Yesterday I posted my confession on what the horror of the 2016 election had done to me.
Now that five days have passed since my worst fears were realized, the horror has not decreased. Every new day thus far has brought a new source of fear. For example, Mr. Trump has appointed Myron Ebell as the leader of the transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency — a person who works for Big Coal and Big Oil, and used to work for Big Tobacco. He is a man who has been recognized as one of the most dangerous enemies of efforts to protect the environment and to reduce the impact of global warming.
Early reports of hate crimes add an ominous atmosphere, which is not being dispelled by any calming remarks by the President-elect. And the sense of gathering doom is accentuated by reports that the likes of Rudolph Giuliani, Christ Christie and Newt Gingrich will be appointed to powerful cabinet positions.
I would like to be able to say unequivocally that anyone who cares about truth and justice is horrified and saddened by this turn of events. Unfortunately the problem we all face, and the reason for the “death of my naiveté”, is that the leading cause of this political earthquake is actually a valid part of the moral structure of the church and the world. (I’m well aware that there are also many racist elements, some of which are indistinguishable from the Evangelical movement) — but the largest single segment are people of legitimate high moral tone who chose to vote for Trump in spite of his obvious faults. In my essay, I stated opinions I know to be out of harmony with the Bible. I broke Jesus’ dictum of Matthew 7:1 — Judge not, that you be not judged.
I’m confident God knows and understands the righteous element in my anger — but somehow I have to move forward in a world where I cannot “refuse to call a Christian” anyone who would ignore Mr. Trump’s obvious immorality and help get him elected to the highest office in the land. I need to exercise more patience than I thought possible. I need to keep trying to “let everyone be fully persuaded in their own mind.” I need to try to stay in step with the methods I think God is using to educate destroyers of the planet, elevate the poor, and eradicate false systems while calling to his people to “come out.”
By far the biggest factor which forces me to back away from my extreme declaration is the fact that long experience with a great many of these brethren in Christ has convinced me that they are indeed authentic Christians. Jesus has touched them, listens to them, answers their prayers, comforts their affliction, guides their lives. I can sit here and name dozens of families I know whom I love, who I’m pretty sure supported Trump, if reluctantly. These are good people — I love being with them, admire their character, love their children, laugh at their jokes, respect their judgment in other matters, and fully expect to serve and celebrate with them in the heavenlies when our toil and trouble is completed. And Jesus has shown me my own unworthiness as an arbiter of character. I knew I was wrong to express a judgment, to disfellowship fellow believers, when I wrote yesterday’s post, but I needed to put it down in writing anyway, to be truthful about how I feel.
That being said, if my friends and brethren indeed are thinking and acting wrongly, I do not need to exonerate them in order to move forward. I need to rebuke them, and I intend to do so.
I also need to make that rebuke effective, persuasive and factual. It needs to be encouraging, calm, kind and gracious.
The challenge before me, if I wish to call to account such a large swath of the Christian world, is to up my own game and pay the full price it will take to be the kind of representative of the good that I aspire to be.
Since I am obviously not equal to such a task, I must apologize for bringing the anger of man to bear against many people whom I know have good intentions, and acted in harmony with their long-held principles.
That they could accept Trump, and be willing to work with such a man, remains incomprehensible to me. But what I intend to do now is approach my long-standing friends and brethren with compassion, with open ears, with vigorous research, and with a deep commitment to get to the bottom of this perplexing set of issues.
Joan Barton said:
Owen, I have felt the same things you have said so many times. It really is a relief to me that the few of us I have spoken to about this issue who seem to see it similarly are not alone in failing to understand how anyone aspiring to be Christlike could support someone whose every word, every stand on every issue, unapologetic bad behavior and alliances are in direct opposition to all of Christ’s teachings. I can make some twisted sense of how those who do not know God’s love could support Trump for their own self-serving reasons or even for reasons of ignorant beliefs, but for any student of the teachings of Christ to do so simply stuns me.
I have seen posts on FB by those I have loved and respected for years that seemed to me full of the same venom and vitriolic sentiment I have heard expressed by people who make no claim to be following the Lord’s word. In a few cases I have expressed surprise, but have not felt I had the right to call anyone to task for words that I can only describe as mean-spirited and inaccurate.
But now I feel like I really have a place to discuss the issues themselves, and where we see the world going in terms of fulfillment of prophesies and how to approach the feelings that the state of our world has engendered. Thank you for providing a safe place for those of us who want to engage in these conversations. Blessings, Joan