No, Christians Who Vote Trump Are Not Guilty by Association

We’re hearing from Christians recently that if you vote for Donald Trump, you are “guilty by association,” that the Christian right is stained by the sins of Trump and will never be free from it, and that any who support him have soiled their Christian witness in the church and before the world.

I find this kind of talk appalling. I have, since the very start of this election season when Trump first burst onto the scene and his supporters were called stupid, godless, immoral, and unhinged. This stigmatizing of Trump supporters—particularly those who are Christians—began even before the sex tape was released.

My purpose here is not to defend Trump or his behaviors. Neither do I intend to defend Christians who are supporting him. I’ve already done that. My purpose is to address the false narrative that Christians who support Trump are guilty by their “association” with him and have, therefore, sacrificed their reputations on the altar of politics.

I want to address this because it is a serious allegation. It accuses Christians who are voting for a secular leader of being stained by his sins of sexual immorality, and possibly abuse, arrogance, greed, and vainglory—all by association. The list could go on when dealing with a character like Trump.

So, are Christians who support him “guilty by association”? No, and anyone who accuses them of that is blaspheming his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let’s begin by looking at how the Bible addresses “associating with sinners,” because it does indeed forbid such a thing. Associating with deeply immoral sinners not only tempts one to engage in their sins, but it does, in fact, soil one’s reputation.

There are a number of verses dealing with this:

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33)

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20)

“I do not sit with deceitful men, nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked” (Psalm 26:4-5)

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself” (Prov. 22:24-25)

In all of these instances—as well as others throughout Scripture—associating with the sinner is not a distant relationship, but an intimate one.  The word “associate” in the ancient texts connotes companionship, closeness, and friendship.

These verses have nothing to do with who you do business with, work for, interact with at school, or vote for in politics. In fact, Paul addresses this very point in 1 Corinthians 5 when he says the following regarding unrepentant sinners in the church, particularly those under church discipline:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

It’s interesting that Paul assumes you’ll associate with immoral people in the world, but the kind of “associating” Paul forbids here is intimate association with a Christian who has been disciplined by the church.

It has nothing to do with voting for a political leader or any other “worldly” interaction. Trump, who claims to be a Christian, hasn’t been disciplined by any church, and even if he were, voters aren’t spending intimate time with him. They are not his companions and, therefore, are not “associating with him.”