A friend of ours recently responded to my latest blog on Why Pastors Support Trump. I posted it on Facebook and my friend countered why he had trouble supporting Trump. He gave four reasons why it was difficult to support Trump’s presidency. Here is my response.
Thank you for your thoughts in regards to my article expressing how I see Trump upholding biblical principles. As I stated, we do not believe that President Trump represents followers of Christ in every area. To have such a president would be an anomaly for sure. I am only responding because I felt like these subjects needed to be addressed from my perspective since it was put out there publicly. In no way do I present my thoughts as superior to others, but it is important for you to know from where I am reasoning especially in light of the tensions over Trump.
You cited four reasons you have trouble supporting Trump. You identified (1) the treatment of the poor, (2) immigration, (3) the environment, (4) and the military as four areas that give you trouble. Please understand my article was not written to invite others to support him, but rather a careful consideration to a question presented to my wife and me of why we could support him as president “at all.”
I want to respectfully address these four areas from my presepective.
The Treatment of the Poor – I am not familiar with policies that Trump has altered from the previous administrations but let that be as it may. You stated business in and of itself as not fitting in with your understanding of ‘Christian values.’” I assume Christians agree on the call for and of compassion toward the poor, orphan, widow, and stranger. What I want to emphasize is the biblical means to help the poor as I see it.
There are four biblical ways to increase from poverty: (1) work, (2) investments, (3) gifts, and (4) inheritance. Gifts and inheritance obviously are not generated by the person who is poor, so that is not in the power of the poor to do anything about those two. Investments are not available for the poor either because virtually of not having enough to invest. Biblically, a poor person is someone who lives day to day (Deut 24:15).
Work is the only one of these four biblical means to acheiving wealth that a poor person can control or participate in personally. So “business” becomes paramount to helping the poor. The poor who lack from their work are seen as the “working poor.” They deserve help. Governments cannot create wealth. Governments can only take the peoples’ money through taxation and use it. Business is the ONLY means of creating wealth. Whether it is a cattle and herd business as Abraham had, or crops and selling of products as the Hebrews had, all of it is business and God’s means given to gain wealth. Yes, man can be greedy and selfish, but that is as a result of depravity and the fall of mankind not business. A person can even believe they created wealth themselves but it is God’s grace that allows anyone to increase. God told his people, “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today (Deut 8:17-18). If God gives the power to gain wealth through business whether it is agricultural or other ways it must be seen as a biblical value. That is why Paul gave the command and warning to believers who were not willing to work. He wrote to the Thessalonians, “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-13). This charge from Paul, the apostle, cannot be passed off as harsh or unloving. He commands them to work and earn the food they eat. The only right he refers to for himself is that he was laboring in the Gospel when he was among them and the laborer is worthy of his hire, yet he gave them the example of working in “business” (tent business) so they would follow the same “Christian values.”
Biblically the most loving thing one can do for someone who is lazy or unwilling to work, is to reprove them. That is compassion. That is biblical compassion. The sluggard is reproved in Proverbs 6 and God puts sanctions on the sluggard in Proverbs 20. He has no crops because he has not labored to plow and plant, therefore he must beg. The Christian work ethic is based upon solid biblical grounds.
Widows, orphans, or those physically or mentally unable to work also deserve help. Generosity that God commands is from His people. He moves on their heart to obey this principle and give accordingly. The New Testament tells us how to assist them (1 Tim 5). Many laws dealing with the poor reveals God’s heart to protect them from exploitation. There is a potential of oppressing the poor. That is evil. To treat them unfairly and to take advantage of them by withholding their daily wages (Deut 24:15) is forbidden. This happens all the time and is wrong. The Bible is strong on bringing judgement for not showing compassion. Injustice against the alien, widow, and orphan will bring a curse (Deut 27:19). We are to seek justice and defend the widow and the orphan (Isa 1:17). Biblical generosity is placed upon individuals and families. National greatness does not come about by governmental legislation or coercion. Gifts are one of God’s means of increase, but it must come by the hand of God moving upon individuals and families. This gives the Church the opportunity to be what God has called us to be.
Gleaning laws in the Old Testament shows that “work” was intended for a means to help the poor while maintaining their dignity (Lev 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut 24:19-22). The poor were not allowed to go into the market and take food but they could go out in the fields and glean. The owners of the land were commanded to not harvest their corners and to leave some on the vines to allow for poor workers to come and take. The poor did not own land but were allowed to work in the fields. It was harder work gleaning because it was the leftovers, but it was God’s way of providing. It was business, once again that provided for the poor. This is a good case for having lower wages and allowing business to let workers benefit. The poor would not always remain poor but could work their way out of poverty. Without landowners, there would be no gleaning. Note God did not command the landowners to sell their property and give it away, but rather He instituted a means whereby their “business” was a means to bless the poor.
An excellent example of this understanding and of the personal nature of the prosperous blessing of others through “business” was demonstrated by of former Vice Presidents Dick Chaney and Al Gore. I remember when Al Gore was Vice President. He was a great proponent of using government funds to help the poor, but he was not personally generous. Although Gore had a high income and was a very wealthy man, it was shown by his tax records that he gave $350 total to charity. Wheras when Dick Chaney was Vice President, with comparable income and wealth, he was often charged with being rich and greedy. Yet Cheney personally gave 7.8 million a year to charity. So, my question is who is the most compassionate? Those are not isolated examples. Those who are prosperous and generous are used by God to bless many. It honors God when generosity is demonstrated.
You cite Psalm 72 as scriptural proof of governments having authority to confiscate wealth from its people to redistribute wealth. Psalm 72 is David’s prayer and is a prophetic Psalm of Christ as King. His prayer for Solomon, the king, is a picture of Christ who would come and be greater than Solomon. His dominion is forever and from sea to sea. He shall save his people, both Jew and Gentile in the Church. It is declared, those who are lowly and needy shall be saved along with their children (John Gill’s Commentary of the Bible). This Messianic Psalm is not strong enough evidence to build a case for governments redistributing wealth.
To give the State the authority to determine the outcomes of wealth is unbiblical. To provide the state with that power is a form of Socialism and Communism. The Bible does not support either. God warned Samuel that it was not His will for the people to be like other nations and have a king. He told Samuel the people were rejecting Him as God. He told them if they received a king there would be heavy taxation and their sons and daughters would be made servants as the king would claim his rights (1 Samuel 8). We have not biblical authority to support Statism.
Socialism is immoral and breaks three of the Ten Commandments. (1) It is theft by vote – “Thou shalt not steal.” (2) It makes the state sovereign – “You shalt not have any other Gods before Me.” When the early church had all things in common, it was not by coercion or by confiscation by the Church or the State. Peter made it clear to Ananias and Sapphira that their money was in their possession and they had the power to do with it whatever they decided (Acts 5:4). The call for generosity to the poor is always from the heart of God and is in His hand to move the heart of mankind to give generously. That is why Paul often spoke of Christians being reminded of that call. We can lead and persuade, but biblically we cannot take money from one and give it to another in the name of Christian compassion. When we do we make the state sovereign. The government must be subject to God. (3) Socialism is based on covetousness — “Thou shall not covet.” It creates class envy. It pits the poor against the rich.
You make a statement that reveals this ideology when you say, “We (USA) are already at the top of the global economic ‘food chain.’ To have more when we collectively already have over-abundantly betrays one of the most grievous sins of all – greed, also known as idolatry in the Scripture.” That is spoken as an indictment to abundance. Only God can determine what is too much. That kind of thinking promotes envy and covetousness. Each of us should be content with food and clothing, but not be accused for abundance. There is nothing wrong in having much or God would never have made Abraham rich. The sin is not in having abundance. Greed is a sin not based on one’s possessions, but envy and lack of trust in God. Generosity should be a practice of all believers especially those who are rich. However, none should be indicted for their possessions or coerced into giving them away. Paul commands the rich to be generous but does not malign them for being such. Rather, he corrects them for trusting in riches and being arrogant in heart and attitude. He wrote to Timothy, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Notice, the reproof is not over having too much but for not putting their hope in God. He tells them that God has provided everything for enjoyment. The Lord is the one who makes rich and poor. We are told in 1 Samuel, “The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor” (1 Sam 2:6-8).
You point out that the US gives less percentage of its coffers to foreign aid than many other nations. You make foreign aid a Christian value. It is true the US does give less than many countries by percentage but, nearly twice in dollar amounts than any other nation. Nevertheless, foreign aid is unbiblical. No command is provided for one nation to give to another. So much of foreign aid never gets to the need of the poor. It often remains in the hands of the rulers and benefits the elite of those nations receiving aid.
God’s way is to call nations to Him so the people will prosper. This exalts the Lord of the nations. Yes, as Christians, we should go to the countries, serve, give generously, help in every way voluntarily to demonstrate the Gospel, but not to take tax dollars and give them away to another nation. God provides us with a pattern of how nations are provoked to turn to Him. He tells His people, “The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you (Deut 28:9-11). Biblical prosperity is from God. Prosperity should not be understood to mean to have large amounts of money but God’s full provision for every need. Maybe that is why Proverbs says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the bread that is my portion. Otherwise, I may have too much and deny You, saying, “Who is the LORD?” Or I may become poor and steal, profaning the name of my God (Proverbs 30:8-9).
God also uses financial sanctions to direct nations to Himself. Historically everywhere the gospel has gone the nations have prospered. When nations reject the gospel they have not prospered. I use the term prosperity meaning God’s blessings and not just financial reward. The Psalmist tells us the nations that refuse to kiss the Son will perish from the earth (Psalm 2). The purpose of all things is to bring the nations to Christ (Acts 17:26-27).
Immigration — Today’s issues with immigration are difficult because our nation has so many unbiblical policies in place it is hard to reason to an authoritative conclusion. First of all, the strangers or aliens in the Old Testament were in different categories. Several Hebrew words are translated as stranger, foreigner and alien. James Hoffmeier, points this out in his book, “The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible,” published by Crossway. He shows that the word “ger” was a permanent resident who entered Israel and followed legal procedures to obtain standing as a resident alien. He explains the Hebrew words “nekhar” and “zar” refers to the foreigner passing through or an invading force. They were addressed differently. The foreigner (nekhar and zar) were not allowed to bring in their families or kin without the approval of the citizens of the country.
God’s people started out as migrants when they were called out of their country. We can find the heart of God revealed toward the stranger when He commands, “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the stranger. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you. You shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 19:33–34). In ancient times there were clear borders and boundaries of Canaan (Ex 16:35), Egypt (1Kings 4:21; 2 Chron 9:26) and Israel (1 Sam 27:1). We are told in the scriptures that God determines boundaries or borders of nations (Acts 17:26-27). So there is nothing wrong with having borders. It can be argued that God determines the sovereign borders of a nation.
When Sarah died, Abraham was an alien “ger” (permanent resident) and sought to buy land as a foreigner from the Hittites. We are told, “Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, “I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead” (Gen 23:3–4). Abraham recognized as an alien “ger,” and he must conform to the customs and laws of the land where he was residing. This was later provided in as God’s law (Ex 12:49). He showed respect for the citizens of Canaan while recognizing he was a migrant. He offered to purchase the land and did not expect anything to be given to him.
We also see that countries have the right and responsibility to determine who can enter their land and under what circumstances. In Numbers 20, the Israelites asked for permission to pass through the land of Edom. The Edomites refused. The Israelites promised not to drink their water and not to harm the land, but the Edomites said if you come across our borders you will be met with a force, so Israel turns away. Israel respected the Edomite’s sovereign right as a nation to have their boundaries.
In truth, if we were to embrace biblical law and principles regarding immigration wholly, we would open our doors. There would only be these exceptions; anyone with a severe disease would be quarantined, and criminals would not be allowed other than that we would open wide the gates. However, to follow the biblical example, we would have to abandon all social services of welfare and government assistance and the minimum wage law. Then you could open the doors. New workers could find work for lower wages and be willing to work their way up in prosperity. That is how our founding fathers came to America. Many worked as indentured servants to work their way out of poverty. If we are going to discuss the correct biblical view of immigration, we would have to change so much in our present nation. Also, each immigrant would have to assimilate into the land and embrace the laws and order of this country or otherwise be deported.
As Christians, I also see the stranger among us is the unbeliever. We are citizens of the Jerusalem above and are joined with the common wealth of the Israel of God. Our compassion toward others and receiving them among us is another example of accepting the stranger.
Environment — As God’s children, we are called to be caretakers of His “garden,” which includes the earth. We are to be conservationists but not preservationists. A conservationist lets the land rest, but he does not stop planting crops and expanding the fields. A conservationist cuts down a tree and plants another one knowing that God makes it grow. A preservationist, which is what environmentalists are, insist that we leave things as they are and see man as the problem. They believe that man will destroy this earth. That is not biblical and is a godless mindset. The earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof. God made man higher than any other creation and gave him responsibilities to manage, but ultimately God is in charge of the weather. I want us to be good stewards but there is too much of an agenda behind the environmental movement. Modern-day environmentalists have an agenda to bring the nations of the world under Statism. Environmental laws have done more to create poverty than almost any other policies. Regulations have killed jobs that would have provided prosperity, all in the name of global warming and the environment.
Military — The outcome of the Gospel is that our hearts are changed, and men beat their swords into plowshares, but until then I will continue to lock my car and my house. Exodus 22 gives us the right to protect our home from invaders. This principle is clear that if someone breaks in at night one does not even have to ask a question or wait to see their motive. If that invader is killed, then the one who protected his family is without guilt. If it is in the daylight, then one can only defend themselves if they are actually in danger. That concept is where our self-protection laws come from. If a reasonable person believes they are in danger, they can protect themselves. So it is with nations. God permits a nation the right to defend its citizens from danger and harm from within and without. This principle of the God-given right of self-protection is the foundation of our belief in a nation’s right of military defense. America is not given to invasion or aggression, but to protect. It is permissible for one neighbor to ask another neighbor to help protect his family and property. So it is with one nation to another. Much of our military expense is to defend our allies in the world.
I do like that President Trump is renegotiating many deals to get the other nations to pay for their fair share. In a fallen world where evil persists, we as a nation must be able to protect our citizens from enemies within and without.
My friend, I love your heart for people. I love your compassion for the nations of the world. Thanks for letting me respond to a different, but not new view of the four topics listed above. I know better men than us have seen differntly on these subjects.
Here are some authors from whom I have gathered over the years:
Olasky, Marvin. Tragedy of American Compassion. Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing., 1992.
Chilton, David. Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators, A Biblical Response to Ronald J. Sider. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics., 1981. (Chilton’s book is a response to Ronald Sider’s book entitled, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger)
DeMar, Gary. God and Government, Complete (3-Volume Set) Brentwood, Tenn: Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers., 1989