Last Saturday, Donald Trump held a campaign rally at Regent University. Several months ago, he won the evangelical vote, with such leaders as Jerry Falwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and countless others lending him their support. He even developed an Evangelical Advisory Board.
His strategy with evangelicals is clear: “I vow to put an anti-abortion judge on the Supreme Court. A vote for Trump is a vote against abortion. Don’t vote for Trump and you risk voting for abortion.”
This logic naturally appeals to Christians. But it shouldn’t. A law prohibiting abortion is not going to have the desired effect that Christians want, because the root problem of abortion is not that it is legal.
Let me illustrate my point with an example from the Bible.
In ancient Israel, King Josiah initiated a comprehensive reform of Israelite practices after a long period of idolatry and false worship. Around this time, the temple law book was found. The finding of the law book gave direction to the King’s reform. The goal of the reform was a re-orientation of Israelite life around the law of God.
The prophet Jeremiah began his prophetic career during the same period. Josiah’s reform was not enough for Jeremiah. He did not formulate his opinion concerning the spiritual state of Israel merely on whether an official reform initiated by the king was taking place. Jeremiah would only be satisfied by a turning of the entire heart toward God, a reformation of the heart of the people of Israel.
“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,” he says, “remove the foreskin of your hearts, O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem” (4:4).
The people of Israel needed much more than a legislative reform. They had sin written on their hearts (Jer. 17:1). No law could change that. The reform they needed could only be initiated by God. They needed God to create in them new hearts with the law of God written inside (31:33).
Likewise, the people in our nation need a thorough reform of the heart. They need God to change them from the inside out. They need the gospel. They need the love of Christ. This is what we should be seeking. We need to change this nation with the love of God from the inside out, not from the outside in with laws establishing our Christian values.
It is easy to see a problem and think, “We need an immediate, top-down solution to this!” The more difficult work is asking, “What were the conditions which brought us this situation?” What were the conditions that brought about abortion? What were the conditions which brought about the frequency of abortions in the U.S.?
How about poverty? How about lack of access to birth control? How about lack of access to sex education? How about parental neglect? Are these not problems at the root of the abortion rate? Wouldn’t we do better to try and address these issues?
So many Christians today want a legislative reform more than the reform of the prophets.
The root of the abortion problem is not that it is legal. We would do better to address the root issues than support a terrible presidential candidate because we think he will appoint an anti-abortion judge.
Don’t evangelicals see how vulnerable they make themselves to manipulation? At Trump’s rally at Regent, no true Christian should have fallen for Trump’s attempt at playing Christian. When he waved his Bible around, saying, “Look, I’ve got my Bible!” When he tried to schmooze Christians by saying, “The Bible is the best book of all time.” No one should have fallen for that act.
But they did. Why? Because he promises a Supreme Court justice. And so they’ve traded the reform of the prophets for the reform of rulers.
Regent aspires to raise up “Christian leaders to change the world,” but you do not change the world for the better by voting for someone who uses fear to manipulate voters into supporting him.
You do not change the world for the better by voting for a sexual predator who is consistently vulgar and childish.
You can only change the world for the better by seeking the will of God, by the law of love. Trump is certainly not a candidate who seeks to follow the law of love.
Humility. Service. Compassion. Love. Self-sacrifice. These are the characteristics of Christ. Trump has clearly demonstrated that he doesn’t care about them at all. How can we possibly put our hope in such a man?
Trump cannot save the lives affected by abortion. Only love can do that, and he is the anti-love candidate. A vote for Trump is not a vote against abortion, it’s a vote against love.
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” Psalm 146:3