Christians and the Moral Case Against Pres. Trump
The Christianity Today article calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump and blasting evangelicals for supporting him got massive exposure by the mainstream media and Facebook. I’ve never seen an article move so fast on blogs and websites. In addition, I’ve never seen so many published responses or reactions, both pro and con in such a short amount of time.
I wrote a response: “CHRISTIANITY TODAY’ MAGAZINE DUMPS ON TRUMP AND THE LEFT IS FILLED WITH GLEE.” I was told that my article “lit up Facebook.” My angle was different from most responses since it dealt with the proper way to deal with a charge in terms of biblical law, the Constitution, and American jurisprudence.
One staunch defender of the CT article is Tremper Longman III who is the Distinguished Scholar of Biblical Studies at Westmont College and a former professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
He and I are about the same age. He has a Ph.D. from Yale. I don’t have a Ph.D. from anywhere. I respect Dr. Longman as a person and find many of his published works helpful. Also, I’m not some young Turk calling fire down from heaven on a younger (by two years) Christian brother. He and I disagree on some fundamental issues.
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I’m laying out for him as well as others why so many Christians support Pres. Trump. It’s not because he is our political savior, or he can do no wrong; it’s because of other very tangible and logical reasons that I’ll delineate below.
A comment from Dr. Longman that he posted on Facebook caught my attention. It’s related to something that’s found in the CT article: “That he [Trump] should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.” The author of the CT article argues that Pres. Trump has a moral problem, and Dr. Longman agrees and posted the following:
Just saw Eric Metaxis [sic] get crushed by Andrew [sic] Cuomo on matters of faith and consistency. Very embarrassing. That’s what happens when you try to defend a deeply ethically compromised person like Trump. And let’s not say he is like David…. David repented…. He is more like Saul whom God judged and removed from the kingship.
Nearly every member of Congress has a moral problem when you evaluate the legislation they enact into law. These seem to be minor considerations by the editor of CT. They are almost never spoken of or addressed. No, it’s Trump’s Twitter comments that are offensive.
I haven’t watched the Chris Cuomo/Eric Metaxas interview. I know how I would have answered Cuomo about morality and Donald Trump. I would have pointed out that his late father, Mario Cuomo, the former Governor of New York, refused to oppose abortion even though he acknowledged that an unborn baby is a human life.
Here’s what the elder Cuomo said in his address “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective,” delivered September 13, 1984, at Notre Dame University:
As Catholics, my wife and I were enjoined never to use abortion to destroy the life we created, and we never have. We thought Church doctrine was clear on this, and — more than that — both of us felt it in full agreement with what our hearts and our consciences told us. For me life or fetal life in the womb should be protected, even if five of nine Justices of the Supreme Court and my neighbor disagree with me. A fetus is different from an appendix or a set of tonsils. At the very least, even if the argument is made by some scientists or some theologians that in the early stages of fetal development we can’t discern human life, the full potential of human life is indisputably there. That — to my less subtle mind — by itself should demand respect, caution, indeed … reverence.
But not everyone in our society agrees with me and Matilda.
Mario Cuomo admitted that an unborn baby is a human being, but he couldn’t make that argument to the American people politically because not everyone agreed with him. Not everyone agreed that slavery was wrong; that racism was wrong; that segregation was wrong. In fact, not everyone believed abortion was right in 1973 when the Supreme Court, in a 7 to 2 decision, legalized the bloody business in all 50 states.
How often did Mario Cuomo try to persuade people who did not believe as he and his wife did? I don’t recall him ever making an argument against abortion. He took the easy way out: “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but I can’t impose my opposition on others.” There were many used this argument over slavery.
Then there is Andrew Cuomo, the present governor of New York, who has signed a law that allows a woman to kill her unborn child any time until birth. In January of 2019, CT reported the following about the passage of the law: “Cuomo further angered pro-lifers when he ordered that major landmarks in New York City, including One World Trade Center, be lit up pink in celebration of the Act’s passing. ‘The Reproductive Health Act is a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values,’ said Cuomo.” Talk about having a moral problem that pervades the entire Democrat Party and the present Democrat presidential field of candidates, but it’s Pres. Trump who has a moral problem. Did CT call for the removal of Andrew Cuomo from office? Did CT castigate Roman Catholics for voting for him or the Catholic Church for permitting him and his live-in girlfriend to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion? I don’t recall. Has Professor Longman? I don’t know.
Andrew Cuomo was married for 15 years to Kerry Kennedy. Like his father, Andrew says he’s a practicing Catholic, the pro-abortion Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Like Trump, he is divorced. Unlike Trump, he and Sandra Lee lived in the Governor’s mansion unmarried for a decade. They have since split up. He even attended church with her. He supports abortion on demand and the legalization of homosexual marriage. Where is the priest of his parish? Where is the Bishop of his diocese? Are Roman Catholics hypocrites for voting for him?
These are questions that are never asked of Democrats.
What about Dr. Longman’s comments about not comparing Pres. Trump to someone like King David? “And let’s not say [Trump] is like David…. David repented,” Longman wrote. “[Trump] is more like Saul whom God judged and removed from the kingship.”
Pres. Trump has not committed adultery and murder since he’s been president, and neither is he sleeping with young girls to keep himself warm. Yes, David repented for something he did while he was King. Pres. Trump hasn’t violated the seventh and sixth commandments as President, and neither has he been sleeping with young girls to keep himself warm (1 Kings 1:2). King David is not a good moral example. He, like Trump and all of us, had a lot of bad things in his life. He was a “man of bloodshed” (2 Sam. 16:5-13).
Yes, Pres. Trump has been married three times and has had affairs. What about David? He had many wives, although only eight are named (Michal, Abigail, Bathsheba, Ahinoam, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah (2 Sam. 3:2–5; 1 Chron. 3:1–3). According to 2 Samuel 5:13, “David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem.”
Do we stop using the Psalms of David because of his immorality? Is not Jesus the “son of David” with his adulterous wife Bathsheba “of Uriah” whom David sent off to war to have him killed (Matt. 1:6)? None of this is to condone things that Pres. Trump has said or done. I’m only pointing out that the comparison is not a good one.
As a Christian, I would like to see much better political candidates, but at the movement, they are few and far between, and that’s not because of Pres. Trump. I lay much of the blame at the feet of pastors who rarely preach and teach about how the Bible applies to economics and politics. The same is true of most seminaries.
Consider Solomon who authored many of the Proverbs (“Proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel” [1-9] and “Proverbs of Solomon” [10-22:16]). He violated every law regarding kingship (1 Kings 10:14-29; see Lev. 17:14-20) and then married many foreign wives (1 Kings 11), and yet we memorize His words. The “Queen of the South,” the queen of Sheba, came from afar to hear the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13; Matt. 12:42), and yet his administration was morally corrupt. Again, this does not excuse Pres. Trump’s moral failings, but it does put things in perspective.
Presidents do all sorts of immoral things that don’t lead to impeachment. Going to war in Iraq was immoral, and yet many of Trump’s critics supported Pres. Bush in that decision. Confiscatory taxation is immoral, a violation of the eighth commandment, and yet we don’t see CT and Professor Longman railing about these immoral acts. Washington is filled with institutional immorality on a grand scale. But it’s Trump’s tweets that have his critics riled.
In 2016, Donald Trump was the best choice at the time because the other choice was far, far worse. We not only would have gotten Hillary Clinton but also a cadre of leftist politicians, anti-Christian judges, and an expanded deep-state bureaucracy bordering on criminality if not downright criminal. We’ll have to wait and see the outcome.
Most Christian Trump supporters I know voted for other presidential candidates in the primaries. I voted for Ted Cruz. When it came time to make a choice between an outspoken pro-abortionist (among other evil views), I voted for Trump. Am I satisfied with everything Trump has done? Not at all. Many Never-Trumpers stayed home or voted for other candidates in protest. Some of them have since changed their views about Trump since he’s been President because he has followed through on what he promised to do.
His tenacity has forced the Democrat Party to expose its evil agenda — everything from infanticide, the normalization of transgenderism and homosexuality, the ruining of women’s sports, making using the wrong gender pronouns a crime, limits on free speech, confiscation of even more private property, more government programs that will require even larger deficits and government control than we already have. Pres. Trump shares some of the blame on the latter point. Sen. Ted Cruz and some other Republicans have called it “trash.” It’s worse than trash. The new $1.4 trillion budget is radically immoral.
In another post, Professor Longman wrote the following:
You have a responsibility to stand up for truth and integrity [by opposing Pres. Trump]. Even if that means we lose the culture war (as long as the church stays pure).
When was a seminary like Westminster Theological interested in fighting the “culture wars”? Tell me what seminaries are? I would like to know. J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937), one of the founders of Westminster Seminary in 1929, certainly did. “Beginning in 1923,” Gary North writes, “Machen sounded the rallying cry of a frontal assault against a well-entrenched and well-funded enemy: the American Establishment — not just the religious Establishment, which today is a comparatively minor affair in the United States, but the American Establishment in the broadest sense.” North lays out some of Machen’s views relative to social and political themes:
Machen was a believer in limited civil government, non-intervention in foreign policy (one view he shared with [William Jennings] Bryan), and private charities rather than tax-financed institutions of coercive wealth redistribution. He opposed Prohibition as an unwarranted incursion into people’s freedom of action by the civil government. He testified before a joint Congressional committee in 1926 against the proposed U.S. Department of Education. He opposed the proposed amendment to the Constitution, the child labor amendment of 1935. He opposed military conscription.
He opposed the New Deal’s Social Security legislation and its anti-gold standard monetary policy, which, he said, undermined contracts. He opposed Bible reading or the teaching of morality in public schools, since he recognized that the teachers were predominantly atheistic, deistic, or liberal in their theological opinions. Presumably, he would have opposed prayer in public school classrooms.
Teaching about and fighting the culture wars was frowned upon by many at seminaries like Westminster where Professor Longman taught and Reformed Theological Seminary where I attended. I experienced it first-hand. If more Christians had been involved in the culture wars and pastors and seminary professors had taught on the topic decades ago, maybe we wouldn’t be squeezed between a rock and a hard place today.
The church will never be “pure,” and if we wait until the church is “pure,” we will never do anything.