Two Christian leaders disagree strongly over the US presidential election. One says one way to vote; the other says another way to vote. I would add a different perspective when looking at this issue. ◊
There has been a fascinating exchange of ideas conveyed in articles this past week written by two respected pillars of the American Christian community. John Piper and Wayne Grudem are big conservative voices for the evangelical church. Each published articles about the US presidential election. Grudem took a strong but gracious opposing stance against the position taken by his longtime friend, John Piper.
Essentially, John Piper comes out against both candidates, saying that President Donald Trump is morally bereft and that candidate Joe Biden is deficient regarding public policy.1 Grudem favors President Trump for his pro-life position and other economic policies that he finds superior to that of the opposition candidate. While Piper ultimately settles on voting for neither candidate, Grudem makes a strong conclusion that Christians should vote for President Trump, and that any protest vote, non-vote, or vote for the opposition is the antithesis of Biblical standards and beliefs.2
Consider 3 Guiding Principles in Selecting Leaders
Before I share my own voting preference, let me say that I’m motivated by 3 guiding principles in choosing or voting for, (or hiring) leaders, in politics and in business: Competence, Fairness, and Goodness (ideally Godliness).
I want leaders that are excellent and highly capable in what they do. I also want leaders that operate by set rules and standards and do not cheat or abuse or selfishly manipulate circumstances for their own benefit. Finally, related to fair play, but going further, I want leaders that are good people, even Godly people. They don’t have to be Christian, but they have to acknowledge and respect God, Jesus Christ, and the Word of God, the Bible. With no expectation of perfection, as we are all sinners and fall short, out of that recognition of a Higher Authority and the existence of dictums of moral guidance, that leader should be guided and motivated to “do good in the eyes of the Lord.”
I will break it down further:
1. Competence – I have long desired a US President that operated like a competent CEO of a major corporation. The presidency of the United States is a significant job that requires executive level skills and intellectual competence. Skill and competence come from experience and hard work and study. Top producers/leaders show their prowess by their work output and success metrics.
Additionally, for any executive level position, the breadth and depth and import of matters at hand are tremendous for one person. A CEO, like the President, requires the ability to build a trustworthy team around them and the ability to multi-task and communicate a plan of action. The real proof ultimately, however, is in the results. Executives in business and politics who markedly achieve what they set out to accomplish prove their worth and earn my support, assuming they score well in the other following areas.
2. Fairness – The US is a nation run by the Rule of Law. Without adherence to prescribed moral and legal ground rules, there would be chaos and anarchy in the streets. A leader should themselves operate under these rules for themselves and their families in all matters of personal and public life. Any illegal activity is a breach of public trust and should be addressed as no one person or family are themselves above the law. Fairness does not preclude competitiveness or aggressive play. Winners in sports, business, politics, and life, are those that play/work hard with assertive passion, but fairly without cheating or illegally cutting corners. Those that cheat are not winners.
3. Goodness (ideally Godliness) – The US President need not be a saint or Sunday School teacher or have the perfect family life. The same is true for any person elected to Congress or selected to be a CEO of any sized company. They may even have had a sordid past life that has been turned around and is now back on track. But they must now be good. They must know right from wrong, and recognize evil when they see it. And not be afraid to boldly call it out and confront it. As stated, they may not even be a Christ-following Christian. We all know people whose life was a long journey moving toward a fully-surrendeed life of faith and obedience to Christ. But to that end, a US President should acknowledge and respect and even “fear the Lord God” with homage paid to the Word of God (the Bible) and the community of Christians and all peoples of faith.
So, Trump vs. Biden?
I suspect that we all know Christians who are averse to President Trump for being guilty of “unrepentant sexual immorality” and “unrepentant boastfulness” or against Joe Biden for supporting policies that endorse “baby-killing,” “sex-switching,” and “socialistic overreach,” – to use John Piper’s terms. We’ve probably engaged in genteel and even heated debates on these matters with our Christian and secular friends.
I agree with Wayne Grudem’s assertion that a leader’s character flaws do not necessarily degrade a nation. He points out that:
while King Jeroboam “made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16), the previous chapters do not say that this involved imitation of Jeroboam’s moral character, but instead the text specifies that Jeroboam’s sin was in making idols and constructing alternative worship centers and then ordaining priests who were not Levites, all of which contradicted God’s commands.3
In other words, the leader led the way in disobedience to the ways of God. This is not the case occurring here in the US, a non-theocracy. Only in the area of abortion, which raises a clear line of delineation between the two candidates, can one make a charge of contradicting God’s commands. By the way, Gruden states that the primary motive behind support for abortion rights is a desire for sexual freedom without the responsibility of raising children. Put in those simple terms, abortion goes beyond the taking of a created life, but to the selfish disregard for and disobedience to God’s purpose of sex within the confines of marriage.
I also agree with Grudem’s statement that:
With Trump, we will get good policies and character flaws, but with Biden we will get bad policies and character flaws.4
Trump is arrogant, petulant, brash, and vindictive. And he has also been married 3 times and has been unfaithful in his marriages. There are flaws in need of work, but certainly not disqualifying for the role of a senior executive, even the Chief Executive of the United States. History and nations have treated many personally flawed leaders with accolades for their accomplishments, even Biblical leaders like Abraham, Jacob, and David.
But outside of any criticism of his production in almost 50 years in government, Gruden highlights an entirely different set of character flaws that apply to Vice President Biden:
The multiple allegations that Vice President Biden used his government office and influence to enrich members of his own family with millions of dollars from China, Russia, and Ukraine should be of deep concern, because using government power to enrich one’s own family is the consistent characteristic of corrupt leaders in many countries of the world.5
That John Piper did not reference these allegations about Vice President Biden in his article tells me he does not see them as substantive, or that he did not see them at all. Given the recent national media blackout on these allegations, which has just been lifted today to allow further scrutiny after congressional investigation, I suspect the latter is the case.
Either way, I, like Wayne Grudem, have voted for President Trump. But my reasons go back to my 3 Guiding Principles in selecting executive leaders in business and politics: 1) Competence, 2) Fairness, and 3) Goodness (ideally Godliness). Beyond that however, I am also pleased to have been recently informed by Christian sources close to the President that Trump considers himself a “baby Christian” early in “his journey” of following Christ.
Encouraging to know, as we all do really know, that with God there is true hope for any and all of us.
Have you voted?
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40
1 Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin, by John Piper, in Desiring God, October 22, 2020. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/policies-persons-and-paths-to-ruin
2 A Respectful Response to My Friend John Piper About Voting for Trump, by Wayne Grudem, in Christian Post, October 27, 2020. https://www.christianpost.com/voice/a-response-to-my-friend-john-piper-about-voting-for-trump.html