Friday, September 2, 2016

Gambling With Donald Trump: Why He Is Not Some Higher Moral Choice


The election is about two months away. It is an election of the Liberals: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein. Pick your poison. "But wait! Don't forget about Darrell Castle of the Constitution party!" Right, the conspiracy theorist who backs the birther movement and believes 9/11 was an inside job.

I haven't said much about Donald Trump in a while. The conservatives have chosen, and they've chosen a non-conservative. How a casino mogul, strip-club owner, porn mag pusher, thrice married, adulterous, racist, arrogant, obscene, godless bully qualifies as conservative just goes to show that liberals aren't the only ones running gleefully toward the abyss.

Since I last wrote anything about Trump, there was a 5,300 word article by Systematic Theology author Wayne Grudem about how voting for Trump is a morally good choice. Grudem acknowledged that Trump was not a man of good character, but that shouldn't matter. We need to defend the unborn and protect religious freedom. (A pastor by the name of Justin Bullington provided my favorite response to the article.)

Several other theologians and pastors have stumped for Trump. This morning, Eric Metaxas, author of perhaps the most extensive biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (which I have and enjoyed, edit: but has its problems), offered a string of arguments on Twitter about why a Christian should vote for Trump. The following is Metaxas' plea. Each bullet-point is its own tweet:

  • I'm not voting for Trump because he's a paragon of virtue, but because electing HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] will forever end true Religious Liberty in America.
  • Let's put it another way: A Vote for Trump is not a Thumbs up for "Trump". It's a vote against what HRC will do that is forever UNDOABLE.
  • We've had so much Religious Liberty in America for so long most of us hardly even know what it is or when it's being gravely threatened.
  • You cannot undo Supreme Court Justices who think biblical values are divisive, bigoted, and un-American. They're lifetime appointments.
  • Defending the unborn doesn't mean electing someone perfect on that issue, but electing the better candidate on that issue. And that's easy.
  • If you care less about the unborn than about your "witness" or "conscience" in voting for someone you think boorish, I beg you to reconsider.
  • Wilberforce often worked w/people on the other side of the aisle -- sometimes despicable people -- if it could help the suffering Africans.
  • Bonhoeffer did not like getting involved in the plot to kill Hitler, but for the sake of the suffering Jews, he did what he thought he must.
  • Bonhoeffer even thought what he was doing might be sinful, but he knew doing nothing was the greater sin. And he cast himself on God's mercy.
  • Many friends sat out voting for McCain and Romney, giving us eight years of unconstitutional over-reach, secularist legislation, and more.
  • This is not a time for being so "heavenly-minded" we are no "earthly good." Not to act is to act. Not to vote is to vote. Please reconsider.

As with Grudem's appeal, there are three main issues being argued for here: a vote for life, a vote for religious liberty, and a vote for conservative Supreme Court justices. Metaxas was able to say it in much fewer words.

Also like Grudem, Metaxas took some shots at those who are not voting for Trump. The very title of Grudem's article implies that not voting for Trump is morally wrong. So in Grudem's eyes, I am doing something immoral because I am not going to vote for Donald Trump. Likewise, Metaxas believes I selfishly care less about the unborn than I do my own "witness" or my "conscience."

What's worse though -- I shuddered at reading it -- is he's actually asking people to sin and vote for Trump; though it "might be sinful." The ethics of Bonhoeffer aside, the Bible says not to "do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating does not come from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (Romans 14:21-23). His whole appeal disregards the principles given in Romans 14.

This idea that voting for Trump will save the unborn, preserve religious liberty, and result in conservative Supreme Court justices is nothing more than wishful-thinking. There is zero evidence to believe any of these things will ever happen. Really, how long have politics been around? Have we forgotten how all of this works? Ronald Reagan once joked, "It's been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." (In case you don't get the joke, the first oldest profession is said to be prostitution.)

You judge a candidate more by their record than by the words they're spewing to appease constituents at a rally. Though Trump has never held public office, he still has a history. And when you look into that history, there's more reason to believe he's a Trojan Horse than a preservative in the life of America.

The Big Gamble

In the March 5, 2016 edition of World, there was an article written by Jamie Dean entitled The Big Gamble that took a look at Trump's history with Atlantic City. He made lots of fantastic promises. He promised he would "make Atlantic City great." On April 2, 1990, he walked out on the iconic Boardwalk to Survivor's Eye of the Tiger, like he's done at rallies now. People flocked to see him, all hyped up on the big promises he brought to the Vegas of the East.

By 2009, he had declared bankruptcy on his casino enterprise for a fourth time. He once owned several casinos, and one building still bears his namesake with TRUMP written in big, red letters. But all he owns now is a small portion of the Taj Mahal. The Taj and all its debt was bought out by a billionaire friend after the company went into bankruptcy in 2014.

Once the largest casino complex in the world -- with "gold doorknobs, marble countertops, $14 million worth of chandeliers, and bell hops wearing $1,500 turbans" -- all the money spent on the Taj Mahal has been unsustainable, and efforts to revive the business have failed. At one of last year's presidential debates, Trump thumped, "I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City. I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered. And I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I'm very proud of it."

According to Dean, "Those left behind weren't as proud. Indeed, Trump's company left local contractors, vendors, and low-level investors with pennies on the dollar when his enterprises declared bankruptcy. 'He had stiffed hundreds of local businesses and left them with financial claims that they would never recover,' Steven Perskie, a former state lawmaker, told NJ Advance Media last fall."

About 30 percent of Atlantic City residents now live below the poverty line, more than double the national average. "The town is $400 million in debt," Dean reported. "New Jersey legislators are considering a state takeover of the famed city. The casinos aren't immune. Along Pacific Avenue, four of the former gambling giants sit shuttered and empty, like monuments to a bet lost on high stakes."

Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump's America.

Well that went well...

In addition to his Atlantic City record, Trump is a long-time friend of the Clinton's. He and his son, Donald Trump Jr., gave money to then-Senator Hillary Clinton in 2002, 05, 06, and 07. It's been shown many times how Trump has given at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary attended Trump's wedding to Melania in 2005. Overall, he's given many more dollars to baby-killing democrats than he ever gave to republicans.

For most of his life, Trump has been pro-abortion and a supporter of partial-birth abortion. In April, the Washington Post did a break-down of Trump's record on abortion, and noted that he took five different positions over the course of three days. That's very, very significant. It shows us that Trump does not know what it means to be pro-life.

When Trump is pressed on his presumably pro-life ethic, he has no idea how to answer because his ethics aren't what he says they are. Have those on the side of life ever asked him hard questions on his moral position? In that confab with evangelical leaders back in July, did they ever actually press him to clearly state his values asking tough questions, or did they merely hear him say "I'm pro-life," and accept it as though lip-service is the tell-tale sign of the heart?

"But Pastor, the Bible says out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks!" Sure, with evil. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, "You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Elsewhere the Bible says, "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips" (Romans 3:13). Trump's character is evident and testable. He is not an honest man.

If the value of life is so important to Grudem and Metaxas the way they say it isn't as important to me, then why are they merely taking Trump at his word and insisting that other Christians do the same, rather than demanding hard evidence that he values life the way he claims he does? Why is the burden of proof on me, the voter, and not on Donald Trump, the candidate? "But Pastor, he gave a list of nominees he would appoint to the Supreme Court, and it's a pro-lifer's dream panel!" Yes, that's called appeasing his constituency. That's not hard evidence.

Trump has done nothing to show he's pro-life except say that he is. When you listen to all the words around that claim, he has no idea what it means to be pro-life; therefore, he can make no significant strides to protect life. Think about it: Ronald Regan, George Bush Sr., and George W. Bush all had a history of being pro-life, and yet Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. Bush Jr.'s Chief Justice appointment, John Roberts, is the reason why Obamacare is the law of the land. What makes you think Trump is going to do more and make better decisions than they did?

Trump is so bad at understanding anything about being pro-life, he still thinks Planned Parenthood does good work -- and said this in the summer that Planned Parenthood was being exposed by David Daleiden as harvesting human organs for profit.

Absent from the Republican National Convention in July was any mention of fighting for the unborn. Donald Trump said more about fighting for LGBTQ issues than he did about the sanctity of human life, which was nothing. We have no reason to believe Trump's appointment as president will make any kind of dent in the slaughter of the unborn. We have every reason to believe he would be just another liberal president. Or worse.

How About Not Gambling At All?

Since based on Trump's record and his character there's no good reason to vote for him, that then leaves the debate up to this: "Well, at least Trump is not Hillary Clinton, and Hillary's America would be worse!" Really? I'm not convinced. Like I said, pick your poison: will it be strychnine or cyanide? Both of them are deadly choices for America in their own ways.

"So we should just vote for no one then?" Why not? To borrow from Bullington: What if the best thing for this nation is for Christians to stand with integrity and show the world that they won't vote for any 'ol lawless demagogue simply because they have an "R" by their name? Contrary to Metaxas' appeal, there is no such thing as being "so 'heavenly minded' we are no 'earthly good.'" That is a lie from the pit of hell.

Paul said to the Colossians, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the thing that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:1-3, 23-24).

He said to the Philippians, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself" (Philippians 3:17-21).

There are more ways to change this country than voting for President of the United States. Continue to stand forth with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel that has the power to transform and save lives. Be hated by the world not because you're a Trumpkin but because you're a Christian. "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

If you're shilling for Donald Trump, you are being deceived. You've got to understand he is using you, just like he used Atlantic City. When it's no longer profitable for him, he'll drop you in a gutter. His record confirms it. You don't have to do a lot of digging to realize he already thinks very little of you.

Remember though, there will be other matters on the November 8 ballot than who will be President. Know what's on your state's ballot, who the candidates are, and where they stand on the issues. I don't vote for anyone who's not pro-life. I believe all persons are made in the image of God and that I am to judge righteously, speaking up for the mute and defending the rights of the destitute (Proverbs 31:8-9). Life is the first unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence. If a candidate won't defend life, they won't be principled on any other issue.

I'll be making check-marks on November 8 (or filling in circles or pressing a touch-screen or whatever my district will be doing). But I won't make any mark for President of the United States. Maybe I'll write-in a name. That's a fair protest, too.