Christian Duty and Earthly Citizenship

I am encouraged this week to see others attempting to sort out the dilemma facing thoughtful Christians with this upcoming Presidential election. It is one I struggle with as well. I wrote about it earlier this week in my other blog, but wasn’t able to be as thorough as I wished. I chose to continue here, focusing on reconciling and prioritizing spiritual and earthly citizenship.

There are  blessings and curses in being citizens both of God’s kingdom and the United States of America.We enjoy God’s blessings through salvation and obedience to His son Jesus Christ, and an inordinate amount of freedom under our American form of constitutional republic government. But as we have become more affluent and self-sufficient in this country, we have also become complacent in spiritual and earthly responsibilities, taking our blessings for granted. As a result, our nation has seen a rapid decline in personal freedoms and has descended into a moral sinkhole.The late history of the Roman Empire would read eerily like a current newspaper.

We are constantly told this election is the most important in our lifetime, one that will determine the fate of our country for years, possibly decades or centuries. Then we examine our choices for President: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Leadership tells us we have to choose one or the other. Both parties issue frantic calls to support their candidate, painting the opposition as evil incarnate, bent on destroying the American Way of Life. We are told that to not vote for Trump guarantees that Hillary will be elected, and though not  really conservative, he is at least the ‘lesser of evils’. Even if he turns out to be a horrible President, he would damage the country less than Hillary. Besides, he’s going to stop illegal immigration, bring jobs back to this country and make America great again.

Here’s the dilemma: I won’t vote for Hillary, being familiar with her from several years of living in Arkansas. She supports many things in direct violation of God’s word. But Donald Trump has shown himself to be narcissistic, hateful, greedy and erratic, a man who thinks he has done nothing requiring repentance, who has been married three times, and who has changed his position on every issue no telling how many times. From a purely spiritual point of view, how can I vote for such a person with good conscience? I suggest there is a legitimate third choice: not to vote for either candidate. I already hear the howls of protest, but to remain true to God, I cannot support what I see as evil, lesser though it may be.

Some time ago, I was introduced to a work by David Lipscomb entitled On Civil Government: Its Origin, Mission and Destiny and the Christian’s Relation to It. It is a worthwhile read, although not an easy one, as Lipscomb is very thorough in his arguments, and as a result tends to be scholarly but rather repetitive. He contends that human government was established as man’s rebellion against God’s rule, with scripture references to support his position. He goes on to show that our vote for a candidate represents agreement with the positions of that candidate. Lipscomb’s belief is that as Christians, our relationship to civil governments is limited to payment of taxes, prayer for the authorities, and obedience of laws not in conflict with God’s commands. Nothing more is sanctioned by scripture, as that would signify our agreement with an institution designed to control and punish those in rebellion against God. Today he would  be ostracized as a heretic, or at least accused of being out of touch with current realities. But I find his arguments worthy of serious consideration.

Just this morning, I found a column by Bill Cloud at wnd.com, which can be read here. He is a believer struggling with the unpalatable choice of candidates we have before us. He makes several salient points. After questioning how a professing Christian can support Donald Trump, he likens them to the Hebrews crying out for meat in the wilderness, or pressing Samuel to give them a king so they might be like the surrounding nations. It represents their failure to trust God and their rejection of Him. For those who claim that Trump may be chosen by God, he points out that scripture tells us Nebuchadnezzar was also “God’s man”, chosen to take His people into exile as punishment for their rejection of God’s rule. He ends by stating that our salvation lies in national repentance, not in the choice of the proper candidate or party. We cannot save ourselves from this, and it is a fool’s errand to think we can.

It is time for Christians to consider some tough questions. Do we really believe God is in control of our current circumstances? What if God has decided it is finally time to bring judgment upon our nation for its wickedness, no matter which candidate is elected President? How would that change our lives? We claim to trust God in every and all situations. We also pledge ourselves to be obedient to Him in all things. In the Old Testament, God relented when Israel repented and rededicated itself to Him. I hear 2 Chronicles 7:14 often quoted lately: “if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  Also, Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.” If read carefully, these verses would indicate that if there is any hope of national survival, it consists of my people (i.e., Christians) engaging in prayer and repentance, as well as living holy lives as God intended.