It’s been nearly 2 months since I’ve written here. The last time I took such a long blogging break it was after my affair and divorce. My marriage now is just fine, but since November 8th, I have had a sense of being betrayed.
To be sure, I have been on the outs with Evangelicalism for quite a while. I probably haven’t used that term to describe myself in at least the past 8 years. But we’ve still traveled in the same circles. I’ve attended Evangelical churches nearly my entire life, and I recognize that there are aspects of Evangelicalism that have had a positive impact on my life. Virtues like honesty, repentance, humility were taught to me as a part of my Evangelical upbringing, and I am grateful for that.
Evangelical teaching is etched into my being. I am the woman I am today largely in part because of my Evangelical upbringing. Even without the label, it is still part of who I am.
So when an overwhelming percentage of Evangelical voters cast their ballot for Donald Trump three months ago, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of betrayal, like everything that I have believed of Evangelicalism has been a lie.
I grew up being told by Evangelicals that True Love Waits. But then Evangelicals supported a man who said that sexually assaulting a woman was the right of his celebrity.
I grew up being told by Evangelicals that life inside the womb matters, even and especially when that life is touched by disability. But then Evangelicals voted for a man who uses grotesque gestures to mock those with whom he disagrees, using his body rather than his words to call people “retards.”
I grew up being told by Evangelicals that repentance is essential for every man, woman, and child. But then Evangelicals voted for a candidate who said that he wasn’t sure he’d ever asked God for forgiveness.
I grew up being told by Evangelicals that we are to care for the least of these. But then Evangelicals joined with Trump in threatening to abandon Syrian refugees, many of who are women and children.
I grew up being told by Evangelicals that moral relativism is the scourge of all who would call themselves Christian. But then Evangelicals said that we were just electing a president, not a pastor in chief, so his character didn’t matter.
I grew up being told by Evangelicals that we see the fruits of genuine faith, laid out in Galatians as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. But then Evangelicals elected to office a man who claims a Christian faith, but whose fruits are hatred, anger, fear, impetuosity, bullying, cruelty, brashness, infidelity, and impulsivity.
And as betrayed as I feel by this, I imagine thinking, feeling Evangelicals are feeling that betrayal as well. In nearly every way possible, Evangelicals betrayed the tenets of Evangelicalism in the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency.
The lead-up to betrayal usually catches us off-guard. We don’t intend to break with what we hold dear. But there are small compromises along the way. A silence when torture is used. Feigned ignorance when an entire religion is maligned because of the acts of a few. Pretending that saying “all lives matter,” is basically the same as saying “black lives matter.”
Then the betrayal happens and your first instinct is to find something or someone else to blame. You weren’t voting for Trump, you were voting for a seat on the Supreme Court. You weren’t voting for a racist, you were voting for someone who was tough on crime. You weren’t voting for a misogynist, you were just voting for someone who would make sure the Church wouldn’t be in danger of marrying gay couples. If only everyone else was better, you wouldn’t have been in this relationship. Betrayal was the only choice available.
But here’s what I know about betrayal. We must own it. Even if we believe that our excuses are valid, even if we believe that we had no choice in the matter, even if we believe that the ends justify the means, we must own our betrayal and we must repent. To build trust, to repair relationships, we must acknowledge our sin and commit to doing better.
Evangelicals, abandoning your principles to vote for Trump was a betrayal. To black and brown people. To Muslims. To women. To children. To the LGBTQ community. To yourselves.
You do have a choice going forward. You can continue down the path of the betrayal, allowing your concessions to darken and become more damaging to those you claim are the children of God. Or you can repent and work with those you have harmed to foster trust and to rebuild a sense of companionship.
Some of us will be waiting. Probably not for long.