The Dilemma of Voting for Trump or Biden
Election day is tomorrow. Many have already voted, and most people who are waiting to vote on Tuesday also know who they will vote for. But for some people, the choice isn't an easy one. They look at Trump's character and the fact that Biden stands for things that go against what the Bible says, and they see it as a dilemma. One such person who voiced his frustration with both candidates is John Piper.
I recently read his October 22 article about why he couldn't vote for either presidential candidate and Wayne Grudem's response to Piper. Piper writes, "I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality...unrepentant boastfulness...unrepentant vulgarity...unrepentant factiousness, and the like to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly." He goes on to talk about how both bad character and unbiblical policies can be deadly. Grudem respectfully disagrees and says, "Piper's argument fails to recognize that people can decide not to imitate the sins of a leader, but they cannot do that with laws. Laws require obedience...Americans are perfectly free to say, "Trump's boastfulness offends me, and I don't want to act that way myself." Grudem's argument centers around the fact that in an election, we base our vote on policies, not primarily the character of the candidate.
Piper compares King Jeroboam to our choices for president (mainly Trump) in this election. He hones in on the sins of Trump and then writes, "There is a character connection between rulers and subjects. When the Bible describes a king by saying, “He sinned and made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16), it does not mean he twisted their arm. It means his influence shaped the people." Grudem responds with, "There is a difference between the personal influence of a leader’s example, which may be rejected, and laws that compel obedience."
There is so much more in these articles. I would encourage you to read what both Piper and Grudem have to say on this matter if you are struggling with voting for either candidate or are simply interested in knowing the perspective of these two godly men. I will focus on how, in my opinion, the Bible portrays King Jeroboam as more along the lines of what we will get if Biden becomes president than if Trump does. When I read the story of Jeroboam's rule, I don't see the character connection between rulers and subjects as Piper does. That's not to say the character of a leader never influences others. But in this story, I see that it's the reforms Jeroboam makes that affect Israel's worship and cause them to sin. They are not influenced by the king's character as much as they are by the new places he sets up for worship (at Bethel and Dan) and the golden calves he makes and puts in these new places.
Jeroboam was the first king in the newly established northern kingdom after Israel and Judah were divided into two kingdoms. Before the kingdom divided, everyone worshiped in Jerusalem. Rehoboam was the king of Judah, and he had made everything even harder for the people than had his father, Solomon when he was king. Jeroboam became the spokesman for the people who wanted the king to lighten their load. When Rehoboam wouldn't listen, the northern tribes revolted and made Jeroboam their king, and the kingdom divided. But Jeroboam was not confident his kingdom would stand. Listen to his reasoning: "Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead." So on his counselors' advice, the king made two golden calves and told the people he was going to make it more convenient for them to worship nearby. He placed the calves at both ends of Israel's kingdom and told the people, "Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!" (1 Kings 12:26-30)
What Jeroboam did is closer to having a newly elected president and his party make new laws. If Biden wins and our laws change to reflect the liberal agenda, then bakers will be forced to bake cakes for LBGTQ persons, and businesses will be forced to include abortion coverage for their employees. You could then say, in a sense, that Biden will have caused these Christians to sin. What Jeroboam did was wrong, and that's why God held him responsible. Since Trump does not want to take away our religious freedoms, Christians won't be forced to go against their religious convictions. Could Israel have refused to go along with what Jeroboam said? I'm pretty sure they could have, but they didn't. It's possible they didn't realize they were doing anything wrong because they trusted Jeroboam not to lead them astray. But that's not the point I'm making. Today, some Christians would refuse to go along with new laws that forced them to violate their convictions. They would be willing to accept whatever the consequences were. And in that sense, I can't entirely agree with what Wayne Grudem says about not being free to disobey laws.
I respect both perspectives of John Piper and Wayne Grudem. I personally don't want to lose my religious freedoms, so I was not struggling with who I would vote for. But what Piper said did make me think. And knowing I could choose to disobey man's law if it violated God's law led me to ask myself if I shouldn't be more concerned about the character of the one I'm voting for. Grudem reminds us that both candidates have character flaws, and "Political policies are not, in general, more important than personal character, but they are the primary factor to consider in a political election." In the end, each person must decide for themselves, and as believers in Jesus Christ, we must be respectful of those who differ from us in how they vote.