Integrity matters. If you want to serve as a testimony to Christian ethics, then you’re actually going to need to hold them, and that means holding them with consistency. Hypocrisy and double-standards will effectively serve to mute your witness.
It’s hard to cry out against a sin in one instance when, in another instance, you’ve excused, blown-off, or chosen to overlooked that sin.
What if the sort of “power” and influence Jesus intended for his followers wasn’t one of ends-justify-the-means ethical compromise and political power-plays, but witness to a “revolutionary”-like ethic like that of Mt 5-7, with all the integrity, lowliness, and self-sacrifice involved therein (5:13-16)?
Many advocate ethical compromise for the sake of “the greater good” (or “the lesser of two evils”). But what shall it profit the church if it gains a whole election but loses its witness? What if the church’s witness is the actual means of its impact?
Some evangelicals are saying, “The election is over. What’s done is done. There’s nothing we can do about it now. Besides, maybe he won’t be as bad as you thought. Let’s see what happens.”
If that’s you, I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood folks like myself from the very beginning.
Large swaths of evangelicals defended and/or excused Mr. Trump’s moral corruption and damaging rhetoric — his racism, misogyny, degradation of the handicap, dismissiveness of sexual assault, inciting hatred towards immigrants, prompting fear and callousness towards refugees, etc. Regardless of what type of president Mr. Trump turns out to be, that still happened. That can’t be undone.
You see, for some of us — at least as much as I can speak for myself — our outcry against evangelical support of Trump has never been centrally about the electoral contribution of your vote Tuesday, as if we had some political agenda that now becomes moot after the election (“What’s done is done”). Nor has it ever been about “providing a solution” to a dilemma we never claimed to be addressing in the first place — the nomination of two generally unlikeable candidates.
Our primary concern is and always has been the spiritual condition of evangelicalism, about the church’s witness, integrity, and faithfulness to truth. And that’s something that obviously transcends the election itself. The 2016 election didn’t create (and therefore conclude) the concerning state we now see; it merely exposed it.
Now that some of the tense political posts have subsided a little, allow me to make a sincere appeal to my lesser-of-two-evils, evangelical Christian, Trump-supporter friends:
(1) If Mr. Trump was in fact, as you believed, the lesser of two evils, than I can understand your pleasure that one perceived evil was avoided; but do not rejoice that another — even a perceived lesser — was elected.
(2) Notwithstanding the question of whether it was legitimate in the first place, any appeal to a lesser-of-two-evils argument is now assuredly moot. In other words, one can no longer attempt to justify Mr. Trump by means of an appeal to a perceived worse alternative, because now there is no alternative.
As such, join us as the church in our testimony to truth, compassion, and justice in respectfully calling out this administration if/when it violates our Lord’s ethic to love neighbor. My fear is that in a self-righteous attempt to justify one’s past vote for Trump, many evangelicals will feel it necessary to defend him while in office, and, as Jesus might say, “The latter state will become worse than the former.”
For myself, I’ve only posted a handful of posts directly related to this election; but the ones that I have posted have seemed to gather a lot of attention, and not always the best sort. So it’s given me some pause…
The intensely public nature of social media, which makes it an amazing tool and opportunity to reach a large audience, simultaneously can make it a terrible forum for discussing sensitive topics. Its “melting pot” nature is not particularly suiting for “in house” discussions. It’s a forum that easily yields misunderstanding. And it’s also impersonal, which means it doesn’t always bring out our best, since we can hide behind our keyboards.
These two realities create something of a tension of interests for me — a great opportunity on the one hand; and a danger on the other. I’ve been wrestling through this tension a lot as of late.
Another tension I feel is the divided results of such posts. Those same posts that seem to inflame and do no good simultaneously seem to benefit others greatly. Unfortunately, often times its the less-than-beneficial sort of stuff that seems to occur in the comments. That’s where things seem to get nasty most of the time. And it’s public. But for as many negative responses I’ve witnessed, I’ve had a counterbalancing amount of amazingly constructive and positive conversations and responses in messages, over the phone, and in person. So, this is another tension over which I’m wrestling.
I’m trying to wrestle through this. If I have in any way failed to strike that balance, I apologize.
For the encouragement some of you have expressed and the constructive conversations that were had, I’m grateful. The rest, I find regrettable. And that’s not meant to be in reference to any of you; I’m talking about what’s on me (my responsibility) as the one posting. It’s given me pause and making me reconsider.
Let’s be advocates of religious liberty… but not just our own.
Promoting and defending religious liberty is not a matter of doing what best makes us secure and comfortable. That’s not something we’ve been called to as Christians. Religious liberty is about doing what’s right. That means pursuing the religious liberty of others just as much, if not more, than our own.
So, when it comes to religious liberty, let’s be honest, neither Hillary nor Trump (cf. his remarks on Muslims) receive a good grade here. Evangelicals, please stop acting like the latter will be the of bastion of religious liberty. You only reveal your own self-interested definition thereof.