Three Things Evangelicals Should Stop Saying In Defense of Trump

Three Things Evangelicals Should Stop Saying In Defense of Trump May 7, 2018

The last few blogs I’ve written have been an expression of concern about why evangelicals continue to support, defend and justify the behaviors of Donald Trump in the name of God.  Whenever I write about this topic, I frequently hear the same phrases from his supporters.  The most common being…

1) Only God can know his heart.  

2) Who are we to judge?  

3) David was flawed, too, and he was a man after God’s heart. 

It’s concerning that so many people repeat these phrases verbatim, as if regurgitating an argument that’s been told to them rather than formulating their own original thoughts and responses.

That concern aside, here are why these phrases don’t hold up to scrutiny, and why evangelicals who are intellectually honest and theologically astute should stop saying them.

1) Only God can know his heart. 

This statement is partly true.  God does know Trump’s heart.  And only God can know the totality of what’s in Trump’s (or anyone’s) heart.  But there’s more to the story than that.  Luke 6:45 says, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (NLT)

Which means that if you want to know what’s in a person’s heart, listen to what they say.  Trump slanders, belittles, boasts, bears false witness, calls people demeaning names (like fat ass, ugly and dog) and brags about being able to sexually assault women.  Those words don’t come from a pure, well-intentioned heart.

No one can know anyone else’s heart fully, but all of us can be discerning and believe the words of Jesus, that what we say is a reliable indication of what’s in our hearts.

2) Who are we to judge?

It’s important here to define what the word “judge” means, and what our motives are.

It’s true that we’re not supposed to be judgmental.  We’re not to scrutinize Trump, or anyone else, so we can feel morally superior to them, or so we can belittle them for being a worse person than we are.  That’s unhelpful and unkind.

But we are called to be discerning.  To evaluate objective pieces of information against a moral standard  — for instance, financial records, recorded conversations, on-the-record interviews, public speeches, patterns of behavior, voting records, legal contracts, etc. is not being judgmental; it’s being discerning.  And that’s something we ARE called to do — especially with public figures who will affect not only our own lives, but also the lives of “the least of these,” holding enormous power to do a whole lot of good, or a whole lot of harm, to vulnerable people.

And we’re also called to speak the truth.  It is not only right, but necessary, to speak what’s true about the life God calls us to, and to use that as the standard by which we choose the people and platforms and values we’ll support or oppose in the name of God.  It’s not judgmental to do that.  It’s crucial to speak these truths– and to confront the lies that oppose or undermine truth.  Of course, we’re called to do that with respect and with the right intentions, with the hope that our world becomes more and more aligned with God’s love and light.

3) David was flawed, too, and he was a man after God’s own heart.

Yes, he was flawed.  David had an affair and had that woman’s husband intentionally killed in battle.  But God didn’t let those sins slide.  God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David, and call him to repentance.  And even after he repented and was forgiven, David paid steep consequences for his sin.  His infant son died, and for the rest of his life, David’s household was in utter chaos.

Being someone after God’s heart means being repentant, and being willing to do whatever it takes to make our wrongs right.

If Trump is flawed like David, evangelical leaders should be confronting him like Nathan confronted David, in the hopes of repentance — not continuing to massage his massive ego and congratulate him on being a “Godly” president while he’s shown no repentance or humility and issued no apologies to the people he’s maligned and hurt.





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