Mitt Romney this morning spoke out firmly about the moral bankruptcy of Trump, declaring that he is a threat to the “fabric of our country.” In my conservative background, Romney being a Mormon would fall into the category “them” and would have no more standing to hold forth on moral integrity than Trump. But in my estimation today he does have standing and is here again taking a bold stance against this morally profligate man who occupies the White House while evangelical/fundamentalist Christians like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress continue to support him, even arguing still that the Lord is leading him.
Earlier in this debacle, when Trump’s perfidy was becoming so apparent, Jeffress and Falwell Jr. and their ilk had the lame response, “Well, who am I to judge?” and sometimes the note, “Well, he is only a baby Christian.” Well, alas and alack, I am going to judge and let me declare here my credential—I HAVE ONE EYE AND HALF-SENSE…well, actually I have two eyes and I admit the amount of “sense” might be subjected to question. But no longer subscribing to the guilt-ridden version of Christian faith I have the courage to declare…here in this cyber back-water…that Trump is not only mentally ill but he is morally and spiritually depraved. And those of any spiritual persuasion, Christian or otherwise, who dare to defend this man need to look a bit deeper into their heart for there I think they will discover a hefty dollop of self-serving ego at work, sometimes hiding behind the name of Jesus Christ. I speak with some authority for I’ve spent at least half of my sixty-five years doing the same thing.
Let me focus on Mr. Jeffress. I don’t know the man but having known many of his ilk, and once setting out on the course of becoming a Baptist pastor myself, let me insist that he probably is one good human being and is sincere about his faith. And, if I might briefly speak from the faith-expression he lives in, his faith covers his sins, he is forgiven of them, and is in no danger of any eternal punishment. For, the work of Christ is complete, the “Lamb which is slain before the foundation of this world” has been offered to Mr. Jeffress and Jesus does say to him, “I got you covered, Bobby” just as he says to all of us. But this does not obliterate “the flesh” and leaves us with the lamentation of the Apostle Paul who declared, “I will to do good, but evil is present with me.”
Mr. Jeffress, Mr. Falwell Jr, and many others of their faith persuasion are now facing the spiritual dilemma that Trump cowers before—“can I admit making a mistake? Can I admit, as did Rick Perry once on a relevant occasion, ‘Oops!’” We all need to do that on occasion and certainly those of us who purport to be “spiritual beings” under any label we might subscribe to. Spirituality is such a ripe arena for “the flesh” to establish itself and the most effective way to do this is under the guise of our faith. For our faith is never a finished product, it is always a work in progress, and periodically we need to utter the Rick Perry cry-for-mercy and hope for forgiveness, not only from God (who always grants our wish) but from ourselves and from others. It is so much easier just to follow the dictates of the ego and dig our heels in and cling more tenaciously to our self-serving mindset. As W. H. Auden put it, “And Truth me him, and held out her hand. And he clung in panic to his tall belief and shrank away like an ill-treated child.”