When your son’s Bible professor assigns a 3D map of the Holy Land from Samuel’s era, it’s a great excuse for a college student to break out the LEGO bricks. It’s also a powerful reminder of King David’s impact on the nation of Israel—which offers some striking parallels to our 2016 presidential election. Will we protect and preserve America’s freedoms, or we will we become a national “safe space” where divergent ideas are seen as threats to the common good?
In just a few short days, our country will undergo one of the most decidedly influential political battles in modern history. Leaders across the nation have called this an election for or against religious freedom. The stakes are high. The nation is divided. And the race sits at nearly a dead heat just days before the ominous deadline. What can we learn about the election from the account of 2 Samuel?
In this scene, with a few creative LEGO liberties applied, David is watching Bathsheba from a distance. His gray high-tech binoculars say it all: He is smitten. David falls in temptation, commits adultery, and then has Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover his tracks. And yet, and yet, Acts 13:22 says this about David: “After removing Saul, he (God) made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”
David sinned. Big time. This verse toys with our theology, our expectations. How could David be a man after God’s own heart? After all, he committed adultery, betrayal, deception, and murder in one fell swoop. He caved, he deceived, he bullied, he lied. His character was in question, to say the least. However, despite his shortcomings, David defeated the enemies of his country, correctly interpreted and upheld the laws of his nation, appointed righteous leaders and gatekeepers, and laid the foundation for the vestibule that his son, representing the next generation, would build.
No, the 2016 presidential candidates haven’t committed adultery AND murdered a victim’s spouse (at least not that we’re aware of yet), but the parallel is clear: We are all flawed, failed humans, who have fallen far, far short of the glory of God. We can only hope that our next president, despite the expected flaws, will, like David, uphold and accurately interpret the laws of the land, appoint righteous gatekeepers, defeat our enemies, and lay a foundation for the future generations of our nation.
As Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Jim Garlow, Dinesh D’Souza, and many others have noted, this election comes down to one decidedly fragile construct: freedom. So how do we vote?
The question in this election is not whose sins are more grievous, but whose platform is more upright. To get there, we have to ask ourselves a question: What does God value? What breaks his heart, metaphorically speaking? To vote effectively as Christians, we must commit ourselves to voting for the team that most closely aligns with the values that represent the heart of God.
Though this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are a few of my views on the philosophical differences between the candidates:
Freedom in Education
If you’ve been following the accounts on religious oppression in California schools, you already know that there is a targeted attempt to silence Christian viewpoints. From a police warning to a 2nd grader who “dared” to bring Bible verses to school to a concerted attack on the entire organization of California Christian colleges and universities, the oppression is palpable (follow Todd Starnes’ writings to learn more about religious oppression in the US). As a professor in a state whose religious liberties have been threatened by Senate Bill 1146, which was, at its core, designed to remove religious freedom from colleges in California, I am concerned about the implications of a government that gets to decide for itself what people think, believe, feel, and say. Freedom of choice in education is one of the significant issues on the table in this election.
Trump wants to expand educational options with a $20 billion grant. Clinton is opposed to the grant and to educational freedom in general. Like some of her lawyer friends in secular universities, Clinton wants to squelch Christian education and the competition for government schools, as she says choice will “decimate” the public schools. If you’ve tracked our progress as a nation, you probably know that the PS system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Corruption and degradation have seen exponential increase since the Values Clarification Movement ripped morality out of the classroom conversation. To improve this scenario, tax dollars should equally fund all education. Competition is healthy. Clinton has said that higher education should be widely available for “anybody with the talent, determination and ambition” to succeed. I wholeheartedly agree. And, I would add, students should not be prevented from receiving this education simply because their school choice is a faith-based environment. Again, to fairly represent the views of all people, the citizens–not the government–should determine the educational environment.
Clinton offers an eerily Huxlian cradle-to-grave government education that replaces religious freedom with moral relativism. It’s a Brave New World where children are taught from infancy that there is no right and no wrong. Universal Preschool is only the beginning. For a quick primer on the impact of three decades of values-absent K to 12 education, view the shocking stats on youth violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortion rates in the US. Expanding this reach to require preschoolers to be exposed daily to moral relativism only furthers the cause. As a professor in both secular and religious colleges for almost 20 years, I find this these morally-deficit philosophies deeply troubling.
Clinton also wants education governed by the state, not the parent (if you’ve wondered who has a better track record between the two, consider that homeschoolers consistently outperform their public school counterparts by 27 points on average in national standardized testing). Trump, however, stands for religious freedom and even religious choice in schools. He supports the people’s right to choose the type of education that works best for their families. As I pointed out in my blog on the Netherlands, a truly fair and objective stance is to fund all programs equally and to give the freedom of choice to the student, not the state.
Rights of the Unborn
Trump stands for the rights of the unborn and wants to defund taxpayer-supported Planned Parenthood, which received $390 million in federal funds in 2013. (For more on the tragic rates of abortion in the US, see the University of North Carolina’s latest research citing abortion as the cause of death for 64% of Hispanics and 61% of Blacks in the US. The study was published in the Open Journal of Preventative Medicine, and the findings are sobering.) Clinton wants to continue allowing abortions through the 9th month and to continue requiring taxpayer dollars to fund abortions via Planned Parenthood. Now, neither party’s stance even begins to address the underlying causation for the rocketing rates of abortion in the United States—promiscuity—but ironically, some of Clinton’s most outspoken celebrity fans sing about, portray, and even advocate for the exact lifestyles that create these challenges. According to the CDC, of the 20 million sexually transmitted diseases contracted in the US each year, 50% of those are in the 15-24 population. Thus, we must not only openly discuss the foundations of our nation’s social ills, but we must begin to address the flagrant hypersexuality that is overtly demonstrated by many of Clinton’s celebrity friends.
Support for Vaccinations
In a 2015 Washington Post article, Trump said he recognizes (as the FDA now admits) that vaccines are linked to the rise in autism. Though Trump favors vaccination, he also favors smaller doses over longer periods of time so that the body is not overwhelmed by the vaccine, he said. Whatever the numbers, this debate is part of a much larger conversation and deserves to be heard. Clinton, like others in her party, want mandatory vaccines for all, including the controversial HPV vaccination that has been linked to so many needless deaths across the nation. In 2007, the Clinton Foundation donated 3 million syringes for the HPV vaccine. As with the other issues, we clearly need more choice, not less, and we need more rigorous testing regarding the health and safety of vaccines. Additionally, the HPV topic leads us back to the discussion on promiscuity. As Drs. MCIlhaney and Bush have shown, the casual sex culture has had tragic neurobehavioral consequences far beyond our previous understanding.
Support for Traditional Marriage
As the headline news continually reminds us, Trump stands for traditional marriage, and Clinton does not. We may be a nation at war with these notions, but can we at least agree to disagree? Can we at least civilly allow Christians to continue reading and sharing the same verses from the same Bible that has shaped cultures for millennia? Can we at least agree to protect everyone’s freedom of speech and freedom of opinion? Without that, our country becomes a national “safe space” where divergent ideas are the enemy.
So, there are many important issues on the table before us. As we face the looming realities of the upcoming election, we must know our candidate’s position and cast our vote according to this knowledge. Instead of “sitting this one out,” Christians would do well to be cognizant of the bigger picture by narrowing in on three important focal points: policy, perspective, and prayer.
- Policy: Neither candidate has admirable character, but, in many ways, neither did David. And let’s be real: We have all sinned. All of us. We may not agree with a candidate’s character, but we can at least support the candidate’s cause. It is unlikely that we will agree with all of the positions on each issue (I certainly don’t), but we should vote in favor of those that we believe to be most important to the future of our nation. Again, this is an election about policies, not people.
- Perspective: Whatever happens on the final day of the election, it’s clear that we are a country divided, and we must learn to work together afterward. Divorce is not an option. Harvard professor and globally renown conflict negotiator William Ury says that in times of conflict, we should “go to the balcony”—the place of perspective that helps us navigate differences and respond with appropriate maturity. The intense division in America should compel us to learn how to work together as a united nation. We must respect one another’s freedom of opinion, and we must protect the rights our founders believed in so deeply: Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion.
- Prayer: Whatever happens on November 8, God is still on the throne. We must be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us, and it isn’t a hope in kings, queens, or candidates. As Psalm 20:7 reminds us, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.” God is not surprised or caught off guard by a presidential election in our tiny little corner of the universe. Christians must continue to pray before, during, and after the election. We must continue to speak up for truth, to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and to demonstrate the compassion and character of Christ wherever we go. Christians have lost much ground in America over the last 50 years because we’ve looked the other way on significant cultural issues. We have been too afraid, too lazy, or too busy to stand up. It’s time to right those wrongs.
It is estimated that 25 million Christians did not vote in the 2012 election. Many have said that they will not be voting in this election. I understand the temptation. The parallel between the LEGO landscape and our current candidate crisis is clear. Our final selection of candidates have exhibited lies, deception, betrayal—all common demonstrations of the base behaviors of human nature. But the bigger picture here is not a person; it’s a policy.
How will the decisions forged by the next president affect our children, our grandchildren? What decisions will be made that suffocate our freedoms of religion, of speech, of thought? What government-mandated “safe spaces” will rise up and extend their imposing borders to the home, the marketplace, the church? It’s time to push past our personal qualms and consider the future of our great nation. Our freedoms are at stake. As Psalm 102:18 exhorts, “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”