On Thursday, January 18, 2018, the editorial board at the New York Daily News suggested that yes…evangelicals are hypocrites. They argued that evangelicals were robust in their condemnations of President Clinton twenty years ago, but not very vocal about Mr. Trump’s bad behaviors. That’s probably true. Thus, evangelicals are hypocrites. That’s probably not true. In my view, this is not about hypocrisy. It’s about inconsistency.
The Daily News is quite prepared to condemn Mr. Trump for an affair with a porn star in 2006. Credible people insist it happened; credible people insist it did not happen. In any case, let’s agree that evangelicals are NOT as distressed with Mr. Trump as they were with Mr. Clinton. Why might that be?
First, Mr. Clinton’s sins were committed WHILE HE WAS IN OFFICE. THE OVAL OFFICE! Second, he then lied to the country insisting that he “did not have sex with that woman.” In doing that, he invited a whole generation of young people to re-define sexual activity eliminating virtually any notion of promiscuity. After all, the president said his behaviors were not sexual. Go figure. Arguably, Bill Clinton was the worst example of morality in recent decades in the White House. And he insisted to journalist Mike Wallace that he had nothing to be ashamed about. See Jeremiah 6.15: “They do not even know how to blush.”
Third, Mr. Clinton was charged with obstruction and was impeached but not removed from office. So…for sure….evangelicals are clearly not pleased at Mr. Trump’s weaknesses and excesses. But Mr. Clinton was one-of-a-kind by comparison.
The real inconsistency might be with the members of the Trump Resistance. So many of these same people twenty years ago dismissed the Clinton sins as “just about sex.” Now, they are outraged.
Evangelicals understand that they cannot change Mr. Trump’s words and actions. They pray for him. They hope he will more and more conform to the likeness of Christ. And they understand that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23)
Perhaps all parties to the discussion need to be more realistic about moral leadership. These men and women have feet of clay. FDR had an affair with Lucy Rutherford for years while in office. JFK had naked secretaries in the White House Pool and everyone knew it. They also knew about LBJ’s brutality and predation in the Oval Office hallways. Even the first President Bush has been revealed as “handsy.”
So, sure. It would be nice if we did not even have this discussion. But all of the critics might do well to remember the words of our Lord: “Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother’s eye but pay no attention to the plank in our own eye?” Matthew 7.3