By James Riley
When you finally come to the conclusion there is a God, you’re likely to try to attempt to please Him.
And this is where it can get dangerous. You might be on your way to the sanctuary for worship, and you see a man curled up by the side of the road, bloody and beaten by robbers. Something tells you the man needs your help (that’s God talking to you), but you are wearing your Sunday best, and you’re not trained as a first responder, and you’ve been given the honor of opening today’s meeting in prayer, and, besides, this guy is probably a drug addict and you have little children you’re responsible for — so you hurry on to church and you prove that you have the spirit of the Pharisee — that weird inclination to ignore what Jesus called “the weightier matters of the law.”
The #NeverTrump movement is defined by this Pharisee spirit. It is chock full of it. Texas pastor Max Lucado is a great example. Max leads what he calls a “red state” church, but Max has a maxim: ”I don’t want anybody to know how I vote.” Max does this to make sure the Democratic voters in his church, the ones who support abortion on demand, Islamo-pandering, and class warfare are not made to feel uncomfortable. However, Max recently broke his neutrality pledge when Donald Trump called a bimbo a bimbo. According to Max:
I would not have said anything about Mr. Trump, never — I would never have said anything if he didn’t call himself a Christian. It’d be none of my business whatsoever to make any comments about his language, his vulgarities, his slander of people, but I was deeply troubled … that here’s a man who holds up a Bible one day, and calls a lady “bimbo” the next.
Think on that for a moment. Max closes his eyes to another “Christian,” Barack Obama, who stands foursquare for the slaughter of millions of unborn babies, at your expense, but Donald Trump called a lady a “bimbo?” Intolerable! Unthinkable! Impolite! Time to engage the Pharisee warp engines.
Donald is a blunt customer, but it looks like he does have a heart. When asked about abortion, Trump related a story close to home. He said that he knew of a pregnancy that was going to be terminated. ”That child today,” Donald continued, ”is a total superstar. It is a great great child.”
When Donald Trump picked the most pro-life running mate in history to be his partner in the quest for the presidency, Governor Mike Pence, he backed up that claim. He made good on his conversion to the life issue, and, in so doing, he proved to be the opposite of the Pharisee spirit — a man who cares about the “weightier matters of the law.” Max Lucado may value political fence-sitting in church, a pleasant smile, and a polite manners, but Donald Trump risked the wrath of a baby-killing culture, and even repudiated his own past, by embracing the politics of life.
Who is the real Christian here? The one who acts like it, or the one who puts on a polite show of neutrality?
Another of my Pharisee correspondents on Facebook wrote this about Donald Trump:
“If you are unconvinced that a foul mouthed, arrogant, strip club and casino owning, philanderer who boasts about being able to shoot people in the streets without losing voters, is immoral then I’m not really sure where to go with this conversation.”
Yet another invoked scripture in his rejection of Trump:
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
I’ve been around church people all of my life. Even at Stanford, where humanism was the prevailing denomination, I can tell you the religious spirit — whether it is lamenting “gambling” or shaming someone who didn’t recycle his bottle of Pepsi — brings out the worst side of human nature, and it brings ignorance into high relief.
Let’s take a few of these, one by one, starting with wagering. The Bible, folks, doesn’t say much about gambling. Our pious ancestors in New England used lotteries to build churches. If your only objection to Donald Trump rests in casino ownership, you really would feel right at home with the Christ-killing band because you have imbibed legalism as doctrine.
Foul mouthed? I’m guessing you haven’t read scripture with any real scrutiny, because when God gets angry, He doesn’t hold back. His prophets call harlots harlots. His Son called religious hypocrites, “white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones.” “Vipers.” ”Sons of the Devil.” But even if you value a polite tongue, and that’s your virtue, don’t begin comparing that virtue to being courageous in the face of Islamic jihad. I will take a foul mouth defender of life over a church-sitting coward any day.
Arrogant? I always get a kick out of people who spend all day in some corner of the bureaucracy, who never need to make a sale, who never need to appear confident, because they get paid every day, whether they do anything useful or not. Donald has to convince people a skyscraper is worth building, folks. You are mistaking confidence, faith even, for arrogance, because you’ve never had to really make a sale. Try it sometime, and see if you can do it without boosting your confidence and risking looking a little “arrogant.”
Strip clubs and philandering. I won’t make any defense for that, but I would ask you to look to yourselves. Do you buy television cable services from a company that also offers pornography? Do you stay in hotels with adult content on their television screens? Is your stock portfolio scrubbed clean of anyone who profits from soft porn? What’s in your wallet and where are you spending it? The press has been watching Donald pretty closely now for 18 months. Have you seen any philandering stories? I haven’t.
And I would ask you to look to your Bibles again. God uses some pretty gritty characters to work His glorious and sovereign will. Jacob was a trickster who lied to his father. Abraham had wives and concubines. Samson kept a harlot. Solomon had hundreds of concubines. Peter betrayed Christ. Saul of Tarsus, was a murderous wretch.
You actually know all about that, but when you see a flawed man, in the flesh, you act just like a stoning torch mob, and you won’t even admit it.
Jesus knew all about this dismissive, self-righteous character of ours. He knew our nature. He knew there’s a Pharisee spirit in us that takes pride in being faithful to our wives, even as our horn-dog spirit wrestles with Donald Trump’s beauty pageants. Are we righteous, or just jealous? When the harlot adorns Jesus’ feet with precious ointment, are we accusing or praising God for forgiveness?
Donald Trump is more righteous than you think. He wants to protect you from Islamic zealots. He wants to protect your right to defend your families with firearms. He even wants to exempt your pulpits from IRS tyranny. He wants to end the death tax, so you can pass on your farms and your family business to your children. He wants to lower your taxes. He wants to protect the lives of unborn children and appoint Constitutional judges.
But you and Max Lucado don’t like his style.
Your priorities are all mixed up, just like the people who killed Christ.