So David French took Franklin Graham to task for his hypocrisy in defending President Donald Trump’s moral failings while attacking the morality of Pete Buttigieg because of his homosexuality. I mean what is wrong with French’s argument. No matter how much you may believe homosexuality is wrong, you have no moral grounds to attack it and then defend a multiple adulterer such as Trump. If you are a Christian, you do not get to pick and choose what part of the Bible to uphold based on your own partisan desires.
It seems clear cut to me that French is right to call out this hypocrisy. So what does he get for his troubles? Oh he gets to receive an attack from the American Family Association (AFA).
What sort of Bizzarro world do we live in? I will defend the AFA, and likeminded organizations from the unfair charges of being a hate group launched by the SPLC in a heartbeat. But this is inexcusable. I keep hearing from my Trump friends lines such as, “He does good things but is crude and I wish he would not tweet some of the things he does” and “Just because Trump engages in sexism and race-baiting does not mean that I am defined by those things.” Well kinda yes, you are defined by his gross actions and comments. If you not only fail to critique the immorality of Trump but also attack those who do call him out, then you are rightly linked to that immorality. You are a hypocrite. Just own that reality so that you are not lying to yourself.
After recovering from the shock of seeing Trump elected, I have worked really hard to understand how so many of my Christian brothers and sisters could have voted for him. I have not entered into a Trump Derangement resistance stance where I unreflexively condemn Trump supporters. And you know what? I am almost there. Not that I would vote for him, but I am understanding some reasons for that vote. I mean when the media goes hogwild over the possibility that Catholic kids harassed a Native American protestor but ignores a state senator harassing an elderly woman praying at a Planned Parenthood building and threatening to dox teenagers then something is wrong. It becomes easier to see how some Christians can hold their nose to vote for Trump rather than allow progressives have control of our government. I think they are wrong for voting for him, but there are reasons for their vote.
Let me take this a step further. The best reason my conservative Christian friends gave me for supporting Trump was that they feared that Clinton was out to get them and at least Trump would leave them alone. I cannot deny that Clinton showed no interest for them or their concerns. I suspect that she sees conservative Christians as one more group of deplorables who can be ignored, or even mistreated, for the greater good. When a candidate will not even talk to Christianity Today, which is as moderate a periodical as you will find among conservative Christians, then it is not unreasonable to think that she does not care one bit about them. So while she may not be literally “out to get them,” I suspect that there will be some in her administration who will act out on their anti-Christian animosity and they will suffer from that.
However, that is not a good enough reason to vote for Trump. It does not offset putting such an unworthy, low class man in office. Furthermore it is incredibly short-sighted. In the long term Christians should be doing all they can to retain their legitimacy and cultural relevance as we move into a post-Christian society. The political gains from Trump will be short term. The losses connected to the hypocrisy of supporting a race-baiting, sexist moral degenerate will be long lasting. So while I do not deny that Christians have justified concerns that they hope Trump will address, I still maintain that their support for Trump is not a good way to meet those needs.
But for the sake of arguing, let us say that I became convinced that Clinton was so bad that I felt I had to vote for Trump. Say that I had a crystal ball and knew that Clinton would turn into a Stalin. Would I vote for Trump to stop someone I knew would become Stalin? Yes I would. I would go with the race-baiting, sexist moral degenerate if I knew that his opponent was going to kill millions of people and plunge us into unending wars on the chance that Trump might not do that. But what I would not do is then unconditionally support him. Having held my nose with both hands and cast the ballot for Trump, I would continue to critique him and hope that with enough criticism, he would stop with the race-baiting, the insulting, the lying and so forth. So I admit that there are limited situations (say against a Stalin or a Hitler) where I could see myself vote for Trump. But I do not see the situation where I would continue to give him nearly unconditional support and attack those who criticize him. Yet that is precisely what too many of my fellow Christians are doing today.
I cannot understand this automatic support of all things Trump. I cannot understand this attempt to attack other Christians who call out Trump’s immoralities. In 2016 I had hoped that Christians voting for Trump did so while holding their noses. They did not want to have a man as immoral as Trump, but their fear of Clinton drove them to vote for him. But given the reaction of so many Christians, they are more than accepting the moral values of Trump. They are defending those values.
I feared that support for Trump would alter his supporters rather than change him. Trump is a con man, and the more one interacts with him, the more one is convinced he is right. That is what tends to happen when you spend time around someone who is used to conning others. Christians think that supporting Trump will allow them to be protected. However, what is more likely to happen is that their association with Trump will corrupt their ultimate mission.
So I implore my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to stop reflexively defending Trump. Stop attacking those who criticize him and those, like Franklin, who give him cover for his moral failings. If you feel that voting for Trump in 2016 or again in 2020 is important, then you will do that. I have just about given up hope that I can persuade you otherwise. But you damage our image and make it harder for us long term by hypocritically defending Trump in ways you will never defend a progressive politician. We are supposed to answer to a higher authority than the president of the United States. We need to start acting like it.