God is holding a mirror up to America, as it were. He is showing us who we are as a nation. We may not like what we see, but the two major party candidates represent us well. Lies, corruption, selfishness, unbridled ambition, shameless sexual immorality—all committed with a high hand. That’s our nation. God is giving us the leaders that we deserve.
Manage God’s Judgment?
If the choice between these candidates shows us who we are, and if that is evidence of God’s judgment, then the one thing we must avoid is trying to manage or finesse God’s judgments. This was Israel’s temptation throughout her history: embracing Assyria to ward off Egypt or embracing Egypt to ward off Assyria.
When we attempt to manage God’s judgments, we become reactive. Out of fear of one evil, we embrace another. Instead of acting from a confident trust in God’s goodness in the midst of a cultural crisis, we panic and slide to one extreme or another. Instead, as Christians, we ought to embrace the judgments of God.
Embracing God’s judgments sounds odd to our ears. “How could we embrace something as painful and awful as divine judgment?” But this is because we misunderstand God’s judgments. As someone once said, “God’s judgments are not when things go wrong; it’s when God starts to put things right.”
Embrace God’s Judgment
What would it mean to embrace the judgment of God in our present moment? At least three things.
First, it starts with repentance for our sins. Judgment always begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). Sins that are celebrated without shame in the wider culture are almost always present and active in the church, even when they are hidden. Removing the log from our own eyes is the prerequisite to speck-hunting in our neighbor’s (Matt 7.3–5″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Matthew 7:3–5). Heartfelt repentance for our sins is where we must start.
Second, embracing the judgments of God means drawing a line somewhere. Perhaps we could begin by expecting our candidates to measure up to basic standards of decency, honesty and integrity. When Jethro urged Moses to appoint rulers in Israel, the list of qualifications was short: fear God, be trustworthy, hate a bribe (Exodus 18:21). By almost all accounts the two major party candidates fail that test. And what’s more, they fail it with a brazenness and persistence that is shocking. There is a high-handed shamelessness to the dishonesty, corruption and wickedness that, in my judgment, renders them morally unfit to govern.
Third, embracing the judgments of God means that we refuse to peddle lies and falsehoods on behalf of disgraceful politicians. We refuse to use platforms given to us by God for gospel ministry to carry water for the dishonest and corrupt. It means we stop pretending “he is sensitive to the things of the Spirit” or, like King David, “a man after God’s own heart.” It means we stop pretending “she is deeply committed to the vulnerable” when she is an outspoken and persistent advocate for the legal killing of unborn children. Whatever prudential decisions we make in the voting booth, as Christians, we must refuse to sully the name of Christ by trafficking in falsehoods on behalf of wicked politicians.