Well Now What?
Now that Donald Trump, the one man many of us, myself included, said would not and could not beat Hillary has actually gone and done that, the future at which we peer becomes ever so odd. I admit I have been staunchly #NeverTrump and to a large degree still embrace the stigma attached to it from Republicans and Democrats alike. This is not say I don’t wish the man well or am rooting for failure, but that I still remain deeply skeptical about both his ability to lead this nation as it needs to be lead and his willingness and commitment to follow through on anything of value or goodness that he promised during his campaign.
The best public servants seem to be those possessing some level of selflessness, compassion, and commitment but Donald Trump has modeled precious little of either as a businessman and a candidate.
But if he is somehow able to display and embody these things as President he may yet lead well and surprise many of us. But if not, it becomes all the more important that we Christians embody them ourselves.
Political Power and Personal Holiness
Fairly or unfairly, Trump’s win will largely be credited to the white, evangelical Christians of America. Voices such as Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Pastor Robert Jeffress, Eric Metaxas, and Wayne Grudem, all evangelical stalwarts, lent their not inconsiderable sway and influence to not only encouraging their audience to vote for Trump, but implying, if not explicitly stating, that it was their moral duty to do so (Caveat, I am on record as saying the near exact thing in support of the #NeverTrump position, for what it’s worth, so take that as you will).
This means that, to a large extent, the pundits who see Trump’s election as predicated upon a mass movement of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and general hatred will now gladly paint our churches in those glaring colors. Whether you think this is fair or not, it is reality.
Because although it is dishonest to say all Trump voters are racist, it is just as dishonest to say that none of them were.
It is inaccurate to say that Trump won only because racism and fear of outsiders still permeate much of society, but it’s equally inaccurate to say that such fears were not inherent to his appeal.
It is also a reality that deep and obvious strains of those things were not only present in Trump’s campaign, but were at best conveniently ignored, if not outright encouraged and fostered. This is certainly not to say that all of the eventual Trump voters held such stark attitudes in their hearts as they stood in their voting booth, but neither can its ugliness be divorced from his campaign and eventual victory.
And since we find ourselves in the midst of such an unenviable mixture of political power and social nefariousness, a world in which, according to exit pollsters, over 80% of white, evangelical voters supported a man who advocates mass deportation of families long-established our neighbors and the unconstitutional over-policing of our black neighbors, it is our absolute duty to be more vocal and ardent than ever before in decrying any and all of these ills in our own lives, in our communities, and especially from the office of President.
In his first epistle Peter urged a persecuted church to seek holiness in the face of persecution saying, “Keep a good conscience that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame (3:16, NASB).” This is more important than ever. Let our lives, our conduct and conversations, our attitudes and actions, be such that when they are torn apart for any sign of racial animus or hostility based on someone’s skin color, religion, or country of origin absolutely nothing is found.
Because “when a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Prov. 16:7).”
Political Power and Political Responsibility
As both Americans and Christians we are responsible to hold accountable our leaders and governing authorities, especially when they rise to power on Christians platforms and are heralded as “God’s man” by Christian voices. If it was ever permissible to excuse Trump’s flaws by saying that his opponent’s were that much worse, it no longer is.
He no longer has “an opponent.” He has the power and authority of the highest executive office in the land. Standards must be higher now than ever. His supporters do him no favors if they continue to gloss over, shrug away, belittle, or dismiss his worst tendencies.
I’ll put it this way, the happier and more exuberant you are over Trump’s victory/Hillary’s defeat, the more responsibility you ought to accept to not only cheer when he does well, but to chastise when he resorts to vulgarity or entertains corruption.
Christians as a body must continue to promote the good of our neighbor and the flourishing of our societies through the proclamation and embodiment of the Gospel. And so much as Trump encourages and promotes such things as President, he will have my gratitude and support.
And, as always, my prayers.