Monday, December 16, 2019

Changing Values in the age of Trump

I am a 75 year old man, brought up by middle income hard-working parents who is confused by  people who I used to respect and admire.

My Dad was a pastor in the Four Square Gospel church. He and my Mom were people of great faith and integrity who were devoted to their “full-Gospel” theology. I consider myself a devout Christian, politically well balanced, but totally confused by my fellow Christians in America.

During my childhood, Christians did not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, tell off color jokes, play cards or gamble. They kept their speech clean not using vulgar slang. One of my earliest memories was of my mother sweeping me up off the floor and running me into the kitchen where she proceeded to wash my mouth out with soap for saying the word “heck.” I have no idea where I picked such a word up, but that and all words like it never passed my lips after that.

Evangelical Christians, kept very high standards in days past.  Sometimes the standards were arbitrary to a fault.   Holiness was defined by what you didn't do, and how you looked.  Some of that was very good, but other things drove younger people from the church.  

Today, the Christian pendulum seems to have swung way past the middle and Christians have redefined holiness in political terms. Times have obviously changed, but has the definition of sin also changed?  I remember my father struggling with the decision to bring television into our home.  Today we allow  our kids to have access to every kind of wickedness and debauchery known to man, in the privacy of their own bedroom.  The standards of our past are being pushed aside as we judge who is a Christian by what party they affiliate with.

Preachers are quick to tell you how horrible abortion or the opioid crisis is, but what about the more insipid behavior that we once thought of as sin.  What about the lying, filthy language, bullying, cheating, and hatred for our fellow man that is so prevalent today. 

Christians supported Richard Nixon right up to the release of the transcripts of his tapes.  The frequent use of expletives was what turned the tide of Nixon's evangelical support.  What about the blind support for Donald Trump we see today?  There is a willingness among Christian leaders to ignore all of his very public sins.  Do they honestly believe that he will somehow end abortion, cure the opioid problem, and eliminate the dreaded liberal democrats from our country.  Will he actually  advance their Christian agenda, or is his accessibility simply playing to their egos? 
Please help me as I face this quandary. Are my friends and these evangelical leaders who support Trump really Christians or simply religious heretics? Can someone who identifies as a Christian support Trump, or even vote Republican, or does their support make them an apostate Christian who has changed their definition of sin?  Trump is a man who said he has never asked forgiveness for his sins, because he has nothing to be forgiven for. 

Ever since Ronald Reagan, white evangelicals have voted for Republicans who they falsely believe will enact their agenda. The stark reality is this. abortion is still legal, gay couples have the right to marry, government regulations and taxes have been reduced to benefit the rich.  Violence, Jewish hatred and white supremacy are on the rise while Republicans concern themselves with defending Trumps bad behavior.   

My Conclusion: God has not changed the definition of sin, and Donald Trump is not God’s man for the hour. Politicians and Mr. Trump specifically have failed miserably to come through for Christians!  So, why would any true Christian show any loyalty to a man like this?  There has to be a better choice.    

***Read Paul Garber's book,  Saved By Default: Confessions of a Televangelist.  Available at Amazon and Barnes and Nobel and everywhere Christian books are sold.***