Voted printed papers on white surface

A Response to John Piper’s Article Regarding This Presidential Election

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.

George Sayour
George Sayour

George is Senior Pastor of Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian
Church (PCA) in Lexington, NC. When he's not pastoring or writing, he's fishing, kayaking and spending time with his family.

Articles: 39

5 Comments

  1. Well said, George. What boggles my mind is the infidelity of past presidents WHILE in the office of president, John Kennedy, Bill Clinton and others with barely a ripple in ALL of society including Christian churches and circles.
    Now we have a 74 year old New Yorker who has a New Yorker attitude and is not afraid to call a Spade a Spade in the White House and he is condemned and vilified because he won’t be manipulated by Washington insiders AND he is not cheating on his wife. He is the right man for the job.

  2. Of course God forgives ALL sin, but I love this man’s response. John sounded high and mighty as a man of influence to speak out like this now. Did he write his own name in or used his stones to throw. No vote is still voting!!

  3. Many died in this country to secure our right to vote- The president is God’s choice for this country right now. He puts Kings in their place…. albeit he is “rough around the edges” I do appreciate his candor and total disrespect for political correctness. He is like listerine you may not like how it tastes but it is hard to argue with the results! Politics is dirty….. according to Piper we apparently need to vote in a Godly preacher in chief….. most Godly men don’t want to get that dirty.

  4. Great response George. So clearly and thoughtfully worded.
    I do not understand the position of Piper. I don’t look at our government to put a man after God’s heart in office, although that would be wonderful. I think he must dislike President Trump immensely. I do believe he is the man for the hour even though I find a lot about him to be offensive. I actually did not vote for him in the primaries and did not like his rudeness to the other candidates during the debates. I probably never have had a choice of a man for president in my life time that was honorable. They hid things very well. I could almost/sort of compare Trump to General Patton. He had a lot of personal flaws, but fought hard to defend our country. Even if it was because he loved the fight. Our recent presidents have been unfaithful to their calling to do what is best for the citizens in our country . Many of the men in our family spent 20+ years in the military with great sacrifice and never have I seen a man defend the military and law enforcement as he does. Our government is not a spiritual realm just like Israel’s kings were not. We can only pray and hope that Trump comes to the cross if he is elected and be led by the Spirit of Christ while in office.
    Thank you for being willing to respond to a man that influences many people, I guess.
    In appreciation,
    Lela Cozart

  5. Cornell’s response is also very good. Thank you George S. for your response to John Piper and what Cornell added.
    Lela C.

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