If you are a conservative Christian who is considering voting for Donald Trump today, I imagine that you may be frustrated and jaded by the many things that you have heard from the critics over the past few months. You may have heard it suggested that his election will herald a nuclear war or even the downfall of American society. You may have been told that you are clearly stupid or evil for merely considering voting for him.
I don’t believe that these claims by the critics are true. Nor do I have any intent of persuading you to vote for any other one of the presidential candidates: I think I can understand why you might feel unable to support them.
No, my sole purpose here is to remind you that, ultimately and whatever else is said, your decision must depend upon the outcome of a single conversation: the conversation with yourself. When you find yourself in the voting booth today—as I trust that you will—you won’t be accompanied by any of Trump’s most vociferous critics, with the half-truths, misrepresentations, and poorly founded allegations that they have often cast at you and your favored candidate.
It will just be you. You, and your conscience.
What I want to encourage you to do is to close out all of the other voices, and to have this searching and challenging conversation with yourself right now, before it is too late to do so properly. You do not have any obligation whatsoever to give an account of yourself to me, just to yourself before God.
The question that we must all ask ourselves in the voting booth is whether it is possible to vote for our candidate in good conscience. To answer that question well, we must interrogate our consciences thoroughly and unflinchingly. In an election where so much seems to be at stake, there is no easier time for the voice of conscience to be lost in the commotion.
The following are 10 sets of questions offered to help you in this conversation with yourself. The only thing that I ask is that you reflect carefully upon the responses that you give and the reasons why you give them. The only person you need to persuade of your answers is yourself.
1. What do I believe will happen to the credibility and moral authority of Christians who support voting for Donald Trump?
As the demographic advantages that once gave Christians social and political power fall away, will I still have moral authority in standing against the evils, depravity, and corruption that I believe exist on the left? Am I in danger of sacrificing immensely important moral authority and clarity for short-lived political capital? At what cost am I prepared to win or hold onto political power? Is there profit if, rather than to gain the world, I compromise my soul so as not to lose it?
2. Is Trump someone with a track record of being faithful to his promises and of loyalty to others when things get tough?
What does Trump’s past behaviour suggest that I should expect from him in the future? Do I believe that Trump is someone who consistently puts others before himself? Do I believe that Trump is prepared personally to sacrifice to ensure the well-being of American Christians and keep his promises to them if he comes to power? Do I believe that Trump is genuinely committed to and capable of wisely addressing the issues of social morality that most concern me?
3. What bearing does Trump’s personal morality have upon his suitability for office?
Do I hold to a double standard for my political opponents in this respect? If Trump were running for election as the Democratic Party’s candidate, what would I be saying about him?
4. Considering Trump’s self-reported treatment of and attitudes towards women, and the many outstanding accusations against him, what does my willingness to support him nonetheless say of the relative importance that women and their concerns have in my view of the world?
How do I square Trump’s widely reported statements and actions with my honoring of my wife, my mother, my daughter, my sister, and/or the many other women in my life?
5. While the blow his election would strike against the current political order might be cathartic, is Trump the sort of person that I trust to build an America where truth and righteousness would prevail in its place?
6. Do I believe that Trump has a suitable temperament for a world leader?
Is he a person I trust to bring calm and peace to volatile and divisive situations? Do I trust him to respond wisely to crises, rather than to react impulsively? Do I believe that Trump is someone with the prudence and judgment to make wise policy decisions, to follow through on his promises, and to respond to situations in an effective manner?
7. Is President Trump someone I expect to represent me and my compatriots and America’s interests with dignity and moral credibility on the international stage?
Is he the face of America that I want the whole world to see?
8. Do I believe that Trump’s presidency will be a successful and a popular one, largely free of scandal, producing a better, happier, and less divided America?
Merely from the perspective of political prudence, will a Trump presidency place us in a stronger electoral position in four years’ time, or will we have established the conditions for a devastating blowback, a situation far worse than a loss this time around?
9. How does Trump make up his mind on issues?
What place does book reading have in his life? Is his mind one formed by a 24-hour TV news cycle and an entertainment culture? Is he someone I trust to read and digest briefings, to reflect deeply on events, and to deliberate carefully in considering an appropriate response to them?
10. What do I believe the election of Donald Trump to the presidency would mean for minority American groups?
What do I believe his election would mean for the future of race relations? On what basis do I believe that my Christian interests will prevail over those of his supporters who have a more racist animus?
A version of this post originally appeared on alastairadversaria.com.