With national elections in the US just a few months away, it’s time to talk about the very real possibility that incumbent President Donald Trump will be unseated and challenger Joe Biden will take his place. Many Christian leaders and commentators have warned of grave consequences for Believers in the US and around the world. There is a general consensus that a Biden Administration would harbor deep antipathy to Evangelical Christians, just as the Obama Administration did and as a Hillary Clinton Administration surely would have done. Therefore, America’s Christians MUST ensure that this does not take place by voting for Trump in large numbers, just as they did four years ago.
Here’s what I think.
Trump ran on a campaign promise to “Make America Great Again” by which he meant he wanted to restore something that he only ever vaguely described or explained, leaving it to the imagination of his followers to flesh the vision out. For most American Christians (and for more than a few Israeli Believers) that meant restoring their cultural ascendency in the US (which many felt had been dealt a shattering blow by the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling in June 2015 which mandated the legalization of homosexual marriage in all 50 US States) and undoing the damage to Washington’s relationship with Jerusalem that had been done by President Barak Obama.
So, America’s Evangelical Christian community turned out in large numbers to vote for Trump, giving him an electoral boost which no doubt made the difference in several States and ultimately resulted in his election to the Presidency.
Four years later, we need to admit that things didn’t go according to plan, and if Trump is given another four years as President of the United States, things will almost certainly continue to not go according to plan.
In fact, it is time to assess, with merciless honesty, the damage that has been done to the Church of Jesus Christ in the last four years that Trump has been President. It is time to confess the moral and ethical corruption that has become so horrifyingly normalized by our having given our approval, usually implicit but occasionally explicit, to so much that is so deeply unrighteous, not to even mention the many poor choices and bad decisions he has made. Trump is guilty of every single personal moral failure that Christians correctly criticized Bill Clinton for 20 years ago when he was President, and he’s also guilty of much else, yet we look the other way because Trump is “for us” at a time when we feel like so much of the rest of society is against us.
Even worse, it has become a litmus test of Christian piety in many circles to be for everything that Trump is for and against anything that he’s against, even when he’s flat wrong, and to be against what his opponents support, even when they’re absolutely correct.
On the domestic social front, there have been more Supreme Court rulings which have advanced the anti-Christ agenda that Christians have so long struggled against, despite Trump’s successful appointment of two SCOTUS Justices and hundreds of conservative judges to lower tiers of the Federal bench. Popular culture in America continues its precipitous descent into naked depravity and wickedness, while the few ministries and voices which continue to try and keep up the fight in the cultural arena are starved for resources because donations all but dried up after Trump was elected, people having apparently thought that the problem was solved.
Above and beyond all that, the Church’s efforts to share the Gospel, particularly with younger people, has become severely handicapped by its close association with a political leader who is widely viewed (fairly or not) as corrupt, incompetent, dishonest, racist and misogynistic. The bargain that American Evangelical leaders made which gave them access to political power (for a season) and a (flimsy) shield against attack by their ideological opponents was bought at the price of whatever moral credibility they might ever have had with the people they most needed to reach with the Gospel.
In regards to America’s relationship with Israel, Trump has done some good things, including moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. But his Presidency has also played a role in the alienation of large segments of America’s Jewish community from Israel. Right or wrong, rational or irrational, most American Jews identify far more with Progressive Leftist ideology than they do with the State of Israel, and while a large share of the blame for the widening gap between Israel and American Jews can be laid at the feet of the American Jewish community itself, the undeniable fact is that Trump’s Presidency has been the backdrop for this development, and has done a great deal to exacerbate it.
So, all in all, I don’t think Trump being President of the United States has been such a great blessing to the Church of Jesus Christ in the US, or the rest of the world. In regards to the relationship between the US and Israel, the upside is mostly tactical and could end up being very sort lived, while the downside is strategic and has the potential to be a more long-term phenomenon.
On that note, let us take a moment to consider what might happen should Joe Biden become President of the United States in a few months.
Persecution of Christians, which can already be seen in many places (e.g. California, where officials have taken advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to order churches not to hold meetings) will likely increase and intensify if Biden is elected. The relationship between the US and Israel will also become much less warm than it is now, and could possibly even become badly compromised as it was on its way to becoming in the closing days of the Obama Administration.
Yes, both of these scenarios are distinctly possible, perhaps even likely.
However, I hereby offer the following thoughts for your consideration.
Many Believers declare a yearning for a return to the First Century Church model, but intense and often violent government persecution of Believers was a feature of that model you declare yourself to be yearning for. If you hadn’t thought about that, it’s time to start thinking about that. If you HAD thought about that, then maybe you’ve also thought about the fact that persecution has always been the secret sauce which enabled rapid and world changing revival. Why that is, is a mystery, but it’s also an undeniable fact of history.
So if the thought of government persecution of Christians in America (or any other country) makes you anxious, angry or worried, get rid of those feelings and instead think about what a blessing it could be for the Kingdom of Christ. Many people have been praying for revival in America for a long time, and this might be just what’s needed for that to take place. In fact, it’s unlikely that anything else even COULD bring that so badly needed revival.
As for what a Biden Administration might do to US-Israel relations, that also might be EXACTLY what is needed. The conventional wisdom says that Israel needs a Great Power patron in order to survive in the Middle East. But the Bible says that God Himself is Israel’s patron and she will discover someday, after all her earthly friends have abandoned her, that God is the only patron she needs.
Many Israelis don’t see much of a need for the God described in their Bible, because they put their hope, faith and confidence in other things, including their own military, political, technological and economic power, all of which is undergirded by their relationship with the USA. Losing that alliance might be just what the Israelis need to discover how much they need Him, and prompt them to turn back to the God of their Fathers after all the other things they’ve put their faith, hope and confidence in fail them.
So to sum up, the US franchise of the Church of Jesus Christ made a really bad deal when it supported Donald Trump’s bid to become President four years ago and it hasn’t gotten most of the things it thought it would receive in exchange for that support. If Joe Biden is elected President in a few months, it will mean difficult days for the Church and also for Israel, but the difficulty might be exactly what the Church and Israel need. It is beyond question that these difficult days are prophesied about in the Scriptures, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that they come.
I don’t know how to advise any of my American readers on how to vote in these upcoming elections, but I CAN tell you that no matter who you vote for, or against, or if you don’t vote for anyone, the will of our Father in Heaven WILL be done in your country, and mine, and every other country, and it’s going to be glorious. So stay calm, stay focused, stay faithful, stay in prayer, Bible study and fellowship, and don’t worry about what you might lose in this world. Rather, rejoice in what we’ll soon be inheriting in Eternity.