I have wrestled with whether to write this piece. I do not want to seem to be using my blog, a place that I have considered a sacred space, as a political tool. I begin writing now with the prayer of discernment that I often offer at such times: speak through me – or make it not work out so that I will know that it is not Your will.
I have chosen to write because I consider these highly dangerous times. Those of you who know me know that I am anything but a conspiracy theorist. Hence, I do not sound the alarm casually. However, when I see disaster on the horizon, I cannot not remain silent. It is not that I believe my voice has any real power in the world but I still must make it clear which side I am on when the battle gets fierce.
There are many dangerous things going on in our world today. There is a pandemic that is resulting in suffering and death for hundreds of thousands around the world. There are signs of great disturbances in the health of our planet, as each year we see not only increasingly devastating hurricanes, floods, droughts and fires, but we receive dire reports of habitats permanently changing as a result of human activity.
Beginning in our country, we see widespread outrage over racial inequalities and brutality against people who are different by race, gender, orientation, status, etc. While the protests were triggered by a brutal act by police in Minnesota, around the world there are too many outrageous acts to keep track of. I just read yesterday how a woman of lower caste in India died after being gang raped by men of a (so-called) higher caste.
I could go on. But the danger I wish to write about rests not so much in these events but in the spiritual warfare that underlies them. I have written about spiritual warfare before and there is nothing new about the fierce battle between good and evil that plagues our planet. But I sense that we are on the brink of something different, a turning point in the battle from which, if we ignore it, there may be no turning back. That our nation, indeed our world, is so polarized is but a sign that we are reaching a critical juncture.
I am not about to claim that one political party in the upcoming election is good and the other is evil. We are all corrupted by evil, even when we believe we are behind the “right” cause. But I must say that I see many signs that Donald Trump is a dangerous man. While this sounds like it cannot be anything but a political comment, please bear with me. Please know that I regularly pray for his redemption. I do not hate him – but I believe that, knowingly or not, he has become a tool of the evil one.
While many people may have voted for him in 2016 because they believed he would represent conservative values or defend the right to life of the unborn, he brought with him considerable spiritual baggage that should have been alarming to people of faith. It is not my place to list or judge his sins – the media has done that job thoroughly. But it is very concerning that he has developed what seems to be a cult-like following of people who say they will support him no matter what he does. Indeed, he has even bragged of this – that he could shoot someone point blank in public and not lose a voter.
This is dangerous. He speaks of himself in superlatives, while denying all of the dangers around us – denying the seriousness of the pandemic, of climate change, of racial oppression. Publicly given a direct invitation, he failed to distance himself from white supremacists who support him. A good many of his supporters speak of him as though he were the messiah, sent by God to preserve Christianity in our nation. It seems to not matter that so much of his personal and political behavior stands in direct opposition to Christian values. Need I point out that it has been said that the antichrist will present himself in this way?
I am not suggesting that Mr. Trump is THE antichrist. I would have no way of knowing who that is or when that figure will appear. But it is not hard, looking at the evidence, to hypothesize whose side he fights for. It is not the Lord’s.
But many will argue: but what about abortion? Of all of the prominent politicians (i.e. those who have a chance of winning an election), he has taken the strongest stance against this evil. Because the respect for life is such a core value among many Christians, this value seems to supersede all others. Some feel they have no choice but to vote for Mr. Trump because of this issue, despite the many warning signs of deep corruption in his soul.
And respect for life should be our core value. Life is God’s gift to us and when we stop respecting it, we separate ourselves from the God who is the source of all Life and Love.
So what are we do to?
First, we must consider what it means to respect life. Simply being opposed to legal abortion does not mean a person respects life. Case in point: under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, abortion was outlawed in the Soviet Union after having been legal, with Stalin proclaiming that “giving birth was a great and honorable duty” and “not a private affair but one of great social importance.” Yet I cannot imagine anyone looking back on Stalin’s regime claiming that he respected life, given that he was responsible for 6 million noncombatant deaths, many his own countrymen.
So clearly respecting life is a more complex matter than simply opposing abortion.
A second point to consider: can sin save us from sin? Certainly not. Obviously, anyone we elect to public office is going to be a sinner. But there is a difference between one who arrogantly flaunts their sinfulness and one who attempts repentance, even if imperfectly. In just one example, Mr. Trump bragged about how he could grab women’s genitals because he was famous. I use this example, not because it is the most egregious of his misdeeds, but because he publicly bragged about this sinful behavior. One who publicly brags of their sins and lies day after day with no expression of regret cannot be trusted to do the Lord’s work. One does not hire an enemy to lead the battle against the enemy.
Having made these points, I recognize that some cannot bring themselves to vote for a candidate who is tolerant of legal abortion. I myself find it distasteful, even if that candidate shows more respect for life on virtually every other social issue. Some may argue that I am doing the very thing that I argue against: proposing to vote for a sinner – one who publicly accepts legal abortion, while personally opposing it – a stance unacceptable to the Church. Am I not also engaging the enemy to do the Lord’s work?
Mr. Trump’s most prominent opponent is a Catholic by faith and by baptism. He has suffered many tragedies in his life and he has publicly spoken of how important his faith has been to him. Yet he is regarded by some as “not in good standing” because of his political stance on abortion – and that is a valid point. He too is a sinner and, based on his public platform, it could be argued that he is not a fully repentant one either. He is compromising his spiritual values, very likely because of political pressure.
Must I vote? Must I choose one sinner over another?
We are at war. I cannot stand by and do nothing.
If Stalin were running for president, would I do nothing, say nothing, refuse to vote in an attempt to defeat him?
God forbid that I say nothing.
And so I speak out, here and now, against evil. Abortion is evil and it stems from a deeper evil festering in the post-modern soul. Capital punishment is evil, depriving a sinner of the opportunity to repent. Turning away the homeless and hungry who flee from violence is evil, as is separating families and putting children in cages. Destroying the environment, recklessly removing efforts to protect it, endangering all generations to come is a grave evil. Lying to the people about a deadly virus, pretending it is harmless while knowing that it is not, discouraging people from protecting themselves from this scourge – this too is a great evil.
I eschew it all.
But in the end, I must vote. I must take a stand.
Will I choose the arrogant and dangerous sinner with messianic fantasies and little regard for the suffering of others? Or will I choose the weak sinner who compromises his values in hopes of still accomplishing some good?
I will vote for the sinner who is most like me – the one who is weak, who compromises, but who still speaks out against injustice and has compassion for the poor and suffering.
May God have mercy on us all.