The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” – Judges 8:23
“I would love us to bring back our Judeo-Christian values and begin to teach those things and emphasize them at a time other than a political election. Let’s do that. But right now, the train is going off the cliff.” – Ben Carson
In the book of Judges, we see the Gideon and 300 men defeat the Midianites (Gideon originally had 32,000, but the Lord would only act with fewer men, so that Israel would know that it was His doing). After Gideon saved the Israelites, they wished to make him king, as they were getting kind of tired of the whole having faith in God to raise up a judge needed. Gideon wisely refused, but after he died, the Israelites made his son Abimelech rule over Israel. Abimelech was a horrible ruler, instituting Baal worship, murdering his brothers to consolidate power, and waging war against his own cities until he was eventually killed by a woman throwing a rock on him.
Throughout the old testament, whether it’s the Israelites building a golden calf, or Saul attacking the Philistines before commanded by the Lord, there is a pattern of behavior for the Israelites: if they did not abandon the Lord altogether, they at least hedged their bets. The idea of having a King was simple, a powerful ruler could rally the Israelites, have a standing army, plan military strategy, and protect Israel from her enemies; and in so doing keep the alters to Baal and the Asherah poles from Israel. But of course, the Lord saves by many or by few, and the might of Gideon and his 300, or of Jonathan and his armor-bearer, or of David and his sling, are greater than any King or army. The kings the Israelites wanted so badly ended up worshiping Baal and building Asherah poles.
Today, we see that many in the Evangelical Christian community have a great need for a King, or at least a President. Ben Carson wished that we would return to “Judeo-Christian” values, but, “at a time other than a political election.”
Jerry Falwell Jr. supported Trump, arguing that the power of the Supreme court justices which Trump will appoint are of far greater importance than allegations of Sexual misconduct hurled at Trump.
Franklin Graham supported Trump’s travel ban, saying “Some people seem to have forgotten that the priority of the president of the United States is protecting the Constitution and the safety of Americans. That’s exactly what President Trump is trying to do. Taking action to secure our borders had to start somewhere. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but it is a first step.” Yes, Abimelech will may not be a perfect ruler of Israel, but we have to start somewhere.
Graham has also said “We want to love people, we want to be kind to people, we want to be considerate, but we have a country and a country should have order and there are laws that relate to immigration and I think we should follow those laws.” (as an aside, can we notice the horrible bait and switch presented, debating whether a law is good or not by declaring it the law is absurd in democracy, the whole point of a democracy is that laws are up for debate). He also said that the debate over refugees is “not a Bible issue.”
There are many Christians who are concerned about the supreme court, about religious liberty, about abortion, or about the Johnson amendment. But being a Christian doesn’t just mean working on behalf of God; it means working according to His rule. Many in the Evangelical movement have allied themselves with a man who has become rich beyond belief by building towers which he put his name one. A man who has fleeced his customers, who cheated on multiple wives, a man who used to wealth to buy beauty pageants in order to go back stage and watch the contestants undress. The power of the Supreme court, with its awesome power, is worth allying with such a man, so it is thought. As Abimelech would protect the Israelistes from the Midianites, so too will Donald Trump protect us from ISIS and the democrats.
Solomon, when he became King of Israel, sought to forge alliances with the neighboring countries, and he did that mainly through royal marriages. Yet is was these marriages which brought destruction to Israel, as his wives caused him to stop following the Lord and begin following foreign Gods. Today, many on the religious right are metaphorically in bed with the Trump administration, perhaps because they believe they can change him or bring out the best in him, perhaps because they believe that however imperfect, he is better than any alternative. Yet they should be very careful, lest the Trump administration change them.
As Christians, we’re called to transform our world, to speak out against injustice, to fight iniquity, to provide homes and jobs, protect the innocent. Taking part in politics is part of this; I’m not suggesting we eschew politics altogether (if I was, I wouldn’t be writing this essay in the first place). But politics is inherently dangerous. If we become too focused on the power of this world, we lose sight of who we are, we ally ourselves with evil people and fall not only to the evil we sought to fight, but to the evil within ourselves as well.