Should Christians Vote Trump in Self-Defense? Don’t Be Too Scrupulous to Consider It.

By John Zmirak Published on August 12, 2016

The threat gets worse each day.

Even as jihadists slaughter priests at Christian altars, and ISIS boasts that it’s smuggling terrorists in with “refugees” (many economic migrants), the Democrats join globalist Republicans to claim that it’s “unconstitutional” to ask potential immigrants to renounce sharia theocracy. True, foreign residents aren’t covered by the Constitution … but shut up, bigot!

The “Catholic” Virginia Democratic senator who’s running for Vice President has thrown out the pro-life convictions he used to campaign on, and now he campaigns with baby-parts magnate Cecile Richards.

The State of California just tried to strip run-of-the-mill federal aid from any college that hews to Christian morality by, for instance, prohibiting extramarital sex on campus or refusing to hire practicing homosexuals. It took a coordinated effort of churches and Christian colleges to get that provision stripped from an upcoming bill.

In Illinois, the Republican governor just stripped away conscience rights for pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers, ordering them to refer women for abortions.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a Birkenstock, crushing a human face, forever.

These are the types of policy that will be imposed nationwide if Hillary Clinton is elected. We have already seen how aggressive and shameless the Obama administration was willing to be with its diktat on “transgender” bathrooms, and high-handed grant of executive “amnesty” to illegal aliens. We heard Obama’s solicitor general tell the Supreme Court that churches which oppose same-sex marriage ought to lose their tax exemptions (and hence, go broke).

If that’s how a lame-duck Democrat acts facing a wholly Republican Congress and a closely divided Supreme Court, just imagine what a cocky Hillary Clinton would get away with in her first 100 days. Think about how the radicals she will appoint to the courts will be ruling 20 or 30 years from now — plucking crucial issues out of the reach of voters, including your children and grandchildren.

But you needn’t tax your imagination: Just look at California. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a Birkenstock, crushing a human face, forever.

Is Voting for the Lesser Still Evil?

Those are the stakes. And yet the 2016 race presents a genuine moral dilemma, over whether to support Donald Trump in order to stop Hillary Clinton. There are some good reasons that many conservatives and Christians are deeply reluctant to vote for Trump. Is it worth tying ourselves to a candidate so undisciplined and apparently unprincipled? What cost could that exert on our credibility in the future? This bears further thought.

There are also a number of bad reasons why people might refuse to back the GOP candidate, despite his pro-life platform and the prospect that he will likely be less hostile than the Democrat. Those bad reasons are what I’d like to examine here. Those bad reasons, I want to suggest, arise from an overreaction to certain kinds of sin, an overreaction that lands a body on the far side in other kinds of sin.

The Other Seven Deadly Sins

When I researched The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins, I learned many key moral distinctions. The most useful was one which goes back to Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle: In almost every area of life, the virtuous path is a “Golden Mean” that threads between two opposite extremes, both of which are sinful. 

It’s pretty easy for believers to recognize activities that fall under each of the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Wrath, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Vainglory and Envy.

Most of us have learned, from parents or pastors, about the virtues we are meant to practice instead: Chastity, Patience, Generosity, Diligence, Humility, and Magnanimity (greatness of soul).

What we don’t hear about are the much more sinister tempters’ traps which we fall into when we try to avoid those Deadly Sins and overshoot the mark, to land in a fresh new sin that’s the mirror image of the one we were fighting. Most of the nonsense, preening, neurosis, backbiting and folly that you find in Christian circles arises from people who have lurched far past the Golden Mean and embraced those opposing sins, which Screwtape has convinced them are simply purer, more “radical” versions of the Virtues. I’ll give a few examples:

  • Someone fighting Lust in the wrong way can end up embracing Frigidity, despising God’s creation.
  • Reacting against sinful Wrath, a person might decide that any defense of one’s legitimate interests is wicked. But such Servility enables the wicked to prosper. (See: Neville Chamberlain, Angela Merkel.)
  • Those fighting Vainglory can blunder right past Humility into Scrupulosity — an obsession with the size of their own or their culture’s sins. And the culture praises them for it. You’ll never lose a job or a grant for embracing multiculturalism that bashes only the West or only Christians.

Too many Christians today are leaping like St. Peter out of the boat, right into one or more of these Seven Deadly Neuroses. And that fact is becoming apparent when they talk about this election — and exhibit all the symptoms of suicidal Servility and preening Scrupulosity.

Scrupulously Impractical

In an opinion column I only have space to explore one of these two, and I want to focus on the second because I’m convinced that scrupulosity plays the larger role for politically conservative Christians attracted to the purity of the NeverTrump position.

Hillary Clinton is a profound menace not just to abstract justice, but to our legitimate self-interest. She directly threatens the religious freedom of Christians — whom she thinks need to be re-educated to favor abortion — and favors the mass influx of still more intolerant, unvetted and unvettable believers in totalitarian sharia. She wants to increase funding to Planned Parenthood, which is campaigning on her behalf, with the money it made by selling tiny human brains and lungs packed up in Styrofoam coolers.

Let’s not fool ourselves about Donald Trump, or assume that this elderly, hard-headed narcissist is likely to improve by one iota apart from some rare and profound miracle. But Trump does have certain negative qualities which in dark times like these may be comparative virtues:

  • He has not vigorously promised to persecute us.
  • He has not pledged to fill the bench with pro-abortion, anti-marriage radicals.
  • He does not have baby-parts cannibals out campaigning for him, or radical mosques running voter registration drives on his behalf.
  • His closest advisor is not a Muslim whose last job before the White House was editing an Islamist journal funded by Saudi Arabia, aimed at radicalizing Muslim immigrants in the West— like Hillary’s right-hand woman, Huma Abedin.

Trump has even said some supportive things, chosen some Evangelical Christians as advisers, and listed worthy judges whom he might appoint.

But let’s say we don’t believe his word on any of those issues. The pagan warlord Constantine was not a model of virtue either. He was ruthless, power-hungry and bloody-minded — just like his Roman rivals. But one thing he pledged, which his competitors did not, was to stop hunting and killing the Church of Christ, and that was better than the alternative in those grim times. Christians were not too scrupulous in his day to accept his proffered protection merely because his personal life wasn’t savory or his promises provably trustworthy. In our fallen world and these grim times, Trump’s negative virtues may be better than the only live alternative.

A Firewall for Freedom

There, are of course, additional actions we can take in the cause of freedom. I vigorously warned against Mr. Trump all through the primaries, and am quite ambivalent about him now, especially given how petty and vindictive he has shown himself toward those who proved themselves man enough to stand up to him, such as Senator Ted Cruz.

I understand those who choose to vote for none of the above. If Trump is elected, no less than if Hillary is, we will need many senators like Mr. Cruz willing, regardless of party loyalty, to push back against a president with little interest in the U.S. Constitution. We should not grow so fixated on the presidential election that we fail to support and champion a firewall of freedom in Congress against whichever of the two leading candidates becomes president.

Understand, we have not just a right but a duty to defend our legitimate interests and those of our children and grandchildren, and to speak back against the calumnies which the culture hurls at the Church. To refuse to do either one, in the name of being “winsome” or currying favor with the media, is neither to practice Patience nor Humility. It’s to let the Devil lead us by the nose with the promise of an unattainable “purity” to a comfy, apolitical ghetto where the Church’s enemies will cosset us and praise us — the spayed and neutered Christians they have thoughtfully declawed so they can keep us as household pets.

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