Mr. Trump has done it again. What, you ask? Managed to rile up practically everybody. This time, the “pro-life” community is hotly debating comments he made yesterday (Wednesday, April 30, see transcript below). In brief, in response to a question, Mr. Trump said that “there has to be some form of punishment,” for women who get abortions if abortion is made illegal in America.
In response to Mr. Trump’s comments, LifeNews.com (a “pro-life” online news agency) immediately published an article entitled, “The Inept Thing Donald Trump Said About Women Who Have Abortions is Making Pro-Lifers Cringe.” That article justified the verdict “inept” with the idea that the “abortion industry preys on women.” From there, the reasoning goes, the woman is innocent, thus rendering Trump’s comment absolutely outrageous.
Friends, this is a tremendous opportunity to plumb the depths of the gospel, the nature of God, and topics like sin, guilt, shame, justice, forgiveness, confession, and repentance. It’s a tremendous opportunity to apply those ideas to ourselves, our churches, our life communities, and our world. The most important question is not: Should women (and men) who have abortions be punished if abortion is made illegal in America? It’s not: Is Mr. Trump really “pro-life,” and would he make a good president? The exponentially more important question is this: What is God inviting us to enjoy (understand and experience) and express (words and deeds) about Him and the gospel through this hot topic?
If we engage Trump’s comment honestly – I mean torn robes, dust-and-ashes, “O, search me and know me, Lord” honesty – I think many Christians would experience God and His gospel in unprecedented and magnificent ways. This would then lead to a natural, unprecedented, and magnificent gush of the gospel through us to those around us. And on a level that transcends presidential candidates, babies, and shutting down Planned Parenthood, that’s what we want, isn’t it, folks? That’s what transforms individual lives and entire cultures now and for eternity.
Facing Trump’s comments, and the firestorm they’ve ignited, in a gospel context is like having a conversation in the middle of Death Valley - but doing so as you’re floating in a cool, clear, refreshing pool of water. Gospel-astonishment enables us to survive, engage, and even thrive when challenged with searing questions that would otherwise sizzle our hearts with guilt and shame. That’s because soaking in the gospel – God’s declaration that the wicked are made righteous through faith in Christ – gives us the hope of being truly honest without being charred by the wrath of God.
When the gospel permeates our hearts, we enter a conversation such as this oriented by two essential realities: (1) In my sin, am totally guilty and rightly deserve God’s eternal displeasure and wrath, and (2) I am completely forgiven and declared righteous through repentance and through faith in Jesus Christ as He is presented in the gospel. In the context of these two gospel-realities, we can expose and discuss anything about us that’s wicked and know for sure that we will not be utterly undone by the One whose opinion is supremely important. We know it’s safe to be honest. Totally honest. Even honest about the most devastating and evil thoughts, words, and deeds in our lives.
Regarding Mr. Trump’s comments, this gospel context is also essential because the individual and national guilt and shame we bear as a result of killing over 56 million defenseless unborn babies is absolutely devastating. Without a gospel context, nobody in their right mind would ever touch such an incredibly guilt-laden topic. Without the gospel and the safety it provides, when confronted we will respond (as many in the pro-life community are responding to Mr. Trump’s comment) like the gospel-ignorant alcoholic father who, when asked to talk about the way he abused his children, promptly slams the door in a furious, self-defensive, and definitive act of shame-induced denial and fear.
So, I’m sorry if you started reading this blog hoping for some definitive verdict on whether or not Mr. Trump’s ideas on punishment are correct. In lieu of that “easy out,” please allow me to apply the thoughts above in some heart-searching questions we can all ask ourselves. Honest answers to these questions should, God willing, at least give us a safe and healthy context for discussing Mr. Trump’s – and anyone else’s – ideas.
Transcript of interview with Mr. Trump on Wednesday, April 30, 2016 (source)
In a taped town hall interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to be aired later on Wednesday, Trump was pressed on how he would go about banning abortion.
“Should abortion be punished? This is not something you can dodge,” Matthews asked him.
“Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should,’” Trump responded.
Matthews then pressed him for a straight answer on what a ban on abortion would entail.
“Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places but we have to ban it,” Trump answered.
3/31/2016 2:20pmYes indeedeedo, Brother Doug, as usual you go after the heart of the matter: a matter of the heart!
If, during these daze of foundation-shaking within many institutions, [bona fide, called, regenerated, faithful, repentant, justified, adopted, persevering...] Christians could count to ten, remember the foundations of the and their faith, and then enter into the chaos as "re-calibrated, humbled, and renewed little Christs" [Jim Collins and Martin Luther]... it would be a much better interaction and outcome. And, I believe, the best crack we have at SOWING... regardless of the response [which we can't take much of the responsibility for].
It's far, far from easy to bring any sense to a culture of nonsense that has far more critical mass than we can imagine; but doing from a renewed sense of the planks of the faith has to be our approach... It would seem... And would be your recommendation as well, Brother.
[Lastly, and parenthetically 'cuz this isn't directly about the particular issue at hand... One realm of "The Trump Phenom" I find logical yet troubling is that the main motivation for the follower, adherent, disciple is "emotional catharsis, ablution." Content is only a necessary evil... This is why it hasn't mattered what the bloviating amounts to really. As long as it acts as a catalyst for emotional expurgation... who the hell cares. In fact, the more outrageous the better: The purging feels even more satisfying.]