Christians Can Disagree on Trump and Still Be Family

By Michael Brown Published on October 10, 2018

Given the volatility of today’s political climate, it may surprise you to know that, on Judgment Day when we give account to God, His main question to us will not be: What did you do with Donald Trump? Yet for many of us who profess to be followers of Jesus, that’s the big issue: Where do you stand with Trump?

This cannot be the basis of our fellowship.

This cannot be the basis of our love for one another.

This cannot be the basis of our commitment to work together for larger gospel purposes.

Put another way, we can be family without full agreement. We can be united without having total harmony on all points.

This is not only possible. It is essential.

Jesus’ Prayer for Unity

Jesus said to His followers, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

And He uttered these incredible words in prayer shortly before His crucifixion:

I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23)

Did you grasp the significance of these words?

As Francis Chan writes in his book Letters to the Church,

Jesus’ prayer was not that we would just get along and avoid church splits. His prayer was that we would become “perfectly one.” He prayed this because our oneness was designed to be the way to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus said the purpose of our unity was “so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them.”

What Does the World See?

Our unity is that important, not just for our good, but for the good of the world. As they see our unity, they will recognize that the Father sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world. But is this what the watching world is seeing?

Far from it. We swipe at each other publicly, and often without any grace. We are nasty, mean-spirited, and judgmental — to one another, within the Body. Some of our social media pages are so ugly that they sound like political attack ads.

We bash more than we bless. We tear down more than we build up. We scatter more than we gather — and again, I’m talking about how we treat one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus.

We Can Differ and Still be Family

As a committed pro-lifer, I can’t imagine how another follower of Jesus could vote for pro-abortion candidates like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

But that cannot be the basis of our fellowship.

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In the same way, there are committed followers of Jesus who cannot understand how any of us could vote for Trump.

Yet we cannot allow our opinions about Trump (or Obama or others) to be the basis of our unity in Jesus.

This simply cannot be. It is contrary to Scripture, which never makes our political views the foundation of our unity. It is contrary to God’s heart, who longs for His children to be one. And it is contrary to wisdom, since we know that to the extent we are divided, to that extent we fail and fall.

And here’s the thing about family. We can express our differences and still be family. We can say, “I totally disagree with your decision,” and still be committed.

Learning From Melania

Melania Trump can teach us here.

While traveling to Egypt, she was asked by reporters if she always agreed with her husband’s tweets. She responded, “I don’t always agree [with] what he tweets and I tell him that. I give him my honest opinion and honest advice. Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn’t. I have my own voice and my opinions and it’s very important to me that I express how I feel.”

That’s what faithful wives do. That’s the language of love. That’s what commitment requires. “I love you, but I differ with you here.”

That’s being family.

Melania was even asked if she sometimes tells her husband to put down his phone. She replied, “Yes!”

There is no person on the planet closer to me than my bride of 42 years, Nancy. She is my best friend and the greatest gift the Lord has given me in this world. And no one — absolutely no one — tells me I’m wrong more than she does. No one offers me (unsolicited!) correction more than she does. And no one on the planet is more committed to me than she is.

Donald Trump Is Not Our Savior

In my new book Donald Trump Is Not My Savior I call on evangelical supporters of the President to be more nuanced in their support. You can vote for him and support him and do what Melania did. You can say, “I voted for him and support him, but I wish he didn’t say that.”

Why must is be 100 percent support or 100 percent opposition? Is that even realistic?

If we allow politics to divide us, the devil wins, and all of us — meaning both the church and the world — lose.

In the same way, we can say to our spiritual family, “I can’t see how you could vote for Hillary (or, for Trump), but can we agree that Jesus is Lord? That the Bible is God’s holy Word? That we need to love one another and love our neighbor? That there’s far more that unites us than divides us?”

You might say, “But no genuine follower of Jesus could vote for Hillary!”

To be candid, I strongly warned against such a vote, saying we would have the blood of the unborn on our hands. Yet I know sincere Christians who did vote for her, although I passionately disagree with their vote.

Others would say, “No genuine follower of Jesus could vote for Trump!”

And around and around the circle goes, to the point that we break off fellowship over political issues.

To repeat: This cannot be.

Respectfully Disagreeing

I have counseled pastors with multi-ethnic congregations to have a public meeting where articulate church members who had totally disparate political views could take a few minutes to explain why they vote the way they do.

Even if they don’t change anyone’s mind, at least they foster understanding. Then the pastor can give biblical guidelines for voting, and the congregants can respond accordingly.

This much is sure: If we allow politics to divide us, the devil wins, and all of us — meaning both the church and the world — lose.

Unfortunately, our current church divisions are massive. Let’s not make them any bigger. Let’s unite around the essentials of the gospel and work together to make Jesus known to a lost generation. And we can do so while respectfully expressing our differences with each other.

Are you with me?

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  • Paul

    “And we can do so while respectfully expressing our differences with each other.

    Are you with me?”

    I have yet to see that work out with a good result, especially when it revolves around doctrine. It quickly becomes the expectation to respect differences and we end up with things like ordained homosexuals and a distorted Christian faith.

    • Athena771

      My husband and i have doctrinal differences, yet we are still married and love each other.

      What do you propose that we divorce?

      • Paul

        I haven’t proposed anything here, marriage or otherwise. But no, I don’t propose divorce as a way to deal with doctrinal differences in a marriage. That’s not something the Bible endorses so neither do I.

      • Could you describe these “doctrinal differences?”

  • tz1

    You are attempting to split politics from religion, but fail. The question is not WHETHER someone voted for Trump or Hillary, but WHY. Keep Gay Marriage and Abortion? Which Jesus do they follow? Prudential – I can’t make the case Hillary could be better than Trump, but perhaps it could have been made back before the election when we were unsure what either would actually do.

    So I don’t understand your point. Light can have nothing in common with Darkness. Those in the light might disagree in non-essentials, but even that doesn’t happen.

    What of the Westboro Baptist Church? Or another example:

    James Edwards believes in Southern pride. His church is
    Lighthouse Baptist Church of Bartlett, Tennessee
    and they were expelled from the Southern Baptist convention.

    Edwards is completely orthodox and pro-life and on all the other essentials of the faith. But apparently you can be a skeptic on life or gay marriage and be part of the “family”, but if you believe the bible is literal on “nations”, you will be disowned?

    “How dare you talk to Nazis!”? I see Planned Parenthood and the actual Nazi, Margaret Sanger that spoke to the KKK who founded it as something too far since it murders a million babies a year here. Nationalists don’t want to harm anyone, just be left to themselves.

    Somehow the late George Tiller’s church was and still is part of the family, but Lighthouse Baptist is not?

    I missed the outrage at expelling Lighthouse Baptist over a disagreement which is less relevant than Hillary vs Trump.

    Where I see your attempt at staying in with the family is that the orthodox don’t have a problem with it, but the heretics will use this attempt at being nice to destroy the Gospel. You won’t be able to preach that abortion or gay sex is evil, lest it bother someone in the “family”, but they can screech about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, islamophobia and get you thrown out of that “family”.

    I missed all the screaming at the hearings and last minute serious accusations for Kagan. You cannot unify in peace with an enemy, especially a subtle one. At best you will be nice and accomodating, but they will use that as a weakness to infiltrate and destroy you.

    No, better to be unified in heaven strongly defending what we consider to be true, even if we have seen through a glass darkly and it will only be clear then, than to compromise everything about what we believe in the name of a false peace that really means surrender in the face of the devil implanting heresies.

    Political considerations aren’t heresies, but heretics will have political considerations.

    Let God decide and bless those who are following him – we aren’t told to respect every tree, but by their fruit we will know them. A poison branch grafted onto a good tree will still produce poison fruit.

    I respect people more that won’t bend, much less break with their tradition even though we vehemently disagree, than one that weakens his position to accomodate anything and everything.

    • Hornet

      I like Brown ..but for years I have said he is just sooooo wimpy. He is sooooo afraid of offending someone…Grief.

  • Athena771

    i usually do not agree with Michael Brown, but i do agree with him on this article. My husband and I have differences even doctrinal differences, but we are still together and neither one of us is going to divorce because of our theological or political differences.

    Relationship is more important then politics or doctrine.

    • Paul

      “Relationship is more important then politics or doctrine.”

      First looking at your whole comment, marriage is a special type of relationship that has guidelines unique to it. So what holds true for a marriage doesn’t apply to all relationships.

      Second regarding the part I quoted, read 1 Cor 5 and ask yourself what is more important, doctrine or realtionship in the church.

  • Rodney Hart

    John Dickson in his book Humilitas speaks about Conviction and Humility…We have forgotten how to flex two mental muscles at the same time: the muscle of moral conviction and the muscle of compassion to all regardless of their morality. Secular society no less than religion often operates on a narrow-minded logic: you can only love those whose lives you approve of. You can only be friends with people who agree with you. The logic can take you in two directions. The religious version reduces the number of people it loves—to match the few lifestyles it approves.
    Humility applied to convictions doesn’t mean believing things any less;it means treating thops with contrary beliefs with respect and friendship.

  • Nick Stuart

    Trump was the least worst choice. Since then I’ve been pretty pleased with how he has conducted himself. I can however understand he isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea. Ask a Trump opponent why, and you are likely to be told “He’s a racist.” He wasn’t a racist until he ran for president, before then he was winning awards from the NAACP and similar groups. “He’s a sexist.” He does like the ladies, no question. But in terms of opening up opportunities in his administration there’s a long list of woman appointees: his press secretary, UN ambassador, political director, DHS secretary, and so on.

    Most Democrat’s critiques of Republicans run along the same lines. Propose reforming Social Security, you want to push grandma off a cliff. Propose changes to Obamacare and you want people to die. Question how preferential admissions policies to colleges disadvantage Asian students, you’re a racist. You get the idea. A lot of subjective name calling.

    Now the Democrats, they’re the party of:
    *Abortion at any time for any reason paid for by the taxpayer
    *Forcing you to provide services to same-sex marriage ceremonies no matter any conscientious objection you may have
    *Forcing you to allow biologically intact males to use your wife/daughter/mother’s toilet and locker facilities as long as they identify as women. Subjecting you to legal penalties if you don’t go along with this.

    These are objective facts. That is what the Democrat Party stands for.

    When it comes to fellow Christians, these are not “split the difference, agree to disagree” issues like eschatology or what color to paint the sanctuary. Compromise is impossible, especially on the issue of abortion.

  • Jim Walker

    Frankly, what is there to disagree with Trump’s Policies ?
    I don’t agree of him making more enemies along the way though because it only piles up more attacks on us.

  • Hornet

    Brown…wrong again. It isn’t Trump ..it is that we have whole swaths ..e.g. the black population who put their race over their faith ..That is NOT even debatable ..Voting Demonkraut is some sort of ‘black solidarity ‘ test and that is pure racism ..The Demonkrauts are Anti God on just about every issue …so if they are voting for them ..then they are anti God ..What kind of society do the Dems want…Look on every issue …Now they are so perverse they want a society where real, traditional , Biblical Christians cannot even speak in public…Where boys and girls cannot even be brought up as …boys and girls…Where homosexual marriage is normal …Where marriage is rare …normal marriage and where fornication is accepted as just as good as marriage. They believe that materialism and Marxism (critical theory) explain man and attack every pillar that made our society great..Yet leftist “Christians” will vote to support all this and much more such as no longer believing in free speech. If you are really regenerate …you will hate evil ..and will want to see God’s will done on Earth ..and you will want to see God’s Kingdom grow and man’s recede…The Dems and their supporters are promoting the very opposite…They are all ..ALL about the kingdoms of this world.;

  • Juan Garcia

    I printed up a large “No politics zone” sign and I place it at the center of the table for our small groups meetings. Somehow we seem to spend a lot more time in the Word, prayer and friendly fellowship since.

  • Denise Spears Roddy

    Thank you for this article that graciously calls us to prayerful consideration of our words and attitudes to our earthly families and spiritual families.

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