I'm speaking about and to U.S. Christians here, but the rest of you pay attention, too.
Do you remember the campaign slogan "Character Matters?" Remember George W. Bush promising to "restore honor and integrity" to the White House?
It has become apparent that many of the same people who championed that are willing to be convinced that Donald Trump is now the more sound choice for our next president, in part because he "tells it like it is," although data is compiled daily which suggests otherwise.
The "Character Matters" campaign wasn't new. In the 1970 and 80s rose the Moral Majority, staking a claim about what mattered in government, and then came the "Family Values" campaign in 1992, which left a lot of families out, but seemed to appeal to the same people who are now willing to throw their vote to a man who stands for everything they previously wrung their hands over. The same people treated President Obama as evil, but one thing they can't deny about him is that he has had just the kind of family most of them think is the Best Kind all along, opposite of the Trump family web, which makes most of what President Clinton is purported to have done look like mere child's play.
This has been bothering me for awhile. Where is the integrity of people who claim a moral core as a keystone of their faith? Back when I attended churches, there was a song I liked; I liked the logical sort of certainty to it, and didn't realize til later, because I was incredibly naive about how people portray their beliefs, that some or many might use it to be dogmatic...I've added it below.
I still like the song, though I think she and I part sharply in understanding the value of context. But that message was for people who believed they were building their houses on rock, not on sand. Walking in their faith, not just talking of it.
No building on the sands of compromise
I won't be borrowed and I can't be bought
There is a line, I will not cross.
And now they are increasingly showing support for a man who seems entirely made of sand. He's doing all kinds of borrowing and buying, and there is no integrity in this. It is pure compromise.
Personally, I don't view all of life according to the line(s) some other people won't cross. But I'll have honest respect for them if they stick to it, and to a firm foundation on which we can "love our neighbors as ourselves."
What now? Are you one of the people who is allowing Donald J. Trump to prey on your fears? For those of you with Biblical faith, do you feel led to subsume that under violent, ugly, divisive words toward your neighbors and fellow citizens? Is your savior Jesus evident in that? Matthew wrote, "His face shone like the sun." (But for our context, let's all read the chapter before that, Matthew 16, and reflect on the matter as it currently applies.) Think about the people in your daily life who exemplify that for you. You have an unattractive choice to make right now between our two presidential candidates. So look beneath the rhetoric, the talking points, the media attacks, and look as far as you can into the hearts and minds of them both before you pull that trigger in November. Look at the big picture, bigger than any individual issue that concerns you right now. Look at how the U.S. is portrayed around the world, and what that might mean for us over the next few years.
I'm just asking you to make a deep-down honest decision, even if you aren't able to speak it aloud. If you believe God is inside you, make sure it's real discernment you're listening for, and not just a panacea for temporal fear. This is tough, and it's not hardly what anybody wanted, and yes, character really does matter. It's our characters that matter, actually; our characters and our consciences. Let's use them as wisely as we can.