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Father John's Jottings

Tripping over Trump: Are the faithful losing their footing this election year?

September 12, 2016


Few things trip up Donald Trump. A free-wheeling slugger, no respecter of persons, he does what he does and appears unaffected by most anything or anyone, including Jesus Christ.


Read the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7), and you’ll see that Mr. Trump is practically the antithesis of what Jesus blesses in the beatitudes, and what he teaches about divorce and speech and revenge and money. Yet many evangelical voters claim they’ll be pulling for him in the voting booth. Why is that?  I have ide; few of them are reassuring.


My doubts about Mr. Trump’s character darkened with his response to journalist Megyn Kelly’s question early on at the first nationally publicized Republican debate. Remember that?  She questioned the way he referred to women he disliked, and the names he called them. Mr. Trump’s dislike for Ms. Kelly spilled over into follow-up interviews.  


All politicians struggle with a journalist at one time or another. It goes with the job. But a candidate for the oval office should rise above the level of his critics, not sink beneath them.  Mr. Trump didn’t even try. He criticized her for months. Not only said did he say he didn’t like Ms. Kelly, he called her a third-rate reporter. In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon after the debate, Mr. Trump said, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her… wherever.” 


Such crass and unch remarks shows a lack of restraint I find appalling as a gentleman and disturbing as a Christian voter. Jesus warned us to guard our speech and our thoughts. His brother James wrote: And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body.  James 3:6


It’s important to me that our future president embraces an understanding of goodness that I can recognize and share. At the end of the day, most people have a consensus of what is good. Thus, St. Paul could wrap up his letter to the Philippians with the beautiful appeal,  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.


During the debates, Mr. Trump was asked to answer for bankruptcies which cheated creditors out of money and workers out of jobs. Mr. Trump excused himself stating, “I was just taking advantage of the laws at the time. Who wouldn’t? I want to change those laws.”


Well, Jesus wouldn’t.  Real Jesus people have never believed that just because something is legal it must also be good. Most other ethical teachings concur.  


When looking for a president, I also want someone with sufficient humility to listen other leaders. Listening does, at times, necessitate admitting where one has been wrong.  Last year on the Tonight Show, Mr. Trump stated, “I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”


“If I’m ever wrong”? How does such an attitude accord with “What is required of you, O man, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) How many of Israel’s and Judah’s kings were too stubborn to listen to the prophets and repent?


Why would Christians, whose salvation is received through repentance and faith, be interested in a Trump presidency?


Here’s what I see. First, in an environment where political correctness has, at times, overtaken reason, Mr. Trump’s unconventionality could rekindle important debate.


Also, many believe a Hilary Clinton presidency would take the U.S. deeper into liberal, unbiblical values. They want a strong personality to take her on. My concern is that while Mrs. Clinton may not champion biblical values, it’s obvious Mr. Trump doesn’t either.


Third, many believe Mr. Trump will better protect us against our nation’s enemies. I can see the point of building up our military, as Mr. Trump said he will do. The part that concerns me is Mr. Trump’s provocative speech. While building up our military, he could also inflame the need for one.  Some anti-terrorism experts believe that a President Trump would help ISIS recruit Muslims who already hold the United State in contempt.


Mr. Trump does seem to enjoy making unnecessarily inflammatory remarks. For instance, last February, Mr. Trump had a rare opportunity to volley with Pope Francis. When asked what he thought about Trump’s candidacy, the pontiff had said this to an interviewer:


A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he says things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.