Over the weekend, I posted a simple message on Facebook: presidents don’t say things like that. I am referring to the “sh*thole nations” statement of course. That simple post spawned hundreds of comments, and many of the comments were from Christians defending Trump, or at least not denouncing what Trump might have said.
Durbin might have mistaken what Trump actually said. It’s possible. It’s highly likely that Durbin was motivated by his dislike of Trump and by political objectives when he reported what he claimed Trump said. While it’s possible that Trump didn’t say those words, at least not exactly as they were reported, it also doesn’t really matter.
It’s one thing to question the veracity of Durbin’s report, but it’s another thing to defend or overlook what was claimed to have been said. If he said what he is accused of saying, we shouldn’t be defending it.
I find the continued, unquestioned support for the president, no matter what he says or does, by the Christian community to be disturbing. Are we following Christ? Or are we following a political party? I can’t tell.
Some of the things that have been said include the following: 1) yeah but look at the good that he is doing; or 2) he’s not perfect, he’s a flawed human being; or 3) other presidents have said much worse, and 4) all presidents have said things in private meetings that they would not say in public (to repeat some of statements I have seen).
Those statements may be accurate (or not), but regardless of that, let’s look at these things from a Gospel perspective.
“Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… standing firm in the spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith.” (Philippians 1:27)
Paul’s earnest instruction to the Philippians was that their “manner of life” (conduct) be worthy of the Gospel of Jesus. The Greek word translated “manner” means, among other things, “recognized as fitting”. Paul is talking about what we see in people, the outside appearances. In essence, Paul is saying let your conduct and the way people perceive you match the fruit of the Spirit that is working within you.
The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….” Jesus warned about false prophets, adding that we would know them by their fruits. Jesus said by contrast the world would know us by our love, which is the greatest of the fruits of the Spirit.
In this context, how do we, as Christians, respond to the things that Donald Trump says and does? Why do we defend him? Why have we tied our destiny to him? Are we making a mistake?