John Piper says character trumps policy when it comes to Trump

Prominent US evangelical pastor and theologian John Piper has outlined why he’s “probably” not going to vote for Donald Trump, in an unprecedented blog post on his popular DesiringGod website.

Piper rarely weighs in on political matters, by his own reckoning because “my main calling is not to help America be anything, but to help the church be the church.”

In his blog post today, Piper decries Donald Trump’s character, arguing that the character of our leaders can lead to death, just as much as their policies.

“I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality, unrepentant boastfulness, unrepentant vulgarity, unrepentant factiousness , and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.”

Such unrepentant sin, says Piper, “destroy persons.”

“And through persons, they destroy nations.

“It is not a small thing to treat lightly a pattern of public behaviors that lead to death.”

“I find it bewildering that Christians can be so sure that greater damage will be done by bad judges, bad laws, and bad policies than is being done by the culture-infecting spread of the gangrene of sinful self-exaltation, and boasting, and strife-stirring.”

Piper says his words are long-overdue. In 2016 he wrote a treatise for why he believed Trump was “unqualified” for office. He did, however, also tweet that Hillary Clinton, too, was “unqualified”, calling for both 2016 Presidential candidates to step down from their campaigns in 2016.

However, the tone of Piper’s most recent writing is much stronger.

“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.”

Piper writes that Trump’s leadership is like “gangrene”, “corrupting” and “infecting” the nation, “at almost every level of society.”

Abortion in the United States is one of the biggest policy issues – if not the biggest issue – for the Christian voting bloc. But Piper warns against treating Trump’s character as somehow less destructive to human life than the Democratic Party’s policies on abortion.

“I find it bewildering that Christians can be so sure that greater damage will be done by bad judges, bad laws, and bad policies than is being done by the culture-infecting spread of the gangrene of sinful self-exaltation, and boasting, and strife-stirring.”

Piper is quick to remind his readers that abortion is the killing of a child. But, he says, it does not follow that a pro-abortion policies kill more people than a culture-saturating, pro-self pride.

“When a leader models self-absorbed, self-exalting boastfulness, he models the most deadly behavior in the world. He points his nation to destruction.”

“It is naive to think that a man can be effectively pro-life and manifest consistently the character traits that lead to death — temporal and eternal.”

Does that mean Piper will be voting for Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate? Not necessarily, he writes, calling a vote for Biden just a different type of “destruction”. Perhaps, he won’t be voting at all.

“My calling is to lead people to see Jesus Christ, trust his forgiveness for sins, treasure him above everything in this world, live in a way that shows his all-satisfying value, and help them make it to heaven with love and holiness. That calling is contradicted by supporting either pathway to cultural corruption and eternal ruin.”

“When I consider the remote possibility that I might do any good by endorsing the devastation already evident in the two choices before me, I am loath to undermine my calling (and the church’s mission) to stand for Christ-exalting faith and hope and love.”

UPDATED 4pm 23/10/2020

Since publishing this article, John Piper has clarified his position that he will not be voting for Trump OR Biden.

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