Evangelicals, Trump, The Supreme Court, and Sexual Assault

Thanks so much for the comments, emails, Facebook/Twitter Shares,  and other forms of encouragement so many of you gave me after my first blog post. It’s really appreciated, and your kindness has helped buoy me and give me the confidence to continue writing. I had an entirely different topic planned for my second post than what you are about to read. In fact, that post is almost finished and would have been published instead of this one had not something happened last night that nudged me in a different direction. Part of where I was headed with the other blog post was suggesting to my white friends to not just initiate difficult conversations with their black friends, but to also consider taking difficult stands when in all-white situations. But when I had nearly completed it and took a short break, I read these words from an old friend on Facebook:

Enough. If one more person tries to guilt me into voting for Trump, I am going to scream. Here’s the thing. Every single person reading this knows someone who has been a victim of sexual assault. If you don’t know another one (and I’m confident you do), you know me. I am part of the one in four. So, please explain to me how it is okay to vote for someone who not only admitted to sexually assaulting women, but who bragged and laughed about it. Who acted like it was normal, everyday, acceptable behavior. This trivializes and normalizes *heinous* behavior that leads to lifelong emotional and psychological damage.

I will never for one moment allow my sons or my daughter to think that there is anything normal or okay about using another person’s body for your own pleasure without their full and lawful consent.

It is not okay.

It is not locker room banter.

If you are a man reading this post, and you have EVER assaulted a woman and/or bragged about it, please let me know immediately so I can unfriend you. I suspect most if not all of you excusing Trump’s comments know perfectly well that they are not okay, but you’re willing to overlook it because he said sorry (after he laughed it off and justified it) and you hate Hillary. Listen, I hate Hillary, too. I do not want her as my president, which is why I will never, ever vote for her. But, I will also never, ever vote for a man who has violated a woman against her will and who, by becoming our nation’s president, would make this behavior seem normal and acceptable.

Never. So, please stop looking me in the eye and saying that I should.

And then it hit me that I have been thinking it but haven’t done it with regard to this latest Donald Trump video foolishness. I was going to ask others to take a stand on behalf of their black friends, but I have not taken what I consider to be an appropriate stand on behalf of my female friends, not to mention that I have a wife and two precious daughters, all of whom I love, cherish, and adore deeply.

girls1

A14333671_10207872376983687_7043134798011378030_ns a man, I am appalled by the comments. They’re inexcusable, and the “excuses” that I’ve seen have been nothing short of pathetic. I played sports in high school and have worked out in many gyms since, and I’ve never heard anything remotely approaching that in any locker room or any other all-male situation. It’s not “locker room talk.” It’s sexual assault.

Period.

10659156_10205626775802199_8345880188606119552_nAs a husband and father of two little girls, I’m outraged and would consider his election to be a validation that rape culture is ok, and that it would send yet another damaging message to young women and girls in a culture that is already overloaded with pornography and their objectification.

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And as a result, I am horrified that many of my fellow Evangelicals are attempting to defend or brush off this as “locker room talk” or “just words, what about Hillary’s deeds,” or any of the other excuses, justifications, and logic-twisting that I’ve seen to endorse the idea that supporting a political party is more important than supporting our women and girls and sending a clear message that sexual assault is absolutely not ok. As such, I’d like to address the top reason that I’ve seen and heard for defending, excusing, and looking past these comments and the myriad of other misogynistic, xenophobic, and flat-out bigoted aspects of this political campaign.

(Disclaimer: I am neither a registered Republican nor registered Democrat. That doesn’t mean that I don’t participate in the process; I vote in General Elections and in most Primaries, but I simply do not buy into the notion that a Biblical worldview fits neatly into the platform of any political party in this country. Point being, these thoughts aren’t coming from a necessarily “conservative” or “liberal” point of view. My hope–not just in this post, but whenever I take a stand politically or otherwise–is that rather than picking and choosing Scripture to justify my chosen political leanings, I would take positions on issues based on being informed by the Bible and the Holy Spirit and then following those convictions wherever they may lead. As a result, there is absolutely zero chance that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be getting my vote. The good news for those of you on both sides of the aisle concerned that “a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump” or “a vote for a third party is vote for Hillary” is that neither party has owned my vote like that in over 20 years. I haven’t voted straight-ticket for either side since the 1994 midterms, so my vote for a candidate other than HRC/DJT is a vote that either the Republicans or Democrats might actually work to try to earn back in 2018.)

“But What About The Supreme Court???”

To be fair, I genuinely believe that most of my Evangelical friends aren’t trying to justify Trump’s behavior. The most prevalent position seems to be “We have no other choice. He’s the Republican nominee; I am an Evangelical and as such I only vote Republican. Therefore, I am going to hold my nose and vote for Trump, and you should too.” I’ve generally seen two reasons floated to suggest that because a Hillary Clinton Presidency will undoubtedly result in the Supreme Court having a liberal majority, it must be stopped at all costs, including voting for Donald Trump. But to be honest, neither of the arguments has been able to move me.

The first is the idea that Roe v. Wade will be safe for at least another generation with her appointees. If you believe that, allow me to say that I grieve with you that abortion remains legal, and I agree with you that it will continue to remain legal if Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency. No question. Where we seem to disagree, though, is on the likelihood that a Trump Presidency is going to change the state of abortion rights in America. Laying aside the facts that Trump has essentially declared open war on some of his fellow Republicans and has repeatedly shown that he can’t be counted upon to do what he says, my primary objection to this line of thinking is historical. The fourth and final Supreme Court appointee of President Richard Nixon was William Rehnquist, confirmed on January 7th, 1972. Roe v. Wade was a year later, and it was a 7-2 opinion in a court with an ostensibly-conservative majority. Granted, some might argue that the Court wasn’t yet reliably conservative then, and of course Harry Blackmun’s eventual solidly liberal voting record caught nearly everyone off guard, but by February 1988, after Reagan appointees O’Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy had all been seated, no reasonable person could make that argument. Either way, the fact remains that Roe v. Wade happened under a conservative-leaning Court, and abortion remained legal for 44 years since then despite four Nixon appointees and three Reagan appointees. (How and why the Republican Party has managed to keep so many Evangelicals convinced for so long that abortion will be made illegal if we keep voting R is another conversation for another day…) Point being, y’all, I feel like I’m being asked to suspend reality and discount history when I’m repeatedly asked to believe that a Trump presidency is going to Make Abortion Illegal Again.  It seems that rather than supporting a candidate that the great majority of us find abhorrent simply because there’s a slim chance on abortion, we could be spending our time, energy, and resources supporting mercy-oriented ministries that concurrently reduce abortions and advance the Gospel (adoption/foster-care initiatives, child care/education assistance for poor families, crisis pregnancy ministries, etc.) To be 100% clear, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t advocate for the life of the unborn. I believe we should. However, making it a primary reason to elect this candidate strikes me as exceedingly quixotic.

The second general category of argument that I keep seeing/hearing that a liberal majority should unacceptable to me as a Bible-believin’, fire-baptized, washed-in-the-blood-of-the-Lamb Christian is virtually always an argument that is “rights” related. Gun rights will be taken away. The right not to go to the bathroom with a transsexual person will be taken away. The right not to have to bake a cake for a gay wedding will be lost. I’ve thought in some of those ways at times in the past, but lately, whenever I hear these arguments, I can’t help but think of Philippians 2:5-8:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (The Message)

I tend to doubt that a Savior who gave up ALL of his rights as God and chose to come to earth at a time and place when He would have very few rights–a time when He would live under and be executed by an occupying military dictatorship–is particularly concerned about our “rights” with regard to whether our government allows transgender bathroom usage or gay marriages or gun ownership or any of the other areas where we’ve been trained to think that we must “stand up for our rights as Christians.”

I really, really doubt it.

#NeverTrump #NeverHillary

–Ben

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