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It's Not about Trump

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

-       Matthew 13:33

 

Following Trump’s Super Tuesday sweep, national media warned about the dangers of another Trump presidency, and pundits opined the decline of the Republican Party. In an online magazine to which I subscribe was an article about the failure of the NeverTrump movement. According to the author, the movement needed better candidates to compete with him. The writer regretted that the disproven charges of Russian collusion undermined the credibility of the January 6 charges and caused Republicans to disregard Trump’s interference in the Georgia election scandal. I suspect those charges are as false as were the charges of Russian collusion, as near-daily new evidence emerges. She suggested that the NeverTrump movement failed to defeat Trump because they tried to “out fear-monger” Trump himself. I confess, I hadn’t noticed Trump stoking the fears of his crowds of fans, but then, I don’t attend his rallies or listen to his interviews. Besides, I figured out the nation is being run into the ground all by myself.

 

The widely accepted expectation is that religious leaders are supposed to avoid discussing political matters, and for the most part, I tend to agree. Not that I don’t have political opinions – who doesn’t? – but rather, I’ve held that maintaining pastoral relationships with those who hold differing political views is more important than debating politics. However, almost continually we are subjected to some new vulgarity or another popularly repeated lie, and some new degradation of humanity is publicly celebrated. So generally speaking, national politics is a second order concern for me. As the political environment has begun to encourage the diminishment and destruction of our humanity, the importance of our nation’s political debates increases because we vote. Our humanity is a first order concern, as it should be for all Christians because human beings are supremely important to the God we worship, the One Who created and sustains human life.

 

The question is: what is best for the Kingdom of God in a sinful world? In what political environment can Christians and Christianity flourish? It is not the task of the government to support religion, but neither is it the right of the government to thwart religion. Several weeks ago, I wrote on the contradiction in our Founding documents between Enlightenment philosophy and Christian faith.* The two perspectives are in conflict now in ways that are irreconcilable. Godlessness opens the pathway for authoritarianism, and Christians live under the authority of God.

 

In spite of complaints to the contrary, Christians on the whole have proven to be remarkably tolerant of non-believers, atheists, humanists, as well as adherents of other religions. Atheism and/or humanism are religions for people who don’t believe in God, and they possess the same markers of faith and doctrine as are found in all religions. Indeed, so deeply embedded are atheistic and humanist dogmas that its adherents cannot tolerate anyone who disagrees. Consider the “no establishment” clause and the adamancy that nothing Christian can appear anywhere on any government grounds.

 

The same could be said on virtually every other topic in the culture war. A young woman put together a three-minute synopsis of “Agenda 47” intending to draw attention to the danger and lunacy of Trump’s ideas and plans. The problem with her video, though, is not that it isn’t based in fact, it is. The problem is that his ideas resonate with more traditional folks, and the video became a three-minute advertisement for Trump that has been seen by millions. While she is warning people of the dangers, average Americans think the ideas make a great deal of sense. Though I think some of his proposals probably go too far, it’s a matter of degree, and every topic is one I agree can be solved along the lines he is suggesting. I suspect Trump also knows that hyperbole opens minds to potential solutions for the very real problems that we face.

 

As Christians watching all of this play out, the thing to remember is that no matter how much we may deny reality, we cannot alter reality. People are capable of great good, but we are also capable of terrible evil. Without God, human beings default to harm, destruction, and even death. We see this in so many choices being made by people who believe they’ve progressed beyond God. Saying that human life is given, defined, and ruled by God and speaking the truth about human failings and failure are already being called hate speech by some.

 

I’ve reached the point in my life where I think the truth is the single, most important thing to say. Did you know our highly educated young adults presume magnanimity by letting Christians speak the truth? Christians can speak “our truth” because they know it’s only true for the people who believe it’s true. Something else is true for them – a view that essentially means nothing is true. When we take this perspective and pair it with the point immediately above, we have to acknowledge that a full generation of people (at least!) sooner or later are going to run full speed into a solid wall of reality and find themselves in a world of hurt without hope.

 

This is the key to why I think national politics deserves our attention. If the window for freedom of speech continues to close unchecked, getting a message of hope to hurting people is going to be much harder. If we quietly allow ongoing censorship of Christian perspectives, the darkness spreading across our nation will become complete. The wrath of God is not like human wrath. God loves. He does not get angry in the same way that human beings do. Instead, the anger of God is experienced most often as the withdrawal of His grace. When we reject Him long enough, when we are unapologetically disobedient, eventually God withdraws His grace and grants us what we wish. While many think there is freedom in rejecting God, they are mistaken. Instead, we become wholly enslaved to our worst desires and passions, shackled by the sin we called “freedom” and “self-determination.”

 

MAGA is a term of derision in public discourse, but “Make America Great Again” speaks to the decline of just about everything in America – decline of high ideals, decline of intellectual formation, decline of morality, decline of honesty and decency, decline of respectability, decline of virtue. Tens of millions of Americans want America to be as great a nation as it once was – a nation of common sense that respects individual liberty and promotes personal responsibility, a nation where the safety and well-being of children are normal and normative, a nation in which hard working, plain folks can buy a home, a nation that applies the rule of law equally and rewards hard work and merit, a nation that strives to improve itself from within and strengthen itself from external threats, a nation that is more diverse than any nation on earth and united in citizenship.

 

All of these have their roots in the Christian faith of the Founding Fathers. They can be found in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers. What most of us are taught to see as “humanism” is in fact Christian in origin. n a response to another article on a different site, one commenter wrote, “free speech is every human’s right!” No. Free speech is not a right in many countries around the world. It is a privilege we have because our rights come from God. Humanism is illusion. It rides the coattails of Christianity like a shadow of the reality. Look at the world and at our nation. Are we good? Where are human beings truly respected and treated as treasured reflections of their Creator?

 

I am not suggesting that other nations are all bad, but I am saying that only in the United States is the belief that our rights come from God enshrined in the foundation of the nation. If we welcome leadership that does not believe in God, which we have done already in so many institutions and government positions, then we cannot expect that leadership to honor any rights bestowed by Him. I am not attributing great spiritual depths to Trump, nor am I implying we should look to him for spiritual direction. Even so, the life he lives is not as craven and deceitful as many in our government. No one ever found cocaine lying about the White House during his presidency, and all of his children are functioning and productive members of society without scandal tainting their lives. More importantly, he understands that the First and Second Amendments are crucial for maintaining the rights of American citizens.

 

As long as Christians have freedom of speech – and as long as our speech glorifies God – then we have the opportunity to impact the people of our nation for good. We can reach out to the wounded and hopeless; we can fight against lies by speaking the truth; We can offer the love of Christ when the false loves fail. A little leaven lifts the whole loaf. The Kingdom of God does not require state support, but the silencing of Christian and Christianity will harm every person who finds themselves at a dead-end without hope or direction.

 

Much is at stake in the upcoming election; however, the Gospel is not at stake. It is true and always will be, but the freedom to worship, to speak, and to gather is hanging in the balance. When we get to thinking Trump is awful or hear other people talk about how terrible he is, ask yourself how many other presidents were willing to work for nothing? As politicians from both parties rake in riches in every conceivable manner, Trump already had plenty of wealth. Moving to the White House was downsizing for Trump and his family.

 

Currently, as many sit in judgment of his crass comments or rude tweets, Trump is being punished for the sole reason that he is running for the presidency. The obscene fabrication of crimes should be a source of shame, but instead is cheered in media voices and on college campuses across the nation. Even as cases unravel, accurate reporting is hard to find. Al Capone was charged with six crimes. Odds are against there being ninety-plus crimes committed by Trump. Sure enough, the charges are turning out to be smoke in mirrors, more waste of taxpayer monies in an effort to stop Trump from running and fighting to protect American freedom from tyranny.

 

In a series of unconscionable political judgments, Trump is unjustly paying nearly a half-billion dollars for the dubious privilege of standing between Americans and the political forces that want to control everything from your trash to your children. These are the same people who floated the idea of removing children from the homes of Christians so they wouldn’t be brainwashed by religion – the same people who implement policies that allow schools to change your child’s gender without your knowledge. That is the future that many in American want to see, but I do not believe it’s the majority.

 

As I said earlier, the Gospel will not fade or die no matter who wins in November. But the silencing of Christianity and the destruction of Judeo-Christian values will undermine our nation’s future, and in so doing, diminish the hopeful possibilities and potential available to children and grandchildren. Christianity actually grows when persecuted, and perhaps that is what we deserve for the ways we’ve compromised with godlessness for our own material gain. I hope not. Persecution is more interesting to read about than it is to live, and if we don’t stop the rising tide of godlessness, we will have the opportunity to discover this for ourselves.

 

We don’t need to turn America into a theocracy, but while we can, we should fight for the freedom to be Kingdom leaven in our fallen and broken world.

 

In Christ –

 

Rev. Elizabeth Moreau

© 2024


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