of domestic and foreign policy, but because of what it might mean in terms of the spiritual mindset and mission of the evangelical church.
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” – Psalm 118:8 (NASB)
In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it has been widely reported that President-elect Trump received upwards of 81 percent support from evangelicals, whereas Hillary Clinton received only 16 percent.
That President-elect Trump can boast that 8 out of every 10 professing evangelicals voted for him may be good news for Trump, however, I would caution against Christians presuming that the same can be said for the Church.
I say this because, historically, we evangelicals have exhibited a rather unique penchant for letting our political guard down, particularly when a supposed “conservative Christian” is occupying the White House.
Taking comfort in this we tend to morph into what I call “La-Z-Boy mode”, assuming that because “our” candidate won that “our work here is done” (as the saying goes).
Accordingly, as if by rote, we assume the position.
We lean back, put our spiritual feet up, and rest in the “blessed assurance” that because the person we voted for is “one of us”, there is no real need for vigilance on our part in holding them accountable to any degree.
“Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” – Psalm 146:3 (NASB)
None of this is to infer or imply that the future of the Church in America, or Christianity in general for that matter, rests in the hands of either President-elect Trump or ours as individual evangelicals.
Nor is it to suggest that President-elect Trump is anti-Church, anti-Christian, or anti-religious freedom.
Not at all.
Waiting to Exhale?
As followers of Christ, we serve a sovereign God who has promised to build His church despite any worldly or other-worldly forces that might endeavor to oppose it (Psalm 135:6; Daniel 4:35; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 6:12).
In other words, it is an eternally settled issue that the church of God will continue to grow and flourish, as it has for over 2,000 years, regardless who is in power whether nationally or globally.
Nonetheless, after eight years of an administration which, by any objective measure, has not been a friend of Christians, I am somewhat concerned that many evangelicals will view the election of Donald Trump as their “waiting to exhale” moment, if you will, believing we can finally relax now that Barack Obama will soon be out of office.
It is this concern that makes me wonder if it would not have been better for the evangelical Church if Hillary Clinton had won and not Donald Trump.
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” – Ecclesiastes 7:20 (NASB)
With all due respect, for evangelicals to assume simply by virtue that Donald Trump was elected president and not Hillary Clinton, that the political climate will automatically be more favorable for Christians is to be spiritually naive.
Because although a Clinton administration would undoubtedly have been just as adversarial to the evangelical church as has been the Obama administration, if not more so, it nonetheless might have served as impetus to keep Christians on their toes, or better, on their knees.
“Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” – Isaiah 2:22 (NASB)
The nature of politics is that it has a way of subtly convincing people that a promise made is tantamount to a promise kept.
A very tangible example of this is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare, and the boastful assurances made by President Obama, among other prominent Democrats, that it would save American households of dollars in healthcare costs but, in reality, has resulted in financial hardship for millions of families who find themselves unable to afford the skyrocketing premiums.
At first glance, the election of Donald Trump as our nation’s 45th president may seem a cause for rejoicing to many evangelicals; a long-awaited answer to prayer after nearly a decade of overt hostility from an administration whose view of Christianity, to say the least, has been less than favorable.
But that is no excuse for Christians to view Trump’s election as some political laurel upon which we can now rest.
“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” – John Adams
If nothing else, what should keep evangelicals grounded against being overly exuberant that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton is that, biblically speaking, he is no less a sinner than she is (Romans 3:23).
Though a multi-billionaire with a track record as a deal making power-broker, as President-elect, Donald Trump now has access to more power than even he could ever have imagined.
With this in mind, President-elect Trump will need our prayers perhaps more than even he realizes (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
That a Trump victory might result in many evangelicals becoming passive about matters of significance to the Church is why I had hoped Hillary Clinton would win.
For perhaps then, with an ideological antagonist in the White House instead of an ally, Christians might be more attentive to how those who attain to such positions of power are susceptible to the the temptations and attractions awaiting them, not to mention the potential impacts to the Church when those allurements are yielded to in an ungodly way.
“O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” – Psalm 60:11 (NASB)
If you have read this far, I trust by now you realize that this blog post is not a post-election endorsement of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Quite the contrary.
It is a loving yet cautionary admonition to my fellow evangelical brothers and sisters that now is not the time to relax simply because “our” candidate won.
Evangelicals have been in this position before, you know, with “our people” in charge at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
The next four years will prove whether we have learned from the lessons of the past, not the least of which is to never look to the one who occupies the Oval Office above the One who put him – or her – there.
Humbly in Christ,