You Have Won Nothing; You Have Lost Nothing

Once upon a time, the Christian church dominated the culture in America. People who really didn’t care one way or the other said they were Christians by default. Our art, literature, and conversations were shot through with Christian references and symbolism. When you spoke of the widow’s mite or the battle of Jericho, you could be pretty sure that everybody knew what you were talking about.

Because the church dominated the culture so thoroughly, it also had a lot of influence on politics. Politicians — while still often of the species kickbackium pantsdownus — had to at least pretend to respect Christian principles and traditions. They had to at least pay lip service to, and sometimes do something substantive for, the interests of Christian citizens.

And lo, the church saw the political power before it, and it thought that it was good. So church leaders decided to pursue more of it, because they thought political influence was the best way to lead the country in a Godly direction. (And maybe just a little because they thought hanging out with political leaders was cool.) Jerry Falwell gave us the Moral Majority. Other religious leaders decided it was very important that they endorse (or denounce) particular candidates. But when you hang with politicians, you have to make certain compromises. And so compromise they did.

The church got so interested in pursuing political power that it forgot about its role in influencing the broader culture. But it realized too late that the only reason it ever had political influence was that it first had cultural influence. Once it lost cultural influence, then political influence went by the boards.

Now evangelical Christians are staggering around the ten car pile-up of what used to be American culture, wondering what happened, pants torn, checking their foreheads for blood. It’s completely understandable that they’d hope for someone to come along to tend to their wounds, sweep up the broken glass, and put things back like they used to be.

It’s also understandable that their standards would be pretty low. People who need a ride to the hospital don’t tend to be picky about who gives them a ride to the hospital. So, I completely understand evangelicals who felt like they had to vote for Trump. However, now that he’s been elected, the Little Orphan Annie-level of optimism over his potential as president makes me think that we haven’t learned the right lessons from our recent tribulations.

To my politically-minded evangelical brothers and sisters, President Trump is not going to make all of your dreams come true (though “President Trump” is a phrase that will never stop making me laugh). This single election has gained you nothing worth having nor lost anything worth losing.

If you want to be an influence for Christ in the world then your fight today is exactly the same as it was before the election. Our challenges are the same, and our salvation is the same. If you’re satisfied that Trump is in office, and you dust your hands off and say, “My work here is done,” then we’re going to keep on losing, and losing yuuuge. Political power should not — can not — be our goal. We’ve got much more important things to do than that.

Leave a Reply