Should one’s position on Presidential choice be a test of Christian faithfulness?

There is rising criticism against ‘evangelicalism’ for their alleged, unqualified support of the presidency of Donald Trump. The criticism often paints a sweeping portrait that is much too difficult to substantiate both because of the wide tent of ‘evangelicalism’ and the broad and debated definition of ‘who is an evangelical?’ The same difficultly applies to the word ‘Christian.’

It is common knowledge, that in 2016 many ‘Christians’ voted for Donald Trump believing him to be the best of three possible choices. They could have abstained from voting at all; they could have voted for Hillary Clinton, and some did; or, as many did, they could have voted for Donald Trump. Many did not take the first choice, though there may be a scenario where they would. Many did not vote for Hillary Clinton, nor for Barak Obama in either of their elections, because their moral stances on abortion, sexuality, and marriage were so clearly contrary to the Bible. Many voted for Trump, not only because he had an evangelical vice-president, but because his verbal commitments were anti-abortion, pro-family as defined by Scripture, and to our First Amendment rights of religious freedom.  Hopefully, Christians did not vote for Trump because they saw him as the savior of an American theocracy where biblical morality would be imposed by law and, thereby, a “Christian Nation” would be established.  Hopefully, they did not vote for Trump because they saw him as a model of Christian character and morality. God forbid, that Christians ever seek to emulate or imitate politicians or other secular leaders, as models of Christian spirituality and morality, rather than look to Christ and those in the church of Christ who imitate Christ and follow the example of the Apostle Paul.

I have Christian friends who voted for Obama and Hillary. Some of those friends, by their own admission, have capitulated to the pressure of the culture they live in and no longer see issues of abortion, sexuality, and marriage as biblical.  I have other Christian friends who also voted for Obama and Hillary and, though they still hold a biblical position on abortion, sexuality, and marriage, they see others issues as of equal or greater moral importance, such as capitalism, immigration, care of the environment, social justice, etc.

I pray for and challenge my first group of Christian friends who have succumbed to culture pressure, not because of whom they voted for, but because they’ve abandoned the authority of Scripture in issues of life, sexuality, and marriage.

I pray for and, when possible and helpful, I engage my other Christian friends on those issues that they see of equal or greater importance. Certainly, the Bible speaks about economics, immigration, care of the environment, and social justice. Personally, when it comes to economics, I happen to believe in limited government, personal property rights and a free market; I am against the governmental practice of confiscating wealth through taxation and redistributing that wealth through social programs. This position come from principles based on my understanding of Scripture. It is not a test of orthodoxy. If it’s helpful and not acrimonious, I can discuss this issue with my Christian friends who may tend more to socialism or other economic theories. I can also discuss immigration, care of the environment, social justice, etc. Personally, I see all of the above as the kind of debatable issues that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14.  Sadly, for some of my Christian friends, their stance on these ‘debatable’ issues is for them and others clearly the only biblical stance. They see them not only as important as abortion, sexuality, and marriage, but perhaps more important.

For Christians who support and promote and condone a morality that is contrary to Scripture, I pray for them and honestly question how they can affirm Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, while rejecting the clear teaching of Scripture. Perhaps many have followed the errant path of Tony Campolo, who calls himself a red-letter Christian, accepting the teachings of Jesus, while not bowing to the authority of all of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

For Christians who hold to a biblical morality and the authority of Scripture, I continue to enjoy their fellowship, agreeing to disagree on debatable matters, but enjoying Christian unity in the gospel of Christ and the authority of Scripture.

Unfortunately, there is a greater challenge with Christians who have raised their view of what I call debatable issues to a test of Christian faithfulness. They judge the credibility of one’s profession of faith based on their views of economics, immigration, care of the environment, social justice, etc. I strongly disagree with them, but say with Paul, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” and “Everyone of us must give an account of himself to God.”

I do not know for whom I will vote in the 2020 election or if I will vote at all. My commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture has remained the same through Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, since I became a follower of Christ in 1970.  No president has ever given me higher hope or deeper despair in everyday life or about the future. Jesus Christ remains my greatest treasure and deepest delight.

Philippians 3:20 But  our citizenship is in heaven, and from it weawait a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. 4:1Therefore, my brothers,whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

SSA or Homosexuality – Words are Important

Everyone by fallen nature is born with the capacity for both the distortion and perversion of natural desire.  Depraved human nature gives the capacity for distortion and perversion; nurture affects how that capacity works out in our desires and actions.

God gave us His inspired words and preserved them for us over thousands of years. This should tell us that the choice of words is important. The inspired biblical writers were guided to choose specific words to speak about morality, sexuality, and sin.  The biblical language may be offensive and lack political correctness, yet it is the language that God has given us. Our culture and even some in the evangelical world often use language that it imprecise. The imprecise use of words may be accidental or intentional, yet either way it is confusing and misleading.

An example of this is the now popular designation of SSA – Same Sex Attraction. On the surface the phrase itself seems innocent. Everyone has same sex attractions. Men love other men and women love other women in creational and appropriate, God-honoring ways. We are created and commanded to love one another, i.e. we are created and commanded to have SSA.

However beneath the surface, SSA is not so innocent. The use of SSA is a deceptive masking of what the Word of God calls homosexuality. It is an attempt to soften and to normalize homosexual desires.

SSA is not the creational, God-honoring love that we have for those of the same sex, it is a twisted same sex sexual desire. When evangelicals talk about SSA, they want to distance it from homosexuality. When the Bible speaks of homosexuality, there is no softness, gentleness, or kindness. It is always sin. It is always a perversion of God’s creational design. It is always pernicious. It is always under God’s judgment. Yet, it is redeemable, i.e. one can be forgiven, delivered, and transformed.

Homosexuality is not simply a perverse sexual act; it is a perverse sexual desire behind that act. We repent not only of our sinful  actions but also of the impurity of our minds and desires.

In God’s creational design, heterosexual sexual desire is natural. The entrance of sin distorts this desire in different ways.

Sin can make natural, heterosexual, sexual desire an idol that will be satisfied in ways other than God’s intended design. God’s design is that natural sexual desire be satisfied in a monogamous, heterosexual covenant marriage.

Sin can also pervert the natural desire in unnatural ways, such as homosexuality or bestiality.

Everyone by fallen nature is born with the capacity for both the distortion and perversion of natural desire.  Depraved human nature gives the capacity for distortion and perversion; nurture affects how that capacity works out in our desires and actions.

When the gospel comes to us and makes us new in Christ, though the capacity for sin yet exists, the power of that capacity for sin is broken. Those who are new in Christ now see that both the distortion and perversion of sexual desire is sin – sin for which Christ died and sin from which Christ rescues us. As we are transformed into the image of Christ, new desires for godly sexual relationships are nurtured. As a new creation in Christ, we fight (mortify) the distorted and perverted desires of the flesh. We don’t excuse them, or explain them, or justify them. We kill them by the Spirit and the Word without mercy and without restraint. We see as evil and pernicious every distorted impulse to satisfy creational desire outside of a monogamous, heterosexual, covenant marriage relationship.  We see as evil and pernicious every perverted homosexual impulse.

As we claim our new identity in Christ and wage war against all that contradicts that new identity, we demonstrate that, indeed, we are the people of God.

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.  4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (1 Jn. 3:1-6 ESV)