I’m so glad that today is November 4th. I’m so glad that November 8th is so close. I’m so glad that my country’s Presidential election will soon be over. I know that the vitriol will not be over. I know that the disgust and the disdain will not be over. I know that the insane “news” posts from clickbait, sensationalist website will not be over. But at least we’ll know what we’re dealing with. We don’t have to shout at each other any more about who we should vote for, which demon to avoid. I’m ready for that to be over.
I’ll be honest and say that in the last couple of weeks, I’ve allowed myself to imagine either major party scenario. I mean, really contemplate what it might mean. I don’t plan on voting for either major party candidate for president as I think they’ve disqualified themselves. Yes, I understand why each side hates the other and how all of you think I’m really voting for the other major party candidate if I vote for a third party candidate (which is cool, because I apparently now have three votes, one for the Republican, one for the Democrat, one for the person I actually vote for). I’m not here to talk about who you should vote for or why I’m voting for the person that I’m voting for. You can find some other blog about that.
I have real fears about either candidate. I won’t lie about that. Mrs. Clinton has a lot of experience, which I appreciate. But her story doesn’t exactly scream “humble public servant who values the rule of law and public welfare above all else.” I don’t think all of her policies are ultimately in the best interest of the public good, though I think some are. I really do think that there are scary signs for religious freedom swirling around her. The Left dismisses the concerns of Christians on this issue because they think that we are afraid of just having less power. I’m really not worried about that. I’m more concerned with the idea that she seems to have that the public square is a place where religious people don’t get to be religious. They have to leave aside their convictions and ancient beliefs in the cold light of ultra-modernity. I think there’s a real dismissal there of people who disagree with her. Which, by the way, is like half of the country. I don’t think that’s really good for us. So a future with her as President (and, yes, the President who may pick a few Supreme Court Justices) has frightening aspects to it.
To be perfectly frank, I’m even more terrified of Donald Trump. With Hillary Clinton, I feel that I know what I’m getting and I’m prepared to be “the other.” I’m prepared to have things change around a recognizable political opponent. I’m far more scared of Donald Trump, who many I know will consider a political friend. But everything that he has ever been about is consistently opposed to what I think is in the best interest of the public good. He has refused to ever admit he was wrong. He has openly advocated killing the families of terrorists and called himself the pro-life candidate. Religious liberty advocates claim him as their candidate when he spent months saying he’d ban immigration of all Muslims (which he has now conveniently moderated). This is a man that is a major party candidate and takes to Twitter for ridiculous late-night rants and encourages chants to lock up his opponent, intimating violence or misappropriation of power any number of times. He has no experience, no idea what he’s talking about most of the time. And, horrifyingly, people consider him an ally. At least with the other option, the lines will be clear about who is on who’s team.
So. Both options scare me. You can vote for who you like. I’m sure you have your own reasons why one may tip the scales over the other. And that’s cool. You do your thing. I’m just telling you why I’ve been scared by both.
So when I say I’ve been imagining both possibilities, please know I’m saying I’m willfully walking into waking quasi-nightmares. But the truth is this:
One of these people will win. One of these scenarios will begin (even if I’m woefully wrong about either one’s danger). As a person of faith, I am exercising my moral and spiritual imagination to begin asking myself this question:
What if Hillary Clinton is my president and the slow creep of religious exclusion picks up? What then?
What if Donald Trump is president and he drags us into armed conflict or something else awful? What then?
These people who have very little of my respect, one of them will be my president. After President Obama was elected (and then re-elected), I heard many angry voters mutter, “He’s not my president.” The disgust has been palpable.
But I am a Christian. I am not afforded that luxury. I do not get to look at the results of an election and say, “I didn’t vote for them. They’re not my president.” You see, I believe that God is sovereign over the governing of nations (Daniel 2:21, Romans 13). I am called to submit myself to the government over my nation (1 Peter 2:13-17). This does not mean I don’t vote or that I can’t be involved or protest. It just means that… well… they are my president. It matters not whether I approve.
So what will it mean for me when President Clinton or President Trump is inaugurated? Well, in many ways, nothing much will change. My church is still called to my tiny valley, to our community. We are led to believe that doom will befall us all, everywhere if the wrong candidate is chosen. But if we turned off the Internet and our TVs, a great many of us would not notice many changes (which is not to say that changes are not occurring). We are called to our local place and that won’t change.
But what will change is that I am no longer called to view these people as candidates. I’m called to view them as governing authorities. I’m called to pray for their wisdom. If it all possible, I would hope that my people, Christians, would come alongside whoever they are and acts as agents of wisdom and mercy. And yes, I’m called to oppose them (peacefully, legislatively) on whatever they do that strays into immorality and/or foolishness.
And they will be my president. For good or for ill. My president.
I hope our kingdom identity is settled in all of this, though. I hope that we are people that submit themselves to the wisdom of God. I pray that we would not be so foolish as to put our passport identity on par with our spiritual identity. Ideally, the Church and State would work together towards common goals, even if we are two separate entities. Sometimes that relationship is closer than others. We may be moving to a time when that relationship is even more strained and distant. And that’s ok. As long as we are firmly home-d in our identity in the City of God, we will not be overly troubled by the state of the City of Man or our homelessness there.
One helpful reminder is that while God may let our culture, weakened by an absence of real moral compass points, have what it wants (in either candidate), he will always be faithful to his people. He has trained us to pray that this nation would fade away, anyway. Really, what we want is for the kingdom to come. We Christians want to crave that his will be done, his monarchy to be established as the government of every land. We Christians are all meant to pray that America (and every other nation) would fall away. We want it to fade and dissolve in light of the kingdom fully come. And we have a promise that it will arrive one day. Until that day comes, we may respectfully submit to our governing authorities. But our hearts bow to King Jesus. We can be grateful for this election season if for no other reason it can give us this clarity.
There is nothing to fear. I’m not sure who my president will be. But I know who my King will be. He has my allegiance above all others. And I know that he will take care of his people. This election season, we see it better than ever:
There’s no king like King Jesus. There’s no God like our God.