Dear Church in America,
This letter is part one of three.
I thought about writing this letter long before I began scribbling it down during church on Sunday. Then, I spent just as much time shuffling paragraphs and rewording sentences as I did thinking about this letter. I hope the time I spent crafting this letter reflects the level of thought and concern I have put into this message.
Although the 2016 presidential election is the central event of this letter, I am not talking about politics. Rather, I speak directly to the Church and address how evangelical Christians’ conservative voting trends have misrepresented the Gospel. What the election has revealed should cause us to weep and repent.
I cried after the election, which surprised me. There were several reasons for my tears, but I will only focus on one. Christians did what I feared we would do: in large numbers, we sacrificed our values by supporting, many of us openly and enthusiastically, a presidential candidate whose actions and words represent the exact opposite of love, which is the epitome of the Gospel.
I expected many of us to vote for Donald Trump because the Republican ticket shelters views about abortion and marriage that are upheld by the Bible. I also knew that many of us would overlook the qualities that make Donald Trump a poor presidential candidate, such as his inability to control his words and tweets (James 3:1-12), and sheer lack of political experience. I knew we would overlook the threat he is to women, people of color, immigrants (particularly those from Mexico and majority Muslim nations), Jewish people, and the disabled. If Donald Trump overtly does and says the exact opposite of the Gospel, how can we believe that he genuinely supports the conservative values he advertised?
I did not expect for evangelical Christians to vote for him in mass. Or, perhaps I knew this, and I was to afraid to face the reality that even though a particular evil that we have not encountered in our recent memory clearly voiced its views from national stages, we chose to befriend it because it promised a conservative Supreme Court justice, the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade, and a return to the biblical foundations of marriage. Unfortunately, evil does not support biblical truths but only attracts us with a facade of agreeable promises, and we align accordingly. Once we align, we cannot turn back.
Isaiah 5:20 cautions against following evil that is masked as good. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Scripture also states that even the elect will be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Have we been deceived? I believe many of us were.
When the outside world reads that 80 percent (4/5) of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump, they are confused. They wonder how Christians could sacrifice their values to support their values by voting for a candidate who is such a radical departure from the basics of the Christian faith, and whose words and actions are a direct assault on the gender, phenotype, and nationality of fellow church goers and the people Christians are called to serve.
From the outside, they see a Church that latched on to the promise of conservative Supreme Court justices, a reversal of Roe v. Wade, and a return to a biblical basis for marriage by sacrificing their brothers and sisters in Christ who are people of color, immigrants, Jewish, women, and/or disabled. When our observers integrate other factors into the mix, such as his peculiar and largely unknown relationship with Vladimir Putin, lack of experience, and a history of unsavory marriages, they wonder if we have a selective Gospel. When examining his life, his words, and his actions, Donald Trump does not support life or family, and he does not reflect Christ or the values we uphold.
It is likely that I would not write this letter if Donald Trump was a typical presidential candidate who followed the unspoken protocol that we are familiar with that maintains some level of peace: don’t insult people of color, eliminate extremist views from your words and your tweets, don’t openly state or even imply that you have friendly ties with Vladimir Putin, don’t harass women, and hide your dirt. Because Donald Trump is such an extreme departure from the norm, we should have stopped and asked the Lord about the consequences of voting for Donald Trump before we did.
Because our observers know that we are contributors, we cannot redeem ourselves by stating that we had no way of knowing how he would lead the country when his actions and words offend our values. In reality, he never hid his character from us, and he has begun to do what he clearly promised he would do.
Therefore, we have compromised our voice of wisdom in the chaotic remains of a tumultuous election, and the unprecedented protests and immigrant restrictions that followed. We voted for our rights as Christians that were advocated by a candidate who obviously is not for Christ. What an epic trade we have made: we have trusted the untrustworthy to support our beliefs rather than flee from evil.
We can redeem our values and our message of Christ’s ability to restore where there is disorder and strife, but this reclamation requires several things: repentance to God for misrepresenting Him and a trade of our party loyalties that have failed us for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, each of us must pray and ask the Lord what He would have us say and do during these times–even if those words and actions cause our friends, families, and fellow church members to ridicule us. Once we are confident we have heard Him, we must move forward in strength and courage (Jeremiah 1), come what may.