Politicians will support, and denounce other politicians based purely off of how useful it is to do so at the time. You can hardly ever count on principles to actually come first when it comes to legislators, nor should you be surprised when they suddenly ditch them for political expedience.
But we do expect our religious leaders to be stalwart pillars of principle at all times, in every facet of life. This is why people take it especially hard when religious leaders that they look up to suddenly ditch the principles they’ve espoused in order to actively endorse a candidate who doesn’t share these same principles.
Trump said Jesus had a “far greater ego than you will understand,” brags openly about affairs with married women, and doesn’t think he needs to ask for forgiveness for his sins. So when the likes of Jerry Fallwell Jr., Tony Perkins, and James Dobson come out and endorse Trump, people either feel let down, or obligated to follow the shepherd no matter their reservations on the matter.
But I can safely say that at least one Christian leader isn’t jumping on board the Trump train. In fact, he’s rather confused as to why any evangelical would.
Phillip Yancey is a best selling Christian Author, who wrote such books as Vanishing Grace, and The Jesus I Never Knew. And unlike other Christian authors, he doesn’t understand how evangelicals, especially their leaders, can jump on board with him.
“I am staggered that so many conservative or evangelical Christians would see a man who is a bully, who made his money by casinos, who has had several wives and several affairs, that they would somehow paint him as a hero, as someone that we could stand behind,” said Yancey.
“To choose a person who stands against everything that Christianity believes as the hero, the representative, one that we get behind enthusiastically is not something that I understand at all,” he went on to say.
Sometimes, it feels as is if the church itself is lowering itself into the muck of politics far too often. When religious leaders endorse the state it feels dirty, and it absolutely should. Especially when the person being endorsed is a statist with no appreciation for religious liberty. Yancey is a breath of fresh air as he explains that churches become tarnished, and set back for decades because they “sold their soul for power.”
In other words, it pushes the church into a more secular line that answers to a lower power instead of a higher one. It’s something that many don’t see happening as we all get caught up in the heat of an election.
Of course – and thankfully – Yancey isn’t the only Christian leader who is refusing to get in line with the state. Famed author Max Lucado is not taking the bait either, as he wrote in his blog.
Could concerns not be raised about other Christian candidates? Absolutely. But the concern of this article is not policy, but tone and decorum. When it comes to language, Mr. Trump is in a league of his own. “It is out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks,” Jesus said.3 Let speech befit the call. We, as Christians, would do well to summon any Christian leader to a higher standard. This includes pastors (especially this one), teachers, coaches and, by all means, presidential candidates.
All of them.
The stock explanation for Mr. Trump’s success is this: he has tapped into the anger of the American people. As one man said, “We are voting with our middle finger.” Sounds more like a comment for a gang-fight than a presidential election. Anger-fueled reactions have caused trouble ever since Cain was angry at Abel.
This kind of brutal wisdom is needed during times when political fervors are at their height. It’s very easy to fall into a place where God takes a backseat due to the fear that a candidate you severely dislike will take power, and thus take from you, be it freedom, money, or religious liberty.
But it doesn’t always work out well for you when you’re relying on the unreliable to protect your freedoms, and Trump has proven himself to be more than unreliable to everyone, including his own base. If evangelicals are looking for someone who will protect their faith, a man who has borderline mocked it in the past is no person to rely on.
As C.S. Lewis said, “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”