What to do when our departures and reversals from prior positions or statements are this blatantly self-serving—oh the hypocrisy. What are we to make of people who, it turns out, haven’t much of a memory? I believe people will look back at the years of the Trump presidency and see any evangelical defender as either blissfully ignorant, or intentionally complicit in support of the idea power trumps ethics and decency. And that brings me to Wayne Grudem.
Grudem, he of two minds, (more on that in a moment), recently made these comments:
“I strongly disapprove of adultery and being unfaithful in marriage,” Grudem says, “but I still support [Trump’s] actions as president. I’m glad he’s president, and I would vote for him again.”
To which, I thought:
Really? Is he glad we have a president who blatantly lies on a constant basis, and at a level never, ever, seen before? Is he glad we have a president whose every organization, basically everything he has touched, is under criminal investigation? Is he glad we have a president whose charity foundation was shut down due to, “a shocking pattern of illegality…”? Is he glad we have a president who has emboldened, and given voice to, racist elements in our culture? Is he glad we have a president who has presided over, and encouraged, an attitude toward immigrants that has probably led to the death of children in his administration’s custody? Is he glad we have a president who regularly and flagrantly violates and doesn’t understand the concept of the rule of law?
Is he glad we have a president who, every day it appears more and more likely sold American foreign policy to the highest bidder? Is he glad we have a president who surrounds himself with people who either resign out of principle, are forced out, or indicted? Is he glad we have a president who is believed by some of the “best people” he hired, to be a moron? Is he glad we have a president who regularly talks like a mob boss, disparages the FBI, and routinely believes hostile state actors over his own intelligence services—even regarding the killing of an American resident? Is he glad we have a president who regularly puts journalists at risk by calling them, “fake news,” and creates a national hostile work environment for them? Is he glad we have a president who is incompetent, bitter, resentful, mean, and small? One could go on and on. I’ve barely scratched the surface.
And to claim one would vote for him again, given the above, while not even knowing what Mueller’s report might contain, or who Trump’s opponent might be, displays at best, a terrible short-sightedness, and at worst, a disturbing lack of wisdom.
Rather than having anything to do with marriage or adultery, this is about competence, fitness, intelligence, and decency, all of which Trump hasn’t a whit. Where the marriage and adultery come into play is, rather, more a matter of hypocrisy. And I would make these claims and criticisms regardless of party affiliation, political bent-liberal or conservative. Something Gruden can’t do it would appear. Clearly, his ethical standards only apply to liberals and Democrats. For him, policy (right doctrine) trumps decency, ethics, and character.If we were to use the standards evangelicals have applied to all presidents before Trump, when it came to sexual ethics, marriage, and character in general, a case for Trump could never have been made without a resort to straight-up hypocrisy, which is exactly what happened.
Many, even conservative, evangelicals pointed this out, notably here and here. We have those who sounded the alarm, and then we have people like Grudem. Running up to the election he wrote this piece. And, if you read the editor’s note and see Grudem’s other essays, we see he came to his senses after the Access Hollywood tape came out. However, then, he (of two minds) writes a final deciding the abject hypocrisy was worth it if power was the prize.
If a liberal-to-moderate Democrat president had said or done even a sliver of what Trump has, people like Grudem would have denounced, pilloried, and held them up as signs of the apocalypse. What are we to make then, of people like this who twist themselves into pretzels to justify the unjustifiable? It is embarrassing. If they haven’t the sense to be embarrassed, we will be embarrassed for them.
What will history make of Grudem and the other prominent evangelical leaders who supported and still support Trump? Only an about-face, an apology and denouncement of Trump would begin to repair the damage he and these others have done to their reputations and the reputation of evangelicalism in general. But such is unlikely given these recent remarks.
Regardless, these men (and women) and any other evangelical leaders who supported or continue to defend Trump should just fade away. Please—just go away. And they should never be consulted again regarding anything having to do with the political realm and morality, given their egregious lack of wisdom and hypocrisy in both areas. Will history write anything different of them than it has regarding those who in the past supported George Wallace, Jim Crow laws, segregation, or anti-Semitism? I doubt it.
Trump was a line in the sand. He was a bridge too far. He will forever separate evangelicals and history will remember which line, which side, one was on in that moment. These are the moments given to some generations—the moments when they either walk-the-walk, are consistent in the standards they applied prior, or end up just being hot air, hypocrites. Both types are becoming more and more evident. Such is certainly the case with poor Mr. Grudem.
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