Despite all our problems and shortcomings, I love the United States of America, the land of my birth. I understand why people sometimes risk their lives and jeopardize their family relationships to come here. Donald Trump, on the other hand, exemplifies everything that’s wrong with this nation.
It was bad enough when he was simply flaunting the fabulous wealth he has accrued (despite the fact that he has declared bankruptcy four times, leaving his creditors to eat the debt he legally incurred then walked away from). But now this brash boaster, who seems to love nothing so much as the sound of his own name, wants to be president.
It was bad enough when his tirades were limited to Facebook and Twitter where they appealed only to those who were entertained by his crude and tasteless diatribes. Now, however, he is front-page “news,” and his ego-driven sideshow of a political campaign has catapulted him to frontrunner status ahead of sixteen other candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
A few days ago, I posted this status update on my Facebook page.
Are you like me? Have you been expecting this Donald Trump foolishness to end with everybody dropping character, looking into the camera, and shouting, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying, but at a deeper level, the Trump phenomenon lays bare some aspects of our contemporary American culture that are not funny at all. For example, when I read that Donald Trump leads all other Republican candidates in polls of evangelical Christians, I do not laugh.
Trump supporters cheer when they hear him say something like, “We need to take our country back!” I ask, “From whom?” I fear they mean from those whose persistence and sacrifice have borne fruit in the form of expanded rights for women and minorities. I fear they are not-so-subtly calling for a return to a whiter, less diverse, more male-dominated society. If they are, I do not find that funny at all.
In the end, Donald Trump’s bombast and his simplistic solutions for genuine problems will prove inadequate in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination. At least I hope they do. In the meantime, however, while we await his self-destruction, a few things to consider.
Trump supporters believe they are a persecuted minority whose rights are threatened by progressive politics and cultural liberalism. In truth, they are mainly older, white males who are losing power and influence, and that reality makes them both angry and afraid. I know what I’m talking about. I am an older, white male. I know that my days of greatest influence and significance may very well be behind me. Thankfully, I have come to terms with that, and I neither want nor need Donald Trump to lead a cadre of graybeards back to those days when they were in charge and their ideas and ideals prevailed on the political and cultural scene.
August 26 was Women’s Equality Day, marking ninety-five years since women won the right to vote in this country. That occasion, along with the political rise of Donald Trump, gives me an opportunity to say something I have needed to say for some time. I support the full inclusion of women in every aspect of American life and culture, without restriction and limitation based on gender, and that includes every role of ministry and leadership in the church.
For many years I misinterpreted some passages of New Testament scripture in ways that limited the contribution of gifted women to the life of the church in leadership roles. I was wrong, and it is important for me to say this publicly. I have many friends who disagree with me on this point, and I respect their right to see things differently. In the future, however, I will not actively endorse or support any ministry where women are barred from any leadership role solely on the basis of their gender.
I have served the church and the kingdom of God in vocational ministry all of my life, and I hope to continue that service for many years to come. But even if I must surrender a role of leadership in order to make room for and encourage the unrestricted inclusion of women in the life of the church, I am willing to do that. And it is past time that I said as much.