I have not hidden the fact from the beginning that I am not a supporter of Donald Trump. Nor have I concealed my displeasure and disappointment in those Christians who endorse or make a case for supporting Trump. As a result of my position, I have been scolded and castigated, corrected and condemned by Christians who insist that we need to hold our noses and vote for Trump because the alternative is unthinkable: Hillary Clinton in the White House. If that happens, I am told, we will lose our first and second amendment rights, possibly our churches’ and schools’ non-profit statuses, our security from terrorism, and our hard-earned money as it’s taxed away from us.
However, I have repeatedly and consistently urged Christians to resist the monstrous “ethic” of “the lesser of two evils” in the name of pragmatic expediency. Recently a well-known evangelical leader who has rejected this take on the ethical dilemma has characterized Trump not as an “evil” choice, but merely as a “flawed” choice. And, it is rightly urged, every vote is a vote for a flawed individual. Even granting this estimation of Trump as “flawed,” this same teacher has characterized the presidential nominee as “egotistical, bombastic, and brash” as well as insulting and vindictive. These are descriptions from someone urging that support for Trump is a morally acceptable alternative to the apparently unparalleled evil option of Clinton.
I reject this reasoning because Trump is a classic example of what the Bible calls a “scoffer.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines “scoffing” as “the manifestation of contempt by insulting words or actions; it combines bitterness with ridicule” (pg. 2703). If Trump doesn’t fit the bill as a “scoffer,” then nobody does. His own supporters have described him with these terms. And Trump is not just a flawed guy marred by occasional bouts of scoffing…as we all are. He is a scoffer. He’s not a man who occasionally blurts out a sarcastic, impolite, or grumpy comment…as we all do. He is scoffing incarnate.
This alone should rule him out as a candidate worthy of a single Christian vote. A Christian has pledged allegiance first and foremost to trusting God and living by His standards of virtue and wisdom. And God’s Word is clear regarding the scoffer and our response to him. Consider these proverbs:
“‘Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.”
“A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.”
“Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.”
“The scoffer is an abomination to mankind.”
“Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.”
Scripture uses unflattering colors when painting its picture of the scoffer: arrogant, haughty, proud, incorrigible, foolish, quarrelsome, abusive, abominable, and dangerous. This is the biblical image of the scoffer. So tell me: how can supporting a scoffer for the highest office in the United States possibly be a wise, virtuous, righteous action? Can Christ-followers, for the sake of political expediency, set aside their obligation to trust, obey, and imitate Christ, who is wisdom and righteousness incarnate? Clearly not. In fact, the paradigm-setting opening verse of the book of Psalms draws a line in the sand and beckons each of us not to walk, stand, or sit on the wrong side:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers.”
But I’m told repeatedly and forcefully that the cost for trust and obedience is just too great in this particular election. After all, we could lose our non-profit status . . . our religious rights . . . our guns . . . even our livelihoods! None of which we are called to defend in exchange for the imitation of Christ. In fact, aren’t we called to surrender our very lives to follow Christ, to walk in the Spirit, and to exhibit the fruit of righteousness and wisdom?
The Bible is replete with examples of God’s people failing to trust God in dire political, social, and economic circumstances and turning instead to wicked human leaders who exhibit strength and promise protection and deliverance. Consider the warning of Isaiah 31:1—
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
or consult the LORD!”
Today it seems to me that numerous Christians—including respected pastors, teachers, and theologians—are looking at the social, cultural, moral, and political dangers gathering on the horizon with fear and trembling. Then, instead of looking to the Holy One of Israel, they are going “down to Egypt,” urging support of “very strong” leaders. In so doing, they appear to me to be implicitly exchanging their trust and obedience to the Lord for the political equivalent of horses, chariots, and horsemen.
As Christians, we must turn away from both the wicked as well as the scoffer. We must confess through our words and deeds our faith in and obedience to the Righteous and Wise One. We must do the right thing regardless of the cost, remembering that righteousness is always costly. And we must never forget that whether Trump or Clinton is in the White House next year, Christ is at the right hand of the Father.
What if God is presenting His people today with an Abrahamic test of their trust and obedience? What if we’re being presented with two wicked choices to test whether we will put righteousness and wisdom first—even in light of real threats to our freedom and to our way of life? God will take care of those things. He’s able to come to our aid and deliver us from even this fiery furnace (Dan. 3:17).
And even if He doesn’t, I will not exchange the Wisdom of God for the scoffer.