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The Candidates We Love to Hate

The Candidates We Love to Hate

     This presidential election season has spawned more hatred among Christians than any that I can remember before in my lifetime. I don’t mean hatred toward any ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, or gender. I’m talking about hatred toward the candidates themselves.

     Over the past few months, I’ve read many posts and engaged in countless discussions with good, Christian people about the candidates. There has been one common thread in these discourses: regardless of how we plan to vote, we’re all disgusted by the candidates. And make no mistake about it, it is personal. Some are so disgusted that they’ve sworn to never vote for either one for any reason. Others of us plan to vote for one of the major candidates, but we have to let you know how much we hate, despise, detest, and/or are disgusted by that person too so that you won’t think that we’re bad Christians. Sometimes it seems like a competition to see who can show the most disgust.

     It’s almost as if our own morality has become defined by our level of contempt for these two individuals. Something feels off about that. I’m uncomfortable with what it brought out of me, and I’m concerned about what’s coming from my brothers as well. I’m reminded of the words of James 3:8-11 “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?”

     Yes, there are absolutely things that have been said and done by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that need to be condemned, and cannot be condoned. However there has to be some way to express our disapproval of their attitudes and actions without forgetting that we’re talking about real people, with real souls, and real value. With that in mind, I’d like to offer…

3 Reasons to Love Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
(or at least not hate them!)

1. They were made in the image of God (James 3:9). As such, they have eternal souls, just like you and me. A soul is of absolutely priceless value, regardless of the bad choices a person makes. Our Lord gave His life for the souls of sinners, and our love of Jesus requires us to hold souls in the same high regard. We should look at the transgressions of Trump and Clinton with grief for their souls rather than with self-righteous disdain.

2. One of them will be our nation’s leader. That means that they will need to be a part of our regular prayer lives. As we are told in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” It is difficult to hate someone for whom you pray regularly and sincerely. My prayer for our new president, is that God will place godly influences in his or her life. Hearts do change, and people who have lived evil lives do return to the Lord. In any case, he or she will need wisdom to lead this country. I will pray that they’ll gain it.

3. They didn’t put themselves there. The great thing about democracy is that “We the people” get to play a large role in selecting our leaders. Neither Trump nor Clinton led military invasions to take over the country by force. The American people selected them. Since the primaries, the two candidates have been pretty much what we expected them to be. Sure there have been “leaks” and bits of new information here and there, but all of it fits well within the public perception of the candidates’ character from before the primaries. I don’t think very many people have honestly responded to the leaks by saying, “I’m totally surprised by that! I really didn’t think he/she was that type of person!” It doesn’t really seem fair to be angry at Trump and Clinton for being who we thought they were when we chose them. If fingers must be pointed, then they should be aimed at the electorate. Yet, even this is futile at this point.

     What would I like for you to do after having read this? I’d like for us to take up the challenge of loving those with whom we disagree (Matthew 5:44), even politicians. Let our words be gracious and tasteful (Colossians 4:6), even about politics. Let us be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32), even when the other person is wrong. Let’s slow our anger and remember that “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). In this way, we will preserve the integrity of our faith and the effectiveness of our testimony after this election has passed.

May God be with us.