Evangelical Christians have been strong supporters of President Trump.
The reason is clear: Trump gives them things they want, most importantly, conservative Supreme Court justices. These justices may one day reverse Roe v. Wade, the decision that held there is a constitutional right to abortion.
I share the view that Roe was a terrible decision and that abortion is a great evil. But is determining God’s will as simple as concluding that God must want believers to support Trump because his Supreme Court nominations may bring about a reversal of Roe?
Trump is a dishonorable man. He lies continually. Jesus made it clear what he thought about liars when he called Satan the father of lies (John 8:44). Trump also bullies and belittles people. He has bragged about groping women. He has had affairs. He dehumanizes immigrants. He stirs up racial tensions. The list goes on.
Would God nevertheless have Christians support Trump because of the assistance Trump can give them in the battle on abortion?
I believe an answer is to be found in a sermon given by Francis Schaeffer.
Francis Schaeffer was a conservative theologian whose influence on evangelicalism, Christianity Today claimed, was second only to C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham. In a sermon entitled, “The Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way,” Schaeffer wrote:
The Lord’s work in the Lord’s way is the Lord’s work in the power of the Spirit and not in the power of the flesh.
Is it not amazing: though we know the power of the Holy Spirit can be ours, we still adopt the world’s wisdom, trust its forms of publicity, its noise and imitate its ways of manipulation! If we try to influence by using its methods, we are doing the Lord’s work in the flesh. If we put activity, even good activity, at the center rather than trusting God, there may be the power of the world, but we lack the power of the Holy Spirit.
To the extent that evangelicals trust Trump’s political power to end abortion, are they trusting more in the ways of the world than the power of the Holy Spirit?
It is true that if Trump’s Supreme Court nominees assist in reversing Roe, the lives of many unborn children may be saved. So then, are not the lives that may be saved more important than Trump’s moral failures?
This, in my view, is the wrong question.
The question is not which is more important, saving lives, on the one hand, or Trump’s immorality, on the other. The question is—as Schaeffer has forcefully set forth—what is the path of faith? If we truly trust God, do we trust God enough to do God’s work in God’s way, rather than in the world’s way?
Does God want us to compromise our moral values—continuing to support Trump, remaining silent about his outrageous behavior—in order to accomplish what we believe to be good results? Or would God have us act in moral and honorable ways, including denouncing Trump, while trusting that God will deal with the evils in the world in God’s own way and in God’s own time?
I do not think there is any question about which of these God would have us choose.
Jesus called Christians to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus did not limit this command to non-political activity only. When Christians enter or have influence in the political realm, they are to be salt and light there. Does this not mean that Christians should demand that their leaders be fair, reasonable, and decent?
As it is now, the world sees Christians supporting and defending a morally corrupt leader. It gives many a reason to reject the Christian faith out of hand.
What if evangelicals took a different path? What if we insisted that our political leaders be decent, honorable, and fair—and we started trusting in God, and not power politics, for results in the political arena?
If we did, we would give the world a reason to view the Christian faith in a different light. We would be inviting God to accomplish things far beyond anything that can be done through the ways of this world. We would be inviting God to demonstrate what can be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.