America’s new President is controversial, to say the least. Saying outrageous things concerning women or ethnic minorities to gain massive media attention and popularity, just to then lie about the statements ever being made, sounds like an absurd way to become the most powerful person in the world. But it tragically seems quite effective.
Hillary Clinton was also criticized for being unreliable when it comes to security and honesty, and so during the election, America found itself in a bizarre situation where most people didn’t really want any of the candidates to become President. It was an election about who you dislike the least rather than who you like the most. When people want a leader with dignity, morals and faithfulness, turning to politicians seems to guarantee a letdown.
Jesus was skeptical to the political way of leadership. He said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). At one point, the crowds that followed him wanted to crown him as king after he had done a miracle, at which point Jesus mysteriously disappeared like Batman (John 6:14-15).
He said to the political ruler of his country, Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). Instead of planning war strategies, he said that we should love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Instead of fixing the economy, he told us to sell everything we have (Luke 12:33). Instead of promising prosperity and comfort, he told us to take up our crosses and follow him (Mark 8:34). But not only that, he said that all who believes in him will have eternal life (John 3:36).
There’s a website called Trump or Jesus where you get to do a quiz, guessing whether Donald Trump or Jesus Christ has said a particular quote. You’ll probably find it incredibly easy. This just illustrates how different these leaders and the leadership they represent are. And it’s a no-brainer who is the better one.
Still, the majority of white evangelicals seem to have supported Trump, even though the widespread statistic of 81 % have been questioned. Avoiding a Clinton was surely a big reason behind this surprising allegiance to a billionaire playboy who has never asked God for forgiveness, but that’s not the only thing that’s going on here. Ed Stetzer on Christianity Today pointed to a PRRI survey which showed that in the 2012’s elections, evangelicals much more than the general population believed that a person’s ethical behaviour in public life was damaged if they committed unethical acts in private. In 2016, they believed it less than the general population.
This is undoubtedly due to Trump – white evangelicals can tolerate that he has bragged about groping women or explicitely wanting to kill women and children in Syria. Stetzer remarks: ”the people of God, who are called to hold to the highest standard of morals and ethics, now rank as the highest group percentage-wise of those who say that these things don’t necessarily matter. This is a problem of huge proportions.”
Not only is Trump’s rhetoric and behaviour extremely dissimilar to how Jesus spoke and lived, his policies are in many ways antithetical to biblical morality. While many evangelicals are flattered by Trump’s pro-Israel and anti-abortion stance, his extreme views on economic inequality, immigration and torture don’t add up with Jesus’ teachings. Sadly, climate change was hardly discussed at all during the election campaigns, but Trump ignoring this approaching catastrophe will probably kill millions around the world if not a miracle happens.
As a non-American, it has honestly been a bit frightening to watch this wild, amoral billionaire successfully gaining access to nuclear launch codes and incomparable power. Especially due to the fact that I over in the UK can’t do much to stop it, except writing a few articles on why Christians shouldn’t make Trump their Constantine. And so I decide to run to Jesus.
We live in disturbing times, with several threats to our own well-being as well as the well-being of the poorest and most marginalised of our fellow global citizens. We ought to put our trust in the One who is all-good and has all power but chooses self-sacrifice, rather than someone who sacrifices everything good and decent in order to gain power.
Micael Grenholm is editor at PCPJ. He lives in a Jesus Army community in the UK.