Since 2015, and especially 2016, evangelical supporters of Trump have had to put up with constant attacks on their faith for their support of Donald Trump. It is common for those who support Trump to have their Christianity, or Christian intentions questioned or doubted. I want to respond to one particular example which I encountered on Facebook just today.
I saw a post this morning, where someone shared photos of physical billboards contrasting some of Trump’s statements with those of Jesus.
The author of the post said he was troubled, not only by Trump but by Christians who defended him. According to this individual, it’s impossible for Christians to justify Trump’s “hateful rhetoric and hurtful politics.”
He went on to conclude that it’s not so much an issue of Left and Right, but right and wrong. Of course, Trump being the “wrong” vote.
The individual, who I don’t personally know, then went on with the usual argument that if you are a real Christian, you will vote in a way that shows you don’t stand with Trump’s “hateful rhetoric” and “un-Christ-like behaviour.” Essentially, their argument was that you will show with your vote whether or not you stand for decency. In other words, it is your Christian duty to vote for the other guy.
As I mentioned, the poster linked to some pictures of billboards that contrast Trump’s words with Jesus’ words in the gospel. Below I will show the Billboards and my corresponding responses, but first, let me say this:
If you compare anyone’s words to Jesus’s words, they would all fall far short. Far, far short. Whether Trump, Biden, you, me or any of us. So, the premise of the billboards in this sense, to me, is quite odd. Of course, Donald falls short of Jesus, we all know this. Because the Christian position is, officially, that we all fall far short of Jesus’ example.
But secondly, the billboards below are not an honest comparison. Let’s have a look:
1. ‘No one builds, better walls’
Jesus has no problem with walls.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Rev. 22:14-15)
Indeed, one of the entire books of the Old Testament, Nehemiah, is about a righteous man building a wall.
“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” (Nehemiah 2:17-18)
Also, it is important to note that an individual Christians responsibility for charity, should not be confused with a national leader’s responsibility to protect his people and his people alone.
The southern border of the United States brings a constant stream of illegal drugs, sex-trafficked women and kids, and other criminal activity across it. Nations have a biblical right to defend their borders (Acts 17:26), and every responsibility to make sure they control their borders for the good of their own people.
2. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’
Trump has created more peace deals in the Middle East than any other recent US president. Rather than increasing the wars in the Middle East, as previous Presidents have done, he has created the opportunity for world-changing peace deals (for more information about these peace deals, read here).
So, the billboard writers are deliberately ignoring that Trump is not a warmonger. Trump has been consistently against war, but as US president, he has used threats of war to force dangerous nations to the table. Many great men in the Bible engaged in war, for the sake of safety and peace. Using the threat of war to reign in troublesome countries is necessary in this world. But Trump’s peace-deals prove he is a world-class peacemaker.
And when it comes to making threats of war, we are told this about Jesus:
“11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev. 19:11-16)
Christ threatens war and destruction on those who are wicked and dangerous.
3. ‘I’d like to punch him in the face’
First, Biden has said that he wishes he was in school, so he could take Trump ‘behind the gym’, so the billboard poster and Facebook is selectively dishonest. Both Trump and Biden have spoken in similar ways about other men, in these terms. Second, every man has said this about someone at some point. And third, Jesus violently cleansed the temple with a whip:
“13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17)
There is no doubt that Jesus’ anger is of a righteous quality beyond any other man or woman’s anger. But wrath at the wicked has been felt by many good men and women over the years. And, according to some reports, the wickedness Trump is fighting in Washington is off the charts.
4. ‘If they stay poor for generations, they are morons’
Paul said, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thess. 3:10)
Similarly, Proverbs states: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” (Pro. 6:10-11); “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Pro. 10:4); And, “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.”(Pro. 28:19)
The bible also speaks harshly about the poor persons responsibility in their poverty.
And of Jesus own words we read:
“24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matt. 25:24-30)
Jesus here is harshly judging someone who made nothing of themselves with what he gave them, even though this servant was given the least. The Bible says much more about poverty than that one quote above.
Trump is not Jesus. I’d expect him to fall short of Jesus words and behaviour. We all do. But these are very poor and very selective examples, that are easily disputed by the very words of Jesus himself and his wider Scriptures.
Not one Christian Trump supporter I know thinks Trump compares to Jesus. Not one. But he’s certainly not being unbiblical in the above sentiments. And Christians can support him and these sentiments, without having their Christianity or wisdom questioned.
 Brent Griffiths 2016, “Biden suggests he wants to beat up Trump”, Politico: https://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/joe-biden-donald-trump-behind-the-gym-230174