Let me begin by stating that I do not actually believe John Piper will ever read this post. My aim is to simply respond to his recent article on the implications of the 2020 presidential election given that we are living in unprecedented times.
A Conscience Issue
From beginning to end, Piper did well to indicate that this is purely a conscience issue. That is commendable because he recognizes that we will all give an account before the Lord for every aspect of our lives, even voting! As stated in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, if Piper truly believes before the Lord that it would be wrong for him to vote for either party, then he must not go against his conscience – because to do so would be sin.
Nevertheless, I would like to discuss the main arguments that he used.
Is All Sin Equal?
Well, yes, and no. We know that sin is sin, regardless of which sin is committed, but not all sins are equal. They have varying degrees and entirely different consequences. In fact, the consequences vary depending upon the individual who performed the offense. For example: When Jesus was before Pilate, He stated in John 19:11 that, even though both persons were responsible for sentencing the Son of Man to death, Judas had the greater sin because of his proximity to Jesus.
The first chapter of Romans presents us with different levels of judgment for continued idolatry (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). Not all persistent idolaters are homosexuals and not all homosexuals are transgenders. Thus, there are degrees of God’s wrath depending upon each person and their situation. And this makes sense because God is a just God who will judge everyone according to their own works. Within Romans 2, as well as Matthew 10:15 and 11:20-24, we read that God’s wrath will be more severe for some than others. This is similar to the fact that James 3:1 tells us that those who teach will undergo a stricter judgment.
Also, God instituted the death penalty in Genesis 9 for those who murder people, but not those who tell lies or even steal from others. God is a just God, and the punishment will always fit the crime. So, yes, all sin is sin against the Most Holy God and the ultimate consequence is death, but not all forms of wrongdoing will reap the same degree of heat in the Lake of Fire. Breaking the law will bring judgment, but crimes range anywhere from misdemeanors to felonies.
President Trump’s Character
In the article, Piper claimed that President Trump is currently living in unrepentant sexual immorality, unrepentant boastfulness, unrepentant vulgarity, and unrepentant factiousness. I would like to address each of these below:
Sexual Immorality: Even though I do not keep up with President Trump’s private life, my question to John Piper is, “How do you know he is living in unrepentant sexual immorality?” After all, that is typically a private matter. He does not owe the nation a public apology for his past sins. How often do you and I sin and we confess it before the Lord privately? Also, based on this logic, you should never feel comfortable voting for anyone because you do not know what all is going on in their heart. Finally, given the fact that the media hasn’t brought up any current allegations regarding this area of his life [which they most definitely would!], this would actually serve to prove that he most likely is not living in this sin. Thus, unless I am missing something, Piper’s first argument is an assumption.
Boastfulness: Let me just say that all of our presidents are arrogant. Maybe if you went far enough back you could find some men of humble standing, but not anyone recent.
Vulgarity: As far as I am aware, Piper is correct. However, I am not necessarily convinced that President Trump is a Christian. He may be, but he may not be. If he is not, then ultimately this is not relevant because non-Christians tend to act like non-Christians. But if he is a Christian, then this is obviously an area of his life that is a struggle for him. Like all Christians in the world, we need to be discipled. Does he have that? Do we know if other Christians are speaking into his life and addressing these areas? Just because transformation doesn’t take place overnight, doesn’t mean it’s not taking place.
Factiousness: To be honest, this is probably the weakest argument because we live in a culture where everything is divisive. Our society is telling us that if someone simply believes in math, they are trying to suppress people. This is a nation that can no longer reason. Thus, it doesn’t matter who is in office, they will always be seen as divisive because of our culture. President Obama was one of the most divisive presidents of American history and, regardless of who wins in a week, the new president will be seen as dividing the nation…because that is what is happening. One side says abortion is evil, and they are right, while the other side says we should be able to abort children up to two years of age. That is division and, as Christians, we are called to be divisive when it comes to issues like this (Luke 12:51). Being holy in an unholy world means there will be division – and much of it!
The Nation’s Leaders
The fact that the nation’s leaders are the main influencers of society is the reason why we must vote, especially in 2020’s election. Either way, things will grow worse as time goes on, but choosing to not vote, whether for Trump or at all, is allowing the nation to fall further into sin and death. Things will steadily decrease under President Trump’s leadership, but everything will collapse under the Biden administration.
Thus, it is not as much a matter of protecting our constitutional rights as much as it is protecting the lives of over 350 million people from being led into greater lawlessness and certain death. We are called to pray for our leaders so that they would be saved and that we would be able to live quiet lives (1 Tim. 2:1-6). We are not called to throw in the towel and give up our God-given responsibilities.
The Coming Persecution
Piper said it himself that we will eventually lose our religious freedom and persecution will arise. As a pastor, I am endeavoring to prepare God’s people for that day. But we are never called to allow Satan a foothold in our lives by just running in to our deaths hoping that God would spare us (Matt. 4:5-7). We are called to be wise (Matt. 10:16). If persecution arises, we will be ready to welcome it with open arms. However, we will not and cannot just sit by while the world marches straight to Hell. It is our God-given responsibility to do everything we can to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
I agree that we must vote our conscience. It is not my intention to sway another’s belief in this matter. I simply desire that Piper and others take another look at the arguments Piper made and that we ask ourselves if they are truly rational and, most of all, Biblical.