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Christ or Trump

Christ or Trump

There’s a peculiar sensation that seems to be driving the reluctant acceptance of Donald Trump as a viable Presidential option by many conservative, evangelical Christians. The more you talk to those who begrudgingly (or not so begrudgingly) admit to their willingness to check the box by his name come Nov. 8th, the more you realize they’re not so dissimilar from the #NeverTrump crowd. They are stalwartly and unapologetically #NeverHillary. Candidly speaking, I am not at all unsympathetic to such a mindset, I loathe quite a bit about her policy, her posturing, and her pandering (“7 Things Hillary in Common with Your Abuela”? Really? Come on, be yourself, at least, Madam Secretary). But unlike #NeverTrump, which is based on withholding support from him, #NeverHillary rests on lending support to an alleged “lesser evil” as a means of obstruction.

But let me back up. Why are people in the #NeverHillary category?

Reasons vary, from person to person, but the gist of it seems to be that she is viewed as a continuation of the Obama administration. Most succinctly, the condemnation boils down to her unwavering support for and heralding of abortion and her anti-Christian agenda (this is summary of their views; I’m not claiming them as my own). For these reasons, above all others, Hillary must be stopped.

Full stop. End of thought.

And perhaps it really is the end of all thought if the logical end of loathing Hillary is voting for Trump. Not because there are other viable options to stop her at the moment (because there are none), but because it’s murder-suicide at best and the more likely income is self-immolation as public spectacle. Voting for Trump as an anti-Hillary measure will only end in of two ways.

1. Trump will win.

2. Hillary will win.

(Odds are on #2 being the outcome, and it’s not even close)

Let’s explore them both, briefly. Trump wins and is what he says he will be, a self-aggrandizing tacit dictator who routinely insults America’s friends, disenfranchises her allies, antagonizes her critics, and perpetrates war crimes against her enemies. He appoints far-left liberals like his sister to the Federal courts, supports and advocates for legislation similar to Obama’s recent wrong-headed (and abusive in power) transgender-related executive order, and supports abortion for the totality of his time in office.

But at least he forces stores to say “Merry Christmas.”

He likes Christians (so long as the applaud him) and makes sure no one (except him) bullies them or pushes them around. He even goes so far as to deport our “enemies” (Muslims) in mass numbers and turns the mosques into casinos and strip clubs (ok, that mosque thing is hyperbole, everything else is based on things Trump has actually said).

But maybe, just maybe, Hillary beats him. Maybe she somehow overcomes the least-liked presidential candidate in history and pulls-out a hard-fought “W”. And it’s exactly like 8 more years of Obama, in its most nightmarish permutation:

Abortion continues (as it would with Trump).

The LGBT movement gains steam (as it would with Trump).

America’s foreign policy is poor (arguably not as bad as Trump’s, though).

The economy tanks (just like Trump’s many business ventures).

Liberals are appointed to the Federal courts (liberals like the one Trump has already said he would love to appoint to the Supreme Court).

Hillary attacks the 1st Amendment (as Trump has also expressed interest in doing).

There’s only two pieces of substantive difference that I’ve found, and neither are guaranteed to remain as contrasts between the candidates. Hillary is expected to continue Obama’s more antagonistic stance towards guns, while Trump is very vocal in his support for guns, guns, and more guns (for now, but remember armed citizens are not something narcissistic dictator-types tend to encourage once empowered); and Hillary has not promised to bring “Merry Christmas” back to the red Starbucks’ cups.

So, what makes Trump “better” than Hillary? Simple, he’ll persecute our enemies.

He promises to defend Christians against any and all foes, while Hillary threatens to be one of the foes.

But voting for Trump is not voting for America’s best interest, not if our own eyes and ears are to be trusted. Not only are his “policies” awful, but his approach and attitude is not ones that could be trusted to govern constitutionally, something that many Republicans pretended to hate about Obama for the past seven years (I say “pretended” because some who rightfully bemoaned that trait in Obama now gloss over its almost cartoonishly-exaggerated presence in Trump). A vote for Trump isn’t a vote to “Make America Great Again,” it’s a vote for a man who routinely destroys anyone and anything for the purpose of self-advancement.

Curiously enough, this seems like a not-completely inaccurate way to describe many evangelicals lining up to support him; as a group willing to see their enemies and rivals mistreated and maligned so long as the tyranny doesn’t come for them.

You might decry such a statement as over-simplistic, and in a sense it is. But if it’s a blast of hot air then it’s one meant to blow away the chaff and get to the germ of wheat buried beneath the political posturing and pandering. Because when it comes to supporting Trump, no matter how complex or robust the reasonings might be, the crux of the matter is unchanged: to support a demagogue of that stripe in his pursuit of the Presidency is, at the very least, a tacit endorsement of the bullying, maligning, and abuse of his (and, I suppose, your) enemies. Because whether or not a Trump-voter approves of Trump’s deplorable tactics is somewhat irrelevant in light of the fact that supporting his presidency is supporting such behavior to be carried out as the rule of law.

Which seems odd coming from Christians because it’s very (pardon the use of a loaded term) anti-Christ in its sensibilities. “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you,” Christ advocated. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” He added, which means loving them beneath the surface in personal, vulnerable ways. Who are you enemies, Trump fans? And do you really think that the way Trump bullies, demeans, stereotypes, and insults them en masse with no regard for the individuality, personality, or humanity is really compatible with Christlikeness? How can you love your enemy if you won’t stop insulting them? How can you “do good” to those who hate you if you deport and ban them?

How can you look your city’s welfare, oh exile, if you’re so preoccupied with your own?

It is hard to imagine finding two figures further apart in their approach to the world than Jesus Christ and Donald Trump. One refused to promote or praise Himself, choosing instead to praise His Father, while the other literally created an alias so he could brag about himself to the press.

One was bruised for our iniquities; the other will bruise and batter to conceal his own.

One died for his enemies; the other brags about killing his enemies and their families.

One lifts up; the other tears down.

I’m not arguing or implying that supporting Trump condemns or separates you from God. Not at all.  After all, history is replete with accounts of Christians doing very un-Christlike things and our personal histories are cluttered with moments of less-dramatic failures in that area. The Bible teaches us we cannot serve two masters, we can’t promote God and mammon, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. So each minute is lived either towards the one or towards the other. We can vacillate between the two from moment to moment but we can’t do both at once because there can only be one governing lord in our life at any given moment. We either declare the lordship of Christ in our lives or we declare the lordship of an idol. Our goal ought to be to have more of the former and less of the latter, but the struggle is always present.

Your support this election season is part of the struggle (mine too, in case you were worried I was feeling left out). Our votes (or non-votes) can and ought to be used to demonstrate who and what you support both on Nov. 8th and every other day of the year.

You can support Christ or you can support Trump. I find it difficult to imagine that you can do both at once.

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