As I begin writing this, Clear the Stage, a song that brings me back to days of middle and high school, plays in the background. And it’s fitting, because the song’s theme, idolatry and repentance, are particularly on my mind this evening. I’ll try not to be lengthy, but there’s quite a bit on my heart, so bear with me.
In 2016, a celebrity that I knew only from quick clips and the infamous two words “You’re fired,” entered into awareness in a much more weighty way⸺ namely, as the chosen candidate for the Republican party’s bid for the White House. I already knew his TV personality: brash, bold, rude, rich, pretentious, etc. I didn’t think for a second that I might vote for him, simply because I didn’t trust him. He used hyperbole, puffery, and bombast on the regular. His fan-base ate it up, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here’s a man who says what he thinks! They cried. Here’s a man who can’t be bought! Here’s a man who is coming to fight the democrats! The list of exaltations grows longer every day I browse the internet. Back then, it was tame compared to the praise that’s dolled on the man from his supporters today.
I thought to myself back then that surely not many people I knew personally would vote for him. He was the very opposite of what they stood for. I knew how they talked about JFK’s alleged sexual adventures, the disdain they had for Bill Clinton’s romp with his secretary, and the endless amount of discussion and concern they spoke about the sexualization of culture through the media. When the closets began cracking open on Donald Trump’s past, his affinity for sexual encounters with women who weren’t his spouse, and the objectifying, demeaning language he used towards women, not to mention the endless array of other skeletons that came tumbling out, I thought for sure, for sure, that would be it.
It was not.
All of the sudden, a grace that was not bestowed to his fellow democratic sinners, was given to Mr. Trump like a special pie that mother made just for him. “Nobody is perfect,” was common. “Don’t throw stones,” “Everyone in the Bible that God used sinned,” and “It’s in his past; forget it,” were the favorite mantras by Evangelicals, including prominent teachers and pastors in the faith.
If only John the Baptist had known to cull more affectionate rhetoric towards Herod, he might have died an old man, head intact.
But Peter! You say, there’s no such thing as a perfect person, much less a politician. Yes, I understand that. Yet there are two important things missing in that argument.
When confronted with his wrongdoing, either in the past, or his current misdeeds, Mr. Trump continually refuses to acknowledge his infractions. Without repentance, there is no removal of sin. We must therefore assume that the sin that Trump has committed is still upon him, a weight that pulls him towards condemnation. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
We are not responsible for sins we are unaware of in another person. If Sally has killed a man but I know nothing of it, I am not responsible to lead her to truth and exhort her to repent. But if I know Sally has killed a man, and I say, “Well, Sally, we all do bad things. It’s okay.” And then if Sally goes and says “Hey Peter, I’m gonna be a cop, but I need a good reference for the application. Will you help me?” And I think, “Well, nobody’s perfect. Let me help Sally do some good. She has a good heart,” and I help her get into that position, I am complicit. Romans 1:32 condemns me as an accomplice, not because I committed the murder, but because I “approved” of Sally, who committed the murder. My grace does nothing for someone if they remain without repentance.
But aside from the vote, the ballot, and the occasional article, the thing I think that surprised me in 2016 and continues to baffle me, is the peculiar adoration that Christians have for the man. Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly not saying we should all hate him. But I never have witnessed this amount of support. Bush, although arguably a terrible president, was at least a moral barometer in terms of character, personality, and speech. Yet he received perhaps 20 percent of the affinity that the Christian community has doled lavishly upon Donald J Trump.
You see, I actually don’t mind the guy. I used to be fairly pissed at him, and I really let it get to me. I’ve tried to honor him throughout the presidency, and at times when my friends would mock him and call him names, I’ve refrained for the most part. I believe that God did appoint him, just as he appointed every other president before him, and will appoint every president after. The Lord is in charge of elections. But we misinterpret the scriptures if we think that just because a particular person is being used by God, that we must support and follow them ourselves.
God brings kings up and takes them down. (Daniel 2:21) Leaders are one of the Lord’s favorite instruments.
In communicating with the Holy Spirit recently, I’ve felt a change of heart towards our POTUS. I understand he’s a broken man, in need of redemption. I know he has some good intentions; he’s not the devil. He’s a human. To the surprise of many who know me, I actually felt released to vote for him, if I wanted to. (I didn’t).
And I don’t have as much of a problem with Christians voting for Trump as I do them being so vocal about it. It’s not merely political for so many, it seems. It takes on a spiritual level, one that unbelievers watch and think “what a bunch of idiot hypocrites.”
Does that matter? Absolutely.
They’re aware of the sermon on the mount, the golden rule, the sin of pride, adultery, and lying. Yet a man who breaks all of these, without repentance, became the sponsor child of the American Church.
Well, what about Saul? He repented.
What about David? He repented.
What about King Cyrus? (No one voted for Cyrus.) He may very well be a Cyrus. That doesn’t mean you have to go wild over him. That means you understand that like Pharaoh, Herod, Nebuchadnezzar, or any other ruler in the Bible, he is God’s instrument. He is God’s instrument, not ours. We don’t need to help God do his job if it might defile our conscience and witness in the process.
I wonder how many of my Christian friends, who went to one of Trump’s rallies, hooted and hollered when Trump openly mocked his opponent, maligned and separated fellow democratic citizens, and offered crude bombast in place of unifying language which might bring the country together.
I have been confused and broken, as Christian leader after leader align with him and defend his actions, including his sin. Danny Silk, a well-known former pastor out of Bethel, posted a fair bit on his Instagram the other week, including one post that effectively acknowledged Trump’s adultery, and then swept it under the rug because “his children love him.” What.
Has Trump done good things? Yes. To be so bitter and angry that you purposefully blind yourself to the good the Lord has accomplished through the man is an attempt to steal glory from Yahweh. Give glory to God, not Trump.
When pictures emerged of Trump with Jeffrey Epstein and Gislaine Maxwell, I thought for sure, Christians would be more careful. Nope. Instead, they were now certain he was going to free all of the sex slaves and punish the evildoers. He was the inside man for the job! Won’t he do it!
I will admit, many good things, including significant legislation concerning sex trafficking, has come from the Trump White House. I can celebrate that, and yet still exercise caution because of the knowledge of his friendship with Epstein and what they could mean, potentially.
Now, days after the election, Trump is out pity-partying and complaining, without merit, that the whole election is rigged and he is the winner. Even if there is voter fraud, it is extremely inappropriate for the President of the United States to be dispelling that information to the public. The faultlines in the country continue to crack and widen with every snarky remark and maligning conclusion Mr. Trump utters.
Yet here is the man the average Christian voter supports.
I don’t get it.
Someone help me.
Look around and consider how many have been hurt by our unabashed support of a man who has hurt so many with his words?
I think that while Biden is insane and no better of a choice for our country, the church deserves Biden. We need to focus on repentance and revival, and we’re instead focused on legislation and putting the right man in office. Biden winning would bring humility to the church. We need humility.
Let me say this once: IT DOES NOT MATTER WHO IS IN OFFICE.
IT DOES NOT.
I truly believe, for all who have read this far and are still worried about the abortion issue, that the Lord will crush the head of the abortion dragon either way. He can use Trump, and he can use Biden. Is it possible that Trump fulfilled his God-given duty already? Is it possible that the Lord now intends to use a Biden/Harris presidency? Can our minds fathom that? Is our faith strong enough? Is it possible that all the prophecies were off in their interpretation? Is it possible we might need to sober up from our last four power-drunk years and consider our neighbor?
Stop limiting the Lord.
Stop placing your trust in princes. May we repent, realign, and worship the Lord, no matter what happens.
I beg you to consider, how far have we strayed?
Where is our Shepherd?
Where is our King?