With word of President Donald Trump’s affairs with adult film stars, many of his evangelical supporters are beginning to argue that none of this matters. What matters is Trump’s policies. The morals of the man are subordinate to the morality of his policies. This is wrong. The morality of the person matters.
None of us are perfect, but the question is whether we revel in our sins and keep them going or do we repent and try to do better. I think that struggle not only shapes the policies of a person long term, but shapes the character of the nation the person leads.
No one I know argues that an immoral person cannot deliver good policies. Bill Clinton delivered welfare reform and a balanced budget. And he did so with Newt Gingrich, both of them serial adulterers. To those who cite John Kennedy’s failings, Franklin Roosevelt’s and others, their sexual escapes were not paraded through the streets at the time like Trump’s. They didn’t publicly brag about it either. But when revealed, it certainly gave the left the ammunition to prop up Clinton.
Long term, the defense of Clinton by the left made it far easier for both sides to embrace more deeply flawed leaders. Look at the polling suggesting some men think Trump deserves a high five and applause for fulfilling their own fantasy of sex with a porn star. We will witness the further collapse of the American family over the next generation and that collapse will be excused away as people modeling their behavior on the president.
We are getting some short term good policies. We are getting good judges. We are getting tax reform. We are also getting an evangelical movement that no longer thinks morality matters in our leaders. After all, he is not a pastor, just a president.
Evangelicals keep bringing up King David as an apt comparison for Trump. But things did not work out well for David after he had Uriah killed. Absalom plunged the kingdom into civil war. David had to flee Jerusalem. David ultimately turned back to God, repented, and led, but let’s not ignore the effects on Israel of his personal moral failings. And then there was the ultimate division of the kingdom after Solomon, which was one of many ripples trickling down from David’s failures.
Likewise, the Northern Kingdom was vastly more prosperous and successful than the Southern Kingdom. In fact, Jeroboham developed a pagan religion he claimed was the true religion from Sinai and people looked at the success of the Northern Kingdom as proof positive that this was correct. The nation descended into a pagan sex cult and prospered, completely ignoring calls from prophets like Amos to repent.
The morality of the leader matters. It may not matter transactionally to you in the short term. But it greatly matters long term. We are already seeing people in this country turn even more antagonistically hostile to Christians because of evangelical support for our present immoral leader. You can see that as a partisan divide. But I see it as having long term consequences for evangelicals selling out their one true religion for a Northern Kingdom sex cult in the White House.
There is no guarantee that a moral man will make a good political leader. But there is, I think, a guarantee that the long term consequence of an immoral leader who gives you short term policies you like will be far more devastating long term than the moral man who fails to deliver short term policies you like.
Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.