Friday, October 14, 2016

The Conundrum Christians Face This Election Year

By Robin G. Jordan

The number of women who allege that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward them has grown to eleven. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, claims that the Trump campaign is accumulating evidence to disapprove their allegations and will release this evidence at “the appropriate time.” He is parroting Trump himself who has made a similar claim. At least one news article has asked what do Trump and Pence mean by “the appropriate time.” The implication is that if strong evidence of Trump’s innocence exists, now is the time to produce that evidence, not at some future date.

I am reminded of how Trump strung along the media with the promise of making a public statement retracting his long-time support of the Barack Obama birther conspiracy, only to use this promise to keep himself in the headlines and its eventual fulfillment to showcase a new hotel. He cynically exploited the media to gain free advertising for the hotel. I cannot help but suspect that Trump is doing something along those lines with his promise of evidence that will exonerate him of the alleged sexual abuse.

I can think of very few reasons that Trump would otherwise delay the release of such evidence. The first reason is that such evidence does not exist and the Trump campaign needs time to gather a body of plausible information that may lend credibility to Trump’s protestations of innocence or his allegations of ulterior motives on the part of the women making the allegations against him.

The second reason is that the Trump campaign is hoping that if they drag out the matter long enough, it will cease to be a political liability. Trump has survived a number of firestorms of his own creation during his 2016 run for the presidency.

The third reason is that Trump’s attorneys are preparing one or more libel cases against the women and the media and they do not want their cases subject to public scrutiny before they go to court. In that event “the appropriate time” would be in court.

In addition to having allegedly sexually-abused at least eleven women, Trump is alleged to have not given to various charities in the aftermath of 9/11 as he claimed. First in the primaries and now in the general election Trump has made one false statement after another. In doing so he has destroyed his own credibility. His well-documented inability to tell the truth is what makes these allegations reasonably believable.

In latest speeches Trump has returned an earlier theme of his speeches in the primaries, presenting himself as a savior who will keep the nation from descending into chaos. This theme along with his dishonesty and untruthfulness, his history of adultery, the growing number of allegations of sexual misconduct made against him, his own admissions of not paying taxes, of entertaining lustful thoughts about his own daughter and other women and of acting on those impulses in several instances, his poor record of charitable giving without strings attached or his benefiting in some way, and his furious attacks on the women who have made allegations against him should be ringing alarm bells and setting off warning lights in the minds of Christians, evangelical and otherwise.

Christians have only one savior. His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus himself warned against false Christs, false messianic figures that would appear in the time between his ascent into heaven and his return in glory. Jesus described himself not just as truthful but as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus did not avoid paying taxes. He taught that to entertain lustful thoughts towards a woman was the same as acting on such thoughts. Jesus commended those who showed charity toward the poor and condemned those who withheld it. He taught his disciples to turn the other cheek, to not let the sun go down on their anger lest the devil exploit it, to love their enemies, and to do good to those who hate them.

Before he began to run for the presidency of the United States and to court the evangelical vote, Trump supported gay marriage and abortion. Some Christians have supported Trump out of the belief that if Trump is surrounded by strong advisers, a Trump presidency could be instrumental in regaining ground lost in the culture wars. But since the primaries Trump has shown that he does not pay attention to advisers. He may listen to them for a while and then go back to doing things his way.

If anything may be gathered from the last few months, it is that if Trump was elected president, he would be out of his depth. Thin-skinned and volatile, with a short attention span, prone to fits of rage, and known for holding grudges and going out of his way to make life miserable for anyone who crosses him in any way, he would not be able to provide the country with stable leadership.

Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate offers no reassurance of stability. While Pence has reiterated his support of Trump over and over again and has repeatedly defended him, there is evidence of disagreement between Pence and Trump on a number of key issues. Pence gives the appearance of playing to Trump’s base with an eye to a future presidential run in which he will need their support.

Where does this leave Trump’s Christian supporters? They may wish to distance themselves from Trump and to pursue other options. Should Trump by an unexpected turn of events occupy the White House, I believe that they will soon discover that he does not have their interests at heart. Trump has been wooing them for their vote and not because he shares their world view and values. Whatever dispute or disputes in which Trump is embroiled at the time and how his own interests might benefit is likely to influence his choice of Supreme Court justices.

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