There is a term that I have learned studying my Masters degree and doctoral studies in Psychology that is known as cognitive dissonance, which is described as a conflict between what one believes, and what one actually does. When one feels this inner conflict within themselves one attempts to rationalize, or minimize, in an effort to mitigate the internal struggle within them. A website defines cognitive dissonance in this manner:
Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance.
McLeod, S. A. (2014). Cognitive Dissonance. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html
No one feels cognitive dissonance more than those who are Evangelicals and are pondering whether they should vote for Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump in November. Those who are Christians have a high moral standard because of the word of God. Yet, these same believers who have a high standard find themselves in a dilemma: Go against their moral convictions and vote for a “flawed” man, or keep the moral standard high and avoid supporting the candidate by voting third party, or write-in, and possibly sealing the presidency for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Presidrntial nominee. Because of this dilemma cognitive dissonance is at an all time high for those who belong to the body of Christ.
It is in this manner that I turn my attention to an article written by professor, shepherd, and theologian, Dr. Wayne Grudem.
First, let me express although I do not know this gentleman personally I have the utmost respect for Dr. Grudem. He has written a comprehensive and thorough work on systematic theology. He has taught for over 30 years on the subjects of Christian ethics and theology. He is highly respected from other theologians like John Piper, and J.I. Packer. He is even recognized among the Christian Hip-Hop community from artists like Shai Linne. He is a studied man who loves the Lord, and has a high respect for the word of God.
However I am convinced that when it comes to this particular blog he has written about voting for Donald Trump, and it being a morally right choice, I would have to respectfully disagree.
First, Dr. Grudem in his blog attempts to apply Jeremiah 29:7, to prove voting for Donald Trump would be a good moral choice for America when he writes:
Should Christians even try to influence elections at all? Yes, definitely. The apostle Peter says Christians are “exiles” on this earth (1 Peter 1:1). Therefore I take seriously the prophet Jeremiah’s exhortation to the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon:
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
By way of modern application, I think Christians today have a similar obligation to vote in such a way that will “seek the welfare” of the United States. Therefore the one overriding question to ask is this: Which vote is most likely to bring the best results for the nation?
Dr. Wayne Grudem is right to point out that Jeremiah’s exhortation is for the Jewish people living in Babylon, but the modern application he gives is misguided. For example, the Jews at this time were held captive by a maniacal dictator. In other words they were living against their will in a foreign land not their own, due to the judgement of God on the nation of Israel, which God used to punish Israel due to their idolatry. God was not calling Israel to uprise and conqueror this land, but to be a peaceful and prayerful people, petitioning the Lord seeking the welfare of the land and its people that God used to enslave them under a harsh and cruel ruler.
See how this does not fit Dr. Grudem’s explanation? In this world we are exiles (because we worship Jesus in a world that is in darkness and follows the devil, not because we have been hauled off to a foreign land due to our sin). However we do not live in anything like the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar in the United States. Christians in America are not enslaved and taken to a foreign land, due to the judgment of God for our collective idolatry. The Babylonians did not have a Constitutional Republic voting system (and even if Babylon did have some type of voting system, the Jews were considered a conquerored people. They would not have any collective rights to vote in the land of Babylon because they were subjects). The modern application in this verse is: Believers in Christ are to pray and live at peace with all men, in all nations, no matter where they live, under what government they live, especially if they live in a tyrannical country. The practice of voting, or voting for the sake of the welfare of the country, is nowhere to be found in this text.
Second, Dr. Wayne Grudem admits that Donald Trump is an abrasive and inconsiderate man when he writes:
He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.
Scripture warns of such men like these in the book of Proverbs. Here are just five below:
8 The wise of heart will receive commands, But a babbling fool will be ruined. (Prov. 10:8; NASB).
18 He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool. (Prov. 10:18; NASB).
16 A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. (Prov. 12:16; NASB).
16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. (Prov. 14:16; NASB).
2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly. (Prov. 15:2; NASB).
Are not just these five verses indicative of Donald Trump’s “bombastic, and egotistical” behavior? There are many other warnings found in the book of Proverbs that tell us about the danger of foolish behavior and folly. For Dr. Grudem to give the reader a reason why it is a good moral choice to vote for Donald Trump by using Jeremiah 29:7, neglecting the many exhortations found in the Book of Proverbs, and other places in Sacred Scripture concerning foolish men and foolish behavior, is what I find very troubling.
Thirdly, Dr. Grudem did mention many of the beneficial policies Donald Trump was for in an attempt to show that Donald Trump would most likely be the best choice for the country. Yet just observing his point I am convinced there are some problems with Dr. Wayne Grudem’s argument concerning voting for Donald Trump and how it is a good moral choice. They are listed below:
- Should a believer in Christ place their vote behind a man who supports Planned Parenthood who says “Does very, very good work, except abortions.” When Planned Parenthood’s creator was a racist who desired to destroy the minority population because the creator of Planned Parenthood believed minorites were inferior? Is this not a good moral issue for Christians to examine when thinking about voting for Donald Trump?
- Should a believer in Christ Jesus place their vote behind a man that has as one of his businesses an escort service? Is this not a good moral issue for Christians to consider when contemplating voting for Donald Trump?
- Should a believer support a man, who claims to be a Presbyterian, and insulted Russell Moore, who is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, calling him “A terrible representative of Evangelicals and a nasty guy with no heart?” Is this not a moral issue for Christians to consider when pondering about voting for Donald Trump?
- Should a believer support a man who has on his “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board,” those who believe, teach, and confess false doctrine? Whose spiritual adviser is Paula White, a woman who teaches you are a little deity, and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, whom teach anything but historic Christian Orthodoxy. Is this also not a moral issue for Christians to be pensive about when taking into account voting for Donald Trump?
Now to balance the scales, I am not advocating for Hillary Clinton either. She is truly a very flawed candidate, and in my estimation with all of the things she has done, she deserves to be prison, and not running as the Democratic Presidential nominee. However, no one in Christianity is saying that God has anointed Hillary Clinton to usher in the Second Return of Christ. No one is trying to discover parallels to King Cyrus in the Scriptures to defend Hillary Clinton. No one who claims to be Christian is saying that Hillary Clinton, being a flawed candidate herself, says she has the so-called “Elijah” and “Cyrus” anointing. Evangelical Christians due to a high amount of cognitive dissonance, are bending over backwards to look for any excuse in their minds to vote for Donald Trump, in an effort to calm their cognitive dissonance. I am convinced Dr. Wayne Grudem’s article is an attempt to accomplish this objective.
Whomever you vote for is your choice (and by the way you are saved by the forgiveness of Christ on the cross, not by who you vote for in the upcoming election). However we must not take Scriptures out of context, make things up out of thin air, or water down the Sacred text in an attempt justify the unjustifiable, thereby trying to silence the internal struggle within us. We may calm our cognitive dissonance by doing this, but in the end we may do violence to God’s Holy and inerrant word in the process.
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!