I am a supporter of Donald Trump. While I did not vote for him in 2016, I do plan on voting for him in 2020. But as Christians, we need to think carefully about how our support for Trump looks to people, especially vulnerable souls in the church. We should not adopt an “all or nothing” mentality about the President, as some have done. We need to continue to stand by the Bible’s teachings on sexual morality.
A couple weeks ago, I followed a retweet to Nancy French’s Twitter profile and discovered this editorial from 2016, which I had not read before. I wrote a fire-and-brimstone blog post (more on that in a bit) that will never actually hit the blog.
Mrs. French was molested by her pastor in her early teens. His hypocrisy and betrayal of her led her to fall away from the faith for years, before finally coming back to Christ. Those memories are what prompted her to write about her frustration with some Christians and the way they reacted to the Access Hollywood tape where Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitals. Whether he actually ever did that or not, he did boast that he could have, and that was a deep concern for many.
We have sexual abuse survivors in our churches. What do you think they were feeling when some Christian leaders brushed aside or even excused Trump’s language on that tape? Do you think it strengthens their faith in Jesus Christ, or do you think it makes them likely to fall away? Most importantly, what does the Lord Jesus Christ think about the hypocrisy of those who preach against sexual immorality and then excused Trump for political expediency? (Luke 17:1-2.)
This was something that should have been easy for Trump-supporting Christians to deal with. It would have been very easy for Christian leaders to say something like this:
“Obviously what Trump said was sinful and I condemn it. No one should laugh about violating women’s bodies for their own gratification, and actually doing it is an abomination. But we also have a choice to make: Hillary Clinton will be against us from day one and will attempt to destroy our liberty. With Trump, we have a seat at the table. Furthermore, Mike Pence is a Christian who will defend us.”
It is sad that some Christians did not take that route, instead opting for total loyalty to a godless man.
Now, back to my spiked fire-and-brimstone post: Those of us who are critical of Christians who are too loyal to Trump need to be careful that we do not become self-righteous in our warnings. That is where I have been far too often. I am not the perfect avatar of principled conservatism and I am certainly not the perfect avatar of principled Christian faith. In my criticism of Trump loyalists, I have far too often presented myself that way. That is sinful: I lacked compassion and Christian love, I was filled with pride and I was angry in a sinful way. (Anger itself is not sin, though it can be. My anger was sin.)
Both Christians who are Trump loyalists and Christians who are Trump critics need to be a lot more compassionate and empathetic in our analysis. Trump loyalists need to consider what they are doing to our Christian witness, especially in decades to come once Trump has long been out of office. Trump critics need to avoid self-righteousness, pride and anger as we (rightly) call on Trump loyalists to repent of total loyalty to him. This is idolatry and must be named as such. Most importantly, we all need to remember that the only true standard is Jesus Christ and His Word, and we will all be judged by Him.