Last Sunday I wrote about the inconsistency between the Bible’s command for Christians to love their enemies and the willingness of many Christians to rationalize, approve, and sometimes even applaud Donald Trump’s vengeful rhetoric and acts of punitive retribution. One does not comply with the command to love your enemies by electing someone to hate them for you.
I was overwhelmed by the response and deeply encouraged at the depth and sincerity of the discussion it triggered online, in my email inbox, and in the comments to the article. Apart from observations and questions about the merits of the argument itself, the most common question I received was simple: What exactly do you suggest Christians do? Should they hold their nose and vote for Trump but endeavor to still see him clearly and hold him accountable for his misconduct? Should they vote for Democrats even when Democrats would protect abortion rights and restrict religious freedom? Or should they vote third party or write in a name?
Let me answer with my voting philosophy—one I believe advances a Christian biblical witness and the long-term peace and prosperity of our national home. In each race, I impose a two-part test on candidates. First, they must possess a personal character that is worthy of the office they seek. Second, they must broadly share my political values. If a candidate fails either prong of that test, he or she doesn’t receive my vote.
There was a time, when Bill Clinton was president, when virtually every Christian conservative I know would nod along in ready agreement with both parts of that test. In fact, they were distressed—even anguished—that a critical mass of their fellow citizens didn’t seem to agree. So long as the economy boomed, they were blind or indifferent to the way in which profound failures of character not only degraded the nation’s culture, it damaged the nation’s social cohesion.