The day after the election, cheerless pallor spread across campus. And no, it was not merely the rainy weather. The gloom revealed many students’ reactions as they came to grips with the results of the election. Many, myself included, were astonished and disheartened that America could elect such an inexperienced, conceited, and bigoted man to lead our nation. However, although the president-elect is more flawed than other choices, no candidate for political office has ever been infallible.
As Emily Schutsky writes in her article, we ought to remind ourselves of this reality: human leaders are imperfect because they are sinners. As she rightfully advises, it is unwise to hope only in them. Instead, we are to place our hope in God and serve Him. The results of the election mandate a Christian response. No matter who is in power, our duty as Christians remains the same, to love God and to love others as ourselves.
While many in society will agree with such actions as engaging in political activism and standing in solidarity with those who are hurting, the Christian's response to the election is unique because Christian love is all-encompassing. It is not merely a reaction to the election but forms the core of our identities. Therefore, Christian love extends beyond our social circles, beyond the Church, beyond political affiliation, and beyond the zeitgeist.
First, Christians must love those outside our friends and family. While it may be easier to love those who agree with, understand, or are close to us, such love is not enough. Instead, Christians ought to love and listen to those with whom we have little to nothing in common. This is important if we are to fulfill our purpose as the body of Christ. The Church is designed so that, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."1 After the election, many members of the body are fearful or suffering. Those who are not must stand with those who are.
But Christian love is not limited to other believers either. It extends to those of all cultural, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It touches those who believe, vote, and act differently than we do. The election has produced division, hate, and fear. Christians must respond with empathy, compassion, and love. Jesus showed compassion to Jews and Samaritans, the rich and the poor, the Pharisees and the tax collectors, those who saw themselves as righteous and those who knew they had sinned. His people must do the same. Jesus' definition of neighbor was not exclusionary. Ours cannot be either. Instead of ignoring the concerns of those different from us, we should seek to listen to them, to stand in solidarity with them, and, if possible, act alongside them. Instead of condemning those who voted differently or who support different political parties, we should seek to understand why they did so, always speaking our views in love.
Further, Christian love is apolitical. In addition to loving those whose political beliefs differ from ours, we must also oppose harmful policies. Neither party has a monopoly on Christian ideas. Therefore, even when one party’s candidate wins, he or she will not necessarily implement policies that align perfectly with Christian values. We must speak out and fight against oppression and hate in government, and, I would argue, especially, if it emanates from within a party we support. Doing so shows that our loyalty to our King and our love for our neighbors are superior to our allegiance to any human authority.
Finally, Christians are to love others even when it is not as popular as it is now. After Trump's election, Christians have generally responded in parallel to non-Christians. We, too, post on social media, reach out to friends who are fearful, take part in marches, donate to rights groups. Within society, such general enthusiasm is likely to wane until it is revived by the next major crisis. However, Christians cannot merely be fair-weathered believers. We must always act in order to be seen by God, not men. When society becomes hostile or, perhaps more worrisome, indifferent to our actions, we must continue to actively pursue God's will. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." 2At some point the authorities will oppose us and society will become indifferent, but we are never to stop loving and serving others.
With all of its accompanying hate, division, and immorality, this election has not been a good one for the people of God. It is disheartening that the most cited statistic about Christians in regards to the election is that about 80% of self-described white evangelical voters voted for Trump. While such a statistic does not represent Christianity as a whole, have none of the Church’s accomplishments been more newsworthy? Surely we can do better. The election and its aftermath mean that we must do better. As Christians, our lights ought to shine before men. Now, as much as ever.
1. 1 Corinthians 12:26
2. Galatians 6:9
Nicholas Emery is a junior in the College studying Russian studies and Economics. He is interested in traveling, spending time with friends, learning about politics and international affairs, and being involved with anything to do with Russia.