When Pastor Mark Burns opened up the Republican National Convention with prayer on Monday night, he could not have made himself more clear. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, was a believer in Jesus Christ, and the enemy was not other Republicans but rather "Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party."
Interestingly, Pastor Burns is an African American, and in many other African American churches, prayer will be offered for Hillary Clinton, just as it was offered for Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008.
For Burns, however, there was no doubt about the matter. He proclaimed that "we" — meaning the Republicans — "are the conservative party under God," called "to defeat every attack that comes against us."
Could he be right?
Let's review the party platforms, comparing where they stand on some of the biggest issues that divide us, namely, abortion, marriage, and Israel.
To me, the Scriptures are clear on these issues: We should be pro-life, we should be pro-marriage (as God intended it, therefore opposing the redefinition of marriage), and we should be pro-Israel (which does not mean dismissing the needs of the Palestinians but does mean showing real solidarity with the Jewish state).
Although the Democratic platform has not been finalized (or, at least, released to the public), from what we can tell, the contrast between the party platforms is as stark as the contrast between night and day. And make no mistake about it: When it comes to these critical issues, from a conservative perspective, the Democratic platform represents "night."
As for abortion, a headline on Lifenews.com announced, "Republicans Adopt Most Pro-Life Platform Ever Condemning Abortion and Planned Parenthood."
For a party that has historically been strongly pro-life, that is quite a statement.
In contrast, Planned Parenthood has never had a better friend than Hillary Clinton, with the Democratic platform lurching further left than ever before, which is also saying a lot.
When it comes to marriage and family, the Republican platform is so conservative that it has drawn the mockery of the liberal media, with the Huffington Post declaring, "GOP Platform Committee Bucks 21st Century, Reaffirms Anti-LGBT Stance."
Conservatives could hardly look for a better compliment, since "anti-LGBT" really means pro-family, pro-gender distinctions, and pro-marriage (again, as God intended it to be, namely, the union of one man and one woman).
As for the Democrats, suffice it to say that the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision is merely the foundation for their radical redefinition of the sacred institutions of marriage and family, not to mention their war on gender. In other words, what used to be the ceiling is now the ground floor.
When it comes to Israel, the Republican platform actually omits reference to a two-state solution (which concerned even some Jewish groups) and reaffirms the commitment to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
On the Democratic side, it will be remembered that a reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital barely made it into the platform in 2012, while this year's platform has been significantly weakened under the influence of the ultra-liberal (and Jewish) Bernie Sanders.
So, does this mean that God is on the side of the Republicans and stands against the Democrats?
That would be a gross and inaccurate simplification. It would also turn things upside down and ask the wrong question.
It is a gross and inaccurate simplification for several reasons.
First, once elected, the Republicans often fail to advance the goals of their platform.
Second, on some level, there is corruption and cronyism in each party.
Third, there are other aspects of each platform where arguments can be raised as to which position is more "Christian." This is something that often divides black and white evangelicals.
More importantly, the question turns things upside down, since it is not a matter of God being on our side as much as it is a matter of us being on His side.
A famous account in Scripture underscores this, where Joshua, the successor of Moses, encountered a divine messenger before engaging in his first major battle with his enemies. He asked, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?"
The messenger responded, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come."
Joshua, in turn, "fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, 'What does my lord say to his servant?'" (Joshua 5:13-14)
This is in keeping with the famous quip attributed to Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, when he was asked if God was on his side. He replied, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
For me, on some of the most critically important essentials, the Republican platform is on God's side far more than the Democratic platform, and for this reason, there is no way I could vote for Hillary Clinton to be president.
At the same time, we make a grave error by thinking that God is affiliated with a party or that the Republican party is "the conservative party under God." If the Republicans were truly "under God," both the party and the nation would look very different.
Personally, although I have consistently voted for Republican candidates, I am registered as an Independent. And while this is simply my own choice, I would say this to all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus: Regardless of our political affiliation, our devotion to the Lord must transcend political divides, and our primary identity must be found in Him rather in a party.
Only He died for us, and only He deserves our ultimate loyalty.