It's also going to be very tricky to write since it's so personal.
I mean, the last thing I want to do is air my family's dirty laundry let alone commit the sin of breaking the 8th Commandment.
However, I also firmly believe that a piece like this needs to be written since it's demonstrative of what we might -- and I stress the word "might" -- come to expect more often should Donald Trump win the upcoming U.S. Election and become President of the United States of America.
Before I even travel down this crooked path of perversion that's littered with unbelievable sexual, sinful garbage, I want to preface my comments for the reader who thinks this is just an "anti-Trump," "anti-Republican," and/or "anti-American" hit piece.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I simply want us to try and prayerfully consider the real-world implications of a Donald Trump presidency as it relates to the common Christian's day-to-day-life.
Besides, I have been a conservative registered Republican my entire voting life and for as long as I've identified myself as a Christian.
The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election was the very first time in my whole life that I experienced the so-called "crisis of conscience" and did not cast my vote here in the Liberal and Democratic blue state of New York.
That's right, for the first time in my life, I chose to stay home from the polls that day.
I have never voted for a Democrat and I will never vote for a Democrat based on that political party's crystal clear platform. At the same time, I will not vote for this year's Republican nominee either. So, I guess you could say that I'm #NeverHillary and #NeverTrump at the same time.
I'll admit, I've gone back-and-forth on my decision in recent weeks though.
For awhile, I was convinced that I could vote for Donald Trump and still sleep at night if not also look myself in the mirror no matter what four years of this nation under his leadership and rule would turn out to be.
I accepted the infamous "Lesser Of Two Evils" argument like so many others I know and respect despite having written a few commentaries about him here over the past year or so.
Preach The Gospel Of Jesus Christ -- Not The 'Gospel Of Poligion' Or The 'Gospel Of The Lesser Of Two Evils'
In addition, I even did a little investigative research of my own and found what I thought were THE PERFECT QUOTES from Martin Luther to apply to this particular election cycle!
In fact, I was saving them and was ready to trot them out on Election Day for everyone to read on social media if I ultimately decided to vote for Trump that day.
Good Intentions Alone Do Not Qualify A Man (1773)
"To be qualified to rule, it is not enough to be pious. A jackass is also pious. Ability and experience are required in order to rule. One may find a pious person who can hardly count to five. He who is to rule dare not lack reason, prudence, wit, and wisdom if he does not want to work great harm in his government; for government is subject to reason. The heathen, too, both Greeks and Romans, found this out and acted accordingly, as their languages indicate. For in Greek and Latin the rulers, who are to head the other people, are called senatores, the elders, as if to say: Age should rule, youth should be ruled, as St. Peter admonished the elders to govern youth and the young people to obey and be governed (1 Peter 5:1)."
Prefer A Wise But Wicked To A Saintly But Stupid Ruler (1774)
"The reasonable question has been put whether it is better to have a good but imprudent ruler (princeps) or a prudent but personally bad one. Moses here certainly calls for both: a good AND a prudent ruler. However, if both qualifications cannot be had, a prudent ruler who is not personally good is better than a good one who is not prudent, because a good one rules nothing but IS only ruled -- and only by the worst of people. Even though a prudent but personally bad ruler may harm the good people, he nevertheless rules the evil ones at the same time; and this is more necessary and proper for the world, since the world is nothing but a mass of evil people."
While all of that might be true, I'm here to tell you that I'm still not going to be voting for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton on November 8th, 2016.
An unexpected family incident that occurred out of the blue roughly a week ago demonstrated to me why I personally can no longer stomach the thought of a President Donald J. Trump.
To be blunt, if we call ourselves Christians, then we must say we believe, teach, and confess that God's Word is crystal clear about the things it teaches us.
We don't pick-and-choose to like what we like, but then ignore or discard the parts that we don't like. It doesn't work that way. God's Word changes us, we should never try to change it to say something it doesn't mean, especially when it is so simple and straightforward in it's context and intended meaning to begin with.
When it comes to my particular situation, an example of how the Word of God is "crystal clear" is when one prayerfully considers what the Bible says about the characteristics and qualifications of any man who aspires to be a Pastor.
1 Timothy 3:1-13 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Pretty straightforward stuff, huh?
Yeah, I thought so too. Apparently, that's not the case for everyone.
Titus 1 gives us some extra insight into what might be going on here and why such characteristics and qualifications are critical in God's servants to His people...
Titus 1:5-16 (ESV) This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you -- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Again, pretty straightforward stuff, huh?
I guess not! Not in this case for some strange reason.
So it happened one night last week that an unmarried man made a crude, lewd, and inappropriate sexual comment in front of my wife, my 10-year-old daughter, and his 3-year-old daughter.
Never mind that I was a man who was not only preparing and studying for admission to Seminary next Fall and, hopefully, the Office of the Holy Ministry one day after that, but simply a Christian as well as a Husband and a Father who strongly believes in "right" and "wrong" or "righteousness" and "sin" which should be understandable to other self-professing, life-long Christians.
Unfortunately, my humble, loving, patient, and respectful reaction guided by God's Word on how to handle such things was "wrong" and it was met with inexplicable personal attacks and fierce resistance from the very people closest to me who I never would've expected I'd get that from!
I was speechless. I am still speechless.
Some of the repeated phrases I heard over-and-over again that night and throughout the days that followed?
"What's the big deal?"
"Why are you overreacting?"
"It was harmless!"
"It was just a joke!"
"Are you sure you heard him correctly, because that doesn't sound like him at all?"
"Why do you always see the worst in people? Aren't we all sinners? So give him a break!"
"People are always gonna say things that you don't agree with or like so why not just let them roll off your back?"
Now, I know that these types of responses are nothing new. We've all heard them at one time or another and have heard them from the people we love the most in this life. The circumstances may be different, but the responses aren't.
What is "new" about it though is how unexpected and completely out of left field it was! I think that's what hurts the most here not to mention that when I made it clear that I wasn't going to feel bad or apologize for doing the right thing I was told, "Well, that's why you'd be a $#^//* Pastor!"
I just don't get it.
After all, we're the type of family who still makes our 11-year-old son and our 10-year-old daughter turn the channel or close their eyes and cover their ears if we're all sitting in the Living Room watching TV one night and a graphic sexual commercial or TV show/movie preview happens to come on the screen.
I mean, we're the same family who instantly went to the Principal of the private Lutheran Day School our kids attend when we learned about a 3rd Grader there who went on-and-on one day in class late last year about her sister teaching her about oral sex, sex itself, and other sexual acts.
In other words, what I'm getting at here is that there as been a consistent and steady pattern, a unified front, against such sinful behavior and talk in the past and even in recent history, but the moment an adult who we know as a mere acquaintance becomes the subject of similar sinful behavior and talk, then the topic becomes too real and is suddenly off limits, and a Christian man like me is the one who is chastised for his noble behavior and respectable talk instead.
That brings me to how Donald Trump fits into all of this.
Guess what else I heard that night and repeatedly since?
"Oh, come on, Jeff! You can't put your kids in a bubble and expect thy're never gonna be exposed to sex! For crying out loud, it's everywhere! It's even the main focus of politics right now and the upcoming election for President!"
No, I can't "keep my kids in a bubble" nor did I think I was doing that all these years.
In fact, I think we have exposed them to "real life" more than most Christian parents have with their kids who attend the same school, and we have done so due to the simple fact that we understand that we believers are called to be the "salt" and the "light" in this world, existing in it and honoring and serving God through our vocations, if not being of the world.
I have every right as a parent to decide how, when, and where I expose MY CHILDREN to such things, don't I?
More to the point, when a man who continues to live in sin and who thinks nothing of it decides to make lewd, inappropriate, immoral, sexual, sinful comments in front of my wife and daughter, you better believe I'm going to have THE EXACT SAME REACTION each and every time it happens, and nothing anyone says to the contrary is ever going to change my mind about that!
Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
So, even though he's not officially the President of the United States, and there's no guarantee that he will be either, I have had those nearest and dearest to me surprise me by condemning me, my actions, and my words, while actually defending, excusing, and justifying the behavior of another sinner, and then pointing to Donald Trump as a model for why that's ok.
Friends, I'm sorry, but that got under my skin like you wouldn't believe. Worse, it set off a chain reaction series of events that snowballed one after the other, each revealing the cavernous disconnect between me and those who I thought believed, taught, and confessed the same things that I did.
That in no way is meant to imply or suggest that I'm somehow "better" or more "pious" or more "righteous" than any of them (this unmarried man included). Not at all! I am, however, willing to call sin anything and everything that God Himself calls a sin, and I have no problem whatsoever doing that no matter how unpopular or disliked it makes me with family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or acquaintances.
Boy, if this hasn't turned into the week where Matthew 10:34-39 has become a painful reality in my life!
I will continue to make no apologies for doing the right thing. Personally, I think we need more men in this world (and definitely in this country!) who need to act the same way. Jesus established His Church as a confessing Church, and so we are to speak the Lord's truth lovingly before men (Matthew 10:32-33), are we not?
The sheer irony in all of this is that the very same people who have been my biggest and most vocal supporters encouraging me to enter Seminary and pursue ministry were the ones who have attacked me for choosing to act like any Pastor would in that very same situation. Strange, isn't it?
To me, their disloyalty is incredibly heartbreaking, because it feels like the ultimate betrayal.
Thank You, Lord, for giving me a mere fraction of a taste of what You Yourself experienced and felt when I sinned (and continue to sin) against You, which is also responsible for putting You, an innocent Man, upon the cross in my rightful place!
At this point, you might be thinking that it's HUGE LEAP (or should I say "YUUUGE") and that it's an unfair S-T-R-E-T-C-H to make this piece about Donald Trump at all in the first place.
Really? Is that really the case?
What did we Christians collectively say back in the 1990s about President Bill Clinton's public immorality and shameful sexual sins?
Furthermore, is it fair for me to assert that how the U.S. President acts, or what he or she ends up getting away with while in office and in full public view, has a sort of "trickle down" effect causing the citizens of America to start to think twice and consider doing the same things let alone causing them to accept and excuse things (or look the other way about some things) that they wouldn't have ever allowed or excused in the past?
Regardless of your own personal answer to that question, I have already made up my mind about this. It's why people are starting to use the "Hillary Defense" in their everyday lives!
Christ died for Bill Clinton's sins.
Christ died for Hillary Clinton's sins.
Christ died for Donald Trump's sins.
Christ died for my sins.
Christ died for your sins.
Do we believe that? Have we repented of our sins? Do we have faith in Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection for us? Those are the questions we should be asking instead.
So, with all of that in mind, this post is not really an "endorsement" or a "rejection" of one presidential candidate over another (I fully recognize that everyone's free to vote however they choose to do so and for any reason that seems right to them!), but it's more a commentary/study on the BLATANT HYPOCRISY of far too many Christians that I think is right to be exposed, because I'm currently living it, and I pray a piece like this will bring some small measure of comfort to others out there who might be starting to feel like they're all alone or even crazy to be reacting similarly to such things.
Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Psalm 146:3 (ESV) Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
At the end of the day, I really don't care who you vote for if your conscience is clear about it.
This is the United States of America. That's your choice, your freedom.
However, let's at least be consistent and honest when it comes to political discourse from now on as those who bear Christ's holy name.
Matthew 5:13-15 (ESV) You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In other words, should a Christian actually decide to act boldly and courageously by standing up in the public square (a.k.a. by standing up in front of dear family members and close friends) to condemn blatantly immoral, inappropriate, and sinful behavior by them, others, or political candidates after having taken the "log" out of his own eye first (Matthew 7:1-6), then please don't turn around and viciously attack and criticize that Christian for doing what you yourself should be doing in such cases.
Yes, God's people are called to be forgiving, loving, and patient to all people whether they are Christians or non-Christians. For some strange reason, God's people forget that they are also called to hate sin, to "mark and avoid" (Romans 16:17) sometimes when necessary, if not also to make sure that they "take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them" (Ephesians 5:11), which, ironically, comes directly from an entire passage that talks about sexual immorality and then the proper Biblical conduct between husbands and wives.
Galatians 1:10 (ESV) For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
You might not like to hear this, but I'm beginning to wonder if we're really interested in being the "salt" and the "light" for Christ in this world through our various God-given vocations or if we would we rather be politically correct "political commentators" and "accomplices to sin" instead, because we rationalize it as "harmless" and "no big deal" since we believe it's "what's best for this country right now."
Lord, have mercy!
I came face-to-face in my own little world with a man who embodied everything that Trump exudes and stands for and I didn't like it one bit. I was angry and I was offended as any Christian would be (and should be) in that situation.
Trump claims to be a Christian, yet says he has never asked for forgiveness. While God, in His wondrous creativity, has drawn people to Himself through the saving grace of Jesus Christ in many different ways, there are certain non-negotiable actions needed to become a Christian: One must repent of their sins and follow Christ as Lord and Savior. Trump doesn't talk this way, even when urged to. Further, his words and actions do not demonstrate the "fruit of the spirit." Trump is a misogynist and philanderer. He demeans women and minorities. His preferred forms of communication are insults, obscenities and untruths. While Christians have been guilty of all of these, we, unlike Trump, acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness and seek restitution with the aid of the Holy Spirit and our community of believers.
No, we're not voting for a Pastor-In-Chief, but I'm not voting for a guy whose actions and words have caused my own loved ones to second-guess the once entrenched and rock-solid tenets of their own cherished faith. It makes me think of Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22.
In the article titled "Making Better Men" we read...
Donald Trump, for example, presents himself as a paragon of masculinity. But his idea of what a man should be is small and mean and dangerous. We saw again his true colors in the recently published video of him boasting about infidelity and about forcing himself on married women. We cannot honestly dismiss this talk as mere “boorishness,” or with a “Billionaire boys will be boys.” The entitlement to women’s bodies and the preening self-worship on display in the video are not aberrations—they have colored the whole of Trump’s campaign. Witness his knee-jerk attacks on any woman who annoys him. Conservatives must call wickedness by its name. When Trump tries to brush off his immorality as “locker room talk” he is not offering a valid excuse, but rather indicting his wicked model of male culture. If this characterization of locker rooms is correct, it’s time to burn down the locker rooms.
This is most certainly true.
As one acquaintance on Twitter commented in response, "When Trump tries to brush off his immorality as locker room talk he is...indicting his wicked model of male culture." I agree.
My favorite lines?
"All these men, from politics and popular culture, are men without chests, driven by base desires for dominance or quiescence. The virtuous man, by contrast, demonstrates both self-control and self-respect."
Sadly, even when one acts like "the virtuous man" as I did the other night, the Old Adam within all of us desperately tries to kill the Virtuous Man that was imputed to us through our Baptism.
Sorry, I'm not going to be voting for the kind of man who thinks nothing of talking to or treating my wife and daughter as mere sexual playthings, but I'm not voting for the woman who thinks nothing of treating my wife's reproductive organs as a punishment and my daughter as a burden to society either.
As I currently see it, the entire phenomenon that is the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is about our confession of faith more than it's ever been. Since I'm a sinner who agrees with what God calls sin and who knows how powerfully seductive and destructive it can be, there's absolutely no way on earth I will be voting for any candidate that embraces sin as a lifestyle and wants to sell it to the American people (a.k.a. me, my family, my neighbors) as unique character strengths that somehow make them "genuine" and "just like us" because I don't want to be like them, I want the righteousness imputed to me by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Maybe it's time for me to talk a closer look at a respectable, moral man like Evan McMullin. Even if I don't like what I discover about him and don't want to vote for him either, there's still a way out of all of this nonsense.
Maybe I'll just stay home again on Election Day. At least I know I will be able to sleep at night.
Yes, Jesus only came for the sick and the dying, and He forgives sinners, but that doesn't mean we should chase or excuse sin as though Christ's death, resurrection, and free gift of salvation were a Monopoly "Get Out of Jail Free Card" offered to us whenever we want it.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, we must take care not to allow our politics (which may take positions on all sorts of issues about which the Word of God and Christ's Church are speak loudly or are silent) to skew our theology and alter the faithfulness of the truth that we claim we believe, teach, and confess.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!