President Donald Trump is the 45th president that the US has had in its 242 year history. He was elected last year by a broad margin of electoral votes and by the official count lost by a few million popular votes, largely from California.
Trump has always been a controversial figure, even from back when he was just the son of a New York real estate mogul. Over the years he was publicly prominent, seen with beautiful women, at trendy and stylish establishments, associating with celebrities, and even becoming one himself. Donald Trump was involved with the failed football league USFL, and has successfully produced and run several television shows in addition to his real estate efforts.
It is difficult to mention his name these days without controversy erupting. Some are incredibly insulting and offended by the very name of Trump, others gleeful and celebratory. Few are undecided or neutral on the man.
Most of the worst criticisms brought up by the president's enemies are simply political viciousness brought to the forefront by loud, influential voices: racist, Nazi, Russian puppet, etc. Those aren't worth addressing. But he has his flaws which are important to consider.
From a Christian perspective, there are many problems with President Trump as a person. He is crude, using foul language and questionable turns of speech. He has a history of serial adultery and sleeping with various women. He lies almost continually, contradicting himself sometimes in the same paragraph. He's bombastic, extreme, and boastful. He's viciously vindictive against his enemies or those that annoy him, and can be very rash in his statements that sometimes he has to roll back or try to explain away.
For Christians, these are not very positive personality traits. Coarse, profane, and libertine are not traits that Christians would prefer their president hold. We want a moral, upright, responsible leader that shows dignity, honor, and expresses Christian virtues of peace, humility, love, and reverence toward God.
President Bush, for example, at his best exemplified this kind of leader. President Clinton at his worst did not. So we have a president now that is distasteful in his personal behavior and not the sort we'd ideally wish to see in office.
The primary reason for this is that while we get a president that is downstream from culture -- that is, we elect men that reflect our culture, rather than create it -- presidents are cultural leaders when in office and they shape the way our culture perceives things and responds.
President Clinton's attitude and behavior concerning sex had a huge impact on how sex is perceived in the USA. Before him, sexual scandals would instantly end a presidential candidacy. After him, its a minor speedbump and oral sex is often treated as not really sex.
So a lying crude speaking former philanderer will have he effect of coarsening culture and damaging especially younger people. If the president does it how can you say its wrong for me to do so?
On the other hand, there is much to be glad about with President Trump. He has taken direct and strict action to limit abortion -- one of his first acts was (like President Bush before him) to end the "Mexico City" policy of public funding used to pay for foreign abortions overseas at military bases. The nomination of Supreme Court Justice Niel Gorsuch was a big positive for Christians as he is an advocate of the protections for religion and opposes most hard-left extremist social ideas.
Although blocked by an activist judge in Hawaii, President Trump's immigration policy was one of preferential treatment to Christian refugees fleeing persecution in the middle east. President Trump has ended the Obama White House's virtual war on organizations who had religious objections to ACA ("Obamacare") pro-abortion requirements.
Most importantly, his wife's religious nature and change from her earlier modeling days to a stronger Christian seems to have influenced him significantly. More broadly, President Trump is the first president that the US has had who seems to understand and be very willing to fight the culture war, personally and strongly. For example, he reimposed the military "transgender" ban, seeking to prevent normalization of this behavior. He was once pro-abortion but has at least publicly reversed that position very strongly, and has acted on this position.
THE CYRUS EFFECT
I don't know if President Trump is a Christian or not. If he is, he's not a very active one - he rarely goes to church and seems largely unfamiliar with the Bible. That doesn't mean he is not saved, it just means he's not being very diligent in his walk with God, if he is saved. I cannot know the man's heart, but his testimony, his statements of faith, do not contradict the Bible or Christianity as, say, President Obama's did.
The first principle of Christianity is that we are all sinners saved by the doing and dying of Jesus Christ put to our account through the Holy Spirit by God the Father. I am no less a sinner than President Trump; indeed I shudder to think what my life might have looked like in his place, with all that wealth, power, and access to willing beautiful women. I cannot condemn his sins because of the "log in my own eye" and thanks be to God, we are saved not by our perfect lives and piety but Christ alone.
President Trump has changed. He's still bombastic and crude and vindictive and profane, but he has stepped away from his former life of sexual promiscuity, from all accounts and information we have. All accusations, statements, and claims end about a decade ago or longer. And if there's one thing we should celebrate and encourage, its for people who were once deep in sin to step away and live apart from that sin, not condemn and attack someone for it.
President Clinton was smoother and slicker than President Trump, but he was actively engaging in sexual misconduct, adultery, and even sexual harassment while in the Oval office as president. This is a key difference: the distaste and rejection of President Clinton's behavior in office was because he was still at it, without shame or any sign of repentance or even inclination to change.
That said, President Trump is still a fairly regretful person in his speech. He says things and speaks in a way that we ought not, and he should repent of and turn away from, just as we all should the sins we commit in our lives each day.
However, a president is largely important based on what he does in office, not what he says. Speech, particularly in today's culture, is very ephemeral and fading. But actions count. And where it counts, President Trump is on target doing what he ought to in his job.
As Stephen Mansfield puts it in his book Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him:
Americans should want someone who can distill their faith into a political philosophy. I don’t need the President to pray like I pray… I do want to know that this person is committed to religious liberty.
It is the president's job to execute policy and defend the US Constitution, not be a religious leader. I have long been tired of endless presidential candidates who claim to be Christian just to get elected, when most of them probably were not. Every single US president has claimed to be a Christian, even ones who were definitely not such as Thomas Jefferson and Barack Hussein Obama.
As a president, Donald J Trump is actually doing what needs to be done, and carrying out policy that protects and defends Christians in America and around the world. In his job, he is doing what needs to be done, not doing what ought not be done, and working on policy that is ethically and materially beneficial for the nation.
One cannot help but think of the emperor Cyrus, king of kings in Persia, who was objectively a terrible human being and a reprobate. But in his job as emperor, he did very well for the Persian people, and more importantly was directly and materially beneficial to the people of God, helping them rebuild their home and the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem.
Cyrus was a man used by God for His people, and I believe that President Trump is a man being used by God to help His people as well. He was not a good man, by Biblical standards, but Cyrus was a man who did good for God's people, who brought change and benefit to them despite his flaws.
I utterly and specifically reject the ridiculous, unBiblical, and even blasphemous notion that President Trump is specially chosen by God as an agent of His will or some figure of holiness. Donald Trump is not some special righteous figure who will save us all. I believe the nation is beyond saving, at least by a political figure. God may have mercy on us some day, despite our national sins.
That said, all presidents are chosen by God generally, and placed over us as part of His will. Even the ones we don't like. Jesus Christ made that very clear when he stated that even Pontius Pilate was put into power by God. And God has chosen President Trump for His purposes, and so far the man has been carrying out a policy and government platform which is very consistent with Christian wishes and needs.
As with all presidents in the past, we should be praying for Donald Trump. He needs our prayers not just to do the right thing and carry out God's will, but that he repent of his sins, turn away from the wrong in his life, live a better, more Godly public existence, and cease his crudeness and antics. He needs our prayers just as President Obama before him and whomever God puts into office after him. And what he does right, we should support and applaud, while what he does wrong we should be willing to condemn and call for him to do better, as always.*This is part of the Christian Response series.