Christians in Trump Land
It’s really tough to know where to start. I have so many things I could say about the events of the past week and year that my thoughts tumble into one another and end up as a jumbled mess. I am glad the election is over, though I was shocked and alarmed at the result. It’s interesting now to see so many articles coming out about why Mr. Trump won and why most people didn’t see it coming. Everyone is an expert about yesterday.
I have opinions about Mr. Trump, about Sec. Clinton, about the electoral college, and about the media. I have thoughts about our particular system of democracy and how it has become a machine that can produce only extreme parties and candidates. I have plenty I could say about Republicans and Democrats, how they’re both wrong and they’re both right. I could talk about refugees, terrorism, and race, though I am not even close to an expert on any of those topics.
But what concerns me the most is how we Christians have participated in politics in this country. I fear there are divides that may be impossible to bridge, and I fear we may have lost what little credibility we had left.
Right or wrong, Christians are now known for giving their full-throated endorsement to a man widely perceived as a racist, sexist bigot who mocks and belittles anyone who gets in his way. And we cheered when he won. Even prayed for it. Four out of five self-described evangelicals voted for him. We had good reasons, we believe: Hillary was untrustworthy, abortion is detestable, and/or we feared for the loss of religious freedom.
Each of those reasons was worth arguing, though there are counterpoints to each that I won’t get into here.
In my humble opinion, though, none of the above was enough to justify a vote for Mr. Trump. I acknowledge that many will disagree with me. I still love you, and I hope you can tolerate me :)
The Christian church now has an identity issue, however, one we must acknowledge whether we voted for Mr. Trump or not. We are now associated with every negative characteristic of our incoming president. How can we point people to the humble love of Jesus when we so strongly advocated for an arrogant bully? We felt he would protect our freedoms, but what about the freedoms of so many others he so flippantly promised he would restrict? How can we show the world that our true Lord is Jesus when we so blindly do whatever the Republican party, a human institution full of flaws and sin, tells us to do?
You may say, “But I’m not racist!” Well, good. You must acknowledge, however, that the KKK’s public endorsement of Mr. Trump makes the church look absolutely terrible, because now we’re on the same side as white supremacists. You may say, “But I’m not sexist!” Again, that’s good. But excusing the president-elect’s language and conduct as “Boys Will Be Boys” is viewed as a slap in the face to every woman who has had to overcome the trauma of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, I could go on and on.
If we wish to have a positive impact for Jesus Christ on our society, we must take an active role, and I don’t mean an active political role. We must reach out and make friends all around us. We must become known as a people who serve others, regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference. We must stop bashing and spewing hatred online, and we must stop mocking and belittling our political opponents. We must understand that protecting religious freedom means that everyone has religious freedom, even Muslims wearing head scarves. And we must move beyond mere words to action that demonstrates what we say we believe. If Jesus is our Lord, then He is vastly more important than our political opinions.
All of those must’s in the paragraph above are for me as well. I want people to see Jesus, not the ridiculous and hopeless arguments of the world we live in. Can we choose to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than [ourselves]” (Phil. 2:3)?
I pray that I can, by the grace of God. I pray we all can.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” — 1 John 3:17–8