The following are reflections are specifically in response to the recent “Unite the Right” rally in Charleston, SC, as well as potential nuclear threat between President Trump and North Korea.
This morning, as South City Church, gathers to worship God, we do so as people embedded in our society, a society torn and plagued by social sins of racism and threats of mass nuclear slaughter. Our worship cannot be removed or detached from our social context. Rather the God we worship and the faith we confess has bearing on our situations.
We grieve the effects of sin on ourselves and on our fellow-image bears. We grieve with a profound sense humility, knowing that we are equally culpable in evil. And we grieve knowing that sin is ultimately an affront to the glory of our God, a God of infinite worth and beauty; the God who created us for so much more — Himself.
We, as Christians, are a part of a much larger community — the Church composed of members from across time and space; a community who heritage and who make up consists of white people alongside people of color.
Today, as much as every other day, we have solidarity with each other. We are members of one body. To inflict one of us is to inflict one of our brothers and sisters. We cannot be apathetic.
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.”
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.