Why Am I “Never Trump”? The Third Commandment
I’ve always wondered about the third commandment. “Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain” didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If I stubbed my toe and exclaimed “Oh my God!” that was deemed worthy by God to be included on the same list as “Thou shall not murder” and “Thou shall not steal”?
Then my friend Dennis Prager clarified the whole thing: in the Hebrew, he explained, the word for “take” does not mean “take” at all, but “bear.” The commandment actually says “Thou shall not bear the Lord’s name in vain.”
To do evil while claiming to belong to God is what God forbids, in the most stringent terms. The violence perpetrated by the religious has perhaps done more damage to the cause of genuine religion than anything else. Such a commandment thus becomes entirely deserving of inclusion in the List of lists, the Ten Commandments.
So what on earth does this have to do with Donald Trump?
As it turns out, a whole lot.
An Internal Struggle
I have been engaged in a mighty internal struggle over what to do with this election (as I know many have). Trump has secured the GOP nomination, making a Clinton-Trump matchup all but inevitable. I would never vote for Hillary Clinton for reasons which I trust need no justification.
The question then becomes: Can I vote for Donald Trump?
The closest I have gotten to saying “yes” to this question is an extremely begrudging, nose-pinched acceptance of what initially seemed like the lesser of two evils. The root of this conclusion was one point: the composition of the Supreme Court.
But is this a valid argument in favor of voting for Trump?
I now believe it is not. This conclusion is based on an analysis of what would, at best, possibly (since we don’t know what Trump will actually do) be a short-term victory, compared with what will likely be the long-term consequences.
Of course, those who argue in favor of voting for Trump bring up the Supreme Court issue, which is, in many ways, an at least superficially appealing argument. But, at best, Trump is wild card. Everyone acknowledges this. The man’s history and record simply do not reflect conservative commitments, either personally or politically. There is absolutely no guarantee that he will pick a conservative justice.
But what of the long term consequences of a Trump presidency itself, aside from the Court? This is the ultimate issue for me, and this is why the principle behind the commandment to not bear God’s name requires more than merely prudential reasoning, but a principled one, from the righteous people and causes of this country, whatever religion or party they may be.
Trump Has Claimed the Mantle
Trump has claimed the God mantle, the Christian mantle, the “evangelical” mantle. He constantly brags, in fact, at how many Christians are voting for him, as well as trotting out the endorsements of prominent Christian leaders. The Bible, so he claims, is his “favorite book,” a most odd contention coming from a man whose public life exhibits none of the fruit of which the Bible says we ought judge a tree by.
Trump would, and indeed has, tied himself to the righteous cause, under the guise of Christianity, has become its exemplar, and now acts in its name. While his election as president would, maybe, provide us with a conservative justice, what is the point of winning a short-term political gain if the cost of doing so is the poisoning of the doctors who have the cure for the long-term disease?
There is none.
Righteousness will have been borne in vain, and thus brought into utter disrepute. Jesus warned that if the salt loses its saltiness, it would become good for nothing else but to be trampled underfoot by men. And that is what is at stake in this election: the salt, and its saltiness.
The church, the righteous, have survived many eras of darkness, for it is indeed, for all its faults, “the city on a hill.” But it is when it has lost its saltiness that it has forfeited its influence in the most disastrous way. Christianity is largely dead in Europe today because of its inability to stave off the cannibalistic world wars of 20th century “Christendom,” having been active in encouraging the first, and largely passive in the face of the second.
The principle underlying the commandment goes beyond just Christians, but includes the righteous of all stripes. I am not afraid of a period of darkness, for the light remains. I am, however, quite afraid of the salt that is no longer salty, for a trampling inevitably ensues.
And that is why, barring an extraordinary change in circumstances, I can never vote for Donald Trump.
For an argument for the need to vote for Donald Trump, see David Goldman’s In Alien vs. Predator, I’m for Predator (Trump), Because He’s Our Predator.