Throughout this election season I have watched Christians who are far smarter and godlier than I land on every conceivable side of the issue of who to vote for as POTUS. (A sample: Trump, Trump, Clinton, neither.) I say this not to relativize away the whole issue, as though it doesn’t matter or as though there is no right answer. It does matter, and I do think there is a most preferable choice. I myself voted for neither of the two major candidates and have commended that view on a handful of occasions in the past few months via social media. And to be sure, there are certain clear principles that should be insisted upon: e.g., abortion is an egregious evil that must be vigorously opposed, and deceit, hubris, sexual immorality, malice, and obscene talk are not just flawed character traits, but sins on account of which God’s wrath is coming (Col 3:5–10). No Christian who voted for either major candidate should be thrilled about the sort of person they elected. They ought to agree that they did so to a large extent while holding their nose.
Yet I think we must acknowledge that there is a certain level of complexity to the issue. Not everyone voted for Trump for the same reason. Not everyone voted for Hillary for the same reason. Not everyone voted for neither of them for the same reason. There are better and worse reasons for any of these courses of action. In the end, each of us is duty-bound to do what we think pleases God and what we think is right. To go against conscience, even when it misfires, is a sin (Rom 14:23).
This presents us with a challenge: regardless of who wins tonight, we the Church must learn to “bear with one another in love” (Eph 4:2); must clothe ourselves “with compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12); must “live in harmony with one another” (Rom 12:16). It is a high calling, and on the face of it, it seems impossible. I can see it now: Christians who voted for Trump reach the conclusion that the others just don’t care enough about abortion. Christians who voted for Hillary view those who voted for Trump as short-sighted whitewashers of moral evil and of his dangerous unpredictability. Those who supported the losing candidate come to resent Christians who voted third party for irresponsibly “throwing their vote away.” And all the while the Christians who voted for neither candidate smugly view themselves as the pure and unstained ones in the midst of a people with polluted garments.
What partnership has a Christian who voted for Hillary with a Christian who voted for Trump? And what accord has a Christian who voted third-party with either?
Answer: “indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
Unity is something we can pursue because unity is something we already have in Christ. He has made us one (Eph 2:11–22). Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body (1 Cor 10:17), and we all drink of the same spiritual drink (1 Cor 10:4). One Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph 4:5–6). One King.
During this post-election season, “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that will not be shaken” (Heb 12:28). That kingdom will break in pieces all other kingdoms and bring them to an end, and itself shall stand forever (Dan 2:44). In that gratitude and confident hope, I think we will learn to love one another—even those we disagree with, and even those who voted differently than ourselves.
Image source: Justin Grimes via Flickr