Lest anyone think the stomach-turning report about Donald Trump’s adultery with porn star Stormy Daniels – adultery that took place while his third (and current) wife Melania was pregnant with son Baron – was going away any time soon, think again.
According to Daniels’ manager, Gina Rodriguez, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has violated the non-disclosure agreement that Daniels had signed during the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet. There’s little doubt that is an accurate assessment given that Cohen has talked openly to the Associated Press about payments made to the pornographic actress:
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, believes that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, invalidated a non-disclosure agreement after two news stories were published Tuesday: one in which Cohen told The New York Times he made the six-figure payment with his personal funds, and another in the Daily Beast, which reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels’ story, said the manager, Gina Rodriguez.
And because of Cohen’s loose lips, Clifford is free to tell her sordid story. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that she will be able to make far more money from telling this story than anything she received from Cohen a few months back.
But while Clifford gets richer off of Trump’s philandering, I cringe to think how people who share my faith – people who are prominent and thus recognized as Christian leaders – are going to make us all poorer with their responses.
I wince thinking of the coming excuses that, “Well that was a long time ago, and he’s changed.” What, pray tell, in the president’s demeanor or speech suggests that he has?
I squirm at the likelihood that we will hear, “We’re all sinners and all of us are in need of forgiveness.” Of course that’s true; many men and women have committed the sin of lust and adultery, and have been eternally forgiven by an unimaginably loving God. But it’s also true that receiving forgiveness presupposes one has sought forgiveness – something that President Trump assured us he has never done. Remember that declaration was made years after this adultery took place.
I recoil at the probability that someone will make the unthinkable comparison: “Well even King David committed adultery and God still blessed him!” Please. King David was a man after God’s own heart. Read Psalm 51 – David’s repentant heart pouring out to the God he loved more than anything for those very sins that had caused so much destruction – and then try to use David’s name in the same sentence with a President who won’t even acknowledge or admit this affair.
Don’t misunderstand my frustration – it’s actually not with President Trump. None of these revelations surprise me at all. We all knew exactly who Trump was when he was running for the highest place of trust in American government. He is a worldly, ungodly man acting in worldly, ungodly ways.
My indignation is with my fellow Christians who continue their selective refusal to condemn this sleazy conduct due to political calculations. I say selective because this sudden explosion of magnanimous tolerance towards adultery certainly wasn’t present amongst these same voices in the 1990s when “character” mattered.
“But that’s the point!” they say. “We can’t weaken President Trump because he’s doing important work for Christians here in America.”
Please brethren, stop.
Our purpose on this earth is not to achieve legislative objectives. It is not to protect presidents or coddle kings in exchange for their favor. It is not to withhold the full counsel of God when we find it politically expedient to do so.
We are to bear witness to the truth, the whole truth, God’s truth, about the human condition. We are to rebuke sin wherever it manifests, whether in solitude or on the national news. We are to exhort others to righteousness, whether they are paupers or princes. We are often tempted to ignore that singular purpose, particularly when it costs us treasure and comfort here on earth. But we weren’t to be building those things up here anyway, were we?
President Trump’s moral improprieties are wholly inappropriate and shocking to a godly conscience. He needs to be broken, he needs repentance. He needs Jesus. Christians who vainly shroud this reality do extraordinary damage to their witness, and do the lost man in the Oval Office no eternal favors either.