As recently as 2011, a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that only 30 percent of white evangelicals believed “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” But by the time Donald Trump was running for president in 2016, that number had risen sharply to 72 percent. White evangelicals are now more tolerant of immoral behavior by elected officials than the average American. “This is really a sea change in evangelical ethics,” Robert P. Jones, the head of the institute and the author of The End of White Christian America, recently told me.
David Brody, a correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network who has co-authored a forthcoming “spiritual biography” of Trump, said many outside observers fail to grasp the desperation and urgency felt throughout much of conservative Christianity.
“The way evangelicals see the world, the culture is not only slipping away—it’s slipping away in all caps, with four exclamation points after that. It’s going to you-know-what in a handbasket,” Brody told me. “Where does that leave evangelicals? It leaves them with a choice. Do they sacrifice a little bit of that ethical guideline they’ve used in the past in exchange for what they believe is saving the culture?”
To which I guess I’d respond: What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
P.S. A “spiritual biography of Trump?” What are they printing that on, a book of matches?
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenantlove between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
There’s more of this stuff, but you get the idea.
I never really want to tangle with people who express this stuff. Either you believe it or you don’t. I don’t. But I’m operating on different premises than these folks, and arguing with them would be like a German person and a French person debating, in their native languages, without use of a translator. You’ll get that there’s a difference of opinion, but not much way to bridge the gap.
But in a time when we’re led by a president who values women more as trophies than as individuals, who issues pardons that make it possible to oppress Latinos, who makes casual threats of nuclear war … to look at the country and decide that the real problem is that two men might love each other, or that a woman might try to be a soldier … strikes me as misguided. It’s a triumph of learned theology over lived experience.
It certainly doesn’t make me think a return to evangelicalism is in order for me.