Why did God let Donald Trump become President of the United States?

When this question came in, my interviewer looked a little nervous “We don’t want to get into politics on a Sunday morning!” He said. And in that context, he was right. The Gospel is bigger than party politics and political personalities and so we are careful not to get into that type of debate.

However, underpinning that question are a lot of questions that are kind of political but are really about God’s Sovereignty and morality. You see, our political decisions matter because they are moral. The recent referendums on Brexit and before that Scottish Independence were not just about economics but had huge moral implications – what kind of a society are we? How do we relate to people from other nationalities and cultures? How should our laws be made, what value do we place on things like democracy, accountability and self-determination?

This means that when I go to the ballot box, I make a moral choice. So, when my view loses, I want to make sense of why something I consider wrong has won. And sometimes we see people and ideas succeed that clearly go against the Bible. Why is that so.

Now, writing from a UK perspective gives us a particular view of the US election.  Our media painted the contest very much in terms of a good, safe, ethical choice versus a horrendous monster.  We were very aware of the things Donald Trump had said about women, Mexicans and people from Muslim countries. As I tried to explain to an American friend, those statements have already had an effect here regardless of whether or not he follows through with the promised actions. In comparison, there were some stories about Hilary having problems with her emails that all sounded rather technical.

So, it is helpful to know both that there were people who had big concerns about Donald Trump but also voted for him because of his commitment to put people in the Supreme Court who would uphold the value of Life. Similarly, there were people who could not bring themselves to vote for the other candidate because those email stories raised questions about honesty and because they saw someone with an agenda that would promote things like abortion.

The second thing to say is that if we assume that the good guys will always win, then we are ignoring what the Bible tells us.  We live in a world that is fallen and under judgement. God can raise up governments, leaders and states to bring about judgement as well as blessing. Neither Britain nor America are special Christian countries entitled to leaders who will always do good and never do harm.  God may raise up a leader to humble and convict a people.  When human rulers fail, we are reminded to trust in God alone.[1]

Thirdly, and this links to our introductory point on why some people voted for Trump despite disagreeing with him on lots of things. God can use people that we find unpleasant and whose ideas and vision we consider repugnant to do good.  By the way, the same answer would apply if Hilary Clinton had become President, Scotland had got Independence and the Remain Campaign had won the EU referendum because for every person who is distressed at Brexit, Trump and so on, there are people who would have been horrified (and often for deeply moral reasons) about the alternative.

In the Bible, God raises up people like Cyrus, a pagan Emperor and uses him to do good to Israel, Paul in Romans 13 tells his readers to respect and submit the government of their day (even when they were despotic, cruel, unelected etc). Similarly, Peter says that the rulers are there to punish bad and reward good.

The important thing to remember through all this is that human empires may rise and fall but God’s Kingdom will last forever. We have the promise that one day, Christ will return and justice and mercy will flow like rivers.

 

[1] On these points, this article may be of interest http://thefederalist.com/2017/01/23/donald-trump-first-president-turn-postmodernism/

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