In the wee hours of the morning on November 9, 2016, though bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, I erupted in full-throated cheers and applause when Pennsylvania went to Donald Trump.
We did it!
Trump won the presidency with thirty states and 306 electoral votes.
It was a great night. And though I was alone in my office and it was after three in the morning, I cheered along with the crowd at Trump’s victory speech.
I knew full well that I was voting for a man whose past behavior was hardly righteous and without sin.
But I wasn’t a Cardinal for Pete’s sake. And we elected a President not a Pope.
No white smoke billowed from Trump Tower when Pennsylvania was called and the election sewn up.
Because … and I’m repeating myself … we elected a President not a Pope.
Right now, my church is searching for a new pastor.
And if Donald Trump was in the running, I wouldn’t choose him to be my pastor.
But on November 8, 2016, I was voting for a President, not a pastor.
Yet some Never Trumpers – who apparently are without sin and can cast the first stone – were mad at Christians for casting their vote for Donald Trump.
And more to the point, they’re still mad eighteen months later.
What’s got their knickers in a twist right now is that twelve years ago, Donald Trump slept with a porn actress. And during the 2016 election his attorney paid her a sum of money and had her sign a non-disclosure agreement to not run around telling everyone that in 2006 she slept with Trump.
Stormy’s lucky. If she slept with Bill Clinton, she might have ended up with a bullet in the back of her head in an apparent “robbery gone bad.”
But that’s not my point.
These particular Never Trumpers are upset because Christians who voted for Trump aren’t gathering up their own stones to cast at the President.
So I guess in addition to being an inauthentic conservative, I’m now also an inauthentic Christian.
Now, why I bring this up is because I just read a piece by noted Never Trumper David French over at National Review. And according to him, my unwillingness to cast the first stone will result in me standing “in the wreckage” of my own reputation wondering if it was worth it.
I’ve “torched” my “credibility and exposed immense hypocrisy through fear, faithlessness, and ambition.”
It’s as if he knows me.
Wait. Nope. He doesn’t know me at all.
But I guess he feels qualified to pass judgment on me.
What’s got his goat is because I — and apparently every Christian who supports Trump – won’t stand in judgment of Donald Trump, millions of Americans now despise us.
But there are now millions — millions — of our fellow citizens who despise us not because we follow Christ (the kind of persecution we expect) but because all too many fellow believers have torched their credibility and exposed immense hypocrisy through fear, faithlessness, and ambition.
That’s quite a sweeping statement. Isn’t it?
Now, I can’t speak for every Christian who voted for Donald Trump. Unlike Mr. French, I don’t feel qualified to know their hearts.
So I’ll just speak for myself.
I opposed Donald Trump in the primary. And at times, I was extremely critical and, frankly, kinda mean.
The only Donald Trump I knew was the one in the media – the wealthy, twice-divorced former playboy and TV personality.
It was his past that informed my opinion of him in the present.
And I was really unforgiving.
Besides which, because I supported Ted Cruz, I wanted Trump to fail. And that desire to see him lose unfairly colored my opinion of everything he said and did.
But when he became the nominee, I made the decision to start fresh with a clean slate and give him a chance. And that meant not evaluating the nominee by his past, but by the present.
It meant not making up my mind based on what pundits said, but what Mr. Trump himself said.
So I watched his speeches and campaign rallies — and I watched them with an open mind.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that my preconceived notions and biased opinions had been preventing me from making an honest assessment of candidate Trump.
And once I got a measure of the man, I knew without question that voting for him was the right thing to do.
Was he still the wealthy, twice-divorced former playboy and TV personality?
But I also saw in him a desire to be more — to become a better man.
Now, I realize that Leftists will guffaw at that statement – as will some Never Trumpers.
I get it. I used to be clouded by bias and judgmental opinions too.
So go ahead and guffaw if it makes you feel morally superior.
But I’m telling you how it is.
That is what I gleaned from watching Donald Trump.
For example, in September of 2016 I watched Mr. Trump give a talk at the Great Faith Ministries Church in Detroit.
While the anti-Trumpers both inside the media and outside immediately accused him of pandering, I saw someone earnestly seeking something greater than himself.
I wrote at the time:
Mr. Trump spoke briefly to those assembled at Bishop Jackson’s church. His remarks were respectful, honest, humble and uplifting.
See, I know this because I watched it.
Funny how your impression of Donald Trump changes when you actually take the time to hear what he says rather than simply listen to the “analysis” and “spin” burped out by the Enslaved Press.
Sure, none of that changes the facts of his past.
But tell me. Whose past can be changed?
It isn’t like Superman is going to spin the earth backwards so Trump’s playboy past and adulterous behavior will cease to exist.
I imagine it is difficult to run for office when you’ve lived your life in the public eye the way Donald Trump has.
You will never be forgiven for your past no matter what you do in the present.
I wasn’t always a Christian.
And there is quite a lot about my life before I got sober and found Christ that I’m not proud of.
Sure, with God’s help, I’ve learned to live my life differently.
But that doesn’t mean I’m without sin.
And neither is Donald Trump.
And when you get right down to it, neither is a pope.
Not that it matters. We didn’t elect a Pope.
We elected a Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the United States.
We don’t live in a theocracy. And to have the expectation that our nation’s leaders be sinless or even judged more harshly for being sinful doesn’t make sense to me.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
If my church expected that only members without sin could attend, I’d be out on my butt. And I wouldn’t be the only one. In fact, the pews would be completely empty and the pulpit bare.
For me to oppose President Trump because of the sins of his past would be the height of hypocrisy and sanctimony.
But as David French see it, I should feel shame for supporting our President despite his sinful past.
And I should be ashamed that I refuse to condemn him for his adultery twelve years ago with Stormy Daniels.
But who am I to condemn him?
Who am I to judge?
For that matter, who is David French to judge either me or Trump?
Was it Christian of Michael Cohen to pay Stormy Daniels hush money? No.
Was it morally wrong for Donald Trump to commit adultery? Absolutely.
But the betrayal is not mine to claim.
I’m not his wife.
No laws were broken – no crimes were committed.
It isn’t up to a court of law to decide how Donald Trump atones for that infidelity.
And it isn’t up to me to decide if and when his atonement is enough.
Listen, I pray for our President daily.
Believe it or not, I even prayed for Barack Obama.
Sure, I opposed his policies and I believe that he did unimaginable damage to our Republic. But I still prayed for him.
I have seen in Donald Trump a desire to be a better man. And I pray that he continues to grow in Christ.
Yes, he is imperfect. I recognize it well because so am I.
As a Christian, I pray for his soul, his health, his discernment — and, yes his marriage and family. And I pray that God continues to stir in his heart a humble desire for repentance.
All of that I can do without condoning the sins of his past – or judging the sins of his past.
I see the work that President Trump has accomplished during his time in office thus far. Some of it I have criticized. But most of it I have applauded.
My responsibility as an American – whether a Christian or not – is to evaluate him on his job performance as the Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the United States.
It is not for me to judge him on the condition of his soul.
I am not without sin.
So I won’t be one who casts the first stone.
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