How Should Christians React To The Trump Tapes?

trump-1Throughout the 2016 presidential election, we have all taken it as a given that Donald Trump makes offensive remarks. One might even argue that has been the thrust of his campaign. It was how he has controlled the media and how he has won over the majority of GOP voters. People are exhausted with the politically correct twaddle that has become so popular. Trump seemingly provides a refreshing alternative. However, in catering to the desire of the politically incorrect masses, one might go too far. If you compromise core values, such as the doctrine that “All are created equal,” then you are going beyond politically incorrectness. We need to have balance between being politically correct and being demeaning. In the recently released Trump Tapes, Donald Trump boasted about his attempted affair with a married woman and said that as a celebrity, he can grab female strangers between their legs. How should we react to this? How should Christians react to Trump Tapes?

trump-2First, I want to point out that Trump did issue a scripted apology video in which he vowed to be a better man. However, I do not think that should change our perspective. It may have been a sincere apology, but we must recognize the possibility that it was not. Any politician who was in his position would have issued an apology when those remarks when viral. If your name is Bill Clinton, you will apologize when the nation catches you in an affair. Donald Trump apologized because he had to apologize. He also made the stunning remark that it happened when he younger. How old was The Donald in 2005? 15? Or was he a 50 year old man? You do not get to say that you were young and immature when you were 50 years old. With that said, let’s proceed into our analysis.

Recognize That We Cannot Expect Him To Uphold Conservative Principles

When I refer to an “abortion culture,” I mean a culture in which abortion is regulated and normalized. Sex is thoroughly disconnected from having babies because there are many unwanted pregnancies. Those pregnancies are the result of open sexuality and promiscuity among strangers, particularly in the event that a woman has an affair. If a woman has an affair and gets pregnant, the best way to conceal it from her husband would be to have an abortion. In a culture in which sex is just a pleasure that we can enjoy and boast about, babies are not a gift – they are a burden. They are something that we need to guard against. When a baby is conceived, people will kill it. I made this point in my article How Our View of Sex Creates An Abortion Culture. Sexuality, marriage, promiscuity and abortion are tightly interrelated issues and we cannot compartmentalize it. Donald Trump’s comments reflect an attitude that contributes to an abortion culture.

Now, one might object that everybody’s attitude contributes to an abortion culture, and I could make this point about many individuals. That is true. But it is enhanced with the comments that Donald Trump made for two reasons. First, his comments were literally sexist. I will expand on that in the next subsection. Second, Trump seemed to enjoy compromising the sanctity of marriage. He was trying to beguile a woman into having an affair. He bought her furniture and said that he tried “like a b****” to persuade her to sleep with him. (By the way, Donald was married.) What we see in Donald Trump is not a man who will uphold the sanctity of marriage or the sanctity of life. We see a man who compromises it and enjoys compromising it. For a conservative to say that they are trusting in the man who made these comments to uphold the virtues that we think are important is literally absurd.

His Comments Were Inherently Sexist

People often say that something is sexist when it is not. If you hold a door open for a woman, that is not sexist. If you say that it is wrong for her to murder her baby, that is not sexist. Sexism occurs when you regard women as lower than men, whether in word or in practice. Many people will not confess to being a sexist, but they will hold to a sexist disposition in the way that they regard and speak about women. Somebody can be a sexist by regarding women as nothing more than objects for their sexual lust. If you look at a woman and immediately begin assessing her, fantasizing about sexual encounters, then you might just be a sexist. If you think that women are just there for you to assess and sleep with, then you might be a sexist. That is what I see reflected in Donald Trump’s remarks.

He did not regard the woman that he tried “like a b****” to sleep with as his equal. He did not think of her intellect or the care that she had for her family. He thought that he would enjoy a sexual encounter with her. Of course, many people may ask what is wrong with that attitude. As long as you do not hurt anyone, then you can do with your eyes what you would like, right? But by talking about and regarding women as though they had no more value than their sexual function, you are inherently degrading human beings. There is really no qualitative difference between that and racism. If you regard people of a different pigmentation as having no more value than how they can serve you, then you are degrading human beings. If you think that women are only there to fulfill your fantasies as Donald’s remarks indicate, then you are degrading human beings. We should not fool ourselves. Do not let the fear of being politically correct sway you. There is real sexism and that is precisely what Trump is guilty of.

Remember That Words Matter

Throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle, Trump supporters have said that the only thing that Trump is guilty of is having a big mouth. He has some things that might be offensive, but that is really not a big deal. They might point to the actions of Hillary Clinton, such as what occurred in Benghazi, or her e-mail scandals, or any number of crimes that people will lodge against her, and compare that with the mildly offensive remarks that Trump has made. Trump may say things that seem offensive sometimes, but does that really matter? Well, it does. Jesus told us, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34). James 3 talks about the importance of taming the tongue, and how much more significant is that for those who are world leaders?

We might say that they are only words, and there is a sense in which that is true. But there is a reason that Jesus said, “If you lust after a woman, you commit adultery with her in your heart.” (Matthew 5:28). The things that a person says and thinks reflects what it is in their heart. It reflects what they would do given the opportunity. I seriously doubt that this was the sole conversation like this that Donald Trump had. The fact that he said these words matters. They reflect a lifetime and a history of marital affairs, pursuing married women “like a b****.” In his book The Art of The Deal, he said as much. He wrote, “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller.” Words matter. They reflect the state of an individual’s heart and his actions. Donald Trump is not a person who respects the sanctity of marriage or of life. We can no longer take refuge in the idea that “He just has a big mouth, it’s not big deal.” It is more than that.

Do Not Try To Defend His Comments

If you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, who is being conformed to the image of the Son, sanctified, striving to be holy, then by the authority of Jesus himself, as prescribed in his holy word, you must not defend the lewd and offensive remarks that this man has made. God said in Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” You must not defend the remarks that Donald Trump has made. That is not say that you cannot vote for him (I am not writing about that here). But it is to say that if you defend his lewd remarks, then you are not being obedient to Scripture, you are not living a life worth of the calling of the gospel, for you are condoning that which is evil, demeaning, compromising to life and to marriage.

What are some of the things that people say in defense of Trump’s lewd remarks? They might say, “It was ten years ago,” which I already addressed (he was 50). But that is not really a defense so much as it is to say that perhaps he has changed. That is in a different category. That is defending Trump, but not defending his remarks. In defense of his lewd remarks, one might say, “That is just how men talk.” If you think that is how men talk, then you need to find different men to spend your time with. If the men you know regard women as objects and attempt to lure women into an affair, then you should assess your spiritual maturity. Sexism is sexism even if many men are guilty of it. Second, I have heard some say, “We are not electing a pastor.” That is certainly true. But we are electing the leader of the free world, and do we not want a man of principle? Do we want somebody who admits to pursuing a married woman “like a b****” and says that he could use his clout as a celebrity to grope women? What will he do with his clout as President? That leads me to my next point.

If You Defend Him, You Can Never Object To The Actions of Bill Clinton

In a remarkable twist of irony, Donald Trump brought up the history of sexual scandals of Bill and Hillary Clinton during his apology video. He said that Bill was guilty of groping women and that Hillary threatened those same women behind closed doors. But let’s suppose for a moment that tomorrow, Hillary admits to it, goes on national television and says, “I was young and I made a mistake. I vow to be a better woman going forward.” Trump supporters, if they are consistent, would have to accept that. If you find yourself defending the actions of Donald Trump, then you can never raise an objection to the sexual scandals of Bill Clinton. When you reply to the Trump Tapes by pointing to President Clinton’s scandals, that is the height of hypocrisy and is guilty of the tu quoque fallacy.

One might be inclined to say that while Trump talks about treating women as objects, Bill Clinton actually did it. But remember that quote from The Art of The Deal. Trump does treat women as objects. Remember my point about words. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Trump said those lewd and disgusting things because that is how he regards women. Those words reflect his behavior and his history. If you find yourself in the vile business of defending the Trump Tapes, you must remain silent in the matter of Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. You cannot just point at the indecencies of the other candidate. You need to stare unflinchingly in the face of the indecencies of Donald Trump.

Maybe We Should Reassess The ‘Greater Evil’ Argument

If we were choosing between John Kasich and Hillary Clinton, then perhaps the ‘greater evil’ argument would be applicable. There are some policies held by Governor Kasich with which we might disagree. There are some policies that he has implemented that might be unsavory. But in general, we can say that he is a conservative politician who will stand for life and for marriage. The ‘greater evil’ argument can only be extended so far. If you were choosing between two men to be a dictator, one would massacre African Americans and the other would massacre Asian Americans, which dictator would you choose? Who is the ‘lesser evil’? Now that is not to say that Trump will massacre anybody. But it is to say that the ‘greater evil’ argument can only be extended so far.

There are certain established facts about both of the presidential nominees this election year. We know that Donald Trump is a sexist, supports a culture of abortion, treats women as though they were of no more value than their sexual function and seems to imbibe sexual gratification from having sex with married women, pursuing them “like a b****.” Is this really the man that we are going to trust to uphold conservative principles? Is it the man who we think will elect pro-life supreme court justices? Is it the man to defend marriage? Donald Trump has outrightly stated his support of pro-abortion philosophy during the election cycle (flopping back and forth between positions, unsure of how to appease his base). The conservative’s worst fear is that he is a liberal running as a conservative. I see no reason to think that is not the case. But his sexist behavior will certainly put him beyond our liberal friends. If we had to assess who the greater evil was in terms of conservatism and liberalism, especially social issues, would Hillary Clinton truly be a greater evil? If not, then should we vote for her? I should not think so. I think it is time that we reassess the argument from the greater evil and recognize that while it has some merit, it can only be extended so far.

Do Not Be A Hypocrite

I am pleased that many of my Christian brethren are not standing in defense of the things that Donald Trump said. Even those who have supported him will use the strongest language to condemn his remarks. So while I have been disappointed to see some saying things like, “All men talk like that,” or “We’re not electing a pastor,” I have been pleased that many Christians, in obedience to the gospel, will hate that which is evil and refuse to condone the things recorded on the Trump Tape. However, condemning those remarks may cause a moment of quiet self-reflection as one considers his or her own behavior toward the opposite sex.

If you condemn the things that Donald Trump says out of one side of your mouth, but say something similar out of the other side of your mouth, then you are a hypocrite. If you are giving yourself over to lust, thinking about women as sexual objects, then it may as well be you who is speaking on that video. The reason that people will say, “All men talk like that,” is that many men do talk and think like that. If you count yourself among their number, then you need to assess your behavior. Examine yourself. Do not be that which you are so fiercely condemning. God will judge the secret lives of men through Christ Jesus (Romans 2:16).

Recommended Reading:
How Our View of Sex Creates An Abortion Culture
An Atheist E-mailed Me To Ask About The Christian View of Sex. Here Is My Response.