Tonight the president will give his first State of the Union Address. It’s possible that he will apologize to the country and to the world for his behavior and policies over the past year and tell us that he’s come to his senses and to Jesus. And if that happens I’ll apologize myself for what I’m about to say.
But on the off chance he doesn’t come out with something along those lines, I offer these few comments in response to an article posted on the Family Research Council site, called: On Morals and Mulligans…
I begin with the FRC vision and mission statements:
Family Research Council’s vision is a culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives.
Family Research Council’s mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.
Though the FRC has done some real good in the world over the years, my “Christian worldview” and theirs have some profound disparities, which has much to do with how we interpret their phrase that “all human life is valued.” This goes to Perkins’ statement that the President is “making positive change in our country that evangelicals can support and all Americans benefit from.” If all Americans were white middle-to-stratosphere-class males, then he might have a point, but last I checked there are a few Americans outside that pail.
A “Christian worldview” doesn’t end with protecting the rights of the unborn (which I stridently support). Those fortunate enough to have been “born” have rights too, and not just those who possess sufficient wealth or power to insist on those rights. The gap between the rich and poor in this country is growing wider every day. In terms of classism we’re looking and acting more and more like apartheid South Africa and caste-clad India all the time. In a truly “Christian worldview,” which is the view you get through the lens of Scripture, not through any party’s platform, justice for the weak is as important as for the wealthy, and this administration does not seem to be the least bit concerned about those whose socioeconomic or ethnic context is something other than theirs.
“Insofar as you did it to the least of these…” (Jesus)
Perkins claims that Mr. Trump “has done more than any recent president to advance the values and policies that are critical to making America a good and prosperous nation.” This goes to what we mean by “good.” A prosperous nation isn’t the same as a good one. I cite the Roman Empire as an example of prosperous but not particularly good.
If we sacrifice “goodness” on the altar of prosperity (for a select few) we’re doomed to the fate of that ancient civilization. And, by the way, prosperity has nothing to do with a “Christian worldview,” unless of course, we’re talking about shalom for all and not just a few fortunate enough to be born on the right side of the border or right side of the tracks with the right skin color or with the right inherited money-making capabilities.
Further, he says: “It’s up to us to use our influence to ensure that the president does his very best to live in a way that doesn’t dishonor his office or the American people.”
My dear brother, have you no idea of how much “dishonor” our president has already brought to both his office and his countrymen? That said, I agree that it is the job of the Church to speak truth to power and ensure our elected officials live in such a way as to benefit all. Thus, the millions of words already written and said about his misogynistic, racist, classist policies, to say nothing of his amoral lifestyle and juvenile use of bully pulpit on Twitter.
Mary’s song in Luke 1 touches on those aspects of a “Christian worldview” that seem absent from the vision and mission of the FRC:
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
Lastly, I refer to Perkin’s quote by Franklin Graham: “I appreciate the fact that the president does have a concern for Christian values, he does have a concern to protect Christians — whether it’s here at home or around the world — and I appreciate the fact that he protects religious liberty and freedom.”
It sounds to me that Franklin’s idea of “Christian values” has everything to do with protecting Christians and our liberty. Historically, the Church’s most pitiful moments have been when our liberty and safety from harm have ranked higher on our agenda than the radical advance of the kingdom of Christ. Our darkest hours have been when we’ve gained the world and lost our souls, when we’ve mortgaged the actual worldview of Jesus for our own material prosperity.
I close with something I heard Andy Crouch say during the campaign: “Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord. They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us—in hope, almost certainly a vain hope given his mendacity and record of betrayal, that his rule will save us.”
Perkins says we Evangelicals should give the president a “mulligan” (a do-over) on our support for him. After all, he’s new at the job. Give him a chance to settle in and become, what Mr. Trump claimed he would become, “the most presidential president second only to Lincoln.” It’s been a year now and, well, a Lincoln he’s not. And he doesn’t come in close to second. Though I’m no stickler for rules (in golf or otherwise), I can’t give him what he’s not asking for, nor can I let my brothers and sisters get away with citing a “Christian worldview” for his policies or behavior. He doesn’t represent my view of the world in the least little bit.