Should Christians vote on Tuesday? Responding to Pastor John Piper
By Don Rosenberg, 11/2/2020
I have spent a good deal of time over this political season trying to figure out why certain groups vote the way they do and why others don’t vote at all.
One such group is Christians who hold a theological view that voting is a worldly process that takes their eyes off their primary goal of bringing people to Jesus Christ.
John Piper is a prominent Christian thinker and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He was pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years and has written more than 50 books, including “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist” and most recently “Coronavirus and Christ.”
On October 22, he wrote an article discussing his vote in November called “Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin – Pondering the Implications of the 2020 Election.” In it, he wonders why Christians view certain sins as “toxic” and other sins as “deadly.”
He lists some “toxic sins” as “unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai)” and “deadly sins” as “baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach.”
He says “Forgiveness through Christ is always possible where there is repentance and childlike trust in Jesus. But where humble repentance is absent, the sins condemn.”
In his article, he describes President Trump as a man who has been sexually immoral, boastful, vulgar and divisive, and as President he is leading our citizens in the same direction. Christians who vote for him because of his support of life and freedom are ignoring the damage to the country caused by a sinful leader.
Piper says “freedom and life are precious. We all want to live and be free to pursue happiness. But if our freedoms, and even our lives, are threatened or taken, the essence of our identity in Christ, the certainty of our everlasting joy with Christ, and the holiness and love for which we have been saved by Christ — none of these is lost with the loss of life and freedom.”
He concludes that “Christians communicate a falsehood to unbelievers (who are also baffled!) when we act as if policies and laws that protect life and freedom are more precious than being a certain kind of person. The church is paying dearly, and will continue to pay, for our communicating this falsehood year after year.”
To Piper, and many Christians, if your freedom or property is taken away, that’s not important, because your reward is not on earth but in Heaven.
He concludes that his personal decision is to vote for neither candidate. His argument is “if someone is a sinner, I can’t vote for him.” A president who sets a bad example and is unrepentant actually harms his country.
Piper is basically saying, since we are all sinners, and all candidates are sinners, he should never vote again.
Piper misses the point that the timetable of repentance is up to God, and he ignores the journey that Donald Trump has been travelling. Trump clearly started his adult live on a morally bankrupt path, but as I have followed his personal as well as political process through his campaign for president, I have noticed a change toward faith. I first saw it with his friendship with Dr. Ben Carson, one of his opponents in the Republican primary. Dr. Carson is a true Christian and was perhaps one of the few people who Trump came in to contact with who didn’t want something from him – money, a job, or recognition. Carson’s grace and faith have been an influence on President Trump ever since and he is the only former opponent he included in his administration.
Mike Pence has also become a strong influence as a Christian and a friend. Remember, the life of a billionaire is full of temptations and is mostly devoid of morality.
As the 2016 campaign moved along I noticed Trump recognizing the hope and trust that his supporters had in him, and saw a deep sense of service developing. His position on pro-life became stronger and more vocal. His reaction to the pastors supporting and praying for him led him to become more aware of the dangers facing the church both domestically and around the world.
If we can agree that both candidates are sinners, and all sins are equal in the eyes of God, does that mean we shouldn’t vote at all? It’s said often in the Bible that God chooses flawed leaders for his purposes and that Christians, while focusing on bringing people to Christ and keeping their eyes on the afterlife, should also participate in their society.
In that case, the Christian choice this Election Day is crystal clear. Yes, Trump is a flawed man, and is boastful and rude, but he has already done more than any politician for the benefit of all citizens in this country, not just Christians.
The alternative is far worse. Piper lists the Democrats’ sins as “baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach.” If your worldly aim is to bring people to Christ, then a political party that limits free speech and free assembly and is openly hostile to religion is one you should oppose.