Monday, June 27, 2016

Trump and 'salvation'

Last week James Dobson and Franklin Graham announced that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, had become “born again.”

Yeah, riiight …

You would think that Trump would give some kind of testimony as to what happened to him, as anyone else would. But just last week he said that he had no intention of changing his ways—and why would he? His boorish ways got him to the top in the first place, with more than a few Christian believers supporting him despite his adultery, irresponsible business practices and xenophobia. (Were Trump running as a Democrat they’d highlight those with no shame.)

It’s not that I wouldn’t rejoice were that to happen. But the other two men, who fancy themselves “kingmakers,” have clearly political motives in making that announcement, since Trump obliterated every other candidate they would have endorsed or supported.

Moreover, a true commitment to Christ always leads to transformation, which takes years, if not decades. But Dobson and Graham don’t have the luxury of time; the election is just over four months away; clearly they want their clout back.

I don’t think they’ll get it. And I won’t complain, because this isn't about Christ at all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

You better believe there’s a ‘rape culture’

You may have heard about the Stanford University student who was recently convicted of rape for having sex with an unconscious young woman — but being sentenced to only six months in prison, with half of it to be taken off for “good behavior.” The judge suggested that a longer sentence would have ruined his life.

Come again — ruined his life? What about hers? I can only imagine what such a violation does to a female, suffering wounds that never completely heal.

Over the past few years campus feminists have complained about a “rape culture” in which certain men feel entitled to sexual contact to a point that feel they can simply take it. I’m not prepared to say just how much, if at all, they’re exaggerating, but I can tell you that it does exist because as a fraternity member I experienced it. The point isn't really the sex, of course; it's the feeling of conquest that comes with it, and I've heard what some men have said about women.

Now, I never directly participated in any of that behavior, trying to get women into bed by hook or by crook; indeed, I was the type that were I to see one passed out because she had too much to drink I would have put a sheet over her and let her sleep it off. I had that reputation at the house.

But we’re talking about a culture, which implies mindset. During one of our parties one woman was quite literally being molested near the dance floor, in the living room of the house, and my first thought was, honestly, “Well, she must have wanted it.” If I knew then what I know now …

Here’s the thing: Some years ago one university did a survey on sexual assault, and it turned out that 90 percent of the accused were fraternity members, with most of the rest varsity athletes. In other words, these were the “men’s men” that tended to attract women, which was a problem in its own right because they had enough status that if they didn’t like one girl they could get another pretty quickly. That’s why it’s so hard to deal with.

But deal with it we must. How I’m not sure, but women are not toys to be discarded at whim.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Christians and identity politics

But the fact that [Donald Trump] chose to make the media-driven Christmas wars a centerpiece of his argument to Christians shows that his real engagement is with identity politics, not religion.

Those recent words from Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. demonstrate exactly what’s always been wrong for the last 40 years with evangelicalism in the public square because cultural hegemony, not fidelity to Christ, was the issue.

If that weren’t the case, then the mixed messages coming from evangelicals — perhaps the majority of writers and leaders in the movement decrying Trump’s lack of consistent morality but a significant portion of the electorate supporting him — wouldn’t make any sense.

Of course, this is a new phenomenon, with arguably, Dionne also writes, “By some measures ... the most secular Republican campaign since the 1970s.”

That begs the question: Are so many of us hungering for victory regardless of a candidate’s actual positions that we’re willing to anoint someone as “God’s man” who clearly doesn’t represent any consistent faith tradition? I guess so.

But such confusion from evangelicals, who really began losing their clout during the Bill Clinton years and have barely registered a blip since 2006, should be a sign that we were chasing the wrong thing all along. Funny, but I don’t recall any outrage when conservative Republicans were engaged in financial or moral corruption — perhaps they naively believe that only liberals were capable of such.

Or perhaps they were simply being blinded by partisanship. And for the Christian, that’s the worst blindness of all.