Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, like many past Republican presidential candidates, have been courting the “evangelical vote” in preparation for the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary. I’ve had a bit of fun on Twitter posting my reaction to Trump’s recent declaration (clearly calculated to attract evangelical voters) of his pro-life position by tweeting this:
Okay, it was catty. But please don’t pretend it didn’t amuse you. But the fact remains that I question The Donald’s sincerity on this issue, and strongly suspect his 2011 shift on this issue comes from a need to influence evangelicals to carry him to the White House. He and Cruz both understand the power of the Religious Right.
Many evangelicals also understand their political power, and they all too frequently buy into the false notion that we can usher in Christ’s kingdom through the ballot box. Even though I generally join them in voting for conservative candidates and measures, however, I have no illusions that political action can bring about a Christian society. In fact, I don’t even think it should.
I base my reservations on more Scriptures than I have time to examine today, but I’d like to mention just one passage for consideration. The apostle John’s narration of the Lord’s trial before Pilate offers insight into the responsibilities of His servants to reform secular society.
33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” ~~John 18:33-37 (ESV)
Now, obviously this passage is more descriptive than prescriptive, but I believe it does reveal two important points. First of all, Jesus made it clear that His kingdom has nothing to do with this present world. His purpose centered on bringing the truth to His elect, not to demolish the Roman Empire that Pilate depended on for his position. Jesus could have mobilized twelve legions of angels to fight for Him (Matthew 26:53) if He had wanted to establish theocratic rule.
Secondly, this passage underscores His sovereignty. He had a purpose in delaying the establishment of His kingdom. And He still delays it. But that delay doesn’t mean that He wants His Church to use political muscle, nor does it mean that He will base His kingdom in Washington D.C. What arrogance to suppose that we have a mandate to make America a Christian nation.
Sure, we should vote in ways that reflect Biblical values, but we shouldn’t expect any earthly government to bring about the kingdom of God. All human leaders will disappoint us because they’re human and therefore riddled with sin. When we vote, let’s remember that point.