Every social media guru and marketing expert advises blog writers to stay on their chosen topic, especially avoiding topics like politics, sex, and religion, unless those subjects fit their platform. This goes double for polite conversations and mixed company.
No doubt you’ve read more than you ever care to about the lewd video and personal testimonies displaying Trump’s nauseating brag fest about kissing and groping women against their will. If you’re like me, the thought of reading one more political post makes you want to hurl your phone out the window.
But here’s the thing: this isn’t about politics. I have no delusions that this post will change your mind about who you vote for November 8th. However, there are bigger issues for people who trust and follow Jesus to consider than the outcome of the 2016 election.
Because after all the votes are counted and confetti swept off the floor—when your Facebook feed no longer reads like one long, repetitive political debate, what’s left?
For better or worse, it’ll be the one thing that distinguishes Christians in America.
Who’s in charge here?
The events of last week caused an outcry from people like me who’ve been criminally victimized by someone in power. In some cases, memories long laid to rest reared up as painful as ever, shocking those who’d thought they’d healed sufficiently and moved on.
But that’s not even the worst part.
It’s one thing for a man to brag about evil actions toward women, but another thing for trusted Christian leaders to wink at what’s been nonsensically dubbed, “locker room talk.” (It’s not just talk, but more on that in a minute.)
How did we get to the point where our most trusted leaders— even one who built a publishing empire on a family values platform—compromise every value they’ve worked to uphold in this country? How does one work for decades to uphold the sanctity of marriage and support strong families, only to tacitly approve behavior that tears it down?
If Trump is guilty of verbally violating these women (the evidence proves it and he doesn’t’ even try to deny it), then Christians who excuse his words and minimize the effect are verbally pinning victims’ arms down while Trump has his way. (Would they watch Trump say these things to a woman or little girl they love and still minimize it? Trump’s victims are someone’s daughter, wife, or mother.)
Some spiritual leaders are willing to allow Trump to get away with the most immoral behavior because they’re afraid the other political party will win an election. Instead of responding with Biblical wisdom and righteous indignation, they responded by pointing out how terrible the other candidate is. In every case, they try to use fear of what might happen (liberal justices appointed to the Supreme Court) to scare the people they influence into voting for Trump. If Trump were on the democratic ticket, they’d be decrying his words and actions louder than anybody.
Inexplicably, those Christian leaders who did speak out against Trump’s reprehensible behavior were castigated—not by brash sinners who refuse to follow God’s precepts, but by the people who have firmly placed themselves in the evangelical Christian camp. People who say they love Jesus called these truth-tellers Pharisees and baby killers. All in the name of discouraging people from voting for the other political party. This ought not to be! Only extreme fear can explain this bizarre deviation from the usual respectful dialogue in Christian circles.
(Squirrel: For a lesson in logic, look up the term red herring. Do criticisms of Trump’s egregious behavior equate to endorsing another political candidate? Just to be clear, I’m voting third party this year after a lifetime of voting Republican and this is in no way an endorsement of the democratic party or their candidate. Vote for Trump if you’re convinced he’s the best candidate, but be honest about his behavior, rather than minimizing it or immediately decrying Clinton’s.)
It’s not just words
During the second debate, Trump claimed to have only talked about forcing a kiss on a woman or grabbing her genitals, but denied actually doing those things. In the days since, women have found the courage to come forward and share their stories; to no one’s surprise, one gave accounts of Trump pushing her up against the wall and forcing his tongue down her throat. “I just start kissing them,” Trump had told Bush on the tape. “I don’t even wait.”
In Trump’s case, his words matched his actions down to the last detail.
Like Jesus said, “How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matthew 12:34).
What’s the Big Deal?
I was stunned to hear a pastor mention he still wasn’t sure where Trump referenced assault in the video. It occurred to me that such a cognitive dissonance between what some men say they believe about women versus what they actually believe does as much damage as the assault itself.
Here’s what pastors and other Christian leaders need to know: when a man steals what should only be freely given by a woman, she succumbs to the lie that she’s filthy, garbage, damaged goods. When a person in spiritual or other type of authority comes along and says, “It’s no big deal,” that lie burrows in deeper.
If a woman believes she’s only worth the pleasure her body can give, she’s reduced to merely an object, rather than a creation in God’s image. Do we really—as a country, as Christians—want to propagate this lie for yet another generation?
In the end it doesn’t matter who’s elected, or how many conservative Justices are on the Supreme Court, if Christian leaders don’t speak out against the rape culture.
For Donald Trump’s Sake
To those crying, “Forgive! Show mercy,” and “He who is sinless, cast the first stone,” consider what real mercy is. Mercy isn’t tacit approval of Trump’s behavior.
Mercy for Donald Trump would be caring more about the state of his soul than placing false hope for the state of our shaky union on his fallible shoulders.
As James Dobson once said, “Character does matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world!”
And Jesus’ admonishment about casting the first stone was immediately followed by, “Go, and sin no more” to a repentant sinner. (Notice He didn’t say, “Go, and say whatever you have to say to get elected.”)
It isn’t those who are speaking out against Trump’s character that are not showing mercy. It’s those who are excusing debauchery, assault, and lewdness for the sake of an elephant who are being merciless. How will Trump ever know the damage he’s causing others and himself if no one speaks up?
To those who cannot vote their party line based on a candidate’s morals, I say: Kudos for having the courage to go with your convictions, rather than be driven by fear. Character matters. It mattered in 1998, and it still matters today. Those who cast a vote for someone with bad character are to blame for a morally bankrupt person’s election, not those who vote for a person of character. Remember that in the face of fear mongering.
For our country, I pray God would step in with a miracle. Please, Lord, grant us the President we need, not the one we deserve.
If I should wake up on November 9th, and a morally bankrupt person has been elected, I commit to praying for them as our President and for the future of our nation. I’ll submit to the authority of our government just as Paul admonished believers to submit to the authority of Caesar in Titus 3.
I will continue to pray for the biggest miracle of all: unity of believers. No matter who you choose to vote for, (may you do it thoughtfully and with a clean conscience instead of out of fear), I will respect you and value our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ. May we continue our endeavor together to make disciples and live as examples of character and right living.