Have you prayed for our President (and President-Elect) today?

I have a knack for picking losers in presidential elections. In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney and most recently, in 2016, I voted for Evan McMullin. I voted for these men, not because I necessarily thought they were certain winners (they obviously weren’t.) I voted for them because I thought they best reflected my values. Needless to say, you could probably guess that I find neither Barack Obama nor Donald Trump particularly stellar choices for the office of president. Indeed, I have had a number of disagreements with our current president (on issues like abortion, the deficit, and defense) and I have had a number, though fewer, disagreements with Mr Trump (ala defense, trade, and his defense of his complicated and sordid moral past) But, the American people have cast their votes and what’s done is done. At this point we need to be asking what is our responsibility as Christians towards our elected (and newly elected) officials.

In 1st Timothy 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul writes these words to his young protégé and pastoral associate Timothy- “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In light of other topics, the scriptures don’t have a great deal to say about political issues but here and there we receive poignant advice. In this passage, we are told to pray for all who are in power. No matter who they are, or whether we agree with them, or ever like them! We need to pray for them. We need to be praying that they will make wise decisions. We need to be praying they will make decisions that are pleasing to God. We need to pray that they will be blessed by God. Why? Because no one wants to live in a land wracked with strife and gross misrule and those in authority have the ability to make our lives very difficult if they wish.

I think this verse has a manifold number of practical implications for our day and age but I will only mention three. Firstly, we need to be praying for Barack Obama as he is entering his final two months in office. Oftentimes, presidents will use their final days in office to issue up to hundreds of executive orders and presidential pardons. With no fear of having to justify controversial decisions to an angry electorate, presidents often feel unchained to do what they wish in their final days in office. We need to pray that the President uses his power judiciously as his time in the White House draws to a close.

Secondly, Donald Trump will desperately need our prayers come February as he will enter the presidency facing many incredible challenges. He will not only have to figure out how to deal with an increasingly unstable and violent Middle East, but he will also have to grapple with the challenge of uniting a deeply divided nation. With these issues to deal with, not to mention the economy, immigration, and our national debt, Donald Trump will need all the prayer we can possibly give him. We also need to pray that Donald Trump, who was for a long time staunchly pro-choice, remains committed to creating a culture of life in this country. He has promised to appoint conservative judges to the bench who will review Roe v. Wade. As Christians, we must pray that Mr. Trump will not waver on his promises on this issue.

Thirdly, we must pray for our leaders because the proclamation of the Gospel depends on it. As Americans, we are blessed to live in a free and (mostly) tranquil society. We have an untold number of opportunities to share the Gospel every day without fear of reprisal. We also have the freedom to coordinate international mission work on an incredible scale. Despite the decline in Christian culture in the United States in recent decades we still send more missionaries abroad than almost any other nation. While it is absolutely true that the church is thriving in countries where it faces persecution (particularly China) Christian communities are also being obliterated in places like Syria (that not incidentally, has terrible leadership). Good leaders who foster the development and preservation of free and open societies are a boon to the proclamation of the Gospel.

For these reasons, we need to earnestly pray for President Obama and President-Elect Trump, not to mention the many other people in elected office in our country as well as abroad. Although people in power can often seem unmovable and set in their (sometimes wicked) ways, we must not shirk the command of our Lord and we can always draw inspiration from the truth that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)”

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Should Christians Vote for Donald Trump?

When writing articles in the past for my blog, I have intentionally avoided broaching the subject of politics. Even amongst Christians, politics can be a toxic subject and this is why I have refrained from writing anything on the topic. I have always wanted my blog to be a place where all Christians can find encouragement and unity. It has also been my desire that for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, that they might find my blog to be a safe place where they can learn more about the Christian faith from a perspective that is whimsical, tolerant, yet thoroughly orthodox and scriptural.  This is why I have only decided to post an article about politics after much prayer and reflection.

I have long been an avid follower of all things political. Someone once said, “Politics is like sports for nerds.” This statement rings true for me. I am the guy who stays up into the wee hours of the morning checking election returns and I salivate when I hear about the latest developments from Washington and the campaign trail. I do not pretend to be an expert but I do try to stay informed. As I stated earlier, I don’t typically like to talk politics on my blog but as I have watched this years’ Republican primary season unfold I feel like I am compelled to offer some commentary on what is going on. Over the last year we have seen the momentous rise of Donald J. Trump. A man who was once written off as a distraction has become a force to be reckoned with. He has claimed victory in over ten different states and has amassed 458 delegates so far. There is no doubt that Mr. Trump is catching fire with many people in this country. With his massive success so far, should Christians join the “Trump train”?

If I were writing for a political news magazine like National Review or Politico I would probably offer my thoughts on some of Mr. Trump’s policy proposals but since I am not, I will offer my thoughts on where I think Mr. Trump stands in the moral arena. Christians can disagree on foreign policy. Christians can disagree on entitlement reform. Christians can disagree on fiscal issues but there are some things that we simply cannot compromise on. The Holy Scriptures are very clear on moral issues like adultery, murder, and hatred. They state that these things have no place in a Christian’s life. Put simply, some issues are “black and white” while many others in the realm of politics could reasonably be considered “gray”.

To put things into perspective, in the previous election I cast my vote for Mitt Romney. I strongly disagreed with him on a number of issues but I could cast a vote for him in good conscience because to the best of my knowledge Mitt Romney is a decent and honorable man. Based on the evidence, I can’t come to the same conclusion about Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has proven himself to be a bully and demeaning to the handicapped and women. It was not so long ago that Mr. Trump mocked the New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski has deformities in his arms and legs which have rendered him disabled. Mr. Trump mimicked and mocked Kovaleski at a rally in South Carolina. Mr. Trump’s views on women are scarcely any better. He has called reporter Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” and made jabs at her that referenced her menstrual cycle. Mr. Trump has also been a frequent guest on the Howard Stern show. In these interviews he shows that he has decidedly depraved views of women and human sexuality in general. The following web address will take you to CNN politics online where you can see for yourself http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/12/politics/donald-trump-howard-stern/. I will warn readers that the content is graphic. Mr. Trump has also bragged about his multiple affairs with some of the world’s “top women”.

Donald Trump has also defended Planned Parenthood in a live interview with Sean Hannity. He has been quoted as saying “they do good things” and says that providing abortions is only a small part of what they do. This is patently false as this report by the Heritage Foundation clearly shows. The link is available here and it shows that Planned Parenthood is primarily an abortion clinic http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/09/disentangling-the-data-on-planned-parenthood-affiliates-abortion-services-and-receipt-of-taxpayer-funding. It may be that Mr. Trump is simply misinformed about the great number of abortions this organization performs. I do not want to hold him accountable for a position that he might simply be mistaken about. However, I find it very hard to believe that he has no knowledge of the videos that were made available in September of last year that show in sordid detail how Planned Parenthood participated in criminal activity by selling the body parts of aborted fetuses. If Mr. Trump knows about this story and will still defend this organization, then he can’t be trusted to fight for the rights of the unborn. For his sake, I pray he is ignorant of the facts. I also have serious misgivings as to whether Mr. Trump really understands the philosophical and moral underpinnings of why most Christians (only the most liberal of us excepted) are so strongly Pro-Life. In a brilliant article for National Review, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, mentions how Mr. Trump typically explains that he is Pro-Life because he knows of a child who was to be aborted who ended up becoming a “superstar”. Moore points out that this kind of reasoning is grounded in a Nietzschean and Social Darwinist perspective, not in the Judeo-Christian tradition. As Christians, we believe that all people are deserving of life because they are created in the image of God and they are precious in his sight. I wonder if Donald Trump has ever thought about this issue on these terms? What if this child was born with mental retardation? What if this child became a criminal? Would the Donald be Pro-Choice instead? Perhaps Mr. Trump is genuinely Pro-Life as he now claims on the campaign trail. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, I genuinely hope he is. Still, for the reasons I have just cited, I doubt he will be a champion we can count on to defend the unborn and their right to life.

Donald Trump has frequently pointed out that his success in the business world would make him a good president. Unfortunately, the evidence seems to suggest that Mr. Trump has frequently engaged in less than ethical business practices. If you would like to know more, you can read this article by Mark Antonio Wright http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430628/donald-trump-business-record-bully. On a personal note, I have trouble voting for a man who has made so much money from casinos. While it is not illegal to operate casinos, these operations prey on people’s addictions and have left many families and marriages in shambles.

Now you might say to all this, Julian, aren’t you being judgmental? My only response is I certainly hope not. I am simply trying to be discerning. I realize that I am a wicked sinner saved by God’s grace. While I have never been unfaithful to my wife, engaged in unethical business practices (as far as I know), or been demeaning to women, the disabled, or minorities I know that I am fully capable of all these things. Sin is sin. Donald Trump is a sinner. Julian Pace is a sinner. On this playing field, we are equals. But should we vote for a man who implies with his own words that he has never needed to repent of any wrongdoing? I also want to make it perfectly clear that it is not my desire with this article to simply sling mud at Mr. Trump. I sincerely hope that one day Donald Trump will repent of his wrongdoings and throw himself at the mercy of the ever merciful Jesus Christ!

Today, On March 15th 2016, five states and one U.S. territory will hold Republican presidential primaries. Perhaps you are still unsure of who to vote for. All I can ask you to do is to vote with Biblical principles in mind. If you are not in a state where voting is taking place, then pray that God’s will would be done. The central question (and title) of my article is this: Should Christians vote for Donald Trump? Based on the evidence, I think the answer is a resounding no but you, the reader, will have to weigh the evidence for yourself. Perhaps at the end of all this you might opine that these things are of little consequence because, after all, we aren’t voting on a “National Pastor”. This is true, but that does not take the sting out of the words of Proverbs 29:2 when it states “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Ponder these words before you pull the lever.