It's very simple. If a man has no moral center, if he has ambition but no faith, if he does not demonstrate humility or integrity, I will never vote for him for president. I don't care who he is, what he's done, what he says, or what positions he holds. None of that will matter when we are living under his tyranny, and tyranny is sure to follow when you give unspeakable power to a man who believes he is God.
I'll put this another way: if you vote for a man who worships himself over God, you deserve the tyranny that happens next.
You deserve it because you chose it, just as the souls in Hell deserve Hell because they chose it. If you go to the ballot box and say, "I am going to do my part to put this self-absorbed pagan in charge of my nation" you are directly consenting to the inevitable result. You are embracing it. You are literally asking for it.
I know this will not resonate with atheists, but for us God-fearing folk it is extraordinarily obvious and irrefutable that we ought to only vote for other God-fearing folk. John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." I think it goes without saying that if the governed ought to be moral and religious, certainly the governors ought to be the same, and arguably more so.
That brings me to Donald Trump. I've tried to talk sense into Trump fans a thousand different ways and to no avail. It is a mob mentality driving Trump-mania, and mobs are famously difficult to reason with.
There is no use in trying to appeal to them as one group, anyway. Many elements comprise the Trump base, and most of them have values and principles that are completely antithetical to what any real conservative believes. But in the middle of this bizzare Trumpling potpourri are, apparently, Christians. Perhaps a vast number of them.
Indeed, many Christians have fallen for the Donald; there's no way he could be doing well in Iowa without them. The melding of Trumpianity with Christianity has been among the more awkward and grotesque phenomenons I've ever witnessed in my life. I watch it unfold feeling like a guy whose best friend just started dating the town floozy. I try to tell him that she's sleeping around, she's betraying him, she'll break his heart, but he's too smitten to hear me. I fear many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are making the same mistake, and the spectacle is causing me an immense amount of emotional and spiritual pain.
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
The situation boiled over on Monday when Trump was invited to speak at Liberty University, a private Christian college in Virginia. After that display, I had no choice but to write this final desperate plea to Christian Trump fans.
Granted, all presidential candidates have been offered an audience at the university, but one wonders if they all receive such an adoring welcome. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the university, came out to introduce the great Trump. Falwell showered him with effusive, worshipful praise, calling him a "visionary," a "breath of fresh air" who "speaks truth."
Falwell said his "admiration" for Trump continues to grow, and he's especially excited whenever he gets to visit the Donald's offices in New York. With each sycophantic sentence he sounded less like the head of an academic institution and more like a boy bragging about his dad to his friends on the playground.
Falwell rattled off a list of Trump's charitable endeavors, calling him generous and friendly and personable. He beamed that Trump "cannot be bought" because he's not a "puppet on a string," unlike "other candidates." The unrepentant butt kissing went completely off the rails when Falwell hailed Trump's "servant leadership" and insisted that Trump "lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught." Falwell didn't stipulate whether trying to steal property from elderly widows so he can build casinos fits under the "loving and helping others" umbrella.
He dismissed Christian criticisms of the candidate by saying the qualities needed to run the country aren't the same as the qualities needed to run a church. Finally, in a moment that appeared to be a desperate cry for help, Falwell began comparing Trump to Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr, and his own father. After about 15 excruciating minutes, he wrapped up his introduction/adoration ritual by declaring that Trump "loves this country and desires more than anything to make American great again."
It wasn't an endorsement. It was practically a marriage proposal.
I didn't watch the Trump spiel that followed in full, but I did see him begin his remarks, as Jesus used to do, with the requisite 10-minute boast about his poll numbers. Trump did make one attempt to pretend to know something about the Christian faith, and it was, as Trump would say, a total disaster:
"And I asked Jerry, and I asked some of the folks, because I hear this is a major theme right here. But two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians 3:17. That's the whole ballgame. Where the spirit of the Lord -- right? Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. And here there is Liberty college.... But this is really, is that the one? Is that the one you like? I think that's the one you like. Because I loved it. And it's so representative of what's taken place. But we are going to protect Christianity... And we've gotta protect it. Because bad things are happening. Very bad things are happening... If you look at this country, it's gotta be 70 percent, 75 percent, some people say even more. No matter where I go, we're having tremendous crowds and we're setting records..."
Some people are having fun at Trump's expense because of how he pronounced the verses -- "two" instead of "second" -- but that's an unfair criticism. Obviously Trump can't be expected to know the correct pronunciations. The guy can't even name a book in the Bible, for goodness sake. And that's because Trump is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination.
Trump says he loves God but he never asks for forgiveness because he doesn't need it. When asked to clarify that bit of heresy this past weekend, he explained that he's "good" and he "lives a very good life." Then he cited his poll numbers.
His behavior doesn't appear to be any more "Christian" than his theology. We won't talk about the fact that he's a serial adulterer who abandoned his family (twice) to shack up with younger women. We won't get into how his ex-wife once alleged that he ripped out chunks of her hair and violated her. We won't delve into how the great Christian Trump sent his lawyer to intimidate and censor journalists who write about those accusations, and how his attorney recently told The Daily Beast, "I’m warning you, tread very f**king lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f**king disgusting. You understand me?” (Is that what you call "servant leadership," Mr. Falwell?)
We don't even need to get into alleged ties to the mob or financial scams or his confession that he bribes politicians. We won't harp any longer on the fact that he spent most of his adult life espousing views and funding politicians who enact legislation directly contradictory to Christian teaching. We won't talk about his support for a woman's legal right to murder a fully developed infant all the way into the ninth month of pregnancy.
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, holds up a Bible while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The annual event, organized by the Family Research Council, gives presidential contenders a chance to address a conservative Christian audience in the crowded Republican primary contest. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
To be clear -- but, like I said, I'm not harping on it -- Trump believed that it should be legal to stab a child in the skull as it is in the process of being birthed, cut a hole in its head, and suck its brain out through a tube. Trump thought such atrocities should be legally protected, and he thought that up until the moment when he developed an ambition to run for president as a Republican. Even after this miraculous conversion, he stillsays abortion isn't murder, that he's only pro-life "with caveats," and that Planned Parenthood "serves a good function." Worst of all, he's made it clear that he wouldn't mind putting radical pro-abortion zealots on the Supreme Court.
But whatever. That was then, this is now. Well, a lot of it is now, too. Probably all of it. But forget that. Let's pretend he was by his own admission a conniving, ethically bankrupt, womanizing, billionaire elitist TV star who believed in the legal legitimacy of butchering viable infants, but that all ended a few years ago when he turned 65 and finally grew up.
So what about now? Is he running as a Christian today? We know he can't speak semi-coherently about the Bible, he has no understanding of basic Christian teaching, he thinks Christianity does not require us to ask for forgiveness, and our relationship with Christ can be measured using polling data, but does he otherwise carry himself as anything resembling a Christian?
I don't see it, do you?
I see a guy who lies constantly and blatantly. I see a man who changes his positions and his principles at the drop of a hat. I see a deeply immature man who insults people on Twitter but lacks the courage to face them in person. I see someone who fashions himself "politically incorrect" but is really just a cruel and bitter old man who thinks it's funny to mock the disabled. I see a man with no honor who launches vulgar attacks on women and then lies about what he said. I see a phony who brazenly exploits the fears of the American public. I see a guy whose recklessness and greed drives his businesses into bankruptcy, and I see a guy who tries to silence journalists when they report on it. I see a guy who jazzes up the crowd at campaign rallies by bragging about his money and threatening to throw protesters out into the cold without their coats. And so on.
Look, I know none of these criticisms resonate with many Trump fans because Trump fans are fans of Trump. Period. That's all. The end. They like him and whatever he says and whatever he does. It's a cult of personality like any other the world has seen.
That's why I'm only talking to Trump's Christian supporters. The question you have to ask yourselves is this: Is there any evidence at all that Trump is a Christian? I think the answer is clear.
Next you must ask: Should we, as Christians, elect someone whose actions and beliefs run counter to our core values? Should we elect someone who is not only godless, but represents himself as God fearing for the sake of using and manipulating us?
Again, the answers are clear. Any Christian who is serious about his faith knows, first, that man separated from God cannot be trusted. Our faith and trust should be in God alone, and we can trust another man only to the extent that he has faith in God. A man who rejects God is a man with no true strength, no identity, and no fidelity to truth. A man who rejects God is a man spinning uncontrollably in the darkness; a man who soon becomes his own golden calf, his own idol, the center of his own universe. How could any Christian possibly choose to elevate such a man to our nation's highest office?
Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP/Charlie Neibergall)
Second, our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and it will only be saved if it returns to those principles. That is, if it rediscovers its reverence for God, its belief in the dignity of human life, its understanding of justice and Natural Law, its respect for and recognition of Truth, etc. If our country continues to ignore and undermine these values, we will be destroyed. We may or may not retain our name and our borders, but what's contained inside will be dead and rotten and not worthy of saving anymore. This reclaiming of our foundational ideals will not happen just by electing a Christian president, but I fail to see how electing a power hungry secularist liberal could possibly help the effort.
Third, everything we do must be for the glory of God.
"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" - 1 Corinthians 10:31.
I do not think voting is excluded from this directive. We should make our politics subordinate to the Gospel, not the other way around. When we vote we should think, "Am I glorifying the Lord with this decision?"
Falwell suggested that the abilities of a pastor and president need not be the same. Perhaps Falwell is correct that their resumes ought to look a little different, but certainly he must realize that their character traits should be virtually identical:
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)... He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. - 1 Timothy 3
Yes, Paul is not specifically telling us what sort of man should be president of the United States, but he is listing characteristics necessary for effective leadership. Temperate, self-controlled, respectable, not a lover of money, able to manage his family, etc. As Christians, should we not take this into account when we decide who to put in charge of the entire country? Can you as a Christian possibly argue that our nation would be somehow hurt by a leader who carries himself in this manner? Can you say Trump fits the bill here? I mean can you say it without laughing?
I'm not telling you who to vote for. Even someone who appears to behave and speak as a Christian may still be a wolf in sheep's clothing. We can't know for certain. But when the truth is advertised so clearly, when the character of a man and the sincerity of his convictions (or lack thereof) are made so obvious, we must respond accordingly. We can't close our eyes to the truth, no matter how unpopular the truth may be.
Our country will not be helped by more godless, self-serving, petty, morally weak leadership. We've had quite enough of that, and I think it's time to go a different route. A man of faith and integrity in the White House -- now there's a novel approach.
At least it's worth a try, wouldn't you say?
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