I have the utmost respect for John Piper. While I haven’t agreed with everything he has written or taught from a theological perspective, his ministry has been transformative in my understanding of the Gospel and in my walk with the Lord. I am indebted to him and Desiring God Ministries for this.
That being said, I don’t deify Pastors whom I respect. I don’t take what they say or write as infallible. I respectfully disagree with what John Piper wrote in Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin , specifically in his decision not to vote in this election because of Trump’s unrepentant attitude toward his numerous transgressions and because of Biden’s policy issues that directly contradict the teachings of Scripture. To be fair, he didn’t name Trump nor Bident, nor did he say he won’t vote in the article. However vague his recent article was though, it didn’t take much to infer these two things. Also to be fair, he doesn’t bind the consciences of other believers who have arrived at a differing viewpoint.
Let me say first, I respect Piper’s decision on this and I agree with much that John Piper wrote. For example:
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. This is true not only because flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, immorality, and factiousness are self-incriminating, but also because they are nation-corrupting. They move out from centers of influence to infect whole cultures. The last five years bear vivid witness to this infection at almost every level of society.
I agree wholeheartedly. The time is long overdue for Christians to stop defending this behavior. They never should have.
That being said, I disagree with Piper’s stance on not choosing between the devastation already evident in the two choices before me…(and not choosing) between death by abortion or death by arrogance… It shows a fundamental difference I have with Piper on what a vote means.
Piper says he won’t choose Policy over Person. Again, inferring that he can’t vote for the policies on the left, but he likewise can’t support the Person on the right. But, who is an acceptable Person to vote for? Certainly we aren’t looking for perfection and I know Piper isn’t either. So there is obviously a threshold. In the meantime human flourishing and justice are at stake.
Take for instance the fact that Piper’s church is ground zero for the Minneapolis Riots, where state and local leaders allowed the city to be destroyed and burned down in a lawless rage to the tune of $500 million in damage. In other words, for the health and welfare of the city, it would seem that Christians who love the city and their neighbors would have a compelling reason to advocate for the importance of Romans 13 and the role of government to maintain order and safety for its citizens. Surely one of the candidates would do a better job at what the Bible calls the responsibility of Governments. That is Policy. Not Person.
Environments where citizens are protected and poverty is low is at stake. Environments where businesses can thrive and the gifts of citizens can be used are at stake. Environments conducive to the spread of the Gospel are at stake. Environments where Christian parents can raise their families in the fear and admonition of the Lord is at stake. Environments that acknowledge the created order and truth of God are at stake. Environments where Churches can operate on Biblical Principles are at stake. While I know persecution is promised and it is probably coming, I don’t have to hasten it nor wish for it.
My vote does not mean I love the Person I am voting for. It does not mean I think the person is a good person. It does not mean I am electing the candidate to be the Pope of Protestantism in the U.S. A vote is not a vote on who deserves a humanitarian award. A vote for the President of the United States is a vote for who will govern the country by the laws of this country better and while maintaining Judeo-Christian principles which are the God ordained values for human flourishing. It is a vote for who will do what Romans 13 sets out as the purpose for human government under God.
I wish we had a good option. But given the choice between an arrogant immoral man who will uphold rule of law and advance policies that I believe are important for human flourishing and the propagation of the Gospel, between that man and a nice (yet still immoral) guy but is going to advance policies that legislate anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-Church, anti-family, anti-truth, I choose the arrogant guy who will in my estimation enact policies that more closely reflect Biblical values, even if his own life does not.
Then it is the Church’s job to counteract the bad influence of the Person’s behavior, while flourishing under the good and Godly Policies enacted. It seems Piper has gotten this backwards, wanting the President to reflect the Church’s job (morality) and the Church advising citizens against their governmental duty. We have a great honor, right, and responsibility in this country to vote. It is a right that billions in this world don’t have and haven’t had throughout history. We cast a vote based on who we believe will be better, not on who is perfect.
All that said, I do respect Piper’s decision. I can tell that he labored over it and it has not been fun to arrive at. I respect that Piper does not bind the consciences of others in this regard also. And so I do not bind his conscience on this either. (Its not as if he’ll ever see this anyway). I’ll close this article with a quote from that article.
I will be asked to give an account of my devotion to this life-giving calling. The world will ask. And the Lord of heaven will ask. And my conscience will ask. What will I say?
With a cheerful smile, I will explain to my unbelieving neighbor why my allegiance to Jesus set me at odds with death — death by abortion and death by arrogance. I will take him to Psalm 139 and Romans 1. And if he is willing, I will show him how abortion and arrogance can be forgiven because of Christ (Ephesians 1:7). And I will invite him to become an exile — to have a kingdom that will never be shaken, not even when America is a footnote in the archives of the new creation.