I’ll begin with a few comments about the debate last night, but I will then move on to what I consider to be a more important subject.
First, it was satisfying to see Hillary Clinton on the defensive, which is where she should always be. I also didn’t mind seeing women in the audience who have accused Bill Clinton of unwanted sexual advances—rape, in one instance—as well as one who was raped by a man whom Hillary defended in court and got him acquitted in spite of the fact he was guilty. She’s on tape, laughing about that afterward.
Trump’s debate performance was better than his disaster (his favorite word last night) the first time around, but that’s not saying much because the expectations bar is already set so low. The best I can say is that he didn’t spontaneously combust (although I sensed he was on the verge of doing so a number of times).
His performance will embolden his most devoted backers, but I doubt he won over the kinds of voters he will need to win this election. He categorically stated he never pushed himself on women or sexually abused them. I predict that declaration will boomerang on him very soon. In fact, there are already accounts out there that show it’s a bald-faced lie.
Enough on the debate itself.
What has really occupied my thoughts over this weekend is the way evangelicals have come to Trump’s defense after witnessing the indefensible. I’m appalled, frankly, by the excuses and rationalizations being put forward on his behalf. Certain ones come to the forefront, and I would like to address them.
Bad actions vs. bad words
There’s a meme floating around Facebook that gives a list of all the bad things the Clintons have done compared to what Trump has done. On the Clinton side of the ledger, there are many bad actions noted. I have no problem with that; they are all true. On the Trump side, it says only “said mean things.”
The goal, of course, is to contrast a well-documented list of Clinton behavior (as I said, all true) with Trump’s words. “See,” we’re told, “he hasn’t done anything; he only steps out of bounds sometimes with the way he says things.”
Anyone who thinks Trump hasn’t done evil, vile things in his life is living in a dream world. His life is just as much an open book as the Clintons and just as seamy. His business dealings are shady at best, he treats people as commodities for his own advancement, others suffer from his malfeasance—not paying contractors, closing down failing business ventures, conning people with phony enterprises like Trump University (coming to a courtroom near us all very soon), etc.
His comments in the video released last week are not just words. They were bragging comments about how he actually has treated women and how he views them overall. As Trump might say in one of his tweets: BAD. SAD. NOT GOOD.
Those comments also reveal what should have been obvious to everyone by now: he thinks of himself as a privileged individual—a “star”—who can do whatever he wants.
This is what you want in a president? He has gone far beyond “just words.”
All men talk like that
The Clintons are worse
I might agree. I might not. It’s beside the point. Bad is bad. Corrupt is corrupt. It exists on both sides. Whenever anyone tries to excuse bad behavior on one side by pointing to the other, it’s merely a deflection and a desire to change the focus.
No matter what the Clintons have done, Trump must answer for what he has done. Pointing out all the Clintons’ sins (and there are so many one can easily lose count) doesn’t change one bit what Trump has done and the essence of his character.
Trump defenders who use this ploy are unwilling to face the facts about him. They hope that by highlighting the evil on the other side that the rest of us will erase from our minds the evil on the Trump side. That’s not going to happen with me; his evil is just as prominent.
Trump used those women abused by the Clintons to try to show how great he is because he is on those women’s side. Go back in history. At the time those accusations against Bill Clinton were made public, what was his response? Trump, at that time, ridiculed the women and defended the sexual abuser. Now he wants us to believe he is the staunch protector of the weak? Get serious. This is all political show.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone/judge not lest you be judged
Using scriptures like these to try to shame those of us who are attempting to shed light on Trump’s character is unjust. First, it is a none-too-subtle accusation of Pharisaism. It puts us in the crowd of Pharisees who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. Apparently, we are harboring our own sins and have no right to point out Trump’s.
That, in itself, is offensive. It implies that anyone who ever expresses concern about sinfulness has no standing to say anything because of one’s own sins. We’re not allowed to warn others about the sins of a man who wants to lead a nation?
By the way, what did Jesus say to that woman caught in adultery after everyone else left? He made it clear she had sinned indeed and warned her: go and sin no more.
As for not judging, go to Matthew 7 where that passage is found. Read it carefully. It’s not a prohibition on passing judgment; rather, it’s a prohibition on judging if you haven’t taken care of your own sins first. Take the log out of your own eye, but then it is fine to take the splinter out of another’s. Judgment does happen, all the time, as it should. We are to be a discerning people. This is merely a warning against hypocrisy when you do judge.
By the way, aren’t those who are telling us not to judge Trump judging us? If you take your own words seriously, you should stop telling me to stop judging Trump.
We’re not electing a pastor-in-chief
Agreed. But does that mean instead that we elect an unrepentant serial abuser of women, a man who spins conspiracy theories for his own political benefit, who insults anyone who stands in his way, who lies blatantly about anything and everything, and who considers himself a privileged person who can get whatever he wants?
The saddest part of this past weekend for me is that the stoutest defenders of Donald Trump have seem to come from his cadre of evangelical supporters. I agree with what Dr. Russell Moore said:
The damage done to the gospel this year, by so-called evangelicals, will take longer to recover from than the ’80s TV evangelist scandals.
I also agree with Rich Lowry at National Review:
Someday they will wonder how a man representing the worst excesses of the entertainment world and our elite culture became not just the Republican nominee, but the candidate of the religious right.
It’s well beyond time for Christians to untangle themselves from Donald Trump. Damage to the Christian witness has been considerable, but through repentance and a renewed commitment to righteousness, perhaps some of that can be reversed.
Enough with the excuses and rationalizations.