Saturday, November 12, 2016
The Conscience of a Christian Trump Supporter
On Tuesday morning I took my daughter to my precinct's polling place, because I wanted her to be with me when I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, the candidate whom I both wanted and expected to win the election and thus become the first woman president in U.S. history. But suppose that I had voted instead for Donald Trump? And suppose I were an evangelical Christian?
What if, despite the fact that although I found Trump's statements about women to be indefensible, I thought them outweighed by Hillary's Clinton's actions: for example, creating a private email server that not only violated State Department policy but was also so vulnerable to hacking that classified emails could have been--and perhaps indeed had been--stolen by a foreign power. It appalled me that although most government employees who did anything remotely similar would have been terminated if not imprisoned, Clinton had escaped any penalty except a scolding by FBI Director James Comey.
I also thought them outweighed by the things Clinton would do if elected president. Not only would she have further entrenched President Obama's disastrous policies, especially Obamacare, which was not just a bad idea in the first place but had already demonstrated that it was not achieving the results that Obama had assured us it would achieve. Perhaps even worse, as president Clinton would be able to make appointments to the Supreme Court that would result in unacceptable decisions for the next twenty years at least. No doubt about it: for these and numerous other reasons, I was convinced that a Clinton presidency be a disaster that would gravely harm the nation and compromise the future of my daughter. Yes, I detested Trump's statements about women, and yes, a great deal of Trump's rhetoric caused me dismay, but this election year we faced a choice--a realistic choice anyway--between two flawed candidates. And while I had supported another candidate during the primaries, once Trump became the Republican nominee, for these and other reasons I had no reservations about making him my choice as the next president.
But now the election is over, and Trump has prevailed. Mr. Trump is now President-elect Trump, on on January 20 he will become the 45th President of the United States. And America is safer, and its prospects for the future better, because of it. I did the right thing.
So now I can do the right thing about something else--something consistent with the President-elect's stated desire to re-unify a country that at present is badly divided. With the outcome now assured, I now have the ability to repudiate Trump's statements about women. And I'm going to take it.
I could repudiate other statements, other actions. But I want to have a specific focus, so I'm choosing his statements about women.
I'm certainly not going to try and repudiate them by joining the demonstrations against them already in progress. Those demonstrations have too many agendas that I cannot accept, and are conducted in a way that, frankly, disgusts me. But that doesn't render me helpless.
Some years ago my brother Scott was active in "Promise Keepers," an organization designed to strengthen Christian men in their spiritual walk by keeping seven promises. You'll find them here.
Promise Three states, "A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity." Trump's statements about women--and on other matters--do not align with these values. They are therefore unacceptable and I have an obligation to raise my voice against them.
Promise Four states, "A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values." Trump's statements don't align with these, either. And his elevation to the presidency creates the risk that young men will consider okay not only to say such things, but to act upon them. Ultimately those statements are corrosive. If smuggled into a marriage, they will harm that marriage. They will make it harder for men to love and protect women. They do not accord with biblical values. So Promise Four is another reason that I have an obligation to raise my voice against them.
Promise Six is also relevant: "A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity." During the campaign, Trump made statements derogatory of Hispanics, African Americans, and other races and ethnicity. So I must concern myself with those statements as well.
And then there's Promise Seven: "A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission." My support for Trump, and the support of other evangelical Christians, is frequently misunderstood. Too many people think it connotes a religion that condones values that antithetical to an authentic Christian walk. If we give the impression that Trump's attitude toward women and other groups reflect attitudes that we condone, it presents a serious obstacle to the carrying out the Great Commandment.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This, Christ said, was the greatest commandment. "And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-38)
It presents a serious obstacle to the Great Commission:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)
It will be harder to make disciples of Christ if people are permitted to believe that Christians accept Trump's dubious statements as an acceptable price to pay for temporal political power. And it makes it harder to teach any disciples we do manage to make to obey the Great Commandment.
So would would Jesus do in this situation? What can I do?
I can summon other Christian men and women to repudiate the statements that so many people--including ourselves--find unacceptable. Together we can help to heal the national divide. We can be peacemakers. "Blessed are the peacemakers," our Lord told us in the Sermon on the Mount, "for they will be called children of God." That is a wonderful thing to be called. (Matthew 5:9.)
We can speak out publicly against Trump's statements. We can conduct our own events that gain national attention--events distinct from, and in their conduct a rebuke to--the raucous anti-Trump rallies now in progress.
We have an opportunity to be spiritual warriors, by making it clear that while we believe that, in a fallen world, Trump was the best choice for President that we had, we do not bow the knee to every statement that he makes. We have an opportunity to make clear our moral distinctiveness, and to continue to be a light unto the world.