How Could Christians Vote for Mr. Trump?

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Comments like “How could they?” and “I’m terrified” and “How come everyone is surprised?” filled up my newsfeed this week in the days and hours after Mr. Donald Trump was elected the 45th U.S. President. While the emotions over the outcome have been so raw at times, I’ve found social media not named Twitter to be a great place to open up a dialogue and discussion, which was sadly missing for the past year when it came to politics and political candidates. So, I wanted to share some thoughts (and hear from you) as I attempt to answer one of the biggest questions I’ve received from friends since Tuesday night: How could any Christian vote for Donald Trump?

This is a valid question and one every Christian I talked to about the election struggled with on so many levels. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail was outrageous if not ridiculous. Oftentimes, it was inflammatory, like your drunk uncle at a family gathering who doesn’t realize he had enough three hours ago. Then there was a litany of past indiscretions, which Christians label as sinful. Divorce and extramarital affairs led a list that proved him to be immoral at best, debased at worst. His vulgar talk in private was made public, and it was unsavory. He attacked, threatened, and bullied anyone who dared to challenge him—and even some who weren’t. I could go on, but I doubt anyone wants to waste time rehashing the ugliest part of a candidate we watched while cringing for the past year and a half.

And, yes, Christians saw all of this. Yet, some of them decided they would still vote for him. After the GOP nominated Mr. Trump, I stopped browbeating everyone and started asking them the question many people are asking today: How could any Christian vote for Donald Trump?

Their answers weren’t always distilled down to the preference of who they wanted picking the next Supreme Court judges, though there were some. Other concerns arose, like the corruption in Washington and Mrs. Clinton’s complicitness, if not blatant embrace, of it. Some people were simply tired of the Clintons—and based on the apathetic turnout of Democratic voters, it’s apparent they weren’t alone. Some people were genuinely tired of never-ending wars and felt Mrs. Clinton’s drumbeat of war with Russia were too loud to ignore. And some people were quite frankly tired of being ignored.

And while I understood all of that, I struggled to see how a Christian could justify the vote for that man as the answer—a challenge Russell Moore hammered over and over and over again throughout the election cycle. Though the responses I received varied in explanation, the core reason Christians voted for Mr. Trump was rooted at the core of what distinguishes Christianity from all other world religions: grace.

Sounds crazy, right? Isn’t it hypocritical for a group of people who denounced and called for the impeachment of President Clinton for his sexual misdeeds in the White House and lies about them to suddenly have a change of heart because a guy has an R next to his name on the ballot? Perhaps, but grace never makes sense.

If you think this is dismissive and a convenient explanation, drop your stones and consider the Bible that Christians read and believe fervently. It’s full of leaders—even kings—who were murderers, thieves, liars, sexual deviants, violent, and drunkards. It’s as if God decided to redeem the entire cast of Game of Thrones.

Take David, for instance, who was involved in the first big political sex scandal and coverup conspiracy. He slept with a married woman, got her pregnant, and then plotted to have her husband killed. Did God disqualify him? Nope. Instead God used David to expand the boundaries of his country and unify two kingdoms while enjoying years of peace and prosperity.

Or take Samson, for example. God appointed him as a judge over the people of Israel. He had an anger problem, not to mention a problem with pursuing any woman for his sexual pleasure. Samson’s fate wasn’t as pleasant as David’s, but God still used Samson to deliver justice for His people.

Then there’s Rahab, the prostitute who became part of the lineage of Jesus. Or Saul (later Paul), the pious and arrogant religious leader who oversaw gross human rights violations, some that even ended in murder. Or Solomon, the misogynist king who God bestowed unfathomable wisdom upon. The Bible is loaded with such vile characters that it makes the Lannisters look like the Osmonds in comparison.

And that’s why Christians were able to swallow all the unsavory things that Mr. Trump has said and done and vote for him anyway. Christians get grace because they recognize that they are just as sinful people who have been redeemed for no good reason other than that of a forgiving God. Anyone who’s been a Christian for any length of time understands that God is far less concerned with the character of a person when it comes to using people to advance His will; however, Christians also know that if they desire to experience the transformational power that God offers, they must become serious about allowing God to change their character.

Make no mistake, Evangelical Christians—like most Americans—are still wary of Mr. Trump. Every Evangelical Christian I know doesn’t want to see gross human rights violations occur in this country or heightened racial tensions or disregard of the poor and marginalized. They’re concerned about what will happen in the future in this country, though they would’ve been no less concerned for other reasons had Mrs. Clinton won.

Did Evangelical Christians make the better choice? We’ll never know since Mrs. Clinton will never hold the office of President. But we will know if Trump was good or bad for the country, and we may know it very soon.

If you are a Christian, no matter who you voted for, there is an incredible opportunity to be a beacon of hope and peace in your community. There are those who voted for Mr. Trump who are seizing upon this election outcome as a chance to let their voice be heard—and it would be encumbent upon us to reject divisive talk and speak truth into their lives. There are people out there who are truly fearful. Whether their fears are unfounded or not, we must not dismiss their concerns and seek ways to help them feel welcome and safe.

This election consisted of two candidates who acted as merchants of fear in an effort to gain power; let’s be merchants of peace and love to the most marginalized among us, extending grace to those who might oppose us. We’ll all be better off for it.

And lastly, pray. Pray for Mr. Trump. Pray for Mrs. Clinton. Pray for this nation of incredible people who all desire peace. God knows we need it now more than ever.

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