Thursday, October 13, 2016
Trump's Churchy Fans Doth Parse Too Much
The parsing of Donald Trump by self-professing evangelicals is getting desperate.
He's a proud womanizer, a serial divorcee, a luster of his daughter, an owner of casinos, and possessing a severely narcissistic temperament. He doesn't pay his bills, he cheats his business partners, he mocks the handicapped, he makes crude comments about women he finds unattractive, he's unapologetically xenophobic, and he's a compulsive self-aggrandizer.
Yet somehow, Clinton is still worse, at least to America's evangelicals, a sanctimonious group of folks who believe they have the inside scoop on what's moral. And right now, abortion is the unpardonable sin.
Many of America's evangelicals have also become a brittle mob of patriots who consider the Constitution about as sacrosanct as the Bible, if not more so.
When the editors of the evangelical World magazine drafted their call for Trump to withdraw from this year's presidential race, they knew their stance would run smack into the political wall many evangelicals have constructed around their amalgamation of freedom, tolerable ethics, money, and power. And World's editors were right. While thousands of World's readers appear to approve of the magazine's stance, hundreds of others are writhing in fury over it.
After all, nobody likes being challenged, especially when it comes to one's faith. But the fact of the matter is that many of America's evangelicals have listened more to Rush Limbaugh than Jesus Christ when it comes to how our country should be run. And the rise of Trump has been due in large part to these faithful church-goers who refute the notion that a Republican presidential candidate should be called on the carpet for their temperament.
Especially when somebody as evil as Hillary Clinton stands to benefit from Trump's splintering support among evangelicals.
Yet does God call us to prevent a pro-choice candidate from occupying the Oval Office? Or does He call us to honor Him in all that we do? Since He is the One who installs and deposes rulers, He is the One Who will allow Hillary to be president if that is indeed the way this election goes.
Yes, the moral distinctions between Hillary and Trump are practically invisible on a personal level, but God does tell us the kinds of temperament that best suit those in leadership positions. No, God doesn't expect us to elect the perfect candidate, but He does expect His people to vote according to His principles: The Ten Commandments. The Fruit of the Spirit.
The editors at World are saying that Trump's temperament makes him unsuited to lead. We may not like the policies Hillary plans to enact, but her personal temperament is not nearly as insulting and degrading of others as Trump's is. If we evangelicals in general - and Republicans in particular - expect to continue to wage war against Roe v. Wade on moral grounds, how can we do that with somebody like Trump?
But many evangelicals don't care. They're angry at World and have told the editors as much.
What follows is a listing of key rebuttals self-professing evangelicals have posted on World's website in response to the magazine's editorial. If you find yourself agreeing with these rebuttals, then please consider my rebuttal to each rebuttal, and see if you can better understand what we never-Trumpers are trying to say.
If you still don't want to believe that, frankly, you are wrong, and we are right, then that's your prerogative. Just remember, though: It's truth that sets us free, not politics.
"Clinton is far more wicked, criminal and unfit to serve as president than Trump is."
Does God judge on the sliding scales we use for sin?
"Hillary wants to force me to spend my money on abortions."
Are abortions the only heinous things for which our government spends our tax dollars?
"Choose your poison."
Fortunately, we don't have to. Write-in Mike Pence!
"Only God knows Trump's heart."
Yes, but our fruits show the world what is in our heart.
"Which of the only two viable candidates could make our country great again?"
"Great again"? According to whom? The slaves?
"King David had his future mistress' husband killed, yet he was a man after God's own heart."
Yes, but King David didn't deny what he'd done; he repented of it, and he respectfully accepted the harsh punishment God inflicted upon him.
"God is allowing two deeply flawed candidates to run. We have a responsibility to do the best with the choices we have."
That is true, but when one of them consistently displays an egregious and defiant indifference to basic sexual morality, aren't the victims of sexual abuse worth at least a token amount of support? Is sexual abuse somehow less evil, the greater the "good" the person who commits it could do elsewhere?
"Donald Trump is a good man with a big mouth. We´ve all had friends like him. They´re a pain in the butt, but when it´s money time, they come through... and they´re very loyal."
Oh. Wow. Where to begin on this one? Trump is a "good man"? By God's standard? What difference does it make if we've all had friends like him? And is loyalty when money counts a genuine Biblical quality? I suspect the mentality of the person who wrote this comment is more popular among evangelicals than we'd care to admit.
"The one thing we must not do is turn on each other for our decisions in these difficult times."
So, why are pro-Trump Christians bashing the Trump-is-unfit Christians? There's truth, and there's falsehood, and God expects us to champion one at the expense of the other.
"We aren't trying to create heaven on earth, rather we're trying to limit the power of our would-be oppressors. We are voting for freedom."
Biblical freedom is not political freedom.
"Um, well, perhaps the only person who could wake up America is Donald Trump! God knows what He's doing, no?"
Um, no, Trump is in no way the only person who could "wake up America". Although God may be using Trump to wake up His own people who are wandering astray. Besides, why can't God use Hillary to "wake up America"?
"Maybe praying for him, praying for revival, praying for Christians to display to the world we are forgiving all way to the cross; we are believers who have the faith that even this man can do some good and even God's work. He is the one for now. Show the strength of your faith... do not cower!"
So... again, we're wasting our prayers if we pray for Hillary? And forgiveness exists in a vacuum apart from consequences?
"Don't give up on the obvious candidate that desires to turn our country around from the direction and people that have been uprooting this country's values from the Constitution."
So the Constitution carries more weight than the Bible?
"If virtually any presidential candidate during our lifetime had to undergo the scrutiny of the world of 2016, I´d suspect that every one of those past candidates would suffer 'revelations' similar to what has been revealed about Donald Trump."
Oh really? Both Bush presidents? Jimmy Carter?
"Trump is a fighter who is not under the spell of political correctness, and thus is one in a million who has the guts to make the changes needed."
And... that makes up for his sordid temperament?
"Trump is a man who seems to have been triggered by this campaign into growing spiritually and intellectually, a growth that could continue into a Trump presidency."
We should all be growing spiritually and intellectually. An increasing spirituality and intellect aren't necessarily exceptional qualifications for anything, especially when you want them to override the temperament Trump displays. We elect a person based on their past behavior and how we hope it will translate into future actions. Otherwise, if such hope springs eternal, what would be wrong with Hillary?
"Trump´s going up against the whole world. He has been treated more unfairly than any political candidate in history."
Warning: This is what happens when you consume too much Rush Limbaugh.
"Donald Trump was caught speaking like a male speaks, or at least speaking like most men have spoken at one time in their lives."
This one makes me especially sad. It's a very, very dangerous excuse for a professing Christ-follower to utter. Attitudes like this perpetuate all types of sexual abuse, and is wholly unBiblical.
"What is a sexual predator? A man seeking to have sexual intercourse with a beautiful woman. The country is full of them. Do you honestly believe the hearts of all the other Republican nominees in the past several decades were so much purer? We are not electing Miss Christianity. We are electing a chief executive officer for the country. I continue to see Donald as much more genuine, and reverent toward the values that made America great, than our other choice, a known traitor."
Again, an extremely sad perspective to hold. Dismissive of sexual abuse, scornful of attempts at resuscitating morality in our country, and appreciative of an offensive temperament simply because it's "more genuine". If Trump is "reverent towards the values that made America great," why should his history of inherited wealth, exploitation of subcontractors, objectification of women, xenophobia, etc. be worthy of repetition? And if you know of Hillary's traitorous ways, shouldn't you report them to the FBI?
I could go on, but can you see how depressing these reader responses are? What lack of faith they embody? What clutching to political rhetoric they betray?
The ends do justify the means, at least to these people. Two wrongs do make a right. Morality really is relative.
You know that gasping sound you hear? That's 2,016 years of Christianity being suffocated by partisan American politics.
Yes, I want Trump to withdraw from this presidential race. And, as I wrote the other day, I want Hillary to as well. Yet even in the unlikely event that they do, we're still going to be stuck with a lot of evangelicals with a lot of bad ideas about the type of people who are competent to lead.
No, we're not electing a pastor here. And apparently, judging by how American evangelicals say they interpret the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that's a very good thing.