By Dan Calabrese
The way I often hear it is this: “If any other president paid hush money to a porn star, Christians would be horrified. But with Donald Trump, they excuse it and don’t care.”
Wrong. We don’t excuse it and we care. I’m sure you can find examples of self-identified Christians saying absurd things about this, but I can tell you without a doubt that the prevailing thought within Christian circles is that we would rather not have a president mixed up in such business.
So why, you wonder, do we continue to “support Trump” in spite of all the salacious allegations we’re hearing about his personal life? Is it just because he has an R after his name and we’ll excuse anything done by a president with an R after his name? Is it because we don’t really believe our professed moral principles at all, or we only see them as bargaining chips to be gladly traded away if someone will make us happy on abortion or religious freedom?
No. None of that is true.
But it is true that these stories – assuming they’re true – do not make me less supportive of Trump. Here’s why:
During the 2016 race for the Republican nomination, I didn’t want Trump to win. I supported Scott Walker at first and then, after Walker dropped out, Ted Cruz. I didn’t want a president who carried Trump’s moral baggage, and I didn’t want a president with no governing experience. I was concerned that the media and the Clintons would eat him alive in the general election, but more to the point I thought it would be better to be governed by someone with more relevant experience and more knowledge of conservative policy ideas. And no record of multiple divorces or trysts with porn stars.
But Trump had the nerve to win the nomination over my objections, and I was faced with the realization that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would be our president. (I gave no consideration to Gary Johnson or Jill Stein because I am older than 12.) We were faced with a choice between a) a man of very loose personal morality, a loose cannon for a mouth and no particular grounding in public policy; or b) one of the most corrupt, inept, entitled, awful human beings on the face of the Earth. I did not like my options, but given that those were the options, it was a very easy decision to make. I would go with A. Trump’s personal morality was troubling, as was his tendency to launch pointless personal attacks on his critics. The Access Hollywood tape was simply appalling.
But he seemed to want to do the right things for the right reasons, and we could expect nothing of the sort from Hillary Clinton. And Trump would likely surround himself with much better people. He would also be far more likely to sign good legislation passed by Congress.
He was far from an ideal choice, but he was clearly the better option of the two we had.
So I voted for Donald Trump, knowing full well his personal history and seeing clearly his personal flaws. I decided the best thing to do was to put him in the White House and do everything possible to help him do good things as president. I’m not really sure it’s accurate to say I’m a “Trump supporter” per se. I support the president when he does the right thing, and in terms of his policy decisions, he has done the right thing a lot. Anyone who reads this column knows I haven’t supported his trade policy, and I’ve been disappointed he hasn’t been more aggressive on federal spending. But his approaches to taxes, regulation, energy, health care and the judiciary have been outstanding. I am glad to support him when he does good, and these are good.
As far as his tweets and his impulsive public statements, I don’t always like them, but I also don’t think they’re as important as his most determined critics make them out to be. If there’s a firestorm going on and I say nothing, it’s probably because I think the firestorm is stupid and about something that really doesn’t matter very much.
So what do I do if Donald Trump paid hush money to a porn star he had sex with? Wouldn’t that require me, a Christian, to stop supporting him? No. Because a) I only support him when he does the right thing; b) I knew when I voted for him that he was the kind of guy who might pay hush money to a porn star. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now, but the exposure of these details doesn’t change my basic understanding of the man I voted for. He is who he is. This is who we thought he was, and we were right.
Once we chose him as the better of the available options, we did so with the determination that we wanted him to succeed and would help him to succeed if we could. I would not be helping him to succeed by jumping down his throat over something that merely confirms what we already knew about him.
Some ask: But wouldn’t you, as an evangelical Christian, like to see Mike Pence as president? Sure. But the voters didn’t elect Mike Pence president. The voters elected Donald Trump president, and that includes me. I elected Donald Trump president, knowing full well who and what he is. Nothing we’ve learned since then is shocking or inconsistent with what we knew about him.
So I’m willing to own it. If Trump abuses his office or governs irresponsibly, that would be one thing. So far he has not done that. He has made good decisions and gotten good results, in spite of his personal moral failings. That is what we hoped for when we decided voting for him was the best option we had.
I’ll continue to support him when he does what’s right, and criticize him when he doesn’t. Nothing changes. Nothing should.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!