We’re also concerned with the specific reference to assassination. In fact Executive Order 12333 expressly addressed this: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination” (article 2.11 of Executive Order 12333 as amended in 2003, 2004, and 2008). It seems to us that to submit to governing authorities means to submit to this as well.
The President does not have the right to do “whatever” in response to another world leader. Of course he must forcefully deal with a man like Kim Jong-un. Of course he must defend our nation against all threats, but if he does so in a way that leads to the wanton waste of innocent human life, he will have only “saved the village by destroying it.”
In Whom Shall We Trust?
It is appropriate to recall the obvious here. Many Christians have supported Trump because they believe he will “keep this nation secure.” As Jeffress put it during the election: “I don’t want some meek and mild leader or somebody who's going to turn the other cheek. I've said I want the meanest, toughest SOB I can find to protect this nation.”
If pressed, these evangelical Christians would say they ultimately trust in God to protect the nation. And they would add that the current President is God’s anointed to do just that. But we have seen a fair amount of evidence to suggest that many evangelicals in the pews are confused about this. The most egregious—and, yes, extreme—was the fellow believer who proclaimed in a Facebook post that “Donald Trump is our salvation.”
None of us, on the left or right, escape the temptation to put our trust in a human leader to guide our nation into peace and justice. But the Bible warns us time and again about this sort of thing:
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (Ps. 118:-8-9)
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. (Ps. 146:3)
The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)…,
Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.Why hold them in esteem? (Is. 2:12, 22)
Yes, it is human beings, especially those in authority, who must take the practical steps to defend our nation. Yes, we need a strong military, with appropriate weapons to do just that. But we can never put our confidence in any leader or weapon (especially nuclear warheads). As Psalm 20:7 puts it:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today.