Christianity Today and Trump: A Jew’s Unnecessary Take
I have a large number of conservative, evangelical friends. more so than the average Jew. Most of this has to do with living outside of the Five Boroughs, in smaller Jewish communities with a greater presence of religious Christians, and some of it has to do with my lengthy military service.
Watching the disagreement over the Christianity Today piece, I’m stricken by the number of times I’ve read “but Romans 13”, which has one of those interesting sourcing nuances in the original Greek, in rejoinder. It’s hard to fully understand the applicability of those arguments, however you take obedience/deference to authority, when the authority defines a Constitutional process for impeachment.
As an aside, Judaism has a similar concept, dina d’malchuta dina, which I’ve blogged about before. The bottom line is that there’s no slam dunk religious argument that either demands or repudiates removal of anyone from office. Absent any of that, I think it’s terrifically absurd to argue over the religious necessity of impeachment. I think it’s also terrifically absurd, to the point of rank hypocrisy, to defend the conduct of our President from any religious perspective.
I much prefer the folks who can honestly say, “I don’t like or excuse Donald Trump. I am concerned about him using his veto role to keep Congress under control. I do not want liberal appointees to the courts.”
These are reasonable arguments, much more reasonable than pretending like Donald J. Trump’s obvious moral shortcomings make a vote or support for him a righteous, Christian act. It is, quite simply, not.
I read your Beatitudes. Donald Trump isn’t there.
What I don’t agree with is the notion that Trump should be removed on the merits of Christian morality. All the people that say, “we don’t elect a saint,” are correct. We do not.
And with that, I also don’t think the moral calculus of an American voter is an indictment on the sufficiency of someone’s Christianity because they do support him.
I think we fall into the same false choice that we did in 2016. Trump is an amoral, disgusting charlatan. Clinton was, to me, a problematic former Secretary of State with a demonstrable penchant for foreign intervention who talked out of two sides of her mouth on climate issues. My liberal friends chide me, “well, she was better than Trump.” This was, in a nutshell, why I opted out of the false choice and worked for Gary Johnson in 2016.
We’re not facing this choice now. Ironically, impeachment and removal from office would result in someone arguably more moral, from a Christian evangelical perspective, taking office and effectuating policy. Mike Pence is an evangelical darling, plus he’d be eligible for two more terms. It could be a net positive; you could get the policies you love without the moral compromise.
It’s all moot. The lines are drawn. People are lead around by their conclusions. Trump’s supporters have proven they will support him no matter how clear the intransigence. Trump’s opponents have proven they will not feel peace until he is driven from office. I don’t like this President, but Congress has produced an egregious defense budget and a renewal of the Patriot Act while this impeachment thing has gone on.
One thing that is clear to me, G-d is not the embodiment of your political values. What you do when you turn the Divine Unfathomable into an exaggerated version of your conservative or liberal ideology is a form of idolatry in and of itself.
“If you are a buffalo,” Sadhguru said, “your god is a really huge buffalo.”
The irony is that if people took G-d seriously, whether a reflection of liberal or conservative value construct, you’d still think President Trump wouldn’t do too well.
Ah well. Tomorrow is Chinese food day for us, Christmas for our Christian friends. I hope we all find our way back to the light as a nation. America will survive. Make sure your friendships and relationships do, too.