The doomsday prophets are out again, warning of the loss of evangelicalism unless evangelicals flee President Trump like passengers flee a sinking ship. It seems the NeverTrump “evangelicals” must continually assault fellow evangelicals who voted for Trump with this “we’ve lost our moral high ground” motto. And yet, to evidence it, they consistently point to things Trump did and said before he took office. Please know I would never excuse sin – not even my own (I don’t have to – Christ died for it). But I’m not falling for the “moral high ground” rhetoric. If moral high ground is reminding people of their past, then I want no part of that – that sounds more like Pharisaical high ground than moral high ground.
Personally, I would rather assess a person’s character by a person’s current actions (like pro-life, pro-religious freedom) than by his past. However, since the NeverTrumpers cannot point to wrong policies, they are left to bring up words and actions from before he was president. But I’m not going to be “evangelically shamed” into judging him by his past actions. I don’t see such “shaming” as becoming of NT Christianity.
This shaming, however, is not limited to “moral high ground” shaming, but has taken on ethnic and generational overtones. We have been told that minority and young evangelicals are fleeing evangelicalism because evangelicals voted for Trump. I reject this premise. I don’t reject that many are fleeing “evangelicalism,” I reject that they were New Testament (NT) pro-life, pro-religious freedom evangelicals in the first place.
If an “evangelical” is quoting Jesse Jackson more than Herman Cain then he/she was fleeing New Testament pro-life positions anyway. And if an evangelical is quoting Bernie Sanders more than Sean Hannity, then again, he/she was fleeing NT pro-life positions before Trump ever came along. Moreover, I struggle believing that a NT believing Christian would disfellowship with other Christians simply over the way they voted. I think too much of my brothers and sisters in Christ to even entertain such a notion.
Critical thinking evangelicals realize this is about New Testament Christianity, which does not focus on race, or gender, or age, or past failures; but on unity formed by the grace of God around the truth of God’s Word. A unity amongst differences. A unity which can tolerate disagreement without shaming into silence. A unity, which can have civil discourse when it comes to government policies.
Truth, which is sacrificed on the alter of unity, dilutes both. But unity anchored on truth, strengthens both. The solution in dealing with any ethnic, gender, generational, or social differences is not to silence others’ pursuit of truth, but to have honest, open dialogue with a presupposition that Scripture is the authoritative word on issues.
The claim has also been made that we’ve lost our witness to the world. Really? So, I’ve lost my witness by affirming that a person’s past should not haunt him/her for the rest of his/her life; or by affirming that protecting infants in the womb is far more important than one’s past moral failures; or by affirming we believe moral failures are sin (of which we are all guilty)? Really? By affirming these truths, we have lost our witness?
I think not. I don’t buy the liberal media bias “surveys.” Rather, I affirm we have maintained our witness. Most lost people I speak with are able to think critically. They are able to understand complexity in a sin-stained world, where no one is perfect. They can grasp, even if they don’t agree, that because I believe an infant is living at conception, that I would vote for a “proud” man for a chance to save the infant’s life (even though the Bible condemns pride). Lost people grasp complexity much better than some evangelicals give them credit.
Honestly, I would love it if Jesus were president of the U.S. (although such is beneath the King of the Universe). But it is not going to happen. I am going to have to always vote for a sinner. Yes, I think V.P. Pence may have more moral character than our president. But make no mistake about it, no president in the history of our nation has done more to protect infants from being murdered than our current president, including men of apparently much higher moral character.
I say “apparently,” because when we speak of moral character I find it difficult to separate protection of innocent babies from one’s character. In this sense (protection of innocent infants), he has more moral character than any president in our history. Moral character is not solely about sexual fidelity, it is also about the protection of innocent lives. Thus, critical thinking invites tension, which is not so easily relieved, simply by saying a person is morally bankrupt because he/she was sexually immoral.
I’m weary of the NeverTrump crowd claiming there is hypocrisy in the camp since we condemned Clinton but refuse to condemn Trump. Really? Which evangelical has said it was wrong for Clinton to be unfaithful but it was not wrong for Trump to be unfaithful? Interesting, what critical thinking brings to the table. I didn’t vote against Clinton because of his affairs (the most famous of which hadn’t even occurred during the first election cycle). I voted against him, because of his policies. Hypocrisy is not to be found in a person who votes based on policies. Rather, the meter of hypocrisy begins moving when you condemn others for voting for a sinner, because you feel his sin is worse than the sinner for whom you voted.
There are some reading this who are AlwaysTrumpers (those who will stand behind him, even if he deserted his pro-life, pro-religious freedom positions; and who errantly try to defend his past). There are others who are NeverTrumpers (those who are against him no matter his pro-life, pro religious freedom positions and will always be against him). But to the rest of us (some who could not vote for him for conscience sake and some who had to vote for him for conscience sake), may we agree to not use “evangelical shaming” to try to silence those with whom we disagree. May we agree to look to our president’s present policies, words, and actions and when he is wrong to affirm he is wrong … and when he is right to affirm he is right.
It is ok to disagree on how our conscience leads us. We should all respect such. But, it is wrong to use errant race, gender, age, or moral high ground arguments to try to shame into silence those who dissent with our view. Shame on those who use evangelical shaming to try to silence dissent.