Last time I introduced a newish psychological phrase, “Moral Injury,” which sociologists and psychologists are using to describe, “the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses or fails to prevent acts that transgress their own moral and ethical values and codes of conduct.”
It was originally coined in reference to soldiers returning from combat, but is now being used in broader contexts. I believe it can be used to describe a phenomenon that occurs among people who, in spite of his obvious amoral way of looking at the world and his performance as president continue support the ideology, lies, and policies of Donald J. Trump.
Everywhere we turn we’re exposed to assaults on basic human values––let alone biblical standards––not the least of which pours out of the White House through Twitter, press conferences, and campaign stump speeches. Overlooking or vindicating such assaults inevitably damages one’s moral mechanism. Mindlessly accepting a naked emperor’s delusion of being fully clothed takes a toll on one’s ethical sensibility. Left unchecked, our moral compass loses its bearings and will no longer point to true North.
In the absence of viable alternatives at the polls many people held their noses at Mr. Trump’s odorous absence of character and dearth of any tiny evidence of wisdom back then. I’m willing to give them a mulligan and trust that their decision in the last the election didn’t concuss their conscience beyond repair. But in my view to persist in the fantasy that he is “God’s man” for the job and will make America great again puts them at risk of losing their bearings altogether! “There’s no shame in admitting you were conned,” says Brian McLaren. “The shame is in refusing to see it so the con continues.”
This is a man who said on public television, “If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor… you all need me! I am the center of it, I keep it all together.” Brothers and sisters, this is not just faulty reasoning, it’s delusional! Turning a blind eye to the delusion is more than culpable; it’s dangerous to one’s own psyche!
They say that soldiers who enter combat with a working moral gyroscope may well come out with such dysphoria they can no longer function in society. I’m afraid that Christians and all people of conscience who insist on giving our president mulligan after mulligan for his unremitting display of narcissistic and unprincipled behavior will similarly, if not permanently disable their moral reasoning.
Paul warned of a “polluted conscience” (Titus 1:15) that becomes contaminated to the point of faulty operating through toxic sludge. He also said that in matters of conscience he didn’t trust his own judgment. Instead he deferred to the Lord to take regular inventory and alert him if and when he fell short. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
So, my advice is to make daily appointments with Dr. God for heart check ups. Ask him to, “Search and try [you] and see if there be any wicked way within.” (Psalm 139:23-24) He’ll tell you whether or not your heart beats in sync with his, if you need an artery honed out, or a pace-making device installed.
I believe we have a morally injurious national leader, worse than any in my lifetime. My assessment is neither rooted in a predisposition to a political party nor in an expectation that he act like a man of God. But everyday this man proposes and executes decisions that are so unprincipled and off the rails that, in my opinion, to ride his train jeopardizes our own mental and spiritual fitness, to say nothing of the injury done to our credibility as a Jesus following community.
“Too many of its leaders (and their followers) have traded their Christian witness for a mess of political pottage and a few federal judges,” claims John Fea. “It should not surprise us that people are leaving evangelicalism or no longer associating themselves with that label—or, in some cases, leaving the church altogether.”
Brothers and sisters, I plead with you:
“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-9 – The Message)
For further reflection:
- Can Donald Trump Be Trusted and Does It Matter? (Part 1 of 3)
- Evangelical Leaders Speak Out On the President’s Sexual Mores and Lies
- The Moral Governor (Part 1 of 2)
- A Comic, a Candidate, and a Few Bad Cops
As always I welcome your civilly put rebuttals, affirmations, and further thoughts…