It must be a great feeling for the serial adulterer Donald Trump to have the support of so many Evangelical leaders. They enable him to tell himself that there’s nothing wrong with his lifestyle, so he doesn’t have to repent for anything.
A great feeling, but nevertheless extremely dangerous. Trump calls himself a Christian. As such, he should know that the need to repent is a central tenet of our faith. Pastors and other Evangelical leaders supporting him neglect to mention that to him. That may give him a good feeling now, but he’ll undoubtedly regret it when his time on this earth is over.
Be that as it may, that’s a problem for him, of course, but not for us. Sadly, however, Evangelical support for this morally underdeveloped man is also hurting Christianity itself.
And that, as Peter Wehner explains at National Review, does concern us. The main target of his righteous rage is Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University:
Falwell has fallen under the dark spell of Donald Trump. That is not a crime, but it is having a corrosive effect on his intellectual and moral judgment. He is saying witless and defamatory things. For those of us of the Christian faith, the fact that Falwell is viewed by many as an Evangelical leader makes it that much worse. We have been pained by the harm that a previous generation did to Christian public witness because of partisan, reckless, and graceless comments. Now we have this.
When a leader of a major Christian institution speaks out on public affairs as Falwell has, he is speaking not just for himself. He is making a broader statement about faith and politics – and, in this case, is shaping how people view Christians and Christianity. One might hope that when people who are so publicly identified as Christians enter the public square, they would bring to it certain distinctives, including a commitment to justice, to treating people, including and especially the weak and vulnerable, with dignity and respect, speaking truth to the powerful instead of acting as courtiers to them, neither slandering opponents nor placing trust in princes, and not allowing the Christian faith to be used as a blunt, political weapon.
Sadly, to too many ‘Evangelicals’ faith has become a partisan political issue. It’s not about the centrality of Christ, but of The Party. Trump is righteous in their minds, not because he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, but because he just so happens to be a Republican. Apparently, that’s all it takes to be cleansed for your sins nowadays and to be born anew.
It’s fine for Falwell to vote for Trump in the fall. But he can’t pretend to be an Evangelical leader while simultaneously ignoring all Trump’s obvious spiritual faults. The longer he keeps this act up, the more he’ll end up hurting the religion he professes to love.