Posted Oct 23, 2020 by Michael L. Brown

John Piper is one of the most respected Christian leaders in America, and I personally hold him in high esteem. Yet I differ with his suggestion that Christians might do best by sitting out the presidential election, since a vote for either Trump or Biden cannot be justified.

Before sharing my differences, though, I want to share my points of affirmation.

First, I wholeheartedly agree with Pastor Piper that the foremost calling of a minister of the gospel “is to lead people to see Jesus Christ, trust his forgiveness for sins, treasure him above everything in this world, live in a way that shows his all-satisfying value, and help them make it to heaven with love and holiness.”

Second, I deeply share his concern that many American pastors have failed to develop “real, radical Christians,” Christians who will be willing to die for Jesus.

Third, I agree with Pastor Piper that our obsession with the elections and the wellbeing of America undermines the reality that we are citizens of a higher kingdom and that we are only passing through this world.

Fourth, I concur that the character flaws of our president have been very damaging. As Piper wrote, “When a leader models self-absorbed, self-exalting boastfulness, he models the most deadly behavior in the world. He points his nation to destruction. Destruction of more kinds than we can imagine.”

Fifth, I have no problem with a Christian saying he or she cannot vote for either candidate. I have always respected that view, even if it is not my own. I have a massive problem with a self-identified pro-life, pro-Bible Christian voting for Biden and the Democrats.

Sixth, I respect the humility with which Pastor Piper presents his viewpoint, making clear that he is not telling anyone else how to vote.

Seventh, I agree with him that, whatever path we take, it must enhance, not detract, from our witness for Jesus.

Readers of my book Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? will know that I have expressed many similar views as well.

That being said, I differ with Pastor Piper’s assessment of the situation and with his comparison of the personal failings of Trump with the policies of the Democratic party.

He writes, “I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.”

He notes that the first list of sins is not only deadly in this world but also deadly forever. How, then, can Christians vote for someone who embodies the former sins (such as “unrepentant boastfulness”) in the name of fighting against the latter sins (such as abortion)?

He adds, “I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person.”

The answer, for me, is simple.

To begin with, the political system itself is earthly and flawed, with all candidates being far from perfect. While it would be ideal for our presidents to be shining examples of morality and character, very few in our history would live up to that ideal. This is not to make excuses but rather to be realistic.

Next, it is one thing to elect a boastful, divisive leader. It is another thing to empower a party that will sanction the killing of the unborn. Or strip away religious freedoms. Or give free reign to foreign, tyrannical regimes.

When it comes to Trump, we can vote for his policies while saying, “I don’t like many of the things he does and feel his example is often very destructive. I will therefore speak out when he acts wrongly and will model something different in my own life.”

But a vote for Biden and the Democrats is a vote to empower a party that wants to impose an overtly godless agenda.

Pastor Piper writes, “I find it bewildering that Christians can be so sure that greater damage will be done by bad judges, bad laws, and bad policies than is being done by the culture-infecting spread of the gangrene of sinful self-exaltation, and boasting, and strife-stirring (eristikos).”

My response, again, is simple: Trump is one man, and as destructive as his words and conduct can be – just look at the warnings in Proverbs about foolish kings – we can vote for him by the millions while at the same time modeling godlier conduct.

On the other hand, if those with a different agenda are empowered, their policies will affect us by the millions.

Put another way, if voting for a boastful man can potentially save millions of babies’ lives, can that vote be justified? If voting for a man with a sexually immoral past can give support to persecuted minorities in China, can that vote be justified? If voting for a man who often lies and exaggerates can stop the rise of an anti-God socialism, can that vote be justified?

What we cannot do, as I have been shouting for years now, is become apologists for the president. That, without question, demeans our witness. But to say that we cannot vote for him when the stakes are so high is, in my view, to miss the larger point.

One of my evangelical colleagues wrote to me last week, saying, “The gospel witness has been destroyed, especially among the younger generations. The final straw was the support of Donald Trump by these groups. The non-believing world is appalled by the hypocrisy. The only folks who don’t see it are most of the Evangelical world.”

This is true to some extent, and it echoes Piper’s concerns.

But it fails to realize that many of the younger generations were already turned off by our affirmation of biblical values, which includes our rejection of the “pro-choice” position and our opposition to LGBTQ activism. Do we therefore compromise our views on these issues so as to avoid offense?

As to our support for Trump, we can vote for him without selling our souls for him. We can cast a ballot in his name on November 3 while shouting from the rooftops that our hope is in the Lord, not in a man or a party. We can proclaim that JESUS IS OUR SAVIOR and Trump is just our president (with giant fonts for the former and small fonts for the latter).

Finally, when it comes to listing the sins of Trump, Pastor Piper may have gone a little too far. Has Trump promoted or practiced sexual immorality since announcing his candidacy? To the contrary, hasn’t he expressed regret about some of his past actions? And does he get credit for keeping his promises and commitments in ways that few presidents in our lifetime have done?

Once again, I wholeheartedly agree with Piper’s emphasis on the gospel first (rather than “America first”).

But I wonder if future generations would understand if we explained the loss of our freedoms and the slaughter of millions of more babies by saying, “Yes, one party espoused these terrible policies. But we couldn’t vote for the man whose party opposed them because he was too boastful and divisive.”

At times like this, my counsel is simple: Be idealistic in terms of living out your own faith as a witness for the Lord. But be pragmatic when it comes to casting your vote.


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BW posted a comment · Nov 02, 2020
"Americans disagree with each other on many things, but know this! each vote counts to move our country in a particular direction. be informed and vote ! don't listen to jaded leaders who don't want to get their hands dirty by voting for Trump ! no one has kept the law! get over this Idea that voting adds to or subtracts from how righteous you are "filthy rags" to follow your logic VOTING democrat - your hands have all the innocent blood of aborted baby's since Roe v wade !
BW posted a comment · Nov 02, 2020
The devil can use anyone even a great respected teacher, Lord Have Mercy ! Open the eyes and hearts of your people to see what's at stake! We know that God will give people what they want! vote life, Biblical principals, The blue print of Gods will. I Want that in this election, if One Nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all! wants to reverse course! let it be so done in Jesus Name! amen
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J posted a comment · Oct 31, 2020
If one reads the article John Piper wrote about the Bush/Kerry race in October 27, 2004, they would realize how inconsistent he is and how bad his teaching has become concerning the whole matter of voting..... Why Vote if you are Disillusioned? Oct 27; 2004 He stated that even though there is no candidate that is perfect, we are still obligated to vote... Very interesting....
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J posted a comment · Oct 31, 2020
To the measure the president keeps his word is the measure he can boast. Even if his ego is involved, it’s still a pride that is actually based upon putting the country first. No president has has kept their promises as this one has...
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J posted a comment · Oct 31, 2020
A_catholic.... Is your real name Pelosi?
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J posted a comment · Oct 31, 2020
A leader may or may not be the perfect example personally upon the nation, yet, nevertheless, his enforcement of policies that offers freedom for the people should speak louder of a deeper, underlying character. That John Piper cannot see this is even more amazing to me. The other alternative is an inevitable system of evil that will oppress our very freedoms, a choice that is given to us to either hold back or to allow. The very fact that we still have the power of our decision to make a choice, that which will inevitably have an effect upon our families and churches let alone the freedom to share the gospel makes me see where our true values lie at present in reflection of the eternal. Many missionaries I know lived under such oppressive regimes that the people didn’t have a choice to vote against. They know the treasure America has in regarding the principles of God’s Word in forming the constitution, which is why so many seek to live here. Remove that, and there will practically be a darkness upon this world we have yet to witness in history. Even worse, the fact that we forsook to make a choice in this regard only tells me that the perceived personal sins of one man which doesn’t reflect in his policies is more important than what the vote is all about. How do we know if the president hadn’t repented of his personal sins? Are we his judge? As for his boasting, wouldn’t one think it it little matters in light of the evil that our media continuously spews forth where they never give him any credit at all? Besides, he’s not a pastor in Chief, but the president. Where’s the perspective in all this?
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A._catholic posted a comment · Oct 30, 2020
Pres. Trump is a servant of mammon/wealth (contrary to Mat 6:24) given to habitual failure to tell the truth who is using his advocacy for criminalizing abortion and religious freedom to get Christian support for his own lust for power and to foster a destructive agenda of greed. His failure to lead- his criticizing his own health experts-on the COVID 19 crisis has cost lives and harmed the economy. He has deliberately downplayed the racism remaining in this country and fostered division over it. He has demonized immigrants; is pushing an unjust and inhumane immigration policy and is wasting billions$ on an ineffective border wall. He is relaxing protections against environmental toxins and pushing environmentally destructive energy and economic policies (including enacting policies that exacerbate anthropogenic climate change) that cause human poverty, sickness and death and that add to the genuine threat of future environmental catastrophe. With the collusion of the Republican party, he has abused the powers of his office and obstructed justice. He is attempting to profit off his conflicts of interest in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. He has failed to act against Russian interference in our elections, even to the point of inviting it. I'm not a fan of the NY Daily News, but this is a good summary:
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Prodigal48 posted a comment · Oct 30, 2020
Swkh310-You've never known any real Christians, have no idea what the Bible says or means, and no knowledge of what you speak. You hate Christianity and Christ because you are afraid you'll be held accountable for your sins one day so you'd rather cast aspersions on Christians and label them hypocrites in the hopes that that lets you off the hook. It won't. You will answer for your sins just as every one of us who does not repent before Christ will do. God has no grandchildren. Your sins are your own. As far as the article and John Piper, this is why we are not winning the world. Stop blaming it on Trump, Mr. Piper. If you are expecting a perfect person to run for office, stay home and do not vote any more. That person doesn't exist, beside the One Who is in Heaven and He is the One Who gave us the solution to our current problems that you feel you are too holy to vote for. As great as the Reagans were, Nancy was into astrology. Did you vote for Ronald Reagan? I bet you did. Jimmy Carter touted his Christianity and he was the 2nd worst President ever, beaten out of 1st place by Barrack Obama who also touted his Christianity while refusing medical care to babies that survive abortion and pushing every perverted sexual identity problem onto the nation that he possibly could and constantly apologizing to America, even to our enemies, for America. John Kennedy actually did some things right, in spite of being a democrat and was one of the worst womanizers in the country. Did you vote for Kennedy? His brother was lionized by the senate, after drowning a young girl in a pond, and being an unrepentant drunken womanizer. Need I go on? Pastor Brown, I respect you a great deal, but I disagree with some of the points that you agree with Mr. Piper on. Nevertheless, thank you for coming to the right conclusion. Those of us who realize that President Trump is keeping his promises, standing for Christian liberties, protecting the unborn as much as he can, standing against our enemies taking advantage of us, bringing our prisoners home, fighting to get our great economy back..and everything else..also realize that he is imperfect and brash and do not model our lives after him. But we also see a man who has changed a great deal, a man that the Holy Spirit is working on and is changing according to His timing, not ours. Instead of the Biden family, all of whom appear to be conflicted, compromised, and even perverted..none of them apparently ever having done anything honest or worthwhile-Trump, for all his playboy past, has a stellar family, all of them with great work ethics, and all of them, as far as I know, working for us for free, along with him (while the Biden family has leached off of his government positions in corrupt and disgusting ways for decades). Yet, many Christians intend to vote for Biden, one of the worst candidates for President we have ever seen. The Bidens make the Clintons look almost godly. And that is quite an accomplishment! So, here's an idea, Mr. Piper. How about we pray for our President and thank the Lord for all he's doing right and ask the Holy Spirit to do a great work in him, a work that we cannot even imagine could be true if it were told to us? One more suggestion-read Mario Murillo's blog.
czarpaul posted a comment · Oct 27, 2020
As to your second point it is easy to find something worth dying for the question is do we have something worth living for??! Instead of be so willing to die for Christ are we willing to LIVE for Christ??? The we're just passing through only worry about saving souls attitude is what got us here culturally. Do we now double down????? Being salt and light is more important right now than martyrdom. Too many would rather have the state snuff out their light than try and shine it anywhere!
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rpdeamici posted a comment · Oct 26, 2020
I believe it is big picture time for us US Christians. We need to vote for policies not personalities. Which party will fight for our religious freedom and allow for free expression and advancement of the gospel in the US? Jesus said some day persecution will come, but why be lazy and usher it in? Jesus told us to work while we have light and freedom. We must not give it away.
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Swkh310 posted a comment · Oct 26, 2020
Too little, too late. It took over 40 years, but the so-called “Christian” voting block has finally be exposed for the frauds I always suspected them to be.