There is a silver lining for evangelicalism based upon a report in Christianity Today: recent polling suggests that most evangelicals will not vote for Donald Trump; just most white evangelicals. However, that is merely irenic comfort, and overlooks a more weighty concern. That will be discussed momentarily. But first, the rank hypocrisy of Trump supporting evangelicals is breathtaking, especially of those who pontificate in opinion pieces and speeches about values while excoriating the character, motives and faith of the “liberals.”
Values no longer matter to Trump evangelicals
When these Trump evangelicals started justifying their support of him, they proffered philosophical reasons mainly clothed in a false choices and false dilemmas, and dubious scriptures savaged to imply a principled biblical choice. But the outcry from biblically sincere evangelicals forced them to abandon the farce that their decision to support him was rooted in any real value, principle or biblical morality.
Mark Creech in an opinion piece on Christian Post, “Why Evangelicals Should Vote for Donald Trump,” demagogically implied that voting one’s conscience is not voting in the interest of the country, if that conscience vote is not for Trump. He says, “…with the deepest respect, you may be seeking to serve your conscience, but you are not necessarily serving your country.” Wayne Grudem says much the same thing in renewing his support for the most unqualified nominee to run for president. Talk about a false choice!
More disturbingly, however, Creech et al, are asking Christians to abandon a godly conscience and ignore matters of morality for what they perceive to be service for their country. That is effectively putting country before God, which is idolatry. Without knowing it, caused by the lack of a godly perspective, they are promoting the very culture they claim to despise. They have turned away from the true Gospel and orthodox evangelical values.
Tony Perkins hilariously said that his support for Trump is not based on shared values, but on shared concern. That sounds clever, but is really very sad. Perkins and those like him recognize that Trump does not share their values, but insist on giving him their support anyway. That says a lot about their own values. It says that to these supporters, values really do not matter. Christian values do not matter; values of decency do not matter; values of respect do not matter; values of deportment do not matter; values of race and ethnicity do not matter; values of the life and livelihood of “others” do not matter; family values do not matter. Think about that.
The irony is, these are the same pontificators who used their proverbial bullhorns to declare the worth of moral values in a leader. These are the same folks who decried the lack of moral moorings in liberals and pledged to only support leaders who demonstrated a godly moral character. And now, this. There is a word for them, a word that Jesus used for the religious leaders of his time – hypocrites!
What Trump evangelicals are really saying about themselves
As depressing as the hypocrisy of Trump supporters is, there is a weightier concern that bodes ill for the body of Christ and its spiritual health and witness. Russell Moore says, and rightly so, that the Christian Right have become the people they warned against.
It was a common meme of evangelicals leading up to the nomination of Trump as the Republican nominee for president that a support for liberals is a support for abortion, homosexuality, religious oppression, and so on. By that they mean a person cannot divorce a candidate from what that candidate stands for. It is a puerile philosophy that, thankfully, most godly Christians do not hold to, but since evangelicals take it as a tenet, it is sauce for the goose as well as the gander.
They would take to task anyone who expressed belief in the right of a woman to choose while also believing that abortion is wrong; or that though homosexually is explicitly denounced in the bible, and is indeed a sin, people still have a constitutional right in a secular society to live as they like. They allowed no room for such distinctions; it was all or nothing. It was not allowed for a Christian to have a nuanced position on hot-button cultural issues, for that would be supporting and enabling the abominable. They cannot now escape their own axiom.
Now they are for Trump, and so are saying something about what they are supporting and enabling, and about themselves. They are saying that they support and are enabling misogyny, racism, indecency, habitual lying, sexual assault, bad behavior, narcissism and incompetence. And that is not even an exhaustive list. They support and are enablers of all that Trump stands for; all his foibles and vices. The whole kit a kabooble. They are all in. Tragic.
Michael Brown tried to escape his own irrational circle of dissonance by saying that his vote is not for Trump nor the Republican Party, but for the Republican Party’s platform. In his opinion piece in the Christian Post on “7 Reasons I Decided to Vote for Donald Trump,” he says, “I'm not endorsing Donald Trump. In my mind, there's a world of difference between endorsing a candidate and voting for a candidate.” Really? That is like saying there is a world of difference between agreeing to give poison to a person and knowingly let that person consume the poison. In either case the person dies.
He ended his aforementioned piece by saying, “My greater role is to live a life pleasing to God with the hope of advancing a gospel-based moral and cultural revolution.” This parsing of a terrible, unethical and idolatrous choice does not rescue him or any evangelical Trump supporter from the culpability of what they have unleashed upon the Church. Like Judas, they have betrayed their Lord. They have all but emasculated the Gospel message that will proceed from their mouths.
The persistent support for Trump has passed the point of speculation to confirmation of what his evangelical supporters really stand for and say about themselves. And biblical morality is not it. When people are squeezed whatever is inside will come out. They cannot claim a moral high ground, and they cannot protest with a moral equivalency argument, because Christians are held to a higher standard. They stand for what Trump stands for, and they will do all they can to put him in a place to propagate his values for an entire nation. Those values aren’t biblical or moral.
The world of sinners is watching and taking note.