I am a Christian.
In that order. And being committed to that order has never been more important to me.
That order has helped me reach what I once thought would be an unlikely - if not impossible - decision. For the first time ever, when I cast my vote for the president of the United States, I will vote for a democrat. At least that's how they'll count the vote - a vote for Hillary. So be it. I can accept whatever label comes with that. But for what it's worth, I would have never voted for her in a million years if there was any other way to take a stand for my credibility as a Christian, a husband, and a dad.
Trust me. I've had friends try to convince me there is another way. They tell me this election's too important to let the failings of one man stand in the way of the Republican Party. Consider the damage a Clinton presidency could do to America, they plead.
In other words, just reverse the order of who you are.
I wish it was that simple, but it's not. You see, no Republican has ever offered me more hope than Christ has. I can't ignore that. Nor has any country, including America, ever promised me a place to live when my rapidly expiring time here is done. But Christ has. In the darkest and ugliest days of my life, there was no party, country, wife or sons to offer up the miracle I needed. But Christ did.
So now I try to find opportunities to share that story. I truly believe everyone can experience the kind of light and hope I've found in Christ. Granted, some don't want it, and that's fine. I try to be sensitive to that. Some don't think they need it; I lived enough of my life believing that as well to understand where they're coming from. But many people go through life, every day, mired in darkness. They long ago gave up on the idea they'll ever see light again.
So I try to be light. Many days I fail. But when I get it right, and people see light in me, I point to Christ.
What does any of that have to do with me voting for Hillary? A lot. Neither of these candidates will stand in the way of my opportunity to share my story. The bible is filled with stories of Christians who shared the gospel in places and times when they faced far more oppression than they face today. But I strongly and fearfully believe, even though Donald Trump doesn't stand in the way of opportunity, he puts the credibility of my Lord at risk more than any United States president - elected or potential - ever.
This risk starts with the reality that one candidate has the backing of some of the most prominent evangelical Christians in America. That candidate is Donald Trump. They've found every reason in the book - even the Good Book - to excuse his laundry list of immoral choices and attitudes.
I don't need to outline that list. If you're reading this you're well aware of it. Maybe you've found reason yourself to look beyond his sinful nature in the interest of a bigger picture. You've invoked the get the plank out of your own eye scripture to make sure you don't let his human frailty stand in your way of discerning God's will for our country. I get it.
I get it because I'm a flawed human being myself. In fact, my flaws, my countless mistakes and transgressions against other people, they are at the root of the darkness that once nearly suffocated the life right out of me. They are also at the root of the miracle Christ worked in my life. It's the miracle identified in the book of Acts as written below:
"And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago."
(Acts 3: 17-21)
My life turned around the day I understood that by handing my sins over to Christ, they would be blotted out. And the hope, the light that flooded my life after I did, it was an indescribable refreshing that's uplifted me ever since. Believe me, it wasn't a one time deal. I've had to repent daily since then. In return Christ has continually refreshed me. It is the cornerstone of the hope I try to share with others who feel weighted down and burden by their own mistakes.
This repentance, it's the foundation of the Christian faith. Therefore, it's inexplicable to me how so many Christian leaders have endorsed Donald Trump. It's beyond me why they don't see his opposition to repentance as one of the greatest threats ever to our Christian faith, a roadblock of biblical and eternal proportions to the Christian testimony of salvation.
At a faith leadership summit in July of 2015, Frank Luntz asked Donald Trump if he'd ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions. Trump replied:
"I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," he said. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't."
Trump said that while he hasn't asked God for forgiveness, he does participate in Holy Communion.
"When I drink my little wine -- which is about the only wine I drink -- and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed," he said. "I think in terms of 'let's go on and let's make it right.'"
Some time later in a follow up interview, Trump expanded on his thoughts about repentance: "I try not to make mistakes where I have to ask forgiveness. Why do I have to repent or ask forgiveness if I am not making mistakes? I work hard, I'm an honorable person."
One of the main reasons people hesitate to bring God into the picture of making their wrongs right is because doing so implies God is bigger than they are. If you've watched any of Trump's campaign, you may have come to the conclusion I have. Donald Trump doesn't think anyone or anything is bigger than he is. At his convention, after describing his view of a crumbling United States, Trump stated:
"I alone can fix it."
One of the keys to the joy I feel in my life today is, with more clarity that ever, I understand Jesus is Lord in my life. There is nothing I can fix or achieve without Him. Having a publicly professing Christian leader - backed by publicly professing Christians - who sees no need to drag God into his failings, and has expressed little need to drag Him into the struggles he sees in our country, is one of the riskiest threats to spreading the gospel I've personally witnessed in this country in my lifetime.
Andy Crouch, Editorial Director for Christianity Today, put it best:
The lordship of Christ places constraints on the way his followers involve themselves, or entangle themselves, with earthly rulers.
Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord. They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us—in hope, almost certainly a vain hope given his mendacity and record of betrayal, that his rule will save us.
I know many fellow Christians won't support my thoughts. My goal in writing this isn't to gain their support or sway any votes. But I do have two young sons I'm trying to shape. I have a family to lead. In doing both, it's a priority to me that they always know that more than standing for a party, or standing for my country, I stand for Christ. It's nice when I can stand for all of them at the same time, but the bible has warned us over and over; that's a dangerous tight rope to try to walk. For me personally, it's too dangerous.
Again, I'm not with her at all. But the process has left her as the strongest way to stand against him.