Note: This column contains language that might be considered offensive to some readers.
We are experiencing something extraordinary in American politics: A man who has never held public office appears to have become a force of nature this election cycle, and he is achieving this, according to polls, with no small amount of support from evangelical Christians.
The really puzzling thing is that Donald Trump defies every stereotype of a candidate you would typically expect Christians to vote for.
How much does the average evangelical Christian supporting Trump know about his history? Very little, it would seem. Many are content to follow the no-nonsense persona, rather than dig into Trump's past record.
Trump professes to be a Christian and says the Bible is his favorite book. While we should not judge a man's heart or motive, we can and should evaluate his words and actions.
Therefore, there are three questions I believe all evangelical Christians should ask themselves before supporting Donald Trump for president.
1) What is known about Trump's personal life and morality?
If elected, Trump would be the first president to:
- Be married three times to different women, leaving each for the next woman.
- Be proud of his sexually liberalities, openly stating in his book Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life that he has had sex with some of the "top women in the world."
- Build and own casinos, including the first American casino ever to have a strip club that allows lap dancing and an all-male revue club for women.
- Regularly use obscenities in public speeches so vulgar network television would be required to bleep out these words to avoid violating Federal Communications Commission rules.
- State publicly that he has never asked for God's (or anyone else's) forgiveness and that he doesn't forgive.
- Have said about his daughter on that "if Ivanka were not my daughter, I would be dating her."
- Give America a first lady who has posed in the nude.
- Use bankruptcy laws four times for failed business dealings.
- Openly advocate for revenge, "as viciously and as violently as you can."
- Publicly call various women "dogs," "fat and ugly," "piece of (expletive)," "pigs," other expletives (TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, 2005) and said you "have to treat 'em like (expletive)."
2) Where does Trump stand on moral and social policy issues of concern to Christians and to which the Bible speaks to clearly?
On many issues, Trump is saying the right things in terms of public policy.
He presents himself broadly as a conservative on abortion, same-sex marriage, radical Islam and other social issues. But one of the best indicators of a politician's future behavior is his record on issues.
On abortion, in 1999, during a national television interview, Trump stated: "Well, I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debate the subject. But, you still, I just believe in choice."
Again in 1999, Trump stated to the Associated Press, "I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors."
In his book, The America We Deserve, Trump stated, "I support a woman's right to choose, but I am uncomfortable with the procedures."
In 2011, Trump said he changed his mind on the issue of abortion but still supports abortion in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother. He also said he supports "the good aspects" of funding Planned Parenthood.
Trump also favors gay rights and same-sex marriage laws "that guaranteed same-sex couples equal legal rights as married, heterosexual couples." Trump also opposed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the military's prior ban on openly gay service members.
Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, an advocacy group for gay Republicans, has said of Trump, "He is one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency," and that Trump would do no harm on same-sex marriage, and has a "stand-out position" on nondiscrimination legislation.
How do we square his liberal record on social issues with his "sounding conservative?" How can we trust that what he is saying today is what he will actually do tomorrow?
3) Are the love of money and pride legitimate issues to weigh when considering support for a presidential candidate?
First, the Bible is very clear that "the love of money" — not money itself — is "the root of all evil." But Donald Trump is also very clear — he really loves money. In fact, he has reminded us over and over again, relishing and boasting in how "really rich" he is. Trump's TV show "The Apprentice" even used the O'Jays' song "For the Love of Money" as the theme song.
It's not often that the Bible speaks with such clarity on what is evil. How heavily should a Christian voter considering supporting Trump take into account his love of money?
Secondly, Scripture declares "God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble." Proverbs says that "everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord."
Trump is not just proud. He is proud of being proud. But don't take my word for it. Just listen to most any speech he gives. Trump has said, "Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich."
All of us are sinners in need of grace. But what are we to do with a professing Christian who is openly proud and brags about his sin and who wants other Christians to trust and support him to be our next president?
I do not believe every Christian has a moral duty to vote only for Christians. In the Bible, God used even evil leaders for His purposes. But when a choice is given, should evangelical Christians choose to elect a man I believe would be the most immoral and ungodly person ever to be president of the United States?
There are times I read a verse from Scripture and wonder whether God looked into the portals of time and breathed out very specific words for a certain time in history. I believe 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is such a passage for today:
"Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people."
John Stemberger is an attorney and conservative leader based out of Orlando, Florida. He is a former political director of the Republican Party of Florida. For the past 10 years, Stemberger has served as president and general counsel of Florida Family Action. The views expressed in this column belong to Stemberger.
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