I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the prophet Nathan. If that name escapes you, it’s understandable. He’s not prominent like Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, who wrote down their prophetic messages. He’s not well known like Elijah, who, although he wrote nothing, did some rather remarkable things through the power of God.
But Nathan is important.
He comes to prominence in 2 Samuel, chapter 12. King David, the anointed one of the Lord, committed adultery and then had the woman’s husband put at the front of a battle to ensure he was killed. He got his wish and the man’s widow.
After all, he was the Lord’s anointed. He could do whatever he wanted.
Nathan comes to speak to David one day and tells him a story about a rich man who takes a poor man’s pet lamb and butchers it for a meal. David is incensed by the story. That evil man, says David, must make compensation four times the lamb’s worth.
Then Nathan points a finger directly at David: “You are the man!”
Immediately, because David normally has a heart for God, he recognizes the enormity of his sin and repents deeply over what he did. Yet there are consequences: the child born of the adulterous relationship dies and one of David’s own sons tries to take the kingdom away from him. Many more die in the process.
Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
It was just and right for Nathan to confront David, even though he was God’s anointed. It was more than just and right; it was essential for the spiritual health of the nation.
How should this apply today?
No leader—political, spiritual, or otherwise—should be spared direct confrontation. The goal of such confrontation is to lead to a recognition of sin, a heartfelt repentance, and a restored relationship with God.
That’s always the goal.
It’s not “hate” to point out sins in a leader. Even if that leader is nowhere near being a Christian, there are still standards—God’s standards—to which everyone will have to answer. Christians are tasked with doing whatever they can, with God’s guidance, to bring a nation more in line with what God expects of a people.
In January 2017, when Donald Trump took the oath of office as president, I publicly, in this blog, stated that I would support him in any way I could. Despite my firm conviction that a man of his character should have been rejected from the start when he entered the primaries, I would try to be fair and balanced toward him.
I believe I have been faithful to that commitment. If you were to check back in my blog posts, you would find a number of times I’ve agreed with his policies. Yet, I didn’t neglect to note when his character undermined not only those very policies but the integrity of the government.
Every time I dared to mention anything negative, a chorus of people arose to tell me I was judgmental.
At the beginning of this present year, I determined to minimize my political commentary because I was drawn more to other matters that I found more edifying.
Again, if you search my blog posts for 2018, I believe you will have to admit that Trump has shown up irregularly, and that I’ve been far more focused on positive messages on C. S. Lewis and moments from history from which we can learn important principles.
But whenever I venture to critique the president’s actions (or those of his supporters), the chorus returns.
It’s difficult to say anything anymore that even hints at criticism of Trump’s rhetoric or actions without an immediate and emotional reaction.
What has disturbed me most is that those who should understand sin, repentance, faith, and holiness better than others have decided to look the other way when it comes to the president.
Where are the Nathans?
Trump has an evangelical advisory group. Maybe they are doing a good job. Only God knows. But what I read and hear from people like Rev. Robert Jeffress is backtracking from Biblical morality in Trump’s case. He’s our man, so we’re not going to say anything negative. He’s God anointed; don’t touch him.
I toyed with the idea last night as I went to bed that I might just shut down my blog, remove myself from Facebook, walk away from Twitter, and generally get myself out of the line of fire. I’m tired of this.
It’s easy to make bad decisions based on emotion. In the light of this morning, I’ve decided that’s not the solution.
What I will do, though, is scale back even more from making political commentary—at least about Trump. No one who is devoted to him is going to listen to what I have to say. Minds are made up. Every excuse imaginable for why he shouldn’t be criticized is dredged up.
So what’s the point anymore?
That doesn’t mean I won’t write about government and the principles I believe God wants us to follow. And it’s not an absolute moratorium on Trump. To pledge that I will never mention him again would be foolish; I would undoubtedly break that pledge.
But I will never back away from the Biblical truth that righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a disgrace to any people.
And I will continue to pray that other Christians will take that seriously, considering the dangerous and increasingly anti-Christian times in which we live.
I will also continue to pray that more Nathans—those who are called by God to point out sin for the purpose of ultimate redemption—will come to the forefront.