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I've been the pastor at my church since the summer of 2004. That means this is the fourth presidential election we have been through together. In each of the previous three, there have been moments--small, isolated moments--of conflict surrounding the election. Things have been stirred up by email chains, social media fodder, and sometimes by things I have said. I hope these brief reflections will not be in the category of "stirring up," but rather might provide some clarity about what Christians should agree on and what we may not have to agree on.

Here we go.

1. Since this will come up in every comment and has been asked by my own parishioners dozens of times, I'll make clear from the outset: I will vote for President, but I will not vote for either of the major party candidates. I have been critical of both candidates--more so than in any previous presidential election--because I believe both fail to clear a basic threshold of personal integrity, sound judgment, and trustworthiness.

2. This does not mean I think every Christian must come to the same decision in order to be a good Christian. There are simply too many prudential matters in the mix for Christians to be adamant that you absolutely cannot vote for so and so. Someone may think Trump is a lecherous oaf, but still conclude that his policies and judicial appointments have a better chance of being good for the nation. Likewise, someone may find Clinton's position on abortion utterly deplorable, but conclude that Trump's pro-life credentials are untrustworthy and that Clinton is less likely to be recklessly incompetent. Others may be convinced that an unpopular Clinton presidency may be better for conservative principles in the long run than a train wreck Trump administration would be. Some people may think voting third party is a waste. Others may figure it is one way to send a message that the system failed us this time around. Or maybe they really, really like Gary Johnson or Evan McMullin or whomever. Do I agree with all these arguments? No. But am I able to tell Christians that these arguments are manifestly unbiblical? No. They are conclusions that require prudential judgments. While our church might discipline a member for holding the positions Clinton holds or for behaving the way Trump has behaved, this does not mean we have biblical grounds for disciplining a church member who, for any number of reasons and calculations, may decide that voting for either candidate (or neither) makes the most sense. And if we wouldn't discipline someone for a presidential vote, we should stop short of saying such a vote is sinful and shameful.

3. While it is not the role of pastors to tell their people who to vote for, it is our role to interpret Scripture and point out theological carelessness. Yes, David was a great sinner who was used mightily by the Lord. Yes, God forgives sinners and so must we. But David repented of his sin (see Psalm 51). Being a sinner like David doesn't qualify anyone for anything, except for the redeeming blood of Christ and the saving grace that will be given to all those who truly repent and believe.

4. Likewise, Cyrus was a pagan ruler used by God for the good of his people. Which establishes that God can use pagan rulers for the good of his people. The example itself says nothing about whether God will use a particular pagan ruler, or whether God would have us vote for said pagan ruler if given the chance.

5. Even if you are a hold-your-noser instead of a NeverTrumper, every Christian should agree that Trump's comments about women and his actions toward women (not to mention the way he has spoken of minorities) have been horrid. We embarrass ourselves when we try to defend the indefensible. And to claim it was merely locker room talk (which it wasn't), or that you've heard worse (sadly, many have), or all men have spoken like that before (they haven't) only serves to excuse sins that need to be forgiven not minimized.

6. And what about Clinton? It's true, some conservative evangelical Christians have voiced more criticism about Trump than about Clinton. I imagine this is because most conservative evangelical Christians do not consider Clinton a viable option because of her extreme views on abortion. The conversation among most white evangelicals is not Trump or Clinton but Trump or not Trump. But certainly Clinton is no paragon of virtue either. It is hard to think she can be trusted with money, with power, with classified information, or with simply telling the truth.

7. But we are not voting for Pastor-in-Chief! Agreed. I don't insist that the President of the United States has to be qualified to be a leader in our churches or even a member in our churches. And yes, many presidents have been morally bankrupt. But we can't say what we would do then with what we know now. More importantly (and more theologically), we must not be moral relativists. The Bible does not teach that every sin is the same, nor does it suggest that private character is an irrelevant consideration for public service. There is nothing about sitting in the Oval Office that magically transforms people into something other than what they have been. If anything, power tempts even good people to be bad and makes bad people even worse. Our candidates will always be imperfect. When and where that imperfection crosses the line into "morally unfit" may be a matter of discretion, but it must be a matter that matters.

8. Likewise, to criticize a candidate's egregious moral faults is not "casting the first stone." We are not killing them or condemning them as irredeemably lost. The question is not whether Trump or Clinton are perfect moral examples, or whether we have failings in our past, or whether grace can cover all our sins. I evaluate presidential candidates with the same sort of grid I'd use for a staff evaluation: character, convictions, competence, and chemistry. Obviously, I don't look for all the same things in a president as I would for an associate pastor. But I do think that in both cases a person's ethical compass is crucial. The Founding Fathers, however imperfect they were in practice, were at least agreed that a Republic cannot long endure apart from the cultivation of virtue. I'd like to see the President defend and pursue the same.

9.There is a tendency, on both sides, to treat "our side" differently than we treat "their side." Would the same Christian leaders excusing Trump's statements ever think to excuse the same from Clinton (Bill or Hillary)? Of course not. Would liberals be overlooking Bill Clinton's treatment of women (and Hillary's role in downplaying or silencing accusations) if a Republican candidate (or spouse) had the same trail of serious allegations? No way. So much of politics is "defend our guy at all costs" and "seek and destroy their guy at all costs." The church must show a better way.

10. I am interested in politics, always have been. I follow the ups and downs and ins and outs of the campaign season closely. I love my country and care about who wins and loses. Elections have consequences. Yet I'm much more interested in the church--my church and the Church. Our fidelity to biblical truth, our personal holiness, our sincerity, our consistency, our ability to speak with grace and truth, our unwillingness to confuse the kingdom of this world with the kingdom of Christ, our realism in the midst of utopian promises, our hope in the midst of fear and loathing, our winsome witness to the gospel--to embody these realities week after week is more important than what happens on the second Tuesday in November.

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82 thoughts on “Seeking Clarity in this Confusing Election Season: Ten Thoughts”

  1. Bill Pence says:

    Very well said. My state (Illinois) will go Hillary for President. I definitely fall on the GOP side as far as the platforms. I am leaning toward voting, but leaving the President field blank. Thanks for providing this clarity.

  2. Greg Balzer says:

    Thanks for putting this together. You have put into words clearly a number of loose thoughts that I have had to the first 9 points. Thank you as well for closing with point 10. I am concerned that I myself, and a number of my Christian brothers and sisters have unconsciously switched our faith and trust from God and our blessings in Christ to “Our Candidate” and worldly power structures that will someday pass away.

  3. Jeff Schultz says:

    Thank you for this wise, pastoral word.

  4. Andy Rodriguez says:

    I appreciate your opinions on points 2 and 9 brother. Thank you for the healthy balance all around. There have been a couple TGC articles to date that have had the air of condemnation where there is no right or biblical precedent to do so.

  5. Thank God for this article and its calm Biblical wisdom! And paragraph 10 should be obligatory reading for everyone! Many thanks to TGC for posting this pastoral insight.

  6. You perfectly convey my thoughts on this election. We still live in a country that has more than two options for president on the ballot. God calls us to be faithful Christians. For me this year, that means standing up like Caleb and Joshua to say God is more powerful than the giants, the fortified cities, and the two-party system.

  7. Don Ruhl says:

    All your points are good, but number 9 is so true, that it stands out in my mind. You smashed the nail on the head.

  8. Kellie Kent says:

    I appreciate and am encouraged by your words. Focusing on the coming election tends to give me a feeling of hopelessness. Being reminded that my hope is not in elected officials, the viability of this country or this life is renewing. On a somewhat unrelated note, do you have other blog entries or could you write one at some point, that elaborates on the statement, “the Bible does not teach that every sin is the same…”? It is an issue that I have struggled with as I think about and discuss the effects of sin with those close to me. I find that my conscience agrees with the statement, but I have a difficult time communicating it and/or backing it up Biblically.

  9. Thank you for these words. This is an important article. “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.” Psalm 20:7

  10. Coyle says:

    Pfft, if you’re not supporting [candidate I support], you’re supporting [candidate I oppose], and therefore voting for [issue I feel most strongly about].

    More seriously, thanks for this. This election more than many others common sense hasn’t really managed to make it past the partisan earmuffs most people are wearing (sadly not excluding Christians).

  11. Ike Lentz says:

    Thank you for this piece. I could use more clarification on #6. Are you saying that Clinton and Trump are moral equals? After everything he’s done and said, we’re supposed to believe that they’re equally abhorrent because of her email situation?

  12. Mike Sprott says:

    I pretty much agree with all of your post. However, I have still not decided who I will vote for yet. I am convinced we all need to be wise; collect all the data, read all the opinions, pray and wait till voting day. I am totally with you on all ten points except the first point.

    Just a thought here, by telling us that you will not vote for either major party candidate, doesn’t that ‘encourage’ the flock to vote the same way? As pastors our people look to us as examples. When they enter into the complexity of this election they sometimes want us to make the choice for them. So when you give a clear explanation of the issues and you share who you are voting for it ‘encourages’ them to ‘not vote for Trump or Clinton.’

    As strange as this may sound, Why aren’t we all waiting till the day we vote to make the final decision? Why aren’t we praying for help, clarity and even a possible different option till then? We all need to step back and drop to our knees and pray more. The direction of our country is catastrophic. We need God’s intervention. At the same time, we trust in the sovereign God and seek to build His church by His grace.

    In Christ,

  13. Eric Lahr says:

    Curious if either candidate will help ensure sexual abuse is dealt with properly by our churches

  14. Jg says:

    Dear Kevin DeYoung, what about the Supreme Court? To me, this election is all and mostly about trying to protect and preserve the Constitution!! ( your non-vote is probably a [silent] vote for Hillary). therefore turning the Supreme Court over to liberals quite possibly forever after. How do you reconcile this Major issue for our great nation?

  15. Jeff says:

    Hi Mike,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your post.
    Like you I have the utmost respect for this article and Pastor DeYoung positions. Also please forgive anything that is strange or amiss in the way I write.

    Genesis 1:26
    Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    Man like God is a moral creature and is required to make moral decisions. God is also a God of truth and Jesus Himself is truth, so what we decide has to be based on truth, and you are so correct in wanting to do your research on the candidates and arguments for voting for and against them.

    As far as I can tell these are the factors at play in this election.

    1. Obama administration. What has happened under his leadership, and to what degree he is involved with the current election.
    2. Mainstream media. Is the information they are reporting accurate, what is their involvement and purpose is it anything more than straight and equal reporting.
    3. Conservative Media. Look at whether they are or not an accurate or more accurate informer of truth, and whether they go after both candidates.
    4. The good of America. Are we true to our original values and constitution. There has been much bad, but don’t throw out the good or identity or rules under which it was set up. What is going to be good for America, American democracy (fair elections), and the constitution. Are we better off, are we more or less divided as a people, are we safer, which of the candidates and parties seems to offer a better (and if we are on the wrong track, different future) The Supreme Court, Abortion and religious freedom would be included in this category.
    5. Hillary Clinton, look at all the good and bad, is she primarily more of the same, a force of change for the better, or an alternative to something worst.
    6. Donald Trump, look at everything, talk to everyone, Find what good is being said about him, and which allies he has as well as the bad and ask why are people saying good of him, and why are they saying bad about him? I sometimes wonder if our thoughts and words are different from non Christians and if we being a good witness to him or if Mr. Trump could possibly be used by God for something.–rest-is-up-to-him-n2225857

    7. The Republican party and platform. This is loosely tied to Trump, but is still a factor, because to some extent he is allied with the Republican party and platform and has many advisors and supports from the GOP. One must look at their influence as well.

    Second, I think in wanting a conservative and moral candidate in office we should consider Mike Pence. I got this off another post, but have been giving it more and more thought since then. If he becomes Vice President now, he would probably be at the top of the ticket in 2020 or 2024, and a major factor in Donald Trump’s administrtion until then. Much like Dick Cheney was to George Bush. Trump is a businessman so he brings in experts to advise him and gives them much responsibility in areas where he is weak. He is a team builder so Gov Pence and Dr. Ben Carson would be great influencers in this election, much like Daniel was to several Pagan rulers. So if we really want a moral, conservative candidate, we could look at electing a real conservative but it would be a two step (VP before Pres) long range process and strategy.

    Third, like you I want to congratulate Pastor DeYoung on this article. I really feel that even more than who gets elected what is the witness the church is giving and the unity among mercy towards and love for other believers. It seems like any disagreement = division and that is not at all what God proposes for his church. If we love God supremely and he loves his church as a husband loves his bride, we should be able to love and have mercy for those who agree on the Gospel, and truely love God even if we disagree on minor issues. I am also worried about our witness as believers to Donald Trump. He has many Christians around him, and has been witnessed to, and there are a few rumors around that he may have accepted Christ. He has apologized for remarks made in a former life and doesn’t try to defend him. We are commanded to forgive even as we were forgiven, and not to judge those outside the church. We also have darkness inside each of us, Paul called himself the chief of sinners and I can relate to that. I don’t want the church to destroy the witness other believers have been giving and are still giving to him. He needs Christ and Christ came to save and not condemn. I think that our ability to be light in a difficult situation is as much of a test for the church in this time as who we end up supporting. I congratulate again this article for passing this test where it seems like many other articles badly fail it and end up hurting the cause of Christ.

    Fourth, Pastor DeYoung mentioned this, but it is worth mentioning again. in Jeremiah 29:4-7 we are commanded to seek the good of the country we live in. It was refering to Christians living Godly lives in a Pagan nation and Pagan king. They were commanded to keep themselves holy and serve the Lord God almighty and belong completely to him. But they were also commanded to seek the good of the country they were living in. Many articles confuse supporting a candidate and endorsing the candidate.
    You endorse a candidate whose character and accomplishments you admire. You support a candidate because you believe that voting for him/her will be better for the nation than allowing the other candidate to win the Presidency.
    No Christian I know endorses either candidate, but they are perfectly moral in supporting a candidate becasue they believe his her policies would be better for the nation and support principles (Life in the womb), the Constitution, religious liberty and freedom, the economy, taxes, safety they believe in. Christians are free and morally upright in supporting a candidate even though they could never endorse him/her. Too many people get these concepts confused and condemn other Christians for “Endorsing” a candidate or his/her behavior when they are merely supporting that candidate because they believe it is moral and for the good of the country.

    I am sorry this took so long, I found this is by far the best article I have read to date on the subject, and although this is the first I have read or heard of Pastor DeYoung, this is first class. Again I appreciate your post and decision to make a moral, informed decision whatever it turns out to be.


    Jeff Rickel

  16. James Beverly says:

    Unbelievable. Sheep being led any which way. A question? What will happen to the Christians in our country if as many as 4 liberal Judges are appointed to the Supreme Court. Already,on the east and west coast , info. on LGBT is being introduced in school systems to be distributed to kids in pre-k. Since when would God want this to happen to his children? Never !

  17. Curt Day says:

    I fully agree with many of the thoughts even though I prefer to replace the word ‘horrid’ in thought #5 with the word ‘criminal.’ However, conservative principles and exclusive reliance on conservative news sources could blind many from what would happen, structurally speaking, under Clinton. Her support for hemispheric trade is actually a repeating of US plans made around the year 1945 for Latin America where economic nationalism would be prohibited. Here we should think about our presumption of power by assuming we have the right to prohibit economic nationalism in another nation. This perhaps at least partially explains the coups we supported in Guatemala (’54), Brazil (’64), and Chile (’73). In addition, there is the possibility that we participated in the coup in Argentina in the 70s. And who knows why we supported, at least the aftermath of, the coup in Honduras in 2009.

    The trouble with the elimination of economic nationalism is when a nation is a democracy, the elimination of economic nationalism means the elimination of a people’s democratic controls on the economy. The TPP illustrates that point as have some of the other trade organizations and agreements such as the WTO. This gives at least partial controls of economies to multinational corporations and their most prominent investors. And as our nation involves itself in more and more of these trade agreements, we the people lose more and more ability to democratically control our economies. BTW, we should note that the purpose of some of the previously mentioned coups was to introduce “free markets” into those respective nations.

    Now avoiding these trade agreements is no excuse to vote for Donald Trump and they can’t be avoided by voting for Hillary Clinton. Thus, Kevin’s first thought of voting for a third party candidate, while not doing much now, just might make third party candidates viable in the future if we continue to vote for them. For in the past, we have let the unacceptability of the one party’s candidate make it possible for the other party to take our votes for granted.

  18. Jim says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the upcoming election. There are four Presidential candidates on the ballot in most if not all states. My research shows none of the 4 parties candidates meet the ethical and moral qualifications that would be compatible with a biblical worldview based on the candidates websites, speeches, past actions and available public information. Stating that one will not vote for one of the two dominant party candidates is implying that there are better choices in the two lesser parties – and in my opinion and research, there is not a better choice there. I am grateful for the privilege, duty and right of voting that the biblical framework of our nations founders bequeathed to us, and so I will return their sacrifice and confidence in our stewardship by voting based on the party platform that most closely aligns to a biblical worldview, since this represents to some degree what any party’s candidate will attempt to implement in their governance – this assumption based on historical evidence of past Presidents actions. If we claim to be of God’s kingdom, then focusing on a candidate (placing human leadership above God’s providence) should not be such a large factor that influences our voting privilege, duty and right in this country, but rather encouraging society to move towards an ideal as vested in a party’s platform. We are not the first generation of people to have to choose between evils – Corrie Ten Boom and her family had to make that decision every time there was a knock on the door, and there have been many others.

  19. Tim says:

    Kevin, I thank you for your thoughtful post. I pretty much agree on most things in your 10 points, however, point 1 will be a wasted vote. It will not send a message. Whoever gets in will work for the next four years to do exactly what they set out to do. Just because they did not receive some sort of overwhelming “mandate” type of vote doesn’t mean either one of these candidates will hold back on their agenda. In point 4 you state that “The example itself says nothing about whether God will use a particular pagan ruler”. I think we can agree that God is sovereign over all nations and by His sovereign control of the nations He will use one of these pagan rulers to continue His will for our nation whatever course that takes. I agree with Mike Sprout, you are telling us who not to vote for and thereby leveling an opinion. The arguments you’ve laid out are against both candidates to be sure. Let’s wait and see how things continue to develop. As a Christian, I have asked myself what is God doing with Mike Pence. He very articulately argued against partial birth abortion in his debate. I’ve thought to myself “will God use Mike – which I believe is a fellow Christian- to give voice to the most vulnerable in our society? Can he be a spiritual influence to Trump since he very well could be within walking steps of the oval office? Could Mike’s witness be an influence in Trumps life? I have found it very interesting that Donald chose Mike. I guess we could say he did it to appeal to the evangelicals but how might God use him to shape Donald in the next for years and maybe see Trump come to faith in Christ our saviour. Food for thought.

    In Christ,

  20. Jim S says:

    Cleanly and clearly said. The you-must-support-because arguments fail to consider we face terrible choices and trying to find the least damaging choice is a challenge. Mr. Beverly sums up the negative case, but fails to show a different alternative is believably available.

  21. James Beverly says:

    What would that be ?

  22. Bob says:

    I think this is an “okay” post, but it misses two big points. The first, regarding the future of the Supreme Court, has been addressed in previous comments. The other regarding item #10, is crucial, and on this Mr DeYoung seems to me naive. When one has already had numerous instances of infringement upon the rights of the faithful to do/say just those things, under this administration, what does one think will happen under Hillary, who says the religious institutions must change their beliefs to be acceptable? This alone means to me that the vote must be made primarily to stop her, not necessarily FOR anyone else. Those two points, and my pro-life beliefs, are why I will vote for Mr Trump.

  23. Cindi says:

    But I ask of all voters, “Do you even know the judges who will be on your local ballets? Do you search out info about your city/county council members? School board members? State reps? Senators? Is the moral outrage expressed at both Clinton and Trump (some of which is very much warranted) limited to presidents/candidates only or do you seriously do due diligence to put into your local gov’t offices people about whom you know nothing?” We have the obligation and opportunity to have a say in our government, and yet it seems the Christians get all upset but only once every four years. Do you call your officials and give your voice? Do you pray about giving up Monday night football to spend a few hours at the local city/county meetings? These two people are running for office because we the people have put them there. We can’t complain if we won’t lift a finger to make our government more responsible and respectable. Thanks for taking the “spiritual vs. unspiritual” harshness out of this. It has been deeply saddening to hear Christians carry on the way we have.

  24. Will Allen says:

    Great article. Thanks!

  25. Heather says:

    Thanks for writing this article. I appreciate your calm, logical, and Biblical thoughts on the election. It’s refreshing. I have one question (and challenge I guess) regarding point 2: I realize there are many factors in this election, but do you believe it could ever be possible for it to be morally wrong to vote for a particular candidate? Hindsight is 20/20, but hopefully everyone in the church would agree it was morally wrong to vote for Hitler. If it was possible then (to be morally wrong), could it not also be wrong now?

    I believe both candidates have disqualified themselves from the backing of the church. I think we should ask ourselves at what point do we say that the end result (Supreme court justices, preventing a Trump candidacy, whatever your end is) does not justify the means.

  26. Eric says:

    10. Loses* not ‘losses’

    Great read!

  27. Austin says:

    Why is everybody acting like Trump is a conservative and will nominate conservatives to the SC? What in his behavior has told you that he shares your values? What has he done to make you believe that he is even pro-life? He isn’t. He’s a liberal who has been liberal his entire public life, until he realized that he could speak conservative and get a bunch of votes.

    Every person agrees that he is not a man of character or virtue, so why would you believe that he’ll do what he says he will do?

    That just seems dumb. Or maybe desperate. Either way, it’s not going to get you where you want to be.

  28. James says:

    What position(s) might require church discipline if shared with Clinton? I understand “actions” regarding Trump, but for Clinton you are talking about church discipline for BELIEFS.

  29. Paul abeyat says:

    Dr. DeYoung,

    Thanks for the helpful, clear headed write up on the election. I’m looking for a little more clarity actually, as I think that I understand your comments but I want to be sure and if you can answer this, it would help.

    Do you think that is morally wrong to vote for either Trump or Clinton?


  30. Julia says:

    James, in Bible believing churches, it would be reasonable to discipline someone for advocating for abortion, particularly late term abortion. Discipline doesn’t necessarily mean ending fellowship, but I would hope that my pastor would counsel someone espousing views clearly in contradiction to Scripture.

    Thanks so much for this article. Christians need to demonstrate grace and understanding.

  31. Brenda says:

    Great article! I agree on every point and I thank you for articulating these confusing thoughts rattling around in my head. It feels a bit like much of the evangelical world has abandoned ship to defend Mr. Trump at any cost. It leaves me baffled and sad.

  32. gary says:

    Ira Lentz –
    If you believe that “emails” are the only issue with Clinton, then go back through the last 30 years – the list of her crimes and corruption is a mile long…and if you don’t know that, you are either truly uninformed or willfully blind…they are both morally bankrupt, but only Clinton and her campaign has straight out claimed hatred for Christians saying we need to change our out-dated way of thinking…if you’re comfy with that, that scares me, since i fear what that might mean for the 1st amendment and our rights….

  33. Bryan Prouty says:

    Why I will be voting for Donald Trump.

    First, why I will not be voting for any other candidate. I supported Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012. This presidential election, Rand Paul was my first choice. When he dropped out, I supported Ben Carson. When he dropped out, I cast my vote for Ted Cruz at the Colorado State Assembly. I support constitutional libertarian principles. But, I will not vote for Gary Johnson or any other member of the Libertarian Party. Abortion is a blight on our land; it is the most serious issue facing our nation**. More than 60 million babies have been murdered since Roe v. Wade. If the blood of Abel cried out to the Lord from the ground (Genesis 4:10), imagine how the blood of 60 million babies must cry out to the Lord for justice, and judgment. Gary Johnson is pro-abortion. What’s worse, he is backed by a pro-abortion party that doesn’t know the difference between Libertarian principles and libertinism. The Libertarian Party of today is not a constitutional libertarian party. I can find no moral path to voting for Gary Johnson.

    Of course, what can be said of Gary Johnson can be said many times more of Hillary Clinton. She is radically pro-abortion, even to the point of supporting Planned Parenthood’s illegal harvesting of human organs. Even worse, she is backed by a radically pro-abortion party which I believe has in mind the destruction of all historic principles of liberty. Hillary Clinton has proven that she is a dishonest criminal and the list could go on and on. It would be unthinkable to vote for Hillary Clinton.

    But, you say, Trump is pro-abortion as well. That may be, although his statements this campaign don’t reflect that. More importantly, Trump is backed by a pro-life party. Politicians take their mandate from their constituency. Donald Trump was elected by the common people of the Republican Party. Thankfully, the Republican Party platform is still mostly controlled by these average pro-life Republicans in states and counties across America. I have personally been involved in the fight to maintain a pro-life platform in Colorado. I know that it makes a difference and how important it is to be diligent in this area.

    Is voting for another third party candidate or not voting an option? No. In the United States, we currently have a two-party representative democracy. In this system, we have been given the right to vote. The governing principle is that every right always comes with a duty. In this case, the right to vote implies the solemn duty to vote. To whom is this duty owed? To my country, meaning to my fellow citizens, from which the power to govern is derived. In other words, voting must never be self-focused. It is a means of advancing godliness, liberty, and prosperity for the good of my neighbor. A failure to vote would, therefore, be a dereliction of my duty. To vote for any third party candidate would be equivalent to not voting and, again, a dereliction of my duty. I have not been given many choices. I live in the United States. Our system gives me two viable choices. Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton will be president of the United States. I believe that a very good argument can be made that a two-party system is the normal logical necessity given the structure of our Constitution – and history bears this out. As long as we live under the Constitution of the United States, we will live in a two party system. Whether or not I like it, I must deal with the system we have. Besides, I remember Ross Perot, who gave us Bill Clinton.

    I will vote for Donald Trump. Yes, I will be voting for an ungodly man, but it is the only possible vote to advance godliness, liberty, and prosperity, as far as I am able, in our current system.

    Second, while the arguments against alternatives are sufficient to determine the outcome, there are many positive reasons to vote for Trump as well. First, Donald Trump has expressed an economic policy that will re-vitalize our economy and bring jobs back to the United States. You cannot constantly punish businesses without these businesses either going to other countries or reducing productivity here. I want prosperity for my fellow Americans. Second, Trump is a fighter who will challenge the political elites who have co-opted the function of government for their own benefit and have lost touch with accountability to the people. A principle of human behavior is that strengths and weaknesses travel in pairs. That is, the very strengths that enable Trump to stand up to powerful opposition come with the weakness of brashness that we all observe. You may be able to find someone else with the spirit to take on an army of special interests, but if you do, most likely he will exhibit some of the same weaknesses as Mr. Trump. We are all corrupted by sin. Trump is exhibiting the characteristics necessary to stand up to a powerful foe. His comments and treatment of women are, of course, a different matter and entirely without excuse. Trump’s business experience is also an asset. He has lived in the real world of consequences, not the make believe world of politics where spending other people’s money is a shield against real world consequences.

    This election will have far reaching implications for godliness, liberty, and prosperity for my children, grandchildren, and neighbors. In good conscience, I cannot do anything other than vote for Donald Trump.

    ** Actually, our most significant problem is the lawlessness of abandoning God and His Word. Abortion is simply the most egregious manifestation of this lawlessness.

  34. scottie says:

    “So much of politics is “defend our guy at all costs” and “seek and destroy their guy at all costs.” The church must show a better way.”

    The irony is that I’ve seen high-profile leaders of ‘the church’ defend their guy at great cost to others. Defend their doctrine at great cost to others. In both cases, at great cost to principle.

  35. Matt Davis says:

    If there is one overwhelming reason why conservative Christians are willing to hold their nose and vote for Donald Trump, one need look no further than the Supreme Court. There is currently a Supreme Court vacancy due to the untimely death of Antonin Scalia, and there are three justices – Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer – who are 77 years of age or older. The next President may indeed have a tremendous opportunity to stack the Supreme Court, which will certainly influence the course of this nation for a generation or more. In recognition of these facts, Donald Trump has issued a list of candidates for the Supreme Court and promised to “choose only from [this list] in picking future Justices of the United States Supreme Court.” By releasing this list during the campaign, Mr. Trump is attempting to assuage the fears of millions of conservative voters regarding the future composition of the Supreme Court should he be elected President. To be sure, it is bold campaign promise and a savvy move by Trump and his staff.

    What should Christians make of this?

    It is rare for politicians to speak in such specificity. George H. W. Bush probably still has nightmares over his infamous campaign pledge, “Read my lips: No. New. Taxes.” The reason seasoned politicians speak in generalities and use rehearsed talking points is because most of them are simply uncomfortable with such direct language and are unwilling to give voters a true measuring stick that can be used to hold them accountable in future elections. However, Mr. Trump is far from being a typical politician. Although he is certainly prone to hyperbole and exaggeration, he appears to be making a genuine declaration of intent as far as I can tell. I see no reason not to trust him on the merits, but…

    The Constitution specifies the process by which Supreme Court justices assume the bench. While the President holds the privilege of nominating a candidate for consideration, it is the Senate that bears the responsibility of confirming or denying the President’s Supreme Court nominees. Constitutionally, confirmation requires a simple majority of 51 votes. However, Senate rules currently require a three-fifths majority, or 60 votes, to end debate and proceed to the confirmation vote on any Supreme Court nominee. While these rules are subject to change, they have never been changed (to my knowledge) for Supreme Court nominees. What this means in practice is that while the Constitution merely requires 51 votes for confirmation, that confirmation vote cannot be held until the Senate first votes to end debate, which requires a 60-vote majority according to Senate rules. As a result, any group of 41 or more Senators can prevent the Senate from holding the confirmation vote altogether by perpetually voting to extend (as opposed to ending) the debate. This is known as a filibuster.

    In the current Congress, the Republicans hold the Senate majority by 4 seats. However, 24 Republican seats are being contested in the November election. While most of these seats will remain Republican, there are several that are in jeopardy. In fact, as of October 13, projections are that the Republicans could lose as many as 5 seats. If that were to happen, the Republicans would lose majority control to the Democrats. Whether that happens or not, though, there is no scenario in which the Republicans are expected to gain 6 seats in November. In other words, the Republicans simply will not have a three-fifths, i.e., a 60-vote, majority in the next Congress, regardless of whether they maintain majority control or not.

    What does all of this mean?

    Let’s say that Donald Trump is elected the next President and nominates an ultra-conservative to replace Scalia. What happens next depends on who controls the Senate.

    If the Democrats gain majority control in November, there is absolutely zero chance of any of the candidates from Trump’s list being confirmed for the next two years, period. Even if the Democrats feigned due diligence with the confirmation process, the Republicans will not have the 60 votes necessary to end the debate and proceed to a confirmation vote. Trump will have three choices. He could stick with his original nominee, making his case to the American people in hopes putting pressure on the Senate Democrats to change their minds. He could withdraw the nominee and nominate another candidate from his list, which would only result in the same stalemate. The third option would be to replace the original nominee with a candidate who is not on his list but could potentially secure enough Democrat and Republican support for confirmation.

    The scenario plays out the same way if the Republicans hold majority control in November. While the Republicans would enthusiastically initiate the confirmation process, there is no doubt that the Senate Democrats would filibuster the nominee. Without the 60 seats, the Republicans will be unable to end the debate and proceed to a confirmation vote. Once again, Trump will have three choices – stick with the original nominee, replace the nominee with another candidate from his list, or choose a “third party” nominee who could get enough bi-partisan support for confirmation.

    At this point, the conservative ideology reflected by Trump’s list fades to the larger question of what Trump will do when the Democrats inevitably thwart his nominees. It’s a seeming conundrum. Either of the first two options lead to perpetual stalemate where no one is confirmed. However, if he chooses the third option, he breaks his campaign promise to only nominate people from his list. In the face of unyielding opposition from the Democrats, there is no doubt in my mind that he will choose the third option because it is consistent with Trump’s characterization of himself as a dealmaker and a master negotiator. If so, then the replacement for Scalia would at best be a moderate judge like Kennedy, who was nominated by Reagan and provided the decisive vote in the gay marriage ruling. This would be a slap in the face to the millions of Christians who supported him solely because of his campaign promise, but it would be fully consistent with the character of a man who does not cherish conservative principles.

    I would be remiss if I did not mention the “nuclear” option. It is a parliamentary procedure that allows the presiding officer of the Senate to rule that a filibuster is unconstitutional, putting it to an immediate vote of the entire Senate that is then decided by a simple majority vote. If the filibuster is voted unconstitutional, the filibuster is broken. This would potentially provide an avenue for the Republicans to confirm Trump’s nominee with only 51 votes, not 60. The problem is threefold. First, the Republicans have to hold majority control in the Senate. If the Democrats gain majority in November, this option will not be available. Second, the Republicans have to be willing to use it. Recent history suggests that people like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Jeff Flake would partner with Democrats to prevent its use. Third, even if the Republicans hold the majority and signal their willingness to use the option, it has never been used to thwart the minority to confirm Supreme Court nominees. Both parties have a healthy, justifiable fear of using this tactic because the majority will eventually be the minority, and retaliation would be likely. I make mention of it only because the option exists, not because I think there’s any chance the Republicans would actually use it.

    So how should Christians respond?

    I am not a prophet. God has not spoken to me on this. I am simply taking the tea leaves and attempting to apply logic and reason as to what is likely to happen with regard to the Supreme Court should Trump win. As I see it, the absolute best that Trump would give us would be moderate Supreme Court justices. If he wins, I believe he will break his campaign promise in order to make a deal, which means that Chuck Schumer will be helping to select his Supreme Court nominees. Assuming things were to happen this way, the inevitable question is whether this is worth the cost of sacrificing principle to support a man like Donald Trump. I would humbly submit that it is not. I’m certainly willing to entertain other scenarios where confirmation of a true conservative to the Supreme Court can happen, but I cannot see a way unless the Republicans get to 60 seats. In the end, I think we’re better off as people of faith standing on principle and trusting the outcome to God.

    The Supreme Court is a lost cause because the Republican candidate is not a man of principle.

  36. Ramon Gomez says:

    I will vote for Trump, this election is about Nationalism and Globalization. I lost my country (Cuba) to communism (today’s progressives) I find all the comments so naive and I could even add Cowarly. Two to three appointees to the Supreme Court will demand the Church to marry sodomites. Wake up Church!!!
    Trump was not my choice in the primaries, my choice was Ted Cruz, my counsel to all of you is not to look for Mr Rogers and cast your vote to the wind.
    It is a sad day when the Church does not know who to vote for.

  37. Ramon Gomez says:

    “How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
    ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭KJV‬‬

  38. Nelson says:

    I appreciate Rev. Deyoung’s thoughts and they echo things I’ve heard from others. Looking for some biblical precedent, I’ve seen people liken Trump to Nebuchadnezzar, and I find that an interesting comparison.

    What about Daniel’s words to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4? At this point Nebuchadnezzar was a proud and brutal king who had destroyed the temple and carried off its riches to Babylon. He has a dream that warns him against taking pride in his accomplishments, so he has yet to be humbled. Yet when he receives word that God will humble him, he doesn’t rejoice or gloat, but shows loyalty and compassion to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:19 “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!”).

    Without trying to pretend that Trump is a man of great character, etc., I question the notion that Christians are abandoning their beliefs or God’s Word to vote for him rather than Clinton. I appreciate the commenter’s distinction between supporting a person and supporting a position with regard to policy.

  39. Adam says:

    Matt Davis, I appreciate your time and input into this comment section tremendously. I have been saying this same point with far less articulation to my friends and family. To support a man who wants to kill families in the middle east and deport parents away from their children and claim he is the pro life vote because of a Supreme Court vote is interesting. It assumes a) justinces will die b) candidates will be confirmed c) Trump can be trusted. He is also the only republican candidate to never mention abortion in his acceptance speech. He has said he will defund Planned Parenthood, but that is a budget line item and needs to be passed by the soon to be democratic controlled Senate. The Hyde Amendment hasn’t worked to defund them since 1976 and it won’t work in the future.

  40. scottie says:

    “…my church and the Church. Our fidelity to biblical truth, our personal holiness, our sincerity, our consistency, our ability to speak with grace and truth, our unwillingness to confuse the kingdom of this world with the kingdom of Christ, our realism in the midst of utopian promises, our hope in the midst of fear and loathing, our winsome witness to the gospel—to embody these realities week after week is more important than what happens on the second Tuesday in November.”

    Sorry,…..who might this be?

    Your description might bear out in a micro level, in pockets of individuals here and there. However, it is self-deception to ascribe it to ‘The Church’ evangelical as it portrays itself for all to see in its alliances and coalitions and councils as they conduct their business. It is rife with the politics of power and political behavior. To carry on with this unintended aliteration, the modus operandi seems to be protect their own for the sake of the party line. The consequences to human lives is mere collateral damage.

    Kevin, I really have a hard time with your lofty assessment.

  41. Sheila Hyatt says:

    Hi Mike! A vote for a third party candidate is taking away a vote for either Hillary or Trump. But one of these two will be President anyway. I am voting for Trump because the idea of a globalist like Hillary is far far worse than a nationalist like Trump. The two party system isn’t good, but it is what it is. I’m sure it’s rigged and their will be much voter fraud, but I must let my vote count to keep Hillary out of the oval office if this is possible. Praying to that end. I am a strong christian and trusting God’s will in this election and in our Country.

  42. Mary in MI says:

    Austin, in response to your question as to how we know Trump will nominate conservatives to the court – no, there is no guarantee. However, he did state he would nominate Scalia-types, and for the record, he is working with a dynamic pastor, and I would like to believe he has had an epiphany of sorts. While we don’t know for sure, it is a GUARANTEE that Clinton will nominate pro-abortion liberals. No question there. That’s why I’m willing to take a chance on Trump. I’m not voting FOR Trump, but rather, AGAINST CLINTON. If you vote third party, you may as well pull the lever for Clinton. That is a fact, no matter how you choose to slice it. Seriously, we are in some trouble here, no doubt. But I’ll take a chance rather than a guarantee loss of the SC for 50 years.

  43. Matt Davis says:

    Mary In MI, there is no checkbox on the ballot that allows you to vote AGAINST anyone. A vote is always, always FOR something or someone. You cannot simultaneously claim that a vote for Trump is a vote against Clinton, but my vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Clinton.

    I would encourage you to read my earlier comment regarding the Supreme Court. Even if Trump wins and he nominates Scalia-types, there is practically no chance of those nominees being confirmed. The Republicans lack the vote to confirm by themselves, and they lack the spine to force the issue. To me, the Supreme Court argument as a reason to support an unrepentant reprobate like Trump makes no sense. It’s a wasted vote that compromises what we say we believe as Christians.

  44. Jeff Miller says:

    Politics and politicians cannot save our country from its decline. Or only hope, and the only hope we have ever had, is Jesus Christ.

    In consideration of all of their character flaws (and there are many), my vote will go to the major party candidate who will be the least obstructive when it comes to my ability to preach the gospel. Every other consideration pales if I am not free to proclaim Christ. Only He can change lives.

  45. Betsy says:

    I do not yet know which candidate I’ll choose (only sure of who I won’t choose) but wanted those who fear someone voting for a third party candidate will be the same as voting for the candidate they don’t want to win to understand that is highly unlikely to happen… especially if you live in a non-swing state. This article explains the mathematics & helped me realize i have freedom to make the choice I believe I should make rather than simply voting against the candidate I don’t want.

  46. Bob says:

    Insightful comments Kevin, thank you.

    You mention that you plan to vote for neither of the two main candidates, and while that is fine, I’m certain that you vote will be lost among the millions… so why bother? Either stay home, or come to the polls only to express support for worthy local issues candidates, and skip the presidential ballot entirely. I see no purpose in casting a vote that holds no sway over the outcome.

    Obviously you see value in doing so. Would you say why?

  47. Tom Morgan says:

    Dear Pastor:
    I applaud you for trying to present a very balanced discourse on the candidates and our collective feelings/reactions to both HRC and DJT.

    In #6 you noted “I imagine this is because most conservative evangelical Christians do not consider Clinton a viable option because of her extreme views on abortion.”

    Sadly, this is one of the most misunderstood/actively misrepresented things about “Pro-Choice” people. There is a meme on Facebook that put it succinctly – Just because I am Pro-CHOICE, does NOT mean I am Pro-ABORTION. It means I believe the choice HAS TO BE that of those most intimately involved – the woman’s most of all.

    If I could explain my thoughts on the issue – as the Facebook intro to your post mentions, “The bible does not teach that every sin is the same …”

    God gave us Ten Commandments and, yes, ONE of those is Thou Shalt Not Kill.

    He also gave Himself One Commandment – He had to ensure that His creations have Free Will. For if they do not have Free Will, they cannot truly love Him. That, above all else, is the MOST sancrosanct, for it is the one He held Himself accountable for. He taught us right from wrong, then gave us Free Will to choose.

    The Lord also told us to go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and Subdue the Earth.
    He told that to a nomadic people in an empty world.

    (Polygamy was also the norm 2000+ years ago – it was considered respectable for a Rabbi to have four wives. Today, we decry the people of Islam for holding to that tenet. I only mention this for perspective. The rules have changed. Certainly, they have changed significantly since Leviticus was engraved on our moral consciousness.)

    He did NOT tell us to procreate with reckless abandon or treat this world in such a manner as to destroy it, as many are wont to do.

    Those of us who are Pro-Choice also believe in Education. We know that a Complete plan – one that includes solid sex education, including the use of birth control when abstinence isn’t going to happen, coupled with non-judgmental, readily available counseling should the need occur, results in a much lower unintended pregnancy rate and a corresponding lower abortion rate.

    In an ideal world yes, people would abstain until marriage. We don’t live in an ideal world. I also submit that we are holding the youth of today to a much higher standard than in early times, including Christ’s time on Earth. People back then were lucky to live to be forty. They were marrying about as soon as they hit puberty, if not before. By fourteen or fifteen, certainly. Today, we essentially prohibit marriage prior to 18; 21 even better, and of necessity many are delaying until 25 or 30. That is a HUGE difference in expectations.

    Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it – people who are stressed out sufficiently because they find themselves in a dire situation, particularly with condemnation from their families and communities, do extreme things.

    Many years ago (mid 60’s) while visiting our grandparents, my brother and I walked into the center of town to see a movie at the sole movie house. We were a few minutes late, so we stayed over to catch what we missed – only, being a single movie theatre in a one horse village, they changed up what they were showing based on the time of day to cover a wider audience. The movie we saw was a drama set in London, where a young couple had sex. She found herself pregnant, and went for a back alley coat hanger abortion – and almost died from hemorrhaging as a result. THIS is what we would return to.

    Let us step back and consider Judaic law hailing from before and around Christ’s time – they do not recognize life until after twelve weeks. This may be a throwback to their nomadic roots with little to no medicine and a high miscarriage rate. It is still a different level of bar than is placed before the people of today, where we consider life beginning at the moment of conception.

    I am not saying one is right and one is wrong. I am merely presenting the different rules we hold to.

    God made us a sensual people. He made the act of procreation a pleasurable experience to help encourage us to be fruitful and multiply. He is a MERCIFUL God, not the vengeful God of the Old Testament.

    Because of that, I do not believe he wants to punish or shackle a young couple who makes a very human mistake – one that in an earlier time would likely have been on their wedding bed.

    Similarly, we believe in eternal life and resurrection into God’s Kingdom. I believe with all my heart and soul that these lost children, rather than being condemned to a life of poverty and hardship, are welcomed into His Kingdom and join the choirs of Cherubim – quite possibly being given the gift of another mortal life at another more joyous time.

    Is my theology biblically sound? Maybe or maybe not. Does it align with how I see God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit – absolutely.

    However anyone chooses to vote, I would ask you to consider this slightly different perspective on “choice” versus “life”. As you do, I would also ask you to CANDIDLY look at the major parties and consider that Christ has admonished us “Whatsoever you do to the LEAST of my brothers, that you do unto me”. Doing that, ask yourself “What about post birth? How do we take care of the LEAST of our brethren once they make their entrance in this world outside the womb? If we stop helping those who need the most help once they are born, what have we accomplished? Can we call ourselves Christian?

  48. Matt Davis says:

    Tom Morgan, I appreciate your willingness to open up your views. It gives me some perspective on views other than mine, but respectfully, I think your views regarding abortion are in error.

    Just because I am Pro-CHOICE, does NOT mean I am Pro-ABORTION. It means I believe the choice HAS TO BE that of those most intimately involved – the woman’s most of all.

    If the choice has to be that of the most intimately involved, then the choice should lie with the baby, not the mother. In the absence of the baby being able to indicate whether it chooses to live or die, we are bound to err on the side of life.

    Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it – people who are stressed out sufficiently because they find themselves in a dire situation, particularly with condemnation from their families and communities, do extreme things.

    Laws that impose speed limits doesn’t stop speeding, but none of us would argue that such laws shouldn’t exist. The reason for laws is (a) to curtail undesirable behavior and (b) to protect people from the results of such behavior. No one is saying that abortion laws will end abortion, but they will save hundreds of thousands of innocent lives each year.

    I do not believe he wants to punish or shackle a young couple who makes a very human mistake – one that in an earlier time would likely have been on their wedding bed.

    A “very human mistake” is called sin, and yes, His very nature demands that sins be punished. Of course, He is a God of mercy, too, for He sent His only Son to die to pay the penalty that all of us justly deserve. To say that God doesn’t want to punish sin is heresy.

    I believe with all my heart and soul that these lost children, rather than being condemned to a life of poverty and hardship, are welcomed into His Kingdom and join the choirs of Cherubim…

    You are making the argument for abortion. If killing babies in the womb results in them being welcomed into eternity with God, we ought to kill them all for their own good.

    I push this back simply as food for thought, not to be confrontational or argumentative. My heart breaks that people claiming to be Christian are unwilling to stand for the life of the unborn. Abortion is murder for it ends life that begins growing at conception. Abortion is murder because, after 16 days, it stops a beating heart. Abortion is an affront to Holy God, and there simply can be no defense of allowing it to continue.

    May God bless you and yours.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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