This election cycle has been a wild one, and we’re not even halfway through the primary season. Both parties are seeing broad-based revolts in their bases. The Democrat establishment has done a better job of managing the upheaval, because they did what the Republicans did not: pick one candidate and get behind her. Bernie Sanders would be doing a lot better today if the Democrats had split the vote against him the same way the Republicans have done with Donald Trump, although the candidate they’ve picked has some seminal weaknesses.
As for the Republican establishment, IMHO they deserve where they’re at. Their current efforts are a miserable attempt to shove the “scab labour” out of the nominating process. The more they try to do, the worse it gets.
The way Christians are handling this on, say, social media isn’t much better. The core problem is the idea that there is only one way to “vote Biblically,” which is all-pervasive, although there are variants on how to do this. The Roman Catholics try to put some consistency by telling the faithful that voting for candidates that take certain positions is a mortal sin. I find this a little amusing; there was a time when the Roman Catholic Church didn’t support the idea of the faithful voting at all, at least in certain countries.
Not voting at all brings up something Evangelicals in particular like to forget: the option for Christians or anyone else to choose their leaders is a recent one. In New Testament times and for many years afterwards voting wasn’t an option. Paul and the other apostles didn’t have to waste the believers’ time expounding upon which emperor would be the Biblical choice, something they might know since God used them to write the New Testament. Caesar was there and that was it.
Christianity’s legalisation only thrust an unprepared church into a leadership role. There was no time or impulse to develop the concept of a “Christian commonwealth,” and the result was that Christian emperors didn’t act any differently than their pagan predecessors. That could be a wild ride, as anyone who is familiar with the Arian controversy will attest. Absolute power was exercised arbitrarily. Donald Trump, unpredictable and inconsistent as he can be, is a worthy successor of Constantine, Constantius and Valens.
There was another disconnect as well: Christians didn’t expect their rulers, even when they conquered by the Chi-Rho sign, to be the moral paragons we do now. (The Church didn’t like to admit them to the priesthood when their time in secular rule ended, either.) It took a massacre for Ambrose of Milan to force the hand of the Emperor Theodosius, but in general Christians recorded the less pleasant activities of their rulers with a minimum of moralization, as Gregory of Tours did with the Franks. Islam was no different; the Ottomans broached the strictures of the Qur’an as they pleased.
This carried over even when democratic process took hold, as anyone familiar with the politics of the “Bible Belt” will attest. Some of this was due to ignorance, but a lot of it was due to the attitude that those in power were by necessity both in the world and of it, and that it wasn’t the place for a good Christian.
It’s only been in recent years that Christians have seriously taken up the idea that their rulers toe the line Biblically. How recent depends upon the place, but that attitude, while admirable in one way, defeats the purpose of Christianity in another. It forces us to become too invested (financially, emotionally and otherwise) in the state. In pushing for “righteous” leadership (which would exclude the likes of David) we too become both in and of the world. The question we need to ask ourselves as American Christians before all others is a simple one: if the United States doesn’t make it, will we?
It is my opinion that, as a result of years of mismanagement, obsessively sexualised social policy (which has led to the breakdown of the family,) expensive warmongering, and strangling the economy with regulation while ballooning the debt, this country is headed for a crash. I don’t think that it’s any longer a matter of if, but when. It may result in the dismemberment of the country, much like the Soviet Union broke up in its own bankruptcy a generation ago.
Unfortunately American Christians have had the “God and country” thing drilled into them so unremittingly that they are unprepared for such a event and the many which will take place between now and then. That, I think, is why Evangelicals support the likes of Donald Trump; they don’t have a game plan “after the ball,” to steal a term from our LGBT opponents. And that’s sad, not a cause for anger, as many Christians think.
By “make it” I don’t mean that Christians will be living in the kind of mansions they think they’ll have in heaven, or hit the jackpot on the next money-making scheme. What I mean, however, is that Christians need to realise that they have only one true country, to be free of unnecessary encumbrances, and to stick together when things get tough. God will take care of the rest.
It’s still the question: when this country doesn’t make it, will you? Time to think about it.