I am not sure at whom this post is aimed or to whom it is addressed. I write as an evangelical who did not vote for Donald Trump and resisted his candidacy from the moment it became something more than a marketing scheme. I am in the minority among my fellow evangelicals (however that term is defined in polling statistics) considering that more than 8/10 of us voted for Trump. So I guess I am addressing my fellow evangelicals who now reside in a nation with a president we did not vote for and, to varying degrees, virulently opposed.
How can we make peace with President Donald Trump? I have seen numerous calls for unity and peace across social media and the internet. It’s a lovely sentiment, even biblical in a non-specific sense. But it rings hollow coming from people who voted him into office and don’t seem to see the incongruity of claiming to represent Christ while voting for someone who is antithetical to those values in nearly every way. It rings slightly less hollow from those who did not vote for him but are among the least-threatened by his presidency (white male American citizens).
The question I am confronted with is this:
Should we make peace with the presidency of Donald Trump?
We thrive on turning complex questions, especially moral and political ones, into black and white, either/or issues. We draw lines and take sides. And in the end we simply stand on opposing sides of fences we have built and resent those who did not join us. I would like to avoid that if I can. So here is my answer: yes and no.
Yes we should make peace with the presidency of Donald Trump because the peace that carries a follower of Jesus through life has absolutely nothing do with human rulers or powers or circumstances. We will never be left or forsaken. The shepherd will lose none of his sheep. These are promises that offer peace when all around is falling apart.
Yes we should make peace with the presidency of Donald Trump because we cannot change it now. To resist the reality of him as president it to be like the kid who holds his breath until he passes out or the person who complains all winter about the cold. We lack the power to change it. We are not God. So we must find a way forward, to make peace in the sense of living each day as well as we can in a reality we wish was not so. In that sense it is no different than what we have done every day since Eden.
No we must not make peace with Donald Trump’s presidency until he rights the wrongs he has committed, initiated, and empowered. How can we make peace with a president who rode threats and abuse and mockery and ego to the oval office? It may be too much to expect him to repent in the truest sense; that is a thing brought about by the Holy Spirit alone. But it is not too much to ask him to admit, to apologize, and to begin making changes. He must condemn the actions of his followers who feel permitted and enabled to spread hate and fear. He must admit that he was wrong. He must take active steps to correct the wrongs and protect the residents of our country – all of them. Until this happens we do not need to make peace.
No we must not make peace with Donald Trump’s presidency in that we cannot follow his leadership in many of the directions he has promised to go and the direction many of his followers now feel free to go. We cannot stand for the marginalization or expulsion of immigrants. We cannot stand for the abuse and harassment of women. We cannot stand for the rise of white supremacy or making America white again. We cannot stand for the explicit or implicit bigotry toward minorities that his candidacy has fueled. We not only cannot make peace with these false cultural values, we must clearly exhibit the values and standards of Christ in their face.
No we must not make peace with Donald Trump’s presidency in our own lives. And this I say to my fellow white evangelicals, especially men. We can easily go forward day by day with little to no affect on our lives, our livelihoods, our citizenship, our rights, or our general comfort. We live in peace and at ease and a blowhard bigot in Washington will have little to no affect on that. But it is not so for tens of millions of millions in this country, many of whom follow the same Jesus we claim to. Who is our neighbor? Anyone we can serve in the name of Jesus. So we must not let our status quo lives dull us to the fear and pain and threats on our neighbors.
We will live in tension.
But we ought to have been doing that all along. Our home is not here, and this world is filled with pain and evil and suffering. We have felt comfortable here because we have lived in a uniquely bucolic combination of place and period in all of history. Now our respite must come to and end. The Judeo Christian ethic of yesteryear is falling. Our nation is in the hands of an overt counter-Christian. So we must be Christ as we have not felt the urgency to be prior.
We find our peace in this, we experience our pain in it (maybe for the first time), and we serve our neighbors in need whether it be protection and comfort or whether it be a clearer understanding of the Jesus they claim to follow.