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Note: The views and opinions expressed here do not represent TGC or any of its council members, staff or supporters. They are the views of the author alone. This is a personal blog that happens to be hosted at TGC. Such hosting should not be construed as an endorsement from TGC for anything written here.

I’ve made a mental start to this post more times than I can count. But each time I wad it into a ball of imaginary paper to shoot hoops into a mirage wastebasket. The problem isn’t so much writer’s block or not knowing what I want to say. The problem is attending to the easily predictable “outrage” and “disgust” and attempts at shaming for “even thinking such a thing.”

How do you write for an audience that really wants to ban any thinking other than its own? How do you make a case for something different with people who seem to accept their political orthodoxy as equivalent to gospel faithfulness? Is it possible to effectively engage people who think their Christian bona fides are shored up by assaulting yours?

Well, I’ve decided I can’t. So if those questions describe you, this post isn’t for you. You are, of course, welcome here. And I hope something here changes your mind about how to talk with others even if it does nothing to change your position. In fact, I’m really quite happy if my muddled thought experiment drives you deeper into your prior position with more reasons for it. That’s a win. That’s what public discourse has sometimes done. But if you feel like you need to drop the partisan equivalent of a rhetorical dirty bomb or denounce me as some kind of heretic, then I’m afraid you may live beyond the city limits of reason and this post isn’t for you. This would be a good time to write me off and head elsewhere.

This post is for that larger percentage of the Christian public that actually feels little threat from differing opinion, even benefits from it. This post is for folks who can affirm a brother as a brother while pushing back—even pushing back hard. What follows are ramblings for people who can keep the plot when it’s messy and think there’s virtue in civic disagreement. I don’t blog as regularly as I used to. I don’t have time and I don’t generally have interest. But for the entirety of my blogging life I’ve tried to talk with people, not at them or about them. If you’ve benefitted from that and want to share in that, then by all means join the conversation.

So on to what I want to say. I recently published a post from a Christian brother, friend and church mate who argued that the candidacy of Mr. Trump is so potentially catastrophic that Christian leaders should try influencing people toward Clinton. What’s remarkable about that post—besides the obvious “anti-Evangelical heresy” of voting for Clinton—is that the post comes from someone discipled out of the Democratic party precisely because he was taught and challenged about abortion. In other words, his story is the kind of story we conservative Evangelicals actually wish was more common. Don’t we?

Gauging Our Reactions

But the reaction to Nick’s post demonstrates at least three things for me:

  1. We actually have so little tolerance for political disagreement (not theological, which might be more understandable) that we eliminate room and patience for the kinds of conversion and growth we hope to see.

Our political vitriol becomes a barrier to our sanctification and that of others. From a Christian perspective, voting is above all a discipleship issue. But to disciple well, people have to be able to think out loud, risk enough honesty to reveal their weaknesses, and receive patience from others so they can grow. See 2 Timothy 2:24ff. Apparently Evangelicals ain’t there yet. There was zero rejoicing that a young man who all his life had been a pro-choice Democrat, actually grew in his knowledge of the scripture and conviction to the point that he became a pro-life independent. Surely angels in heaven were rejoicing, but not all of us on earth were. We’ve got to get better at engaging political difference so we can actually have wins in sanctification.

  1. Sometimes the way Christians represent others can be more abhorrent than the bad positions we rightly reject.

Some people call uncharitable (mis)representations “faithfulness” and “courage.” It’s not. It’s sinful. It fails the tests of Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6; Matt. 12:36 and a host of other texts. And many times it’s bearing false witness about someone (Ex. 20:16; 23:1; Prov. 12:17; 25:18; passim). Personally, I have to repent of the ways I’ve done this—even unintentionally (Lev. 4). Part of my repentance includes writing more charitably about others while challenging uncharitable (mis)representations. It cannot be the case that Christians deal with difference by attempting to shut down, shout down, or make others stand down through libel, slander, vitriol, etc. And it cannot be the case that we stand by while others do it.

  1. It may be the case we’ve used hyperbole and fiery rhetoric so much that we no longer take ourselves seriously.

Maybe we need to re-read the story about the boy who cried wolf. For example, when we say someone or their position is “evil,” do we believe it? Do we believe it to the extent that we feel our duty to act against it? Biblically speaking, it’s not enough to call something evil and then merely abstain from participating in it; we must also oppose it. We are to resist the Devil (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9) and resist sin knowing that we’ve not yet struggled to the point of shedding blood (Heb. 12:4). There’s more for us to do than fire off tweets, bang out blog posts, and join in Evangelical gossip about the people “we can’t believe said that.” We ought not be sophists and mere rhetoricians. If we use words—especially serious words like “evil”—we should mean it and then act accordingly. In a sense, that’s the entirety of my position and at times it seems a quiet but major factor creating controversy with some who use the most flaming rhetoric.

Bonhoffer-poster-copy

Taking Evil Seriously

But what if we were to take evil seriously?

I tremble each time I apply “evil” to Clinton and Trump. And I do apply it to them both. Something in me draws back, alarmed. But I do so, I believe, with reason. While I do not believe they are the personification of evil (that’s the hyperbole of point 2 above), I do think their positions at numerous points are wicked when viewed biblically.

Hilary Clinton’s position on abortion, along with the official position of the Democratic Party, is an unquestionably evil policy. Her 80s-era comments calling young African American boys and men “super predators” was an ugly example of race-baiting in support of an utterly destructive criminalization of my people and my community. Her back-pedaling in recent months is hardly sufficient. Clinton’s penchant for bending the truth beyond recognition is more than standard fare in political races; it’s repeated breaking of God’s command not to lie or bear false witness.

Donald Trump is not a career politician. So we don’t have twenty years of history in political office to scrutinize. But, boy, he sure seems to be trying to make up time with several times daily displays of his sin. He’s no pro-life champion and has even been a contributor to the Clintons. He’s argued for Japan and Saudi Arabia to have nuclear weapons. That’s not only bizarre, it’s also potentially genocidal. Mr. Trump talks freely about registering Muslims, encroaching on a basic civil and religious liberty. His explicitly racist comments about Mexicans and others is no small sin. His comments about women are not only impolite but are themselves an evil affront to the image of God in our sisters. I don’t want my country to become again a place where open hatred is championed at the highest levels as I fear they are with Mr. Trump. They’re both guilty of pride (who of us isn’t?), but Mr. Trump’s campaign seems inordinately centered on him, his greatness and little else in the way of responsible public service ideas.

We could go on with regard to them both, couldn’t we? For every category of sin, it seems we could list flagrant instances for each candidate. And if we did, then we’d likely conclude along with many, many reasonable persons that this is an impossible choice. I have great sympathy for that view since for the last three presidential elections I’ve not been able to bring myself to vote for that very reason. I get that view.

But what if we use the word “evil” seriously and not as hyperbole? I know many of us are only being hyperbolical. If that’s you, I hope you’ll stop. I hope you’ll tone down the rhetoric lest we continue to be guilty of creating the very environment where flame-throwing politics thrive. But if you do think it’s actual evil, then keep using the word. Use it with meaning and use it with the godly force evil deserves.

But then we have to ask, “What is our biblical responsibility if we think their positions are truly evil?”

The thoughts below are for those who honestly think we are facing evil choices on both hands. If that’s not you, this won’t make sense or be compelling. But if it is you, I do hope it provokes further thought about pursuing active resistance in this election.

  1. We cannot simply palliate our conscience.

I’ve said this before, but a quiet conscience is not always a biblical conscience. Choosing a path that leaves us content by not voting doesn’t strike me as a biblical path if we believe we’re facing evil. Bystanders to evil are never given a pass for their inaction; they’re judged for it. And telling ourselves “we had nothing to do with the evil because we didn’t vote” is like slapping ourselves on the back because we managed to walk away instead of joining the crowd in bullying the weak kid. If your conscience has been awakened to the evil before you, you’re meant to actively oppose the evil the best way you can. We can arrive at different views of “the best way you can,” but that we must be active in resistance seems self-evident to me. There are always at least two ways to “quiet our conscience.” We may lull it back to sleep or we may take biblical action to inform and satisfy it. Only one will receive the Lord’s “Well done.”

  1. We cannot opt for the merely symbolic.

Symbols are great, necessary and sometimes powerful. But symbol is an inadequate response to substantive evil. So, while I think third party options are possibilities, I tend to think they’re viable as a response to evil only if you have a chance of winning. They’re great for fighting battles on or over principle; they’re lousy for stopping megalomaniacs and petite dictators who could care less about principle. Mr. Trump is not a principled conservative, so standing on principle is ineffective. Mrs. Clinton’s principles include slaughtering the unborn among other things, so her hand must be stopped with something more than the symbolic. We need a way of winning that’s more subversive of both agendas than either candidate could imagine. If a third party candidate with potential for defeating both Trump and Clinton emerges, they will have my most enthusiastic and happy support. But, for me, it’s got to be more than symbol because I’m convinced the evil is real.

  1. We cannot continue in blind party loyalty.

If your party—whatever party you choose—only gives you an evil option to support, then you cannot remain loyal to that party. Right now there are a lot of people putting party over principle, holding their noses, as the saying goes, and standing with someone most readers of this post will find unconscionable at least. Clinging to the party for party’s sake or even because you “don’t like the other guy” doesn’t seem to me to be an adequate redress of the evil that concerns us. It’s a tribal wink at such evil. It’s merely a preference for the sin we find least objectionable or most acceptable, depending on where you stand. So, it seems to me, it’s past time Christians with minds bound by the word of God forsake party politics for party politics sake. And if this election proves anything, it proves there remains among Christian people a lot of uncritical allegiance to the parties of men and even some idolizing of them.

  1. If we cannot make progress on cherished issues, we should not regress on other fronts.

We do not have a dedicated pro-life option in this election. Appeals to the nomination of Supreme Court justices, while hopeful, don’t strike me as realistic. If someone says we shouldn’t reject Mr. Trump because of the evil we imagine he might do were he elected, they shouldn’t then say support Mr. Trump because of the good they imagine he might do with Supreme Court nominees. We can’t or shouldn’t try to have it both ways. I think I see plenty of evidence for not trusting a thing Mr. Trump promises. But more than that, I think I see plentiful evidence that Mr. Trump represents a Dr. Who-styled transport back to a time when overt racist speech, physical brutality, mistreatment of women, and inter-ethnic mistrust were at an all-time high. And I’m genuinely concerned with the ways I see people already suggesting or stating, “racism isn’t as bad as abortion.” Where I sit, they’re both heinous evils and racism insidiously warps a lot more things than individual prejudice. Perhaps it’s a lack of faith, but I don’t think we’re going to gain ground on abortion with either candidate. So I’m asking myself how to hold the line on racism, sexism and other isms that seem so plentiful in this election. I don’t want to regress toward the 1950s even a little bit. And while many people would want to argue that Mrs. Clinton is as racist as Donald Trump, only one of the candidates is actually making policy suggestions that would enshrine that racism.

  1. If we can, we have to put forward our best defense.

If we think the evil is real and if we feel a unable to thwart both sides, then I think we have to field our best defense. I think that means putting the party with the best defense on the losing end of the general election. In other words, if we vote for the evil marked “GOP,” then we leave our weakest defensive players (Dems) on the field for a goal line stance. Democrats are lousy at defense and more than that wouldn’t be inclined to hold the lines I’d want to hold anyway. Republicans, like it or lump it, know how to shut a government down, hold up a SCOTUS nominee, and just plain dig in against a president. They don’t always win, but they’re the best defense out there. And they’re the only ones even pretending to care about what an Evangelical thinks. They would need Evangelicals more if they lose than if they win. And Evangelicals would gain more influence if the party’s dependence upon their vote couldn’t be taken for granted.

But put the GOP in the White House with a “President Trump” and not only are they no longer on defense but they’re being quarterbacked by a guy running plays from some playbook only he knows. You’d win the White House but probably lose down ticket elections and almost any credibility with a diversifying electorate (this year about 30% of voters will be from ethnic groups Mr. Trump routinely insults and angers). Electing Mr. Trump would be bad in the short and long term for the sides of me that values social conservatism and cultural pluralism.

CONCLUSION

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I want to offer another post. I’ve received quite a few comments alleging that “race” is an idol for me in this election and that I’m endorsing a baby killer and so on. Once again, I don’t expect everybody or even anybody to agree with me. But I want to address that misrepresentation and lay bare my own logic on such things. Until then, the Lord bless you and keep you.


View Comments

Comments:


57 thoughts on “Can We Talk? Or, Why I Think a Trump Presidency Is Intolerable Even Though You Might Not Agree”

  1. Joel Skaggs says:

    Good post. I’m not persuaded by the Supreme Court argument either. Trump is for Trump. He will not hold the line when the heat is on to appoint any of the judges on his list. He’s been playing us for a while now. Personally, I’ll vote third-party for President if there is a candidate worth voting for and look to vote for conservatives down ballot. There is no way I’ll vote for Hillary or Trump.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, bro. I completely understand not voting for either. And I think the down ballot races take on a great deal more importance (they were important already) given the ways things are developing at the national level. May the Lord give you wisdom as you serve him in the public square!
      T

      1. Dennis says:

        I’m not persuaded about any person running for the office of the president of the united states, but for me in my conscience tells me and my faith that i must never vote for anyone who hates what GOD loves, and loves what God hates, so that makes me a one or two issue voter i hate that babies can still be aborted in this country , also same sex marriage, glorifying SiN as normal so i can only go by what a candidate says with his mouth, they believe

  2. Thad Riley says:

    I was blunt in my post about the comments from Mr. Rodriguez’s blog post, but it had mostly to do with what I felt like was slander, negativity, and the potential issue of separating the gospel from Donald Trump. A lot of the article I completely appreciated, but I just don’t get the negativity. That was my disappointment with the article, and my overall disappointment for it being posted. There are other evangelicals making statements like this, and I think we are getting a little desensitized, maybe due to the media and social media. I want TGC and evangelical leaders and writers like myself to take an optimistic view of the world, yet still address the hard truths. We have to set the tone first, and foremost. I appreciate your thoughts above, and though I was blunt, I can also be wrong, and am grateful for feedback.
    I want our stories to be tough, yet honest and with the optimism of Jesus all over them, and I guess for that was the most frustrating. I’m quite grateful it was written, though, because I think we have to make decisions about how we go forward, and I appreciate your voice, and Nick’s, too. This is the post I put up today. It’s tough, but I feel strongly about it. https://thadriley.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/the-gospel-coalition-vs-donald-trump/
    Blessings to you all!

  3. Adam Sequera says:

    I am not an evangelical but I still really enjoyed reading this post. The logic seems incredibly sound and it has given me a lot to think about. I think this conversation you address is important and I wish more people could think logically and rationally about these problems, instead of being ruled by emotion.

    Once again, thank you for the post.

  4. Doug says:

    Thabiti,

    Two points:

    First, perhaps you are misguided by focusing on politicians instead of the real target which has to do with ideologies. Is it not evil concepts in the minds of men that drive evil actions? Thus, in the case of early American slavery, the ministry of preaching was silent on the evils associated with it. Even after the collapse of our government in civil war, the evil concepts remained victorious and intact. It is the same today with the concept of polytheistic religious freedom.

    Second, TGC is creating an integrity issue by securing the financial privileges of 501(c)(3) organization, while engaging in prohibited politically-biased dialogue. I would suggest TGC remove themselves from this illegal position by un-incorporating. Let the dialogue continue.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Doug,

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Two replies:

      1. I don’t think you can separate ideologies from the people who develop and hold them. Ideologies don’t arise out of nothingness. And, so, when it comes to something like voting (or those preachers who remained silent on slavery) we have to not only address the ideology but also the people who promote/defend them. Persons can be held accountable, not ideologies.

      2. It’s not illegal for a non-profit to engage in political discussions. Non-profits me educate and advocate. But they can’t lobby or campaign for particular candidates. Nevertheless, everything written here is written by an individual citizen (me) who has all the rights and privileges of other Americans. This is not the view or activity of TGC as a non-profit organization.

      Grace and peace,
      T

      1. Doug says:

        Fair enough on point 1.

        As for point 2, the IRS seems clear: “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

        Perhaps if TGC had posts in support of various other candidates as well, there would be no violation. As it stands, TGC seems to be voicing unanimous opposition to Trump.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          That would be true if TGC were doing those things. But no one has spoken for the organization or on behalf of the organization. TGC has no stance on this election that I’m aware of. Whatever appears on this site (and certainly this blog) is really an individual citizen’s opinion about the election.

          I know it’s common for people to equate things on the site with the organization, but it’s not accurate or charitable when people do it despite the clear statement to the contrary.

          T

          1. Doug says:

            I was not aware of any disclaimer by TGC.

            1. Jim S says:

              Posts are preceded with a substantial disclaimer: “Note: The views and opinions expressed here do not represent TGC or any of its council members, staff or supporters. They are the views of the author alone. This is a personal blog that happens to be hosted at TGC. Such hosting should not be construed as an endorsement from TGC for anything written here.”

  5. Michael Wilhelm says:

    Over the last number of weeks, I have been saddened by the tone of comments by Reps, Dems, and Evangelicals. While I am not sure where I will fall on this issue (whom I will vote for or if I wI’ll vote) I do appreciate the tone of this post and some things it has given me to prayer about. We seem to have reached a time when cordially and respect in dialogue seems to be out of vogue. For my own experience, I have never gained a valuable dialogue partner by hurling insults. May the God of peace call us to peace. And if peace be impossible, may we still allow him to season our speech with grace. Thank you for your post.

  6. David says:

    Wow, you have stirred the pot lol. I’ve been following your exploration of this from the beginning, and I can guess from the back-and-forth, the number of personal responses you’ve written in your various blog postings, some of the vitriol in other’s responses, etc. that this must be wearying; so, thank you. While I’m not yet convinced I can/should vote for HRC, I greatly appreciate the effort you’ve expended in this. It has caused me to examine myself, my biases, and my thought processes. I’m still processing.

  7. Hugh McCann says:

    Why is the Gospel Coalition endorsing ANY candidate?

    Why is the fear of man being utilized as a selling point for choosing a decidedly evil candidate?

    Why is voting being enjoined? Is not abstaining a viable option?
    (Heb. 12:4 is about resisting our own sin, not the sins of others.)

    These from Anyabwile and Rodriguez are like theonomy articles in reverse!

    1. Jim S says:

      I think you didn’t see the substantial disclaimer. Please see above.

  8. “If your party—whatever party you choose—only gives you an evil option to support, then you cannot remain loyal to that party.”

    So Democrats shouldn’t vote Democrat. And Republicans shouldn’t vote Republican. But third parties are a lost cause. Sad to say these articles have been full of philosophical inconsistencies and special pleading like this.

  9. Elros says:

    So on the courtesy and shaming based on political positions you spoke of Thabiti at the beginning of your post, would you grant the same applies to Christians that are nationalists?

    It seems the official Evangelical (TM) position takes it for granted that it’s unbiblical and must have the motivation of racism.

    Moving on to one key argument you make about racism/sexism/etc getting worse under Trump instead of Clinton, I ask how you ignore the left’s feminism and overuse of crying “racist” has gotten us to the point of Trump.

    Paradoxically, I think Trump could be a safety-release valve on these tensions. Certainly, worse leaders than him will run in 4 and 8 years if he doesn’t win. The tribalism isn’t going away regardless of what you or I think about it. It always surfaces in multi-ethnic empires. Then the Never Trumpers will wish for him.

  10. Taylor says:

    Thabiti,

    Thank you for your post. I really appreciate your generous tone in expressing your thoughts on this election. Your rhetoric is thoughtful, insightful, passionate, and resembles Christ. Every evangelical should deeply consider this points even if they don’t disagree with your argument. I also appreciate your patience towards those who vehemently disagree with you (especially on social networks). Honestly, I’m still unsure on whom I’m going to cast my vote for this election. You’ve laid out a compelling case here.

    I mainly wrote this to encourage you in your writing on this medium and on others. It is evident that this particular position you hold is unpopular (especially among White Evangelical Conservatives. Even among the Reformed, oh my!) Still, you are engaging in a civilized and humble manner with anyone who will listen. And that is quite commendable. It is clear that at the heart of all this you simply want to glorify Christ by being faithful to him this election season.

    Again thank you for insights and generosity brother. Keep it up!

    1. Taylor says:

      *even if they do disagree with your argument.

    2. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear Taylor,

      Thank you for the kind encouragement. I’m really grateful.

      Grace and blessings to you,
      Thabiti

  11. Doug says:

    We must keep in mind that the early church was “disenfranchised,” therefore voting for political leaders is not in the purvey of NT writings. Instead, believers were instructed to acquiesce in those “wicked” leaders God had nevertheless placed in office…or would place in office. Most definitely believers were never instructed to “knock off” potential wicked leaders, as was a charge against Bonhoeffer. Instead, they were emphatically charged to destroy ideologies:

    2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

    While there is certainly place for associating people with ideologies, as Thabiti points out, we must not loose sight of the fact that our struggle is not against visible leaders. Ephesians 6:12.

  12. Frank Turk says:

    As someone who has actively made the argument (when Romney was running) that all voters on the “red” side of the voting spectrum who do not vote or who vote 3rd party are simply allowing mathematics to elect the other candidate (http://bit.ly/1Y695Wt), I think that there’s something pretty lopsided in what is being advocated for in this essay. In an effort not to hijack this post with an over-long comment, I’ll try to be brief.

    1. The math here is pretty simple: either Clinton is going to win, or Trump is going to win. That part of this essay is pretty bulletproof, and to say otherwise is (at best) ignorant of how the electoral process will work. So as I write the rest of this comment, keep in mind that I have no illusion about who might win the Presidency.

    2. It is utterly unconscionable to vote for Hillary Clinton. This is not a candidate who has an incremental view of abortion (unless it is incremental toward outright infanticide against children 2 years and under). This is not a candidate who has any intention of keeping the law herself, let alone enforcing the law as if it was a common standard and not a jack-boot against her enemies. This is not a candidate who has any notion of a peaceful world through the use of justice and strength. There has never been a candidate for President as bad as she is ever. Recommending that people actively vote for her is immoral. I said it, and I don’t regret it.

    3. If voting for Clinton is immoral, voting for Trump is like voting for adultery in order to avoid pornography. Anyone who has voted for him so far has besotted the soul of our country, and anyone who thinks he will be adequate as president in any way also thinks that he has made many people rich by allowing them to play his slot machines. It is completely immoral to advocate for anyone to vote for Trump.

    4. Under these circumstances, as Christians we have to ask ourselves: why would God allow this? And the answer is so simple, it cannot be denied: our nation, once a function of Christian values and subject to the Christian consciences of its people, has walked away from God. As such, he is walking away from us and putting us in the hands of corrupt judges and immoral leaders. If you deny this, then you need to see what else you will deny about the history of this nation and also the theology of justice and government in the Bible. God hands over those who deny him to the consequences of their denials.

    5. Because God is judging us, we must vote in such a way which demonstrates repentance, not desperation or math or any other pragmatic solution. That word “repentance” means we have to vote in such a way as to turn our faces back toward God with the hope that he will forgive as he always forgives those who repent. And repentance, to be frank, does not mean voting for the lesser of two evils when we are choosing between Jezebel and Sennacherib. It means we will vote for someone who is neither of them, and rejects everything both of them stand for, and who sees government the way Paul sees it in Romans 13 if nothing else. In such an instance as this we ought to vote for a just Calormene rather than a perverse presbyterian or meretricious methodist. To be less-flowery, we must vote for anyone other than Trump or Hillary, and I literally mean that I am not offering you anyone specifically, but I appeal to all of you to vote for anyone you can think of who would be better than these two unceremonious disasters for president. Vote for someone you believe demonstrates that you personally repent of sin and repent of all your personal and political idolatry, and so that God will forgive you.

    Voting for Trump means that you don’t care about his sort of sin as long as you get what you think you want; voting for Clinton means you don’t care about her sin as long as you get what you think you want. You could choose to vote differently altogether and trust God to do what God does.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Frank,

      Thanks for an excellent comment and contribution to the discussion.

      1. Of course I agree with your #1.

      2. I agree with the moral implications of your #2 and #3.

      3. I, of course, disagree that encouraging people to vote for either of the candidates is immoral. There, I said it, too, and don’t regret it.

      4. I’m not at all sure about the line you’re drawing between God’s judgment of the country and individual repentance. Specifically, it holds every individual Christian culpable for the country’s collective sin. That’s a line of reasoning many people regularly reject when it comes to racial injustice, for example. At the least, if we take that line of reasoning, we should (a) be consistent about it across issues and not simply fall back on it with the election and (b) take pains to confess our particular sins particularly and bring forth specific evidence of repentance. I’d heartily “amen” your call to repent of political idolatry. But simply voting or not voting seems an inadequate gesture of repentance if we’re talking about a level of evil that excites God’s judgment on the entire country. It seems to me that when the Lord judges nations He most often calls them to specific deep reactions and changes in behavior. So I think there’d need to be more specificity regarding the sin(s) you think Christians have committed and what repentance looks like beyond voting in a way that displays it.

      Finally, there is ample opportunity in these discussions for people to try binding the consciences of others by their own scruples. We have to be careful there. That’s not a biblical way to address our consciences. We also have to be careful of wrongly judging others by assuming their motives or that they “don’t care about his/her sort of sin as long as you get what you think you want.” That’s a bridge too far and must certainly be one of the sins that we’d have to repent of if we heeded your very good call.

      Grace and peace,
      T

      1. Elros says:

        I agree with both of your comments basically, moreso with Thabiti on 3-5.

        This is why, if things stay the same as they are today, I think a vote for Trump COULD help lessen the effects of the ethnic strife (violent and peaceful) in the decades to come. It’s inevitable in multi-ethnic empires that becomes that way where before they had a strong ethnic majority and some minorities. This inter-ethnic strife, of course, is a judgment from God, just like the Civil War.

        Therefore, we KNOW Hillary Clinton will lead to more illegal and legal immigration. Trump, however, could possibly go through with the more humane option for immigrants (compared to what will happen by the 2050’s if there are no deportations) if he is elected. He represents a possible demographic safety-release valve.

      2. Frank Turk says:

        Hi Thabiti — thanks for a thoughtful reply. If you agree with #2 and cannot agree with #3, I think that it it is worth rehearsing the argument I would use to go there to find out how you do not follow.

        That argument:
        Government’s primary purpose in God’s economy is Justice; some rulers are unjust rulers; unjust rulers violate God’s primary purpose in Government.
        The moral responsibility in American government comes from the consent of the governed; when those who are governed knowingly consent to unjust government, they are morally responsible for the government.
        (Note: these are arguments which you must agree to because they are your arguments regarding the moral status of our government in race relations right now)
        Encouraging others to knowingly consent to being governed by unjust rulers is itself an act of encouraging others to do something they know is immoral. In the same way it is immoral to encourage anyone to vote for Donald Trump, it is immoral to encourage anyone to vote for Hillary Clinton.

        To what follows point 4, more to come.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Hi Frank,

          Thanks for the effort at clarifying the argument.

          I think I reject your first point. I’d have to think more about whether the primary purpose for government in God’s economy is justice. The Lord does, after all, establish all governing authorities (Rom. 13:1), including unjust governments.

          Further, the moral responsibility in American government comes from God’s command. We are commanded to be “in subjection,” in part, “to avoid God’s wrath” (Rom. 13:5). Who, by the way, commands “for the sake of conscience” that Christians pay taxes to the unjust Roman authority (Rom. 13:5-6). So it seems to me that our more fundamental obedience to God’s authority determines our culpability or lack thereof. It can’t be down to simply a matter of consent to American polity. God is doing something in the establishment of government and His command to obey it that’s more fundament and obligatory than the particular framework of the polity itself. This matters because submission to unjust governments (like Rome’s) isn’t treated in Romans 13 as a sin. It’s treated as a matter of obedience to God and a matter of keeping a clean conscience. So, it seems to me that voting in an unjust situation isn’t condemned necessarily by either conscience or scripture. Nor is the arguably more active support of unjust government in the form of paying taxes. If paying taxes to Caesar, who exalted himself as God isn’t treated as sin, then I don’t see how we can quickly conclude that voting would be.

          Thus, your last couple of sentences stand in direct contradiction to what our Lord commanded regarding taxes to Caesar and what God the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul regarding government in Romans 13. In other words, the Bible itself “encourages others–namely, Christians–to knowingly consent to being governed by unjust rulers.” Such an action cannot be immoral.

          T

      3. Frank Turk says:

        Regarding #4:

        | 4. I’m not at all sure about the line
        | you’re drawing between God’s
        | judgment of the country and individual
        | repentance. Specifically, it holds every
        | individual Christian culpable for the
        | country’s collective sin. That’s a line of
        | reasoning many people regularly reject
        | when it comes to racial injustice, for
        | example.

        I think you are sort of casually overlooking the fact that saying this is arguing the opposite side of where you usually argue. You’re saying that when you argue that all of America is guilty for Ferguson, for example, the voters are culpable – but when I say rather that the voters would also be culpable for voting for either candidate in this case who are both the worst imaginable candidates, you change sides.

        But even if you are not, there is a more important problem than your footwork here: there is a fantastic and obvious difference between racial injustice and voting. If I stipulate to everything you would marshal up to fill the category “racial injustice,” the main difference between that and each person voting for a candidate is the problem of intentional/overt action vs. passive acceptance.

        Let’s say that I do have white privilege, and because of it I never get a speeding ticket and I never got fired from a job. Did I commit an overt action for those things to happen, or was everything on my side there passive? Should I be ashamed – especially if it never occurred to me that they would have fired a minority employee at some point in order for me to keep my job?

        On the other hand, if I vote for Clinton, I vote for a candidate that despises everything I have ever done for myself or my family (if we read her record rightly); if I vote for Trump, I vote for someone for whom I would never want to work, let alone to have him run our country as he has run his life and business. I take an overt act to vote; I may be the passive receiver of an illegitimate system. If the latter is true, I need to use the former to fix it – and I am morally responsible for what I do in that regard.

        And if we agree to that, then consider it: exhorting someone to do something which does not seek to accomplish the second (it cannot because the action being exhorted votes for someone who will definitively make it worse) is itself an immoral act. Even to exhort someone as you do to vote for one of these candidates for “defensive” reasons is in the best case only trying to whitewash the tomb.

        This is just the logic here, not the biblical reasoning. If we go to Biblical reasoning (and we will in a second), then it is far worse for the one exhorting someone to vote of an unjust ruler.

        | At the least, if we take that
        | line of reasoning, we should (a) be
        | consistent about it across issues and not
        | simply fall back on it with the election
        | and (b) take pains to confess our
        | particular sins particularly and bring
        | forth specific evidence of repentance. I’d
        | heartily “amen” your call to repent of
        | political idolatry.

        Since you have been kind to engage here, I hate to be the one to say this, but it needs to be said: retreating behind Clinton is obviously and overtly political idolatry. There is nothing to tell us that voting for her is not seeking a political solution behind what is apparently the lesser of two evils since only a political solution will do. The problem, of course, is that you think she is just weak rather than harmful in the matters you think are important in spite of the fact that she is actually an opportunist in the best case.

        It is political idolatry when we think we must choose only between Jezebel and Sennacherib when it is obvious that what we could also do is choose to put on sack cloth and ashes and repent of solutions like these which, frankly, make the people who wanted Saul to be King look clever and godly.

        | But simply voting or
        | not voting seems an inadequate gesture
        | of repentance if we’re talking about a
        | level of evil that excites God’s judgment
        | on the entire country.

        Again, you don’t think so when it suits you. But let me suggest something: if the only choices are the ones we are discussing – namely, your exhortation to vote for Clinton and my exhortation to vote against both of them in order to start one’s personal repentance from political idolatry – it seems obvious to me that my way is the one the Bible says to do, and your way is not. Your way is to do what seems right in our own eyes (be honest: there is no biblical instruction which create the wisdom you are dispensing here), and my way is to say, “God, I have been thinking about this all wrong for a very long time, and the fruit is in the ballot box. I will not vote for people who hate you anymore, and I will not vote as if my vote is what saves me.”

        Your vote puts the wisdom of the world as the hope of (political) deliverance, and my vote puts the wisdom of God in a place to make foolishness of the world’s (political) wisdom. I usually don’t much like people doing apparently stupid things and then quoting 1 Corinthians to me, but in this case there is a pretty clear problem in our nation, and it is that we have no choices left which demonstrate the works which faith create. We vote as if God is not in charge of us or our elections. We certainly do not vote like “Calvinists” as a minimum. We have to stop doing that right now if for no other reason than each of us is at fault and must change.

        | It seems to me
        | that when the Lord judges nations He
        | most often calls them to specific deep
        | reactions and changes in behavior. So I
        | think there’d need to be more specificity
        | regarding the sin(s) you think Christians
        | have committed and what repentance
        | looks like beyond voting in a way that
        | displays it.

        I hate it when someone says something which makes saying the obvious so easy, but let me say the obvious anyway:

        You think that because you are inside the beltway when it comes to the Evangelical world. You are not in fly-over country. You think that because dissenting voices are noise in the spheres you are in right now, and you feel comfortable there because you are the kind of dissent they don’t mind hearing. That stuff is not dangerous to them, and the stuff you say you need to hear is, frankly, blocked out.

        Saying instead that evangelical celebrity is its own kind of idolatry, and that Top Men suppress truth and also avoid responsibility for what they do is dangerous – and ignored in the circles you travel. Critiquing the vast majority of churches for being too passive, too topical, too breezy and too biblically-illiterate is dangerous, and ignored. It seems to most of us that what is actually happening is that there are many voices in the wilderness right now saying to make straight the way of the Lord, and those who have a stake in it are more worried about reputation than about real churches and Christians.

        I think God is calling out the church specifically. I hear the voices he is using. That you either do not or will not says more to me than your endorsement of Clinton.

        Look: because I’m not a continualist, I’m not expecting Elijah or John the Baptist bring me a new book of Scripture on this topic. I think the books I have right now are fine, and those books say things like, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,” and “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” And in both of these, there doesn’t have to be confusion about what is and is not Israel. Rather there ought to be fear that God cares what people who say they believe in him are doing about their faith. God judges Christians in this life, and we, as the nation which really brought Christianity to most of the Global, are not accountable for what a wreck we have made of our own lives, churches, and country (in that order).

        The way we all do something about that is by each of us doing something which is clear and Christian: repent. You say voting can’t be a kind of repentance, but you don’t believe it – because you think it is in other contexts.

        | Finally, there is ample opportunity in
        | these discussions for people to try
        | binding the consciences of others by
        | their own scruples.

        I find this statement problematic coming from you for reasons already rehearsed above. If I was saying, “Not, not Hillary but Trump,” maybe you could say I am trying to turn a matter of personal conscience into a matter of moral principle. But I am not: I am saying that enough is enough from all of us, and we all must stop pretending that we can vote our way out of this inane and unimaginable situation we are in.

        You saying that Clinton is a better candidate than Trump is not merely without evidence: it is without any real serious concern over the problem of evil in this world – a problem you cite and then ignore in the essay.

        I am not trying to bind you to my scruples: I am asking you to go back and find yours. Find the ones you have demonstrated over and over again in your public talks and writing about the Gospel and this fallen world. We are not in a place where a vote for Trump or Clinton will save you, and the right thing to do in that circumstance is to say that and tell others not to vote as if this is just another bad election.

        | We have to be
        | careful there. That’s not a biblical way to
        | address our consciences.

        If I allow that this is true, there is something else the Bible does: it informs our consciences. And in doing so, it tells us how to know the difference between making a choice between two imperfect options and walking away from the options when both are so impossible to accept that they both cause us to do things and be people we never imagined we would be.

        | We also have
        | to be careful of wrongly judging others
        | by assuming their motives or that they
        | “don’t care about his/her sort of sin as
        | long as you get what you think you
        | want.”

        This statement is curious because your entire argument is simply that you do not want what Trump will give you and you can accept some of the things Clinton might give you. I’m not reading hearts here, but the words you wrote in your original point #5.

        I know a lot of this is hard talk, and I am sorry that it comes across that way. This endorsement from you, top to bottom, is a terrible idea, and I hope that you can be challenged to reconsider.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Frank,

          I’m sorry to have to confess that I’ve not read this comment as thoroughly as I might. It’s long and at points wanders into discussion and illustrations that seem off topic to me. So at the significant risk of misunderstanding you and failing to reply adequately, let me offer a couple of quick comments intended to get at the heart of what I think I quickly read here.

          1. The analogy to racial injustice simply doesn’t work. Not everyone who votes votes for the winning president. In what way have they given “consent” that warrants the judgment you envision? So when you speak of an “active vote” versus “passive” participation in racial injustice, you miss my critique of your judgment theory. How can those who did not vote for the president–roughly half of the American populace in recent elections–be rightfully judged for an “act” they did not take?

          2. It’s not “political idolatry” to try thinking ones way through an imperfect situation. I’m not worshipping either candidate or assigning either candidate some ability to solve the world’s problems. As you note in passing, my case is entirely defensive. My case is incremental and pragmatic, not triumphalistic and utopian. How that can be called “political idolatry” escapes me. It’s not “obvious and overt” to me. What is obvious and overt is that you didn’t answer the charge you quoted.

          3. Your comments following the third quote is simply a self-serving mischaracterization of everything I’ve written. I don’t know how I could be clearer about not hoping in any candidate. I don’t know how I could be clearer about the evil before us. I don’t know how I could be clearer about what I think are possible consequences of either’s election. How you with sleight of hand turn that into my putting the hope of the world into a politician’s hand is… well, baffling. You’re not exegeting my comments; you’re eisegeting my thoughts.

          Frankly, I find your position least Calvinistic. For our theology holds a prominent place for the use of means even as we place our hope in our sovereign Lord. Your view tends toward a hyper-Calvinistic approach, if you like. There’s simply no inconsistency in praying to God and trusting Him, as I do, then getting off my knees to continue thinking and acting as best I can. If we are genuine Calvinists, we do both things. We work for God as we hope in God.

          4. Again, I’m trying to ask you genuine questions and you’re off on your typical rants about celebrity and Top Men and the like. Brother, be brotherly. This has nothing to do with beltways and fly over zones or any such thing. This has to do with two professing Christians trying to have an honest discussion and disagreement, believing we have enough of an objective moral and revelational standard to have something more than a relativistic dive into nothingness. We should be among the last men left who can have an honest conversation. But if it’s about all the stuff you’re venting in your 4th section, then I’ll just leave you the last word and move on. And that’s not some Top Men overlooking others. That’s me acknowledging that you’re not really talking to me but unrighteously about or at me. You’re welcome to do that without wasting both of our time.

          5. Brother, I don’t think anyone can fairly accuse me of being afraid of “hard talk” or challenge. Frankly, I don’t find what you’ve written here to rise to either. What I do find is a lot of rhetorical flourish and misrepresentation, a lot of sound and fury signifying very little. I asked you honest questions and your circuitous answers suggest more interest in sophistry than clarity. I have my scruples. I trust you have yours. I trust you’ll act on them and I’ll respect you for doing so. I know I’ll act on mine. I trust we’ll both do so while trusting in the Lord who made us and redeemed us. When His kingdom comes this bickering will surely be finally hushed and no wanna be rulers will challenge His throne. Until then, I pray God’s blessings on you as you live as faithfully as He allows. Until we meet in glory, I think I’ll just leave you be. That’ll probably get me ridiculed as some “Top man” or “unaccountable celebrity.” But having tried to have a fruitful exchange with you on at least two occasions now and failed, I don’t really think you want a brotherly exchange that avoids pyrotechnics to just plain talk a thing out. If you find you can do that with others, then obviously I’m the problem. If I’m the problem, all the more reason for me to leave you alone.

          Grace and peace to you until Christ glorifies us,
          Thabiti

    2. Doug says:

      Since unrighteousness stems from ungodliness, what we need to repent of is our enthusiastic support of Polytheistic Religious Freedom. PRF stands in direct opposition to our LORD’s command: “You shall recognize no other gods in My presence.” To support PRF is at once to countenance the legitimacy of other gods. Thus the rise in support of PRF has seen a corresponding decline in preaching the exclusive Lordship of Christ with a concomitant call for all those antithetical to repent. PRF is the door through which all the manifestations of unrighteousness we rightly despise has come, because it eliminated political justification for government based absolutely on Scripture, allowing pernicious behavior to flourish. Weeds are now choking the grass.

      1. Frank Turk says:

        There is no question that this is true, but here’s what worries me about the idea that we must somehow purge or do the weeding: the first church did not purge anything: they suffered, and then they evangelized.

        I think it is 100% correct to realize that what is happening in givernment at any time is a trailing indicator of the culture. That means that law follows the social norm. The way we correct the law is not by trying to beat people into obedience: we teach them to repent and follow Jesus, and then when they join us (because Jesus saves), we can then fix government.

        1. Doug says:

          Yes, but we must first recover a political philosophy that allows us as a nation to recognize Christ as LORD.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Mr. Anybwile, thank you for having the courage to write articles that make us think. I read the other article last week and was grateful for the perspective it gave me; although I didn’t agree with everything, I found it helpful for me to engage in thoughtful conversation with others with their voting decisions. I was truly grieved by the unkindness of some of the comments. I have prayed you would not be discouraged.
    Thank you for being willing to write things that make us think. I pray that we would respond gently to one another and seek to understand one another. Thank you again.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Thank you for the prayers and the encouragement, Elizabeth. May the Lord help us all to remain hopeful, full of faith, working until we receive our reward!

  14. Jeff Rickel says:

    3 Questions.

    1. Do you think presenting people with difficult choices is a way of helping us learn to think and debate, and try to steer which course we think might in some way lead to some improvement, or lessen the degree we are descending into the wrong areas?

    2. Do you think we are placing too much emphasis on earthly kings then the heavenly King? I have seen my candidate loose many times and America still survives, but what she is becoming is worrisome in many ways. It seems more than having the right man/woman in the White House is having a revival in our hearts, in our families, in our nation specifically. Dream if you would where both Republicans, Democrats and whatever other parties evolve want to set such a standard of righteousness and moral values and clarity and religious freedom, that they would be competing for the evangelical vote, rather than forcing us to hold our noses and vote for what we consider the lesser evil.

    3. Every point you made is important. Doug was wrong you were in no way telling us how to vote, but how to think about and evaluate our candidates and the other candidates and what pitfalls to avoid. Christianity is not opposed to rational thought and discussion, you proved that so worthily in your discussion by giving us a wonderful template. I congratulate you for that. I won’t comment on individual points, but agree that if a strong moral candidate emerged with the wrong letter by his name that letter should not keep us from voting for him over of our own candidate is violating our basic moral principles.

    The question I would add to the mix would be: given the situation and past accomplishments, and disasters of each candidate. What is the best we can hope for and the worst that could happen under each candidate. Forgive me for leaning R on this, but feel free to go D. What has Donald Trump accomplished in the past that I hope he can do for America or Americans? What is the worst that Hillary has done, not/done that we hope she doesn’t do to America and Americans. I hope it is ok to tag these on, but might some babies /unborn, born disabled, elderly or combinations of be any more likely to survive under a Trump presidency or Hillary presidency? Might our religious freedoms and possibility of persecution be more likely to be reduced under a Trump or Hillary presidency given what has happened in the last 8 years? I guess I look for potential for good and potential for bad and how enthusiastically both individuals are in leading the country in areas we have great concerns about.

    Thank you again for helping us think, and realize our responsibilities, and for the clarity and devotion to God that enters into your thoughts and the One Love that is always in the forefront of all you say, think and do and want to accomplish. Thank you so much for your voice, your ears, your heart, your drive, and all that drives you.
    With utmost Respect and Admiration

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hey brother,

      Thank you for your three questions. I’ll try to answer briefly.

      1. Yes, I do believe dissonance causes thought and growth. Whether it leads to improvement is another matter.

      2. I’m certain some people are. And it’s not unusual, even among God’s people. It’s at least as old as 1 Samuel 8. In fact, it’s older, going back to Israel’s wilderness desire to return to Pharaoh in Egypt. But the simple act of voting is not by definition looking to an earthly king with too much emphasis.

      3. With these candidates, there’s not much difference between the best and worst we could hope for. It seems to me the next four years will look pretty similar on a lot of fronts. I don’t think we’re going to see much advancement for good with either candidate.

      Thank you for joining the discussion and for the encouragement. I really appreciate it and I pray the Lord repays your kindness a thousand fold.

      Grace and peace,
      T

  15. Heidi says:

    A sincere question: if instead of innocent (though unseen, unheard) babies, the lives of Jews (or some other race) were being destroyed — would that make a difference to your endorsement of a party that proactively enabled their destruction? If we could see and hear those who were being mutilated, tortured to death by abortion would that make it harder to vote for the candidates who push for their destruction? If they were all one from one race?

    I will not be voting for Mr. Trump. We work with immigrants. But I find it so baffling to understand how abortion can be blinked at here — I don’t think it would be, if we were killing people groups instead of unborn babies. Someone we see that as more intolerable, and I don’t understand why.

    1. Heidi says:

      (I’m sorry — that should be ‘somehow’ in the last sentence: not ‘someone’.)

    2. Heidi says:

      I wanted to add, because while I understand the outrage I also understand why expressing it doesn’t convince — that I follow the reasoning of playing the political game this way in order to limit the evil of our own hour. I understand that politics is always an attempt to limit our hour’s evil. What I am asking is, if you could see and hear the people Hilary Clinton is loudly, unashamedly, proactively funding the liquidation of, urging that Christians must lose scruples over murdering — if they were all Jews, or all Muslims — would you still urge other Christians to play this way? You put Mr. Bonhoeffer’s words in the post. Wasn’t a desperate effort to keep *some* aspects of society stable what allowed many Germans to support Hitler? Are there any evils in a political game that are totally unacceptable, regardless of whether we win or lose (your post indicates that you believe there are: why is Bonhoeffer’s image used if not)? If there are such evils, why would genocide of Jews be among them, but abortion be only a ‘cherished issue’ to be laid aside to play the game?

      Please do reconsider urging Christians to empower a woman who has no scruples in this area. I write to my politicians all the time urging them to reconsider their support of planned parenthood clinics that fund ‘valuable services for women’ etc. It’s sort of odd to be urging a major reformed pastor to please withdraw his endorsement (however qualified, it is still an endorsement) for a candidate who is pushing this agenda. Surely you can understand where some of the outrage here comes from, and that while we need to do much better about showing Christ’s love across political lines, the outrage over the murder of the unborn is not from an evil place, nor do we want to lessen it in our society: we want it to build.

      1. Graham Veale says:

        Hi Heldl
        First of all, I should admit that a candidate’s position on life, marriage and religious freedom influences my vote more than any other factor. I’ll also concede that life issues, particularly abortion, are deal-breakers for me.
        But I worry a little that our commitments allow politicians to hold individuals like you and me hostage. They simply say their pro-life, or make pro-life speeches, yet do very little about the issue.
        So we get very little on the issue we care most about; and they get the freedom to court other special interest groups on a host of other issues. The politician does not need to concern himself about my thoughts on welfare reform or health care or progressive taxation or foreign policy.

        We’re left begging for scraps from their table.
        Maybe we can be shrewder. I wouldn’t dismiss everything Thabiti is saying here.

        GV

        1. Heidi says:

          I understand Mr. Veale. I have not voted Republican for a long time over foreign policy issues, realising that value voting is something they use, while having little commitment to those values. I don’t see Mr. Trump much worse than many Republican candidates, personally: I’m not voting for him.

          But even accepting that politics is about playing a rather dirty game to try to limit the evils of the hour, shouldn’t there be evils we won’t tolerate, not even to win? And if there are, would we consider the killing of a racial group among them? And if so, *why not abortion*?

          I don’t think the abortion issue needs to be muted in our society. I don’t think we yet perceive its reality starkly enough. Our relative peace with candidates who never actually do anything about it may be a huge reason why we are being judged.

    3. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear Heidi,

      Thanks for your question. I don’t think we could ever support genocide as a matter of policy or strategy. That certainly applies to the genocidal killing of children in the womb. So our opposition to abortion must be strident.

      So we’re not blinking at abortion here. It’s not a matter of abortion being more tolerable/less intolerable. I’m suggesting that abortion will be the law of the land for the next four years because one candidate supports it and the other will not touch it. If the outcome on abortion is essentially the same for the next four years, then I’m suggesting that we have to try to hold the line some way so things don’t get worse and we should take into account other issues that are also troubling. But in no way are we to think that abortion is more tolerable than any other form of genocide or mass killing.

      Grace and peace,
      Thabiti

      1. Heidi says:

        Thank you Rev. Anyabwile, I do understand that logic. I greatly value an essay by Lesslie Newbiggin on engaging in the political process where he points out that it is always an unideal engagement simply trying to limit, rather than being able to actually destroy evil. What I think the logic overlooks is that Mrs. Clinton is aggressively seeking to make abortion more widely available and legal, and to push for Christians to overcome their hangups. This is an agenda that is at least not present on the other side.
        And what I wonder is whether the impact of supporting that agenda, even to win on other important fronts, would not be much more intolerable if we could actually see and hear those she is so bent on destroying, or if we (aware as we now are of issues of racial genocide) knew she was targeting a specific race. I think in that case it might be harder to support her as candidate for any reason, even those of political realism. Certainly to lend place to urge others to do so. Some evils are so blatant that it seems better to lose the political battles and bear witness. I do feel very strongly about this issue (as well as about the issues of race). I would hate to think that in ten or twenty years it has become difficult to convince Christians of the really hideous nature of this evil because it became incorrect to express our very just outrage about it, or the perception that we are being called on to support it. We have an uphill battle as it is to sensitise our culture to this evil.
        I have not posted my reaction on social media etc. I expressed it on your blog, and on your own post (which seemed fairer than reacting to a guest). I think the Bonhoeffer quote applies as much to the issue of speaking for the unborn as of racism.

        1. Graham says:

          Perhaps evangelicals could offer to support Hilary *if* she is prepared to make some compromises on the issue of abortion. She should not seek to promote a pro-choice philosophy in the UN or other countries, nor should she seek to expand the right to an abortion in the US.
          Presumably, she endorses the notion that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” If she would signal that she would at least work to make abortion rarer – by making adoption easier etc. – there might be some form of workable compromise.

          G

          1. Heidi says:

            I would not be among them — there are too many other issues (her own operating outside the sphere of proper law and order, support of radical unbiblical agendas in other areas, etc. — the confusion of which we are already experiencing under this Presidency). Nor would I have any reason to believe such a compromise! It seems one might as well offer to support Donald Trump (or any other candidate) if they will compromise the things they’ve consistently stood for/against.

  16. Graham Veale says:

    I’d never dream of telling an American Christians who to vote; indeed, I’m not at all convinced that there is a moral or Christian duty to vote at all. (I think that Christians should have liberty of conscience on such issues.)

    But I think that Thabiti is correct in his assessment of Donald Trump. Even if we could set his repugnant, casual racism to one side, Trump would still be the most anti-Christian candidate in living memory. Even ardent secularists will pay lip service to the Christian virtues like humility and service. Few would reject repentance and forgiveness as casually as Donald Trump. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a more anti-Christian campaign. He celebrates wealth, but not trade; he values his image, but not his word.

    He has not committed to a pro-life agenda; if he did, his promises would mean little more than his pledge to build a ludicrously expensive and ineffective wall across the Mexican border.

    However, I am not at all sure that Christians have an obligation to pick the lesser of two evils. Pragmatism and consequentialism make sense in the world, but have no place in the Kingdom of God. If both candidates have intrinsically evil ideologies. programmes or personas then neither candidate can receive the support of the Christian.

    This would not be a withdrawal from politics because politics extends far beyond Presidential elections. And if God’s common grace can preserve his Church and civilisation through the Fall of the Roman Empire, I daresay his providential care can cope with four years of Trump or Hilary.

    GV

  17. Brendt Wayne Waters says:

    Your introduction (everything up to “So on to what I want to say.”) is terrifying, in that it’s clear that you’ve been in my brain.

  18. Thad Riley says:

    Okay, I tried to give this an honest shot. I think there are reasons to consider her as a candidate, but it just needs to be in the spirit of positivity on both sides of the aisle. https://thadriley.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/why-evangelicals-should-vote-for-hilary-clinton/?fb_action_ids=10209814948674290&fb_action_types=news.publishes

  19. Ruth says:

    I will not be able to vote for either Hillary or Trump. What do you all think about Bernie? I feel that he is a clear lesser of evils, in the triad. If given the chance, I would vote for him. I’m wishing I had in the primaries.
    PS Why do evangelicals think Trump is not a baby killer? Because he SAYS so?????? Doesn’t he have financial interests in pornography? Isn’t that closely tied to baby-killing?

  20. Cody Libolt says:

    Excellent post. Thanks for making your reasoning clear and compelling. In particular I agree on the point that it would be better to see the Republicans fighting a battle against a President Clinton than to see them following a President Trump.

    I find it difficult to project which president would do the most harm. I make the choice in reference to what I think will do most good for the long term health of the conservative movement (constitutional conservatism as upheld by sites such as Conservative Review.)

    In my view, the best move would be to show that I am forever unwilling to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, and that I am forever unwilling to vote for a tyrant. That’s a very clear stand.

    Only when people take this a stand for multiple consecutive elections (and en masse) should we expect a party to court this kind of voter. So I advocate whatever voting choices are most likely to bring about such a state in the future (however long that may be).

    We will not see virtuous candidates until American voters show that they are unwilling to cross a certain line. The “lesser of two evils” strategy has brought us where we are today. It will not get us out in the long run.

  21. Hugh McCann says:

    Knowledgeable Leftists know better:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyDQxfDeWRc

  22. Sarah T says:

    Thank you, Thabiti!!! I thank God for you!

  23. Ashton says:

    Thabiti,

    I disagree with you vehemently and am currently trying to compose a blog post against yours and Nick’s position. Having said that, thank you so much for giving me and those like me so much to think about. I deeply appreciate your convictions and have grown tremendously in just the amount of time I have spent reading over them. I am only 17 and thusly my naïvety on these matters is irritating beyond measure and I appreciate the wisdom you’ve presented here. I hope that when I post said blog post you would read over it so that you might be able to inform me if I have at any point misrepresented my brother in Christ. Any thoughts or advice you may have for me would be unendingly appreciated. Soli Deo Gloria.

  24. Todd Waldron says:

    This is an absolute must read from Wayne Grudem on the topic. He comes to the same conclusion as you Thabiti, which is we need to vote, but differs on the candidate. This lays out many of the concerns and reasoning behind a vote for Trump, clearly showing that this is not a “one-issue vote” as stated in posts and comments. This also differs from conclusions of many of the commentors in these threds. You may not agree with the conclusion, but this is a must read for all Christians putting the appropriate level of thought and consideration into the decisions at hand.

    Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice – http://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/07/28/why-voting-for-donald-trump-is-a-morally-good-choice-n2199564

  25. J. Rahming says:

    Pastor Anyabwile,

    I appreciate your erudition and well articulated thoughts. I have wrestled for sometime with what political trajectory to support as a follower of Christ. I concur wholeheartedly with your sentiments that neither candidate has a pro-life trajectory. Actually, most neo-conservatives do not adhere to a pro-life stance. The discourse now is that states should have the right to decide, not total obliteration.

    As a Black man, I support the Democrats in the arena of social justice and endearment to the poor and oppressed, yet disdain their social values. I remain politically stuck and undecided most of the time. Reading your article is refreshing because it conveys that I am not the only one that is politically undecided.

    Thanks again for being intelligent and presenting a balanced and not dogmatic perspective into our political climate.

    God bless you,

    J. Rahming

  26. Robert Palculict says:

    Brother Thabiti,

    I am a pastor in a small church in Idaho. I admire you very much. Thank you for your service in God’s Kingdom.

    Do you have any resources you would suggest based on honor for the ruling authroities, when those who are in governance are foolish, destructive, etc. (Such as Trump)?

    Thank You,
    Robert Palculict

  27. Tony Balogna says:

    Bill Clinton is a rapist.

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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