In the weeks leading up to the Presidential election of 2016, I found myself increasingly troubled with the choice of available candidates. In fact, I railed, fairly regularly, against both candidates. I saw it as a particular judgment of God that we had to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Honestly, I thought of it as David’s choice between seven years of famine, three months of fleeing before their enemies, and three days of pestilence. Did I want to vote for arsenic or cyanide? I saw Donald Trump as ungodly, uncouth, unscrupulous, unproven, and unreliable.
I held onto a quote from Douglas Wilson in the months leading up to the election, in which he expressed my exact sentiment:
But if Trump is somehow elected, he will let down those who put him there. He has all the sturdiness of a chocolate eclair. He has the core values of a wet napkin on the counter. He has the reliability of a lost carnival balloon. He has the gravitas of Miss Piggy.Douglas Wilson, Blog and Mablog “Recklessness on the Trumpoline”
One month before the 2016 election, I preached this to my church:
And here is my counsel to you: Take your eyes off the man and look to the Lord. We are fools to think that we are saved by Trump or ruined by Hillary. We are in God’s hands. If we are ruined, it is our own sin that will ruin us, and not Hillary. If we are saved, it will be by the mercy of God alone through Christ alone. We have just one Savior, and His name certainly is not Donald Trump. God raises up kings and puts down kings. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in men. Especially a con-man.
We need to trust God with this election, and stop believing the false narrative being spun by the conservative talking heads. We are in God’s hands, not in Hillary’s, not in Trump’s, not in the Never Trumpers or the Never Hillary/Never Trumpers – we are in God’s hands. When the election is finished, the person God has chosen to lead us will be leading us. If that person turns out to be far better than we thought, it will not be because we were wrong in our assessment of their character. It will be by the mercy of God. We will not say that we were wrong about the candidates – they really are very bad. We will say that God was good, and we will praise Him.
I am guessing that your reasons for opposing Trump include some variation on my original opposition to him. Four years later, he is the same brash, crass, coarse, and sometimes unscrupulous man we objected to in 2016. I saw the choice between Hillary and Trump as a particular sign of God’s judgment on our nation, and I could not, in good conscience, support Trump just because he was the Republican candidate.
Four years later, I hope you can at least acknowledge that we were wrong about Trump on a few points. Was he ungodly? Not much change there. Was he uncouth? Yeppers. Was he unscrupulous? Still at times. Was he unproven? Maybe then. NOT NOW! Was he unreliable? Turns out, he has been the most careful to keep his promises of any President in modern history. Though I still do not consider Trump to be a principled conservative, he has done more to reestablish conservative values than any of the “principled conservatives” we have seen in the past several decades. He has been remarkably consistent and true to his word. I hope you can at least acknowledge that Trump has been much better than we deserved and better than expected.
I recognize that Trump has some glaring faults, and I don’t fault you for objecting to him. We live in a fallen world; we shouldn’t be surprised that we have fallen men as candidates.
About eight months before the 2016 election, I made this argument in a sermon:
Sometimes, God seems to have a special delight in raising up men that nobody would have expected, and putting them in a position to make the greatest difference for His own sake. We do get this idea that God has to work through a certain kind of man – with the haircut and tone of a Bob Jones evangelist. Politically, we have long thought that we needed to find the next Reagan. And then, along comes God and says, “Stop looking for that. I’ve got my man.”
When it comes to Presidential politics, we have grown accustomed to a certain kind of candidate. If you look back over the years since Reagan, every Republican candidate has fit into a specific mold – moderately conservative, publicly affirming the things we value, with a certain kind of polish that we consider “Presidential.” Every single candidate has said all the right things and sold us down the river.
If Donald Trump has any quality that should recommend him to us all, it is just this: he stands like a rock. He does what he says he will do. Trump is a fighter, a rawboned, bare-fisted, swashbuckling warrior. And most importantly, he fights for us. He fights against all the right people, and he fights for all the right people. It seems to me that Christians should support a man who is laying it all on the line for us.
You might still be suspicious of Trump. You might suspect that this is still all about him, that given a chance, he will throw us out in the street. And maybe he will. Who can say? Then again, Christians have grown relatively accustomed to holding their nose and voting for a candidate who we knew would never stand up for us. But hey, at least they would seem “Presidential” when they betrayed us.
If we were okay with voting for nice-guy candidates we knew to be spineless wonders, why would we reject a candidate we know will fight for us? We shouldn’t let our suspicions or mistrust keep us from supporting a guy who so far has proven better than his word.
These are messy times and call for a messy solution. I wouldn’t argue for being a Samson, but the times do seem to call for a Samson. And Donald Trump is a modern-day Samson.
Christians can be a prudish bunch. We want our deliverers to have fundamentalist haircuts, a salvation testimony, and a sparkly clean record – and we want them to qualify for Mr. Congeniality every year. This I know: God put Donald Trump in the White House. Let’s don’t be so faithless (or prudish) that we think God can’t bring deliverance through such a man as this.
For all our admiration of General George Patton, he would have been a less than savory guy to know. He was a man for his time. Trump is a man for ours. We’ve had enough Mitt Romney’s and (frankly) Ted Cruz’s — and I say that as one who supported Ted Cruz. Men who spit-shined their image and polished up a resume so they could be “uniquely qualified” to be President. But, when it came down to it, men who preferred to act like gentlemen than to fight. When one goes to war with the Philistines, it doesn’t hurt to have a Samson on your side – hair and all.
God has given us a small deliverance, and I think we should vote to continue that. If Donald Trump repulses you, please remember what the alternative was last election. We don’t have that.
If we can’t thank the Lord, if we can’t see His good hand in this, then we might belong with the men of Judah, who said to Samson, “don’t you know, these Philistines are our masters.”
Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us?Judges 15:11
Yes, and no wonder the Philistines were their masters.
We are as unprepared for a Samson today as the men of Christ’s day, and as the men of Samson’s day. Only one man can qualify as a lamb without spot and blemish. We shouldn’t look for another. Yet, to hear some Christians, it seems that we wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than Jesus to run as our President.
All the heroes in the Bible have flaws – some pretty glaring. None more than Samson. But the Bible doesn’t hold Samson up for our approval or disapproval. We are the ones who think we should pass judgment on the merits of every Bible hero. God simply presents Samson to us – “And this is another man I used to deliver Israel.” You can like him or dislike him. You can approve or disapprove. It is all the same to God. Because God raised up Samson.
Samson had his faults and flaws. There can be no doubt about that. We can find plenty to condemn about him. We can preach against him. Yet, there he is. His legacy is in no danger. Samson confronts us with our own prudishness and prejudices. He challenges us to submit to God and say,
“You, O Lord, are all-wise and almighty; you do whatever you do according to the counsel of your most wise and most holy will.”
I see some pretty obvious parallels between Samson and Donald Trump. I hope I can persuade you to vote for Samson.
I think this compilation best captures the kind of battler our President is.