Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg tried to reach out and touch faith this week during a CNN town hall when Erin Burnett asked him about Trump and Christianity.
Buttigieg: "I cannot find any compatibility between the way this president conducts himself and anything I find in Scripture." pic.twitter.com/uayNdSGIpi
— The Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) February 19, 2020
“Do you think it is possible to be a Christian and support President Trump?” Burnett asked.
“Well, I’m not going to tell other Christians how to be Christians,” Buttigieg replied. “But I will say, I cannot find any compatibility between the way this president conducts himself and anything I find in Scripture. Now I guess that’s my interpretation, but I think that’s a lot of people’s interpretation, and that interpretation deserves a voice.”
Everyone Sins — Except Buttigieg Apparently
Buttigieg believes everyone else’s sin is up for discussion — except his own. He cites Trump’s behavior, but what of Pete’s? Scripture is explicitly clear on the topic of sin and that everyone sins — and thank goodness for grace and forgiveness.
Buttigieg likes to say, “God doesn’t have a political party,” which is correct. But God did give commandments to uphold, commandments which conflict with policies such as late-term, post-birth, and partial-birth abortion, policies Buttigieg and his party are trying to normalize as mainstream Christian doctrine while passing judgment on the manner in which Trump tweets. If Buttigieg’s “positions are informed by his faith,” as he so often says, you wouldn’t know it.
At the town hall, Buttigieg said “the interpretation” of Trump’s conduct deserves a voice by way of his office and this presidential race — but then so does Buttigieg’s, and if Scripture is the litmus test he chooses, then logic and fairness dictate that he too must be judged by these same standards. No one, not Trump nor Buttigieg, is free of sin. I don’t apply this to Buttigieg alone. As I said, everyone falls short of God’s glory, but — and I say this in a spirit of Christian love — it is difficult to lecture on sin while trying to make sin mainstream.
God Doesn’t Appoint Perfect People
In my forthcoming book out next week, titled “Grace Canceled: How Outrage is Destroying Lives, Ending Debate, and Endangering Democracy,” I discuss the death of redemption and nuance, social justice warriorism in the church, and Trump and faith:
There has been a fight between two factions of the right regarding faith and Trump. It goes something like this: One faction believes that support for Trump is a nullification of Christian faith because support is endorsement of all Trump’s previously reported-on bad behaviors. It’s an argument that would make the Pharisees proud. It’s impossible to separate the good policy Trump has proposed from the sins of which he’s stood accused. If you’re really a Christian, some in this faction assert, you’ll condemn him wholly and outright. Trump, they claim, is unfit for office because he is morally compromised. He’s bossy and loud, they say, even on Twitter, and he mocks women’s appearances, criticizes dead veterans, and attends every fight to which he’s invited. He’s a sinner!
True, and yet it doesn’t disqualify him from office.
The other faction believes that Trump, like all mankind, is a sinner, but that God has a purpose for all. Some preachers, pastors, and holy folk in this group have appeared on various cable news networks as character witnesses of sorts for either Trump or Christian voters, and more than a few have suggested that Trump is in the White House because God put him there and God can use him. The wing of the right who claim that you can’t be both a Christian and a Trump supporter scoffed at these assertions and accused these evangelicals of compromising their faith for power. It’s a specious claim that misunderstands not only what these Christian leaders have stated, but it also overlooks the omnipotence of God in the Bible. The premise argued is that God can’t use Trump because he is flawed. This contradicts Biblical teaching — the most flawed people in the Bible were called by God into His service for His glory and He alone will raise up and equip those He calls for these tasks. He called Saul of Tarsus, a brutal man who hunted down and murdered Christians in an attempt to exterminate the faith, while Saul was on the road to Damascus. Saul, whose reputation as “the wolf who stalked the lambs” preceded him around the known world, was turned into one of the most important figures in the post-apostolic period, one of the greatest of the faith. God called David, He called Judah, through a line of the some of the most corrupt and sinful men in Biblical history came Jesus. To argue that people cannot be used is to deny the omnipotence of God. As my pastor once said, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”
Speak the Truth in Love
Truthfully, I feel resentment bubbling up when I see Buttigieg or anyone else attempt to hold another accountable for sin while refusing any accountability for their own sins. I feel irritated when I see people who have a shepherd’s platform use their staff as a cudgel. I’ve actually avoided writing faith-based editorials for years due to fear of coming across similarly. When it comes to faith, I have a responsibility to temper my tone and wait to respond until I’m positive I’ve moved my ego’s voice aside for that of God’s in Scripture. I recognized long ago that I needed to grow in my faith and spend more time in Scripture than I do lecturing about it.
“Grace Canceled” was one result of that ongoing journey, a way to speak to these issues that divide us, be they social justice warriorism, eternal outrage, classism, casual faith, or the death of nuance in any discussion with a spirit of correction. People say and do things every day that conflict with what God wants for our lives. But God is crystal clear where it concerns his most repeated commandment: Love God, and love your neighbor. We do a disservice when we behave as though political differences give us a pass on that second part. Loving God is loving people, even the ones we dislike, even the ones who treat us meanly. Loving only those who are nice to us is no tribute to God’s overwhelming love and sacrifice.
Godly correction should come from the heart and should be consistent. We speak up because we love God and love people. We point out Biblical truths not with a spirit of hatred or malice, but because we care. Some represent the faith better than others, but not acting from a spirit of love and genuine service to others conflicts with Scripture.