And Yet, I Remain Unmoved 

​In yesterday’s sarcastic contribution to the “Okay I’m panicking so I’ll vote for Trump after all” genre, some readers felt that I was too quick to dismiss the SCOTUS question. It’s the central argument for why Christians must support Trump, and it’s made rather comprehensively in this article.

And yet, I remain unmoved. The argument is theologically, culturally and practically spurious.

Theologically, because God rules the outcome of this election and the future of this, and every, nation. No believer who seeks God’s will in sincerity, who prays, from the heart, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” need carry the weight and guilt of today’s developments or their consequences, no matter who they vote for or whether they vote at all. “Be still, my soul! Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past.” Vote your conscience and trust God.

Culturally, because the court has never determined the direction of our culture. This is just nonsense. Yes, it has done awful things and made far-reaching decisions that negatively affect our political process and our personal lives. But for the most part those decisions reflect the views and attitudes of far too many of our fellow citizens. The court follows public opinion – it doesn’t shape it. If you doubt this, choose any issue and begin asking people why the Supreme Court ruled on it as they did: what was its reasoning? What arguments did it accept or reject? Who concurred or dissented? My guess is that ninety-five out of every hundred won’t know. Popular views are shaped by friends, the entertainment industry, media, academia, religious leaders – but not the Supreme Court. 

Practically, because Republican appointees can’t be counted on to buck cultural trends even when they are real Republican appointees nominated by real Republican presidents. Especially where abortion is concerned, the focus on voting Republican for the sake of SCOTUS nominees has been a forty year long exercise in futility. Without assigning motives, it is true beyond question that the only thing actually accomplished by this myopic approach has been the creation of a multi-billion dollar pro-life lobbying industry that transfers vast amounts of wealth from sincere believers to professional activists and leaders within the morality industry.

Here is the awful truth, my friends: Roe v. Wade was a Republican decision. The Supreme Court has not had a Democratic-appointed Chief Justice for over sixty years. For most of that time Republican appointees have enjoyed a solid majority. When Roe was decided, seven of the nine justices were Republican appointees. Only one of those, Renquist, joined Justice White, a Democratic appointee, in the dissent. That’s right – six Republicans and one Democrat struck down state restrictions on abortion. (Obergefell v. Hodges and NFIB v. Sebelius were also handed down by a majority-Republican court.) Ever since then, the prospect of limiting abortion has been exclusively linked by the morality industry to getting more Republican appointees. It’s a lie.

If you doubt this, consider the strange history of the Sanctity of Life Act – the most constitutionally sound and practically hopeful effort to limit abortion on demand in my lifetime. It was introduced five times: in 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. Note that in 2005  we had a (real) Republican president and solid Republican majorities in the House, in the Senate, and on the Court. Yet it was opposed – vehemently opposed – by every major pro-life organization and the majority of Republican politicians, even to the extent that they used Dr. Ron Paul’s support for it to question his commitment to the pro-life cause. Why? Because – I suspect – by rendering the Supreme Court irrelevant, it would have hurt the pro-life fundraising machine along with the abortion industry. 

We’ve been played. For decades. It’s time for Christians to say this is enough. Overturning Roe is no longer a convincing reason to continue to support whomever the GOP selects, especially not when their candidate (a) represents perfectly the immorality, sexual hedonism and the just-do-it mentality that drives the culture of death, (b) is incapable of articulating or defending the case for life on his own, and (c) never even pretended to care about the unborn until he decided to run. 

Andrews is right: we will have Trump or Clinton. The real question for the church is not getting our say, but guarding our witness. Will we hold up a light in the darkness or make an alliance with it? Will we wait for Aslan or decide to summon the witch because at least we know where she is?

Why I’m Voting For Trump After All 

​Well, it’s down to the wire. Every day brings a new crop of yeshe’srougharoundtheedgesbutHillary apologies from evangelicals, along with an increasing number of #nevertrump defectors. Twice I’ve written thorough and tedious explanations for why I can’t vote for Trump, and twice discarded them as too long to be useful. But tomorrow is the day. It’s one thing to argue principles and political theory; it’s quite another to stand in a voting booth and contemplate the end of a free society while facing a decision of this magnitude. I’m fully aware of what hangs on this vote: four decades of the Supreme Court, the lives of millions of unborn infants, the fates of fifty thousand desperate refugees, my gun, and the Kingdom of God. It’s all rather overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time, holding the future in my hand like this. So as I make this final choice, here’s my best shot at a brief flash of exhibitionism. Consider it the closest I can get to a ballot selfie.

First, I’m voting for Republican nominees to the Supreme Court. Since it was Republican nominated majorities who gave us Roe v. Wade (the right to infanticide), NFIB v. Sebelius (Obamacare upheld), Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage), and a host of other constitutional monstrosities, it would be a gross injustice to take control of the court away from Republicans, after more than sixty years, just when they are on the cusp of mending their ways and making everything better.We owe them the chance to clean up their mess. Also, forgiveness, grace and all that.

Next, I’m voting for life. I know that both candidates have been vocal proponents of infanticide right up to the moment of birth for essentially their entire adult lives. But only Trump has recognized the political advantage in switching sides. Only Trump has come to understand that, given the chance, that precious aborted girl might have grown up to be a nine, even a ten. Among Republicans, only Trump had the courage last summer to stand up for Planned Parenthood when they were under fire for selling murdered baby parts … wait … that’s not a reason to … I think I’m getting off track …

Oh, yes – refugees. As a Christian, I’ve always believed that we are called to welcome the stranger, shelter the fleeing slave, and extend a hand to the opressed, persecuted, helpless and homeless. But surely that doesn’t include folks from the Middle East, with their traditional views of marriage, quaint and repressive standards of modesty and their fundamental belief that God is greater than the state. No, if God is going to make America great again, he needs us to keep those kinds of people at ocean’s length. I am voting for safety and the preservation of the American way of life, because our version of rebellion against the Creator is exceptional.

Then there’s the issue of muh firearms. I don’t really have an excuse here, friends. Somewhere in between Trump’s narcissism, his criminal ignorance of world affairs, his economic illiteracy, his robust admiration of brutal dictators, his dog-like social behavior, his bullying approach to critics, his unforgiveable sense of entitlement to the Presidency and that awful yellow comb-over, I must have lost sight of this all-important matter. But with the moment of decision upon us, as I ask myself, in accordance with the essential ritual of evangelical augury, “What would Phil Robertson do?” the answer is clear as daylight. I’m voting for muh guns.

Last but not least, as the most recent issue of World Magazine gravely reminds us, the Kingdom of God itself is at stake. Accepting this has required a real shift in my thinking. See, we know that Christ is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. In light of that assurance, I’ve always seen Hillary Clinton as a bit player in the game, a lesser child of greater sires among the forces of darkness, barely noteworthy in the ranks of an already defeated Enemy. But recently, thinking back to the last Clinton administration, I’ve been reminded of just how devastating that was – how the worldwide advance of the Kingdom ground to a halt, while evangelical leaders, bereft of responsibilities and idled for lack of anything worth leading, were forced to spend 96 long months begging for money on television. That, brothers and sisters, must not happen again. The gates of hell may crumble at a Word from our God, but HRC is a unique weapon that will require all the combined forces  of gods and men to overcome. Instead of the world, the flesh and the devil against believers, it’s now the world, the flesh, and the church against the Democrats. These are truly perilous times.

We cannot risk another four years of Bill Clinton in the White House. Better far to give his groping buddy, long time friend and Clinton Foundation donor a shot at restoring high moral standards and integrity to the office of the High Priest.

For all these reasons, I have reluctantly decided to join the crowds on the broad way to political survival. Trump 2016!

In closing, allow me to add this Prophetic Word from One Kings 22:15 to the clamor of the multitude: Go up, Mein Drumpf, and prosper, for the Lord will deliver them into your hand!

Edit: the original version of this post referred to Trump as former president Bill Clinton’s groping buddy. It probably should have said “golfing buddy.”

Don’t Throw It Away

​This morning NPR ran a segment about the “gender divide” that Trump’s candidacy has exposed among evangelical Christians. They interviewed or quoted a number of high-profile evangelical women regarding the impact of Trump’s rise and influence, while referencing a litany of male leaders who have sought to defend or endorse Trump, because, of course, they want to frame Trump’s character as a gender issue. Granted, they ignored a number of high-profile evangelical men who have spoken out against Trump from day one (think Russell Moore, John Piper, or Virginia’s latest celebrity sensation, megachurch Pastor Todd Pruitt). But these voices have been shamefully few and far between. Meanwhile the wretched excuses offered by morality industry heavyweights like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson make it far too easy for progressives to play these dishonest games. 

Trump’s character is not, and has never been, a gender issue. Brothers, it is to our everlasting shame that our voices have not been raised in defense of our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, our neighbors, loudly enough to drown out the traitors who tell us to forgive and forget because he’s just a redblooded man. Do you value your sisters in Christ so poorly? Do you expect so little from your sons, your brothers, yourselves? Do you sell your credibility so cheaply? Is your place at the political trough worth all of this? How will you ever justify your silence, to say nothing of actively making excuses and whitewashing this panting dog’s behavior? 

It is worth it, you say? Then do not be surprised when compassionate heretics like Jen Hatmaker steal the hearts of your daughters. It will be your fault. And when you find that they accept all kinds of gender perversions along with the defense of their value as women, remember that you let Trump’s filthy assault on their dignity become just another gender issue.

Profiles In Courage

First, a disclaimer: I’ve left the topic of police brutality alone for a long while, mainly because some readers, who are also dear friends, have loved ones or close friends in law enforcement, and they – not to put too fine a point on it – weren’t happy with me. If that’s you, I’m tempted to ask you to ignore this post. But I won’t do that, because if anyone needs to rethink the issue of police use of force, it’s the policing community. I know some of you are peace officers – good ones – and we both know that clubbing an unresponsive person isn’t a way to ensure or enhance officer safety. But there – I’m getting ahead of myself.

This morning I received a link to a stunningly disturbing piece from a local FOX affiliate in Oklahoma City. As anyone who follows reported cases of police misconduct knows, OHP has quite the reputation for misbehavior. As usual, we’re only aware of this incident because a video, taken by a private citizen, escaped the notice of these two highwaymen (who would no doubt have seized and deleted it given the opportunity) and wound up instead on the local news.

Here’s what we know: a car swerved off the road into a ditch. A bystander ran to check on the driver (probably because that’s what decent people do when they witness an accident). When he realized that the driver was unresponsive he called the police (probably because they’re traditionally thought to be of assistance in emergencies). 

Immediately upon their arrival, the responding officers shouted at the driver, who lay slumped over toward the passenger seat, to put his car in park. When the driver failed to respond, they broke out both front windows and shouted a little louder. But the driver still didn’t move, so one officer struck him repeatedly with his club (presumably to help him hear better). This also proving fruitless, these courageous specimens of the thin blue lines took the ultimate risk: they opened the car door, dragged out the driver, threw him face down on the ground and chained – excuse me – “secured” him. 

Respect.

Only then – after screaming, destroying property, beating the driver and slamming him to the ground – did they realize that he was having a medical emergency and call for an ambulance. 

The only thing about this situation that is worse than the behavior of these two is what OHP spokesman/CYA officer Captain Paul Timmons had to say. 

“Officer safety is paramount in a situation like that. It’s three o’clock in the morning and you’re dealing with a bunch of unknowns… You have to take control of the situation and make sure it’s done in a safe way for everyone involved. That includes the troopers, the driver and anybody on scene.”

Officer safety? Did you really say that, Captain Timmons?  I’m curious – did you know that when firefighters and emergency medical personnel walk up to an unresponsive person we are supposed to consider our safety as well? Should we be using clubs too, Captain? Just to be safe? EMTs and Paramedics encounter people like this every day. Many of them actually are high or drunk, unlike this poor gentleman. 

I’m sorry, friends, but this is why good police officers are in danger. This is the number one reason why law enforcement can’t get no respect. Not because there’s a war on cops; not because there are too many guns; but because this kind of cowardly, abusive behavior by egotistical bullies in uniform is not only tolerated, but unapologetically defended by the law enforcement community. We’re assured that these two officers did everything “by the book.” Well then. Fix the book. 

These officers are criminals – no, worse than criminals, because they assaulted, without provocation, a very sick man who they were called to help. It was an act of unmitigated violence against the very society they claim to protect and serve. 

Now please don’t misunderstand me – I can sympathize. They were certainly “dealing with a bunch of unknowns.” Policing is dangerous, though not nearly so dangerous as the scare artists from the Fraternal Order of Pansies would have us believe. It’s probably also frightening, especially at three in the morning. It’s reasonable to consider that not everyone who applies is ready to face this kind of fear. So while some might say that the law these bullies were hired to enforce ought to apply equally to them, I’m not advocating anything so extreme. I’m not even going to suggest a sunny afternoon in a pillory with “To Protect And Serve My Ego” on a placard hung around the neck. 

Surely, though, we can agree that there ought to be some consequences. After all, they did walk up to a medical emergency (a man experiencing a stroke, perhaps, or going into diabetic shock – who knows?), smash the windows and beat the patient. Not even an ordinary thug would do that. Even if we do treat them as if they’re above the law, can’t we just fire them? 

That’s not too much to ask, is it? 

It might not be an easy conversation, but surely the OHP has someone up the chain of command with the courage to fire these two. “Johnny, I know that being a police officer is something that you’ve always dreamed of. But you’re just not ready, Johnny. You can’t beat your brother with a stick just because he doesn’t move when you yell at him. Especially when he’s about to die and needs help. I know it feels like in the movies, but life isn’t a movie, Johnny. You’re not quite prepared to carry a gun on behalf of the taxpayers, son. You need to grow up a little first. Best of luck to you – we’ll see you in the Krispy Kreme drive-thru.”

I’m not holding my breath. But one must dream sometimes …

Jesus Who?

In this clip you’ll hear the name of “Jesus” used and abused freely by a number of charlatans as they anoint and pray over Donald Trump, the personification of pride, to be the next President of the United States. It might be helpful to take just a moment to clarify who they aren’t referring to.

This is not the Jesus who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” No, this jesus has personal relationships with countries (a bit of nonsense even on a purely semantic level) – specifically the secular nation of Israel and the United States. You may be forgiven for struggling to discern the evidence for such a relationship in the behavior of these two nations. Different jesus.

This is not the Jesus who said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” This jesus understands that in order to be strong and respected in the world, one must be ruthless in business and vicious in speech. This jesus sees the value in spite and trash-talk and understands that only a bimbo would ask a hostile question of the celebrities’ Anointed.

This is not the Jesus who said, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” No, this jesus knows that the successful man’s first priority must be looking out for number one and that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves before we try to help our neighbor.

Speaking of neighbors, this is not the Jesus who gave the starring role in His parable about loving our neighbor to a political and religious enemy of the people of God, a member of the most hated class of foreigners in His time and place. No, this jesus builds fences, calculates quotas, crunches financial estimates and asks for immigration papers before even thinking about referring the needy to the appropriate bureaucracy for eventual assistance.

This isn’t the Jesus who has chosen the weak, foolish, low and despised over the powerful, wise and noble (okay, so the foolish/wise thing checks out, but not the rest of it). This isn’t the Jesus who was rejected and murdered by His own people because they preferred a celebrity Messiah to the suffering servant. No, this jesus gets the theory of trickle-down blessings. He knows that the rich and famous are vital to redeeming the culture, and that we’ll all benefit from a redeemed culture, right? This jesus is smart, peeps.

This isn’t the Jesus who called men who abandon their wives adulterers, who treated women as valuable co-laborers and elevated them to equal status and importance. No, this jesus understands that when a strong man’s needs aren’t being met, or when his wife is unreasonably jealous of all the time he spends arranging and judging beauty pageants and drooling over objectified bodies, the best resolution of a bad situation might be to dump her and pick a younger, more flexible hottie who will be a help meet for him. This jesus wants to bless that man and his family, at least until it’s time to move on to the next one.

This isn’t the jesus who said, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer – I have overcome the world.” This isn’t the Jesus who assures us that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the joy in store for us hereafter. No, this jesus knows that you can have your best life now, if only the right celebrity pastor speaks the right words over you to secure all that good stuff and you have enough faith to claim it.

This isn’t the Jesus who resists the proud but gives grace to the humble – who justifies the weeping sinner but turns a deaf ear to the self-congratulating Pharisee. No, this jesus knows that the world needs strong leadership from men who know they are awesome and are willing to say so. This jesus appreciates the strength of character it takes for a man to say that he doesn’t need God’s forgiveness. This jesus knows that politics and world leadership is no place for humility. In fact, this jesus loves his followers so much that he enjoys seeing them applaud themselves after a bunch of pompous prayers to the camera.

This is ‘Murican jesus, baby!

There’s only one problem: ‘Murican jesus doesn’t exist. These prayers go no farther than the camera they are intended for. They have no response beyond the hollow applause of the participants. The real Jesus – the one who was, and is, and will be, after the last great empire has passed its time on the world stage and exited into oblivion – is not a divine vending machine. The real Jesus is building a much greater kingdom than that anticipated here. These self-important false prophets have no idea what a dangerous game they are playing by taking His name in vain.

To Play God Or To Obey God?

As desperate refugees from the Muslim world reach the west in ever-increasing numbers, we Christians have a choice to make. Will we play God, deciding what kinds of people are acceptable in our homelands and scrambling to exclude those whose extreme need and differing cultural perspectives might possibly unsettle our own comfortable lives? Or will we obey God, welcoming them as we would be welcomed in their situation? Will we build walls to insulate ourselves and protect our culture from contamination? Or will we recognize the astounding opportunity that God in His Providence is presenting to us and seize the moment?

There’s no question that the mass movement of Muslims into Europe and North America will change the face of our societies. Will we hide our light in Fortress America or let it shine? Will we bury ourselves with our talent in a napkin to preserve it until the Master’s return? Or will we trust and obey, caring for the stranger and the needy in front of us and let God handle the world as He always has?

It is all well and good to give our money so that someone else can go tell the world the good news. But when the world comes to us, our response will prove whether we really cared about the gospel or merely wished to check the box of evangelism.

And To Dust You Shall Return

Here’s a sincere question for my conservative Christian friends: as we lined up to vote for George W. Bush in 2000, would any of us have believed that in a short 15 years, the favorite candidate of the “Christian right” would be a philandering casino tycoon and Clinton donor with four bankruptcies, two divorces and God only knows how many affairs under his belt; an outspoken defender of partial birth abortion, gun control and the abuse of eminent domain who became famous by objectifying women and successful by paying off corrupt politicians (and is shameless enough to boast openly about it); a man whose insincerity is as plain as the hair on his head and whose assumed “Christianity,” though of the shallowest possible type, still comes across as an implausible piece of bad acting? Be honest – would any of us have believed that story for an instant?

Church, the political “Christian right” was at its best a defective clone, conceived in the laboratory of human invention – a heartless deformity on life support. It has been dead for some time and by now it stinketh. Now that the Trump campaign has done us all the favor of a very public, very nasty autopsy on national television, can we just bury it and get back to the proclamation of the Word, with an extra helping of humility? It’s past time, brothers and sisters.