To Christian supporters of Donald Trump
I believe every honest discussion of anything substantive requires participants to be honest with themselves and about themselves. Even a somewhat one-sided discussion in a post such as this requires self-reflection and disclosure. Without such an attitude, we do not allow people to understand us and our opinions as much as they could, but we also do not allow for self-criticism and improvement.
I am a Christian white male who had a favorable upbringing…a good family that supported me in every way needed, a good education, and many opportunities to explore who I was. I’ve been through college and graduate school, was a law enforcement officer, and am currently an educator. And with every passing day and year, I realize how important it is to grow in my faith and actions. I realize that as we get older and more set into our routines, it becomes easy to perceive and react to the world with only one viewpoint: our own. Spiritually, socially, and politically, I fight this tendency every day with varying results.
Because of all this, it’d be easy to make assumptions about me. You may assume I’m likely a Republican voter who wants tougher immigration enforcement, restricted social welfare programs, and almost no gun control. It would be easy to think I dislike people who do not look or live like me, and that I do my best to avoid interactions with said people. You are also likely to assume that I support Donald Trump - and therein lies a problem.
In face-to-face conversations, Facebook posts and news stories I notice people who I know (or people who seem similar to me) embrace the hateful ideas and rhetoric of Donal Trump. I see rallies where bigotry and fear take over and lead to verbal and physical assaults. I see people who claim to follow Jesus do these things, as well as people who tacitly accept them because they support a person who “tells it like it is” and “is an outsider who can change things.”
To people who do not follow Jesus: my primary purpose here is not to convince you. But I do want to apologize for those who get caught up in the physical concerns (or irrational fears) of this world and forget about the Man who communicated truths such as “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” We are human, and we’re all prone to lose our focus. How we represent ourselves is often disconnected from the God we try to serve. For that, I ask forgiveness and patience as Christians you know (myself included) strive to become more like Him.
To those who do follow God and desire to live like Christ, let me remind you of the One we claim to serve:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11: 28–30, NIV
“Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!’ If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
“‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe” — safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 7: 4–11, NIV
Lets be honest with ourselves: politicians are experts in using deceptive words. Every person up there clamoring for your vote is likely saying either what you want to hear or what he or she thinks will garner your support. Do we really think any candidate can protect us from every threat? Do we really think any candidate can provide us with everything we need or want for free?
I believe this is part of the reason that people embrace Trump: he dispenses with the niceties and says things that are not politically correct. At the root of these beliefs and statements, though, is fear and hatred. He will not and cannot protect you from every “problem” or “threat” you perceive, but stoking the fires of your deepest fears and biases will give him a better chance of being elected. He cannot tell you in detail how he will make your life and your country better because he likely does not even believe what he is saying about his personal beliefs or matters of policy. He is consistently inconsistent in these matters because he, like every other politician, is doing what he can to make you support him. And in the process, he encourages people to spew hatred and intolerance.
Are we willing to trade the principles and moral imperatives we claim to trust for the false promises of a man who has demonstrated his disdain for the truth, the oppressed, and the “others” who are different from us in some way? Let’s remember that either by his words, his actions, or his implied consent, he has insulted or encouraged the maltreatment of women, minorities, immigrants, the disabled - I could go on, but I think the point is clear.
Common human decency, morality, and God call us to be different than this. Being like Jesus requires us to be concerned about the burdened and weary. It requires us to be gentle and humble. When I think of these concepts, Trump does not come to my mind.
The passage from Jeremiah quoted above is especially poignant to me. We must take care of those who need it. We must love everyone. We must also realize that we cannot support certain ideas and policies that are immoral and ungodly in “the world” then come to God and ask for mercy and relief from oppression. To do so speaks volumes about who we are deep down. This works in all directions in the realms of politics and religion. Every political side supports something that we can see as wrong or immoral. We sometimes hold up our political favorites as some kind of savior and ignore a very real and important fact about them: they are human, and they are imperfect - just like you.
We spend so much time and energy fighting for “our rights” and political ideas, neglect the more important matters of following Christ (mercy, love, etc.) then claim to follow Him at certain times. We must evaluate our actions and examine our motives before embracing political ideologies. To help us do that, it would be a great idea to go read the Sermon on the Mount and see Jesus’ priorities. It would also be a great idea to act on his commands by showing love and taking care of others. This is how we show Jesus to others.
Remember: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21, NIV
If more of our time, energy, and devotion (our heart) is spent on the political matters of this world, our treasure is also invested in those matters. If our heart is set on taking care of and loving others, then our treasure is something (or somewhere) entirely different.