Monday, October 10, 2016
With Trump, Evangelicals Say Abortion is Top Sin
Isn't it obvious?
For the good of our country, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump need to drop out of this presidential race. They both admit that our country is being torn apart by it, but neither one appears to recognize how they can help stoke unity.
And one big way would be for both of them to admit they are key parts of our American Problem. They should both apologize to the American electorate - and indeed, the world that has been watching this fiasco from the sidelines - and let their respective vice presidential picks ride their respective tickets.
Not only have liberals and conservatives been pitted against each other, but this year, incessant conflict has been writhing within these partisan camps. And perhaps more than even the left-wing angst between Bernie Sanders supporters and Democratic mainstreamers, the most glaring infighting is taking place within the evangelical branch of the Republican Party.
It's as if this election has become a big "sifting of the wheat from the tares," to reference Matthew 13, at least for our evangelical industrial complex. And indeed, the theological ignorance of many self-professing Christians has been glaring.
For example, one of the biggest retorts by Trump's evangelical supporters against the rest of us has been the woefully misapplied admonition against "judging others," even as people who trot out such verses are doing just that of the people they're, well... judging. It's pop theology to conveniently ignore the fact that Christ expects His people to use critical discernment so as to prevent bad teaching and spiritual "wolves" from maligning God's glory. But it's a lot easier to simply dismiss people with whom one doesn't agree with "don't judge me" protestations.
Then there's the whole "Trump may be bad, but he's better than Hillary" philosophy, which betrays its believer's fear of mankind more than their fear of God. After all, is God bigger than abortion, or left-wing SCOTUS judges, or gay marriage, or any of the other things evangelicals fear? Or are God's teachings against most of the things for which Trump is most famous - adultery, xenophobia, tax-dodging, "locker-room" talk, gambling, not paying his bills, being lawsuit-happy, lusting, loving money, vanity, bullying - merely relative, depending on the situation? Evangelicals like to say "we're not electing a preacher," but since when does God say we should expect less from people who aren't preachers?
It's as if we can go ahead and judge Hillary's morality because she's a liberal Democrat. But Republicans are automatically sacrosanct and immune from judgment because they're, well... Republicans!
Indeed, this election has exposed once and for all the evangelical right's obsession with the Republican Party as somehow blessed of God. This blessing stems primarily from the fact that abortion is not embraced in the party's official platform - at least, not yet. Over the years, many religious people have made abortion their singular voting issue, rationalizing that, as a form of murder, nobody in good conscience can support a candidate who supports pro-choice legislation. Yet is abortion the unpardonable sin? Is it Biblical to hand-pick certain sins as being more heinous than others? Simply check out the passages of the Bible where taboo sins are listed - murder, homosexuality, adultery - and then read on to see how lying, gossip, slander, and other more acceptable sins are included in those lists.
God doesn't grade on a sliding scale, so why should we? And if we're supposed to give politicians like Trump a lot of grace, why can't we give politicians like Hillary a lot of grace? Because she's pro-choice, which is a sin just like Donald's xenophobia...?
True, abortion kills a lot more pre-born humans than does playing religious discrimination or building border walls, but how many pro-lifers are willing to adopt the children born from "unwanted" pregnancies? Would it be anything close to the same number of religious right-wingers supporting Trump?
When it comes to our faith, at some point, don't we either have to fish or cut bait? Aren't we going to have to ultimately decide if God's expectations of us extend beyond a political season to the personal morality we're to cultivate within ourselves, and desire to have modeled in our public narrative? Many evangelicals fret that we only have two choices; what else is there except even a bitter vote for Trump? But fortunately, since God is the One Who ordains rulers and deposes kings, it's not our call who ends up being president.
And in this election, we still have options. I, for one, have decided to write-in* Mike Pence for president. That probably won't work in terms of getting Pence elected as president, but I'm not voting for president, or preacher, or anything else. I'm voting my conscience.
(Depending on where you live, your state might not give you that option, if Pence is not on an already-approved* list of write-in candidates. Several procedural rules may also prohibit the GOP from unilaterally removing Trump from their ticket - an unprecedented action that Trump would almost certainly fight anyway. Besides, early voting has already begun in several states, which makes it too late to change ballots now. Nevertheless, if you haven't yet voted, all of this last-minute flurry should give you pause, at least to wait and see how things shake out.)
What could still happen, however, is for both Hillary and Trump to take the only high road left for either of them. Their work is already done, in terms of creating division within their own parties, let alone the country. They have managed to pit evangelicals against each other in a showdown of faith v. fear. They've made veteran journalists in the mainstream media aghast at the conduct of their usually-favored Democratic candidate. They have our global neighbors shaking their heads in disgust, wondering how our planet's lone superpower could front two such candidates and still consider ourselves a superpower.
Look at it this way: Hillary will probably end up being indicted before long anyway, even if she does win. Trump, for his part, likely will quickly tire of the presidency, since he obviously has little idea of what his powers would be, or how little political capital he'll have in DC. Either way, the chances of either one of these folks lasting all four years in the Oval Office are arguably less than they've been for any candidate who wasn't gravely ill. And for such shallow prospects we Americans are so eager to bicker, and sell our integrity?
Both of them say they want to serve their country. Wouldn't they be able to do that and more by simply quitting? Now?
The reality that they almost certainly won't is further proof that neither of them cares about you, or me, or the institutions they seek to represent. They're in this for themselves alone, and to get where they want to go, they're playing the American electorate for their own personal ends.
Meanwhile, America's evangelicals are pegging everything, it seems, on abortion. Every other sin on planet Earth is expendable as long as Trump wins and appoints Supreme Court justices who will de-fang Roe v. Wade at every turn.
Some people say evangelicals are idolizing Trump. But actually, Trump's evangelical minions are idolizing abortion. Hillary's morals are worse than Trump's, we're told, and abortion makes Trump's morals pale in comparison. So, according to this mish-mash of religiosity, God says Trump's the lesser of two evils. As if that concept of "the lesser of two evils" even exists in the Bible.
And this type of faith is supposed to please the Author of the Ten Commandments and the Fruit of the Spirit?
* Update: Check out this essay I've written about write-in voting.