Donald Trump: Do Character, Morality and Kindness Still Matter?

I’m asking whether we should support, defend, or be entertained by behavior that’s condemned in Scripture.

I find it ironic that many of the current supporters of Donald Trump, including some pastors and Christian leaders, were vocal opponents of Bill Clinton in the 90’s, openly castigating him for his immorality. If character mattered in the case of Bill Clinton (as I believe it did), why doesn’t it matter in the case of Donald Trump? Isn’t it hypocritical to have been outraged by the behavior of one but not the other?

 

I promised myself I wouldn’t endorse any presidential candidate in 2016. I’m sticking with that. But I never would have believed I’d have to write what I feel the Lord compelling me to. (This isn’t to blame God for everything I say!)

This is WAY longer than my normal blogs, three times longer, but I don’t want to follow up with another, so this is all of it. Four years ago I wrote seven election related blogs; not this time.

This isn’t really a blog, it’s a long article, more of an essay—only for those with time and interest. I’m including many links to show I’m not making these things up (some will want to check them out), though I suppose it’s inevitable there will be a few inaccuracies.

People have been asking me to write on this, but some will be sorry I did. If this seems too little too late, I get that. If it seems to some irresponsible (I know it will), I still think every Jesus-follower needs to do some real soul-searching. I’m talking about much more than just voting, and the principles here apply to other candidates too, not only Trump.

I’m asking whether we should support, defend, or be entertained by behavior that’s condemned in Scripture. I’m questioning what leadership qualities we are drawn to. I avoid politics whenever possible. This time it’s not possible. My concern here is that God’s people should consistently value biblical Jesus-honoring principles, character, and behavior in all aspects of life.

I realize the races for the party nominations aren’t over yet, though they may be soon. As of today, the fact is this: a candidate who wouldn’t have been taken seriously by most evangelical Christians just twenty years ago, who would have been dismissed out-of-hand for his behavior and speech, is now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and is supported by many evangelicals (though not as many as headlines suggest).

I know some will dismiss this the same way they dismiss all criticisms of Trump. Some concerns will be pragmatic: surely we must all vote for Donald Trump in the general election in order to stop a pro-abortion candidate with other problematic policies, right?

Please don’t let other concerns distract you from the only subject of this blog: what are Trump’s character qualities and moral standards, and should they matter to Christ-followers?

MY PURPOSE IS NOT TO OFFER A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM I’M RAISING. Given where we’re at now, I don’t know the solution! My purpose is to address the problem itself—and my conversations and reading indicate that many evangelical Christians do not recognize it’s a problem.

I can’t be held hostage to the pervasive viewpoint, “To criticize or oppose Trump is to support Hillary Clinton.” We dare not act as if any presidential candidate is immune to or above biblical principles and moral standards just because we may (rightly) oppose other candidates.

My other caveat is that of course I realize Jesus is not running for president! I’m not naïve; obviously we are not electing a pastor-in-chief, but a commander-in-chief. I agree we can’t expect moral perfection or even devout behavior in a candidate. Yes, there are countless compromises in politics. But after all the abandonment of idealism and lowering of standards for politicians, surely that doesn’t mean we should dismiss as irrelevant character qualities, decency, and respect and kindness toward others. Those can and should coexist with vision, courage, conviction, and the ability to lead. (See Max Lucado’s excellent article,“Decency for President.”)

I’ll pose a question. What would you do if a dinner guest in your home told a person of Mexican descent that most of her people crossing the border to come to America are criminals and rapists? What if he called one woman a dog, another a bimbo and another “a fat pig,” then addressed others as dummies and losers? What if he told certain people to “go F— themselves?”

What if he made a demeaning reference to a woman’s menstrual cycle, then a lusting comment to a young woman in your home, in which he fantasized about her assuming a sexual position for him? What would you do if he started telling stories of his sexual conquests, saying, “Oftentimes when I was sleeping with one of the top women in the world I would say to myself, thinking about me as a boy from Queens, ‘Can you believe what I am getting?’” (Donald Trump, Think Big: Make it Happen in Business and Life, p. 272)?

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