A Basket of Redeemables

When Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters could be put in “a basket of deplorables,” the backlash was immediate. After all, making broad generalizations about people is frowned upon in politically correct circles. Her comment was described as disgraceful and impolitic by some, while many of Trump’s supporters enthusiastically embraced the label. Others think Clinton was far too charitable to limit the deplorable description to only half of Trump’s supporters.

Calling Out Deplorable Behavior

The meaning of the word deplorable is “deserving strong condemnation.” Dishonesty, slander, greed, cheating, sexual abuse and adultery are deplorable behaviors that deserve to be condemned. Racism, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, and other forms of hatefulness are disgraceful mindsets that should be condemned.

I admit that I have placed Trump’s most avid supporters in my own “deplorable” basket. I can’t help but question how people can condone the unethical and amoral behavior of a man who has taken advantage of so many people in his business life, a man motivated by anger, a man with no discernible conscience. I can’t help but wonder if there are any moral lines Trump supporters won’t cross. If not racism, if not sexism, what?

When confronted with Trump’s deplorable behavior, his supporters attempt to avoid accountability or to deflect attention away from his rottenness by pointing fingers at others. But no matter how anyone else behaves, we are all individually accountable for every damaging word we say.

Trump’s guiding compass is not morality but his ego; it leads him to boast about how great he thinks he is, how rich he is, and about how large his crowds are as if fame and money are how you measure a person’s value. His massive ego leads him to strike out in anger at anyone who disagrees with him. He measures his worth as a human being in external, material terms – winning, winning, winning – not based on internal measures of character.

Trump has said that he doesn’t believe he needs to repent for wrongdoing. In an interview with a biographer, he revealed that he doesn’t like to analyze himself “because I might not like what I see.” But the only way to become a better human being is to look at yourself honestly, to practice introspection even when you don’t like what you see.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:24

People who do evil hate the light; they don’t want their deeds to be exposed. (Even when they are on tape!) But God sees every hidden thought. And there is no doubt in my mind that God is not pleased with Donald Trump.

Testing and Approving God’s Will

Dr. Ben Carson is a respected man of faith. When I listened to him on Morning Joe recently, I was struck by how eager he is to put concerns of this world before the will of God. God’s will is that we love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and spirit and that we love one another as we love ourselves.

Carson attempted to turn the discussion on Morning Joe away from the allegations women have made about Trump’s deplorable, predatory behavior. Carson suggested that we should not discuss Trump’s immoral behavior but should keep our “eye on the ball.” He said we should deal with the fiscal “train going off the cliff” and not pay attention to allegations of immorality. But money and power are risky distractions for a Christian. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36).

Carson said he would love it if we would have a discussion of Judeo-Christian values but not now, not during the campaign, not while we have huge deficits. Carson appears to be far more concerned with government regulations and fiscal matters than with matters of human decency and morality. He may have his eyes on a financial ball but he does not have his eyes on God.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:2)

Ben Carson is just one of many examples of religious figures who have publicly supported and defended a man whose behavior is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s people have a moral responsibility to denounce deplorable behavior and to uplift and promote behavior that is pleasing to God: to love one another as he commanded us. That means loving people regardless of national origin, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc.

Shining Light on the Darkness

As disturbing as this presidential campaign has been, in some ways, it has done this nation a huge favor. It has shown how easy it is for a narcissistic con man to lead this country down a dark path of prejudice and self-interest. It has revealed the truth about the darkness of American hearts. It has shown that we have lost our sense of propriety and decency.

I grieve the loss of kindness, goodness, peacefulness, and equality. But as much as it grieves me to see a large percentage of this country willfully walking in the darkness of a demagogue’s shadow, I am grateful that I have seen so many people stand up and say that what we are seeing and hearing from the lips of this man is wrong. This is deplorable. This is not the kind of people we were meant to be.

Men of faith have said Thank You, Donald Trump for revealing the hatefulness and intolerance people have kept hidden in their hearts until now. Trump’s supporters now feel free to express their prejudices so we can see them for who they really are. Those of us who reject his degrading, disparaging, self-serving message can see how much work we need to do to defend the inherent worth of all people.

Women have said Thank You, Donald Trump for exposing misogyny. His behavior towards women strengthens feminism by reminding us of how amazing and capable we are and reminding us that we do not deserve to be objectified by anyone. After hearing Donald Trump brag about assaulting women, women found the courage to speak out about sexual assault and about language that degrades women. Men have joined in to condemn the wrongness of so-called “locker room talk.”

Latinos have said Thank You, Donald Trump for reminding us of our history of immigration. By impugning the character of all Mexican immigrants and threatening to deport millions of people, including children who are here through no fault of their own, he has motivated them to vote in even larger numbers.

African-Americans have said Thank You, Donald Trump for making it “impossible to ignore racism.” I listened to Donald Trump spread lies about the first black president’s birthplace for years, then when pushed to admit he was wrong, shamelessly blame the Clinton campaign for his racism. The fact that he got away with race baiting for so long emboldens the racist alternative right. But those of us who believe in equality are thankful that racism has been exposed for the deplorable sin that it is. This is still not a nation where people are judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.

The popularity of Donald Trump and his self-centered, mean, insulting rhetoric has revealed how much work we have to do to redeem the character of our nation. I never realized how lacking in character we are until I heard Donald Trump speak and listened to people praise him for giving voice to the dark thoughts in their hearts and minds.

A Basket of Redeemables

The truth is, we are all deplorable. We all deserve to be condemned for our unloving ways. But the good news is Jesus came into the world not to condemn it but so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He is able to save us from spiritual bankruptcy and to transform us into better human beings.

While I look at a fractured country and see a hopeless mess, God sees broken souls in need of healing. Where I see behavior and beliefs that are contemptible, God sees beloved children who have gone astray. Where I see a wicked basket of deplorables, Jesus Christ sees a basket of redeemables.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to  ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:11-14

My prayer today is that no matter what happens in this election, God will shine his light on the darkness. I pray that we will have the courage to look at ourselves honestly, even if we don’t like what we see. I pray that Jesus Christ will transform our hearts and minds.

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