Before I get into the meat of this piece, I’ll admit I hesitate to say I “support” Trump. During the primaries, he was not my top choice (far from it). However, in the end there were only two real choices, both deeply-flawed. Yes, something like Trump’s disrespectful and demeaning comments about women to Billy Bush could (should?) have been a disqualifier, but I would consider the same about Clinton’s “up to and including partial birth abortion” abortion stance. In the end, I voted for the one who I felt would be best for the country, would best follow the constitution, and who would most faithfully executed the nation’s laws.
I Would Not Have Voted for Trump If…
Perhaps, more importantly, I did not (and do not) think that Trump is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, etcetera…nor that he supports (or wants the support of) those who are. I would not have voted for him if believed he was.
If you cannot understand why people did (or still do) support him, this may be the big sticking point. If you are convinced he is a bigot, your opposition to Trump makes absolute sense. However, that leads to the core of this article. Before you judge Trump, and before you judge me (or those like me), I want you to consider three things:
- Righteous Judgment
I tell people, “I have been wrong about things, am wrong about things, and will be wrong about things.” Considering how often I have been incorrect in the past, it would be delusional of me to think otherwise. Sometimes I am wrong because I do not have all the evidence and other times because I come to the wrong conclusion based on the evidence. The latter could be because I am human and my logic is flawed, or perhaps because I have a blind spot that prevents me from seeing the obvious.
My intellectual honesty requires my humility.
How about you? I fully acknowledge that I could be wrong about Trump and he might be the devil incarnate. If you think he is the spawn of satan, can you admit you might be wrong?
But, more importantly, can you admit that someone can disagree with you without being complicit in what you consider to be Trump’s evil? That they may not know all you know? That they may have weighed all the evidence and (perhaps illogically) have come to a different conclusion than you?
Without being a racist? Without being a sexist? Without being a homophobe? Without being any kind of bigot?
I would argue that intellectual honesty requires your humility and your humility requires you assume the best instead of the worst, which leads to…
Near the end of his show today on MSNBC, Hugh Hewitt said, “There is really only one solution, Lincoln’s solution. One articulated in his second inaugural address. An attitude of malice towards none and charity towards all.”
Is that how you treat your opponents? Your enemies?
Above, I alluded to our common experience of being wrong in the past meaning we should have humility now. I suspect you also have a common experience with malice and a lack of charity. People who assumed the worst of anything you said or did. Who twisted what you said or did to make you look bad.
How did it feel? Did you like it? Do you want people to do that to you?
Nobody in their right mind would…and as such, we should take to heart what Jesus exhorts us to do:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew, 7:12, King James Version).
I was no fan of President Obama’s, but I tried not to allow confirmation bias to cause me to uncritically accept recriminations of him, even when they were quoting his exact words. Sure enough, often the accusations were false or at least exaggerated.
I would want Obama to be charitable to me; I should be charitable to him. You would want Trump to be charitable to you; you should be charitable to him. Judge both men’s actions and words assuming the best, not the worst.
Listen to Jesus and treat them like you want to be treated. Righteous judgment requires it…
Speaking of Jesus (and switching to judging), one of the most oft misused things He said was, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, English Standard Version). We must judge. Not a person’s eternal fate (only God knows), but (for instance) murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, adultery is wrong…
Racism is wrong.
Not saying so is also wrong. Turning a blind eye to it is wrong.
Jesus wasn’t saying we should never judge; He was telling us to do it rightly…and that if we don’t, we’ll be judged the way we judge (and to not be hypocrites):
Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5, English Standard Version).
If you are going to judge Trump or his supporters as racist, you must judge rightly. Additionally, we still live in a country where we are innocent until proven guilty, so the burden of proof is on you. Hearing zillions of people say Trump is a racist doesn’t make him a racist. Trump saying something that can be interpreted as racist, but can also be interpreted otherwise, does not prove he is a racist.
Interpreting evidence so it fits what you want politically, even unintentionally, is not judging rightly.
It is being human. Sinfully human.
Additionally, just because you are supporting the downtrodden doesn’t get you off the hook. Yes, Scripture commands us to look out for the powerless. For example:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Psalm 82:2-4, English Standard Version).
However, the Bible also does not allow us to show favor to people just because they are downtrodden:
15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor (Leviticus 19:15, English Standard Version).
There are myriad wrongs in the United States. Assuming the worst of our President or his supporters to help those who suffer because of those wrongs is…well…wrong.
And, as I was taught as a child…
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Additionally, judging the same actions of your opponents more harshly than your “side” is also wrong. God shows no partiality (see Romans 2:11), neither should you.
Is Trump a racist, a sexist, or homophobe…or some other kind of bigot? Maybe. Does he have some bigoted supporters? Definitely. Are all (or even most) of his supporters bigoted?
Of course not.
If you think otherwise, you are probably bigoted, stereotyping people based on them disagreeing with you.
Remember, what seems obvious to you is not obvious to them…or me.
Humility demands you accept you could be wrong and be understanding if others are.
Charity demands you are as kind to others as you would want them to be to you.
Righteous judgment demands you judge fairly and that you be 100% sure before you damn someone for being something as horrendous as a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, etcetera.
Finally, I have a decoration that claims Jesus said, “Be nice.” He didn’t (at least in those specific words). However, I still think it is great advice. Just…
P.S. Trump supporters, this advice is for us too…
The “Make America Great Again” hat image from the official Trump Pence shop.