On January 20th the 45th President of the United States was sworn into office.
I don’t like Donald Trump.
I struggle to see an ounce of wisdom or integrity in him. But I have a predicament. He is now the President of the United States. Whether I like him or not, as a citizen of this country and as a follower of Jesus, I am compelled to pray for him out of respect for the office that he now holds and out of obedience to the God that I serve. I confess. This is really hard for me.
I am not suggesting that Mr. Trump’s actions can’t or shouldn’t be criticized. The First Amendment guarantees the rights of citizens in a healthy democracy include: Freedom of the Press, with the liberty to speak openly without fear of government restraint and, Freedom of Speech as demonstrated by a vocal and engaged citizenry with the right to express any opinion without censorship or restraint.
At the same time, the Scriptures urge us to pray for “all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”
Have you ever prayed for someone you don’t like? I don’t mean pray they’ll get hit by a bus or covered in boils, I mean really pray for their soul. I don’t remember the last time I did. Mainly because there aren’t many people that I truly dislike.
So, what to pray for Mr. Trump? This is a challenge and is something I’ve thought about long and hard. I’ve searched the Scriptures and considered my own life. I confess that I am a sinner and that I am often willful, proud, thoughtless, unkind, selfish and stubborn. I am painfully aware of my flaws and my sins. Daily, I confess them and ask God to transform my life and remake me into His image.
As an act of obedience and discipline in my own spiritual journey, and keeping in mind my own sinful nature, I composed a prayer for our president.
The prayers I pray for myself are the prayers I will pray for him. The transformation I seek for my own life, is the one I seek for his.
“Father in heaven, I pray that President Trump would be aware that he is a sinner, confess his sins and accept the forgiveness that is available through the death of your son Jesus.
I pray that as he receives your grace and forgiveness, he would extend that same grace and forgiveness to others.
I pray that You would replace his spirit of pride with a spirit of humility.
I pray that he would live a life of generosity, and consider others above himself.
I pray that he would be devoted to caring for the poor, the hungry, the immigrant, the sick, the prisoner and the marginalized.
I pray that You would grant him a humble and contrite heart.
I pray that he would exhibit self-control and be compelled to live his life as a man of truth and integrity.
I pray that he would listen more than he speaks.
I pray that he would grant mercy instead of seeking revenge; for Your Word declares that mercy triumphs over judgment.
I pray that he would be an advocate for peace.
I pray that he would be a man of grace and dignity, treating everyone he meets with respect and that he would see them as Your beloved children, created in Your image.
I pray that the fruit of the spirit would be evident in his life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I pray that he would hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Transform him Lord, into a man of integrity and into a leader who is sober-minded, thoughtful, compassionate, wise and good.
With the same measure that he blesses others, may he also be blessed.”
These things I pray for my own life and for the life of my president. Oh that we may “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.” Grant it Lord, I pray.
When the election cycle began, there was a single candidate that appeared to be a joke. A reality star turned politician, he is equal parts petulant child and tyrant – clearly a man not suited for the office of President.
That was then. This is now.
Many of my friends and family members are now devoted to Donald Trump and the Republican party he leads. With every lie and every mean-spirited and angry word he utters, they continue to defend him.
I find I am out of step with people I have known for years – a minority voice in a large and vocal Evangelical community. It’s disconcerting, to say the least.
I spent my life in the church and I harbor a deep and abiding love for the body of Christ but, at this point in time, the majority of my friends and family are supporting Trump. I can’t.
I expressed my opinion on Facebook last week, in no uncertain terms, following the release of a videotape reminding us of Mr. Trump’s true character. Because of my stance against him, some questioned my faith. While staunchly supporting this man, who claims to not need God’s forgiveness and spews ugliness and fear at every turn, they doubted my faith, someone they know personally to be a sincere, albeit flawed Christian. Others sent me emails and private messages trying to convince me that I’m wrong and show me the error of my ways.
The disconnect is so deep that it feels as if we are speaking a different language. The baiting, arguing and discord have, at times, worn my spirit raw.
The list of reasons why I find Donald Trump to be unsuitable for the office of President are long and I won’t bore you with all of them here but I want to respond to two issues that some raised last week, in an attempt to defend Mr. Trump.
“He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
The issue of forgiveness toward Donald Trump was raised repeatedly, at times by the same people who listed all the ways that Hillary Clinton is evil and irredeemable. It appears that forgiveness is meted out according to party lines. But, let’s just deal with the actual Scripture for now. Here it is, in context.
“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.””
John 8:2-11 NIV
Here is a woman who, in her time and culture, had no power.
The leaders brought her to Jesus when they caught her in the act of adultery. This act, by it’s very nature, requires a second party. The man, however, is nowhere to be found in this story but it’s possible, according to the law of the time, that he too held a stone.
Men of power surrounded this lone woman in her shame and all the blame for the act of adultery was placed upon her alone. But Jesus saw through their tricks. He turned the tables on her accusers and challenged them with their own sin.
Jesus didn’t give a pass to those who oppress, he elevated the oppressed.
Jesus is always for the poor. Always for the marginalized. Always for the outcast. At the same time, Jesus showed little patience or sympathy for those who wielded power without mercy; for the leaders who tried to trap him and manipulate him. He spoke out against them time and time again.
This brings us to Mr. Trump, a man who is clearly not the marginalized and downtrodden that Jesus elevated in John 8. When I read this Scripture, I don’t see Mr. Trump cowering on the ground in shame and fear, I see him leering in the crowd, ready to throw rocks; only his rocks are words. Words meant to shame and intimidate.
The recent media focus is on words The Donald spoke eleven years ago. This is not the only time he spewed demeaning and insulting words but it is certainly one of the worst. In this tape, unscripted and unprompted, he shows us the man that he is and as Maya Angelou once said,
“If someone shows you who they really are, believe them.”
Many women, including myself, were impacted when they watched this tape. My cheeks burned when I heard him speak in derogatory terms and joked about assault while Billy Bush guffawed and egged him on. Just locker room talk, right? But here’s how those words affected me.
When Mr. Trump boasted that he could “do anything” to a woman, I recalled the man, the father of my friend, who exposed himself to me at the tender age of five.
When Donald Trump talked about a woman’s “big phony t**s,” I remembered another friend’s father. He watched porn in the room next to our ten-year-olds slumber party and didn’t flinch or turn off the TV when I walked through the room to go to the bathroom.
When The Donald referred to a woman as a “b***h,” I recalled how I was disciplined for wearing a skirt with a slit above my knee at a Christian college. Some boys complained that the sight of my legs “was causing them to stumble.”
When Mr. Trump said he could “grab her by the p***y,” I saw the face of the chiropractor who grabbed mine, during the course of a routine chiropractic adjustment.
When The Donald and Billy Bush ogled over a girl “hot as s**t,” I recalled the shame and embarrassment of working in an office with a group of men who listened to Howard Stern and his sexually explicit banter every morning, and left pornographic magazines in the bathroom both men and women shared.
Every time he is given a pass for his appalling behavior and demeaning words toward women, I see the faces of men long buried in my memory.
The teenage boy who asked me to ride the roller coaster, only to paw and grab me during the entire ride – the coworker who cornered me to share the details of his unfulfilling sex life – the doctor who, when I complained of an earache, insisted I take off my blouse and then rubbed me with his stethoscope for what seemed like an eternity – the boss who slandered me by spreading untrue rumors about my sex life – every “good old boy” who took advantage of their position of authority to demean or exploit me.
Sadly, my experience is not unique. The vast majority of women will see themselves in some of the scenarios above, or be reminded of circumstances far worse. When I think of a man like this, holding the highest position of power in the land, it makes my blood boil.
This, my friends is “locker room talk.” This is “boys being boys.” Here’s my question? Where are all the men?
If Christian men (and women) don’t speak out against this kind of behavior then who will? When Christian men refuse to speak, I begin to wonder, do they feel the same? Do they agree? Are they amused or even proud of Mr. Trump’s machismo and ballsiness? I’m afraid I think this may be true for some because shamefully, most of my perpetrators were family men and claimed to be Christians.
I don’t want a good old boy as Commander in Chief. I can’t abide a predator as President.
In a culture saturated with porn and demeaning images of women at every turn, I cannot vote for a man who looks at women as body parts, who reminds me of my most embarrassing and shame-filled memories. It’s not okay.
This is a watershed moment for the Evangelical church. We can continue to clutch at power, or stand up to those who would abuse it.
If we stand behind a man like Mr. Trump, we have shown the world who we are and they should believe it. I, for one, will not stand there.