Evangelicals and Christians are now under intense public pressure to condemn one particular adulterer. Weirdly, this pressure comes from many of the same people who normally cleave to a one-verse New Testament (“Judge not, lest ye be judged!”). But in the wake of potential revelations about the president, these formerly “non-judgmental” observers are suddenly joining the howling, rock-hurling mob.
Here we ordinary folk are, minding our own businesses (gun stores and wedding cake bakeries and such), when suddenly we find NeverTrumpers on one hand, and the Left on the other, eagerly pressing stones into our palms. Then they wait in gleeful expectation for us to launch them at the president, or not—but either way, serving as their useful idiots. We are to fulfill the Hollywood stereotype of the raging, prudish, vindictive religious conservative or satisfy their urge to scream “hypocrisy.”
“Judge not”? That was yesterday. Suddenly, if we’re not judging—or not judging fiercely, publicly or politically enough—we’re hypocrites.
Well, to that I say, “Thank you for your thoughtful projectiles selection process, but . . . that’s not really how it works.”
Let me suggest a parallel case. Say I were to demand of a fervent socialist, condemnation of the extravagant lifestyle of Bernie Sanders. My socialist friend might well respond, “ . . . but, you don’t believe there’s anything wrong with being super-rich!”
“Well, no, I don’t,” I’d admit, “ But isn’t it kind of hypocritical of you? Shouldn’t he be redistributing those vacation homes and so forth?”
“Well . . . ”
Turns out, the fervent supporter doesn’t really mind Bernie being very wealthy, not in any visceral way. His discovery of Bernie’s wealth doesn’t shock him senseless, either. He expects a politician to be wealthy, especially after a long career; he might not approve (“Property is theft!”) but despite Bernie’s personal choices, at least he’d prevent you from being wealthy, and that’s what really matters. (Or something along those lines; I admit I’m not entirely clear on that point.) See, Bernie’s supposed to be the guy to advance the agenda—not a perfect mystical avatar of the agenda.
Just so with our view of President Trump, and his spotlight-seeking former paramour of the turbulent sobriquet.
I deeply deplore and heartily condemn adultery, including Donald Trump’s (and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s, Thomas Jefferson’s, Lord Horatio Nelson’s, etc.). It’s a grave sin. It’s a grave violation of a sacred oath. And it does certainly seem that, back when he was still a Democrat (and I deplore that part of his past, as well), Donald J. Trump was an active adulterer.
I certainly hope he’s matured since 2006 and that he is sincere in his plan to never, ever be an active adulterer, or a Democrat, again. Presumably, he’s apologized to his wife—about at least one of those. I hope he’s approached the Almighty, as well, the ultimate authority to whom we answer in these matters.
But as for the rest of us . . . well, I can’t really see that he needs to answer to us as voters, for what he did on his own time, before we hired him. And it isn’t as if a tawdry affair in his past comes as a shock, or as a glaring contradiction to the résumé he presented to us when he applied for the job. He was elected as the first openly pro-gay marriage president, after all. To religious conservatives, that in itself would have shown that Trump didn’t comprehend or value marriage in the same way we do—that is, if most of us hadn’t already reached that conclusion.
Trump was not elected as a longtime exemplar of Christian values, at least not by anyone who’d been paying attention. We elected him as a president with goodwill towards us, who would not be actively hostile to our ability to live out our faith. He has, in fact, proven to be that so far. He’s also done a great deal of good that a meeker, more temperate leader would have been unable to do.
Yes, Donald Trump is a man with flaws and a well-known extravagantly prodigal past—but that was hashed out, ad nauseam, during the 2016 election. Since then, he’s been a very good employee of the people. I’m not sorry that we hired him, particularly when I recall the only other finalist our national job-search committee was seriously considering. I’m sorry he damaged himself, his family, and everyone else involved (including the much-exploited, self-destructive Stormy Daniels), through a particularly tawdry affair which he apparently had more than a decade ago. It’s a discouraging sign, too, that he followed up with payoffs, in an ultimately futile bid to bury a misdeed. But I’ll bet that he’s sorry by now—one hopes with a lesson learned. Perhaps more than one lesson.
So what is it one says, in these situations, when the rock-throwing option has been thoughtfully considered and ultimately rejected?
As I recall, it’s something along the lines of, “Go, and sin no more.” Get on with what you were hired to do, Mr. President. You have more important things to do than dodging these stones, and we have more productive things to do than hurl them.
Psalm 101 for Politics
King David, quite a mighty man and worthy of respect,
Composed a list of qualities for servants he’d select.
They would not slander secretly, nor would they deal in lies,
But walk uprightly, speak no evil, have no haughty eyes.
Ejected from his presence were the froward; yes, just gone!
The cruel and unjust King David scorned to look upon.
Thus he enforced the character of those who would surround him.
They must have been exceptional; one wonders where he found them.
Now, a republic’s citizen is higher than all kings,
And he must make decisions on precisely the same things;
Pick servants who can speak for him with honor, force, and tact –
And whom he trusts with daggers near his unprotected back.
Like David, he seeks perfection as he finds he must compromise;
How shall he choose among the “base things” set before his eyes?
To elect at least the one-eyed men, when all the hordes are blind?
Lord, help us; Lord, forgive us; Lord, good help is hard to find!
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