So, the news has exploded with one more statement from the almighty Trump: women who have abortions should be punished. Yes, he sought to retract it later, but the key is this: deep in his subconscious, he believes that women embody evil and are also responsible for all the bad in the world.
Women need to be punished.
I believe that we in the church needs to pay close attention to the Trump phenomena. A big source of his popularity springs from his willingness to vocalize what others think but don’t want to say because it is so terribly incorrect to do so. So he shouts racism, promotes unhealthy nationalism, supports an economic zero sum game of just a few winners (i.e., Trump himself) and the rest of the world losers, and declares that women . . . well his track record on what he really thinks about women is simply abysmal.
On this woman thing, Trump declares loudly what the church has taught and modeled for most of its existence.
- In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, a woman can only be truly good if she is both a virgin AND a mother, thus setting up all women except one to fail.
- In the Evangelical traditions, women may not exercise authority over men in any spiritual setting because, according to 1 Timothy 2, she, not the man, was the was deceived in the Garden of Eden story and is therefore the one ultimately responsible for the dreadfully sinful state of humanity.
- The mainline denominations have finally come around to ordaining women, but for the most part, they are relegated to marginal, failing churches and women clergy are regularly brought to task because few seem able to create for themselves the super-star celebrity status required to lead a mega-church.
I stay horrified at the idea of a Trump presidency. But at this point, I am beginning to celebrate his candidacy. He is doing exactly what Jesus said would happen: Shouting from the rooftops what is normally whispered in private (Luke 12:3).
Trump exposes the dark, dank underbelly of US racism and sexism. From his mouth streams forth the need for power to trample others, the wish to destroy our enemies, the long-suppressed desires to stay childish in emotional control, the egotistic refusal to listen to anyone but ourselves as expert on anything.
He speaks the antithesis of the call to love our enemies, to leave vengeance in the hands of God and instead to do good to those who hate us, to chose to be last, not first. He speaks the national soul. He has been endorsed by a significant number of church leaders. He has shown us what we are: just like him.
Trump has presented the church, at least those who have not chosen to support his candidacy, a glorious opportunity to speak to the real issues that so many people are struggling with: economic despair, fear of the outsider, terror of the future, and unspoken but pervasive dislike of that which is female.
Let’s step up to the plate here. Let us acknowledge this man as the one who has inadvertently shone a spotlight on our dark souls. Let’s speak truth boldly: there is another way to live.
There’s a gospel to preach. The kingdom of heaven is at hand–it may be hidden, but this is a golden time to bring it out in the open and boldly declare a place where all are welcome.