“Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” – St. Francis of Assisi
These profound words were spoken by a man born nearly 800 years ago. They still apply to Christians today. Sadly, many people who grew up calling themselves Christians fail to realize that their actions often speak much louder to non-Christians than mouthing Biblical platitudes. This hypocrisy becomes even greater when mouthed by people who have set themselves up as leaders in the Christian movement, the very ones who should be “ambassadors for Christ.” People such as Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Tony Perkins, and Jerry Falwell, Jr. None of them deserve the honorific of “Reverend.”
Instead of speaking truth to power, they have, instead, decided to trade truth for power. They have decided to embrace and support a man whose entire life has been, and continues to be, the antithesis of everything that Jesus Christ stood for. They have extended forgiveness without repentance.
Yesterday Tony Perkins, head of the highly influential Family Research Council, actually said that Donald Trump deserves a “mulligan” regarding reports of his affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. After acknowledging that “He knows about the cursing, the lewdness and the litany of questionable behavior over the past year of Trump’s life or the 70 that came before it” [emphasis added] Perkins went on to say on the Politico’s Off Message podcast
“We kind of gave him – ‘All right, you get a mulligan, you get a do-over here.”
The term “mulligan” for those not familiar with it, it a golf term that allows a player a second attempt at the ball when his first stroke fails. Well, mulligans might apply in golf, but they don’t apply in Christianity. You don’t just get a do-over. There is a missing step here. Grace applies abundantly, but with grace comes repentance.
These so-called leaders are not saying, as Christ did to the woman who was accused of adultery, “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.” They are just saying “Your sins are forgiven.” And by implication, by not holding Trump accountable for his past behavior, they are giving him permission for his future behavior, no matter how despicable it may be.
They burning question here is why would they do such a thing. Why would a man like Franklin Graham sully his father’s name and reputation? Look at what he said to CNN’s Don Lemon this week:
Franklin Graham on President Trump's first year in office: "Look at the economy, it has come up and its benefiting all of us. … We're all getting helped by Donald Trump's business expertise coming into Washington" https://t.co/2r5gjzszrA https://t.co/2moLYmWSC0
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) January 24, 2018
They have willingly traded in access to the inner circles of power in exchange for speaking truth to power. They have failed as shepherds of their flocks, leading them ever closer to the cliff of equating wealth with goodness, and power as a means to an end.
Whatever happened to a party and a religion where character used to matter, where personal behavior was more important than business acumen, where success was not measured in dollars? These people are not preaching the gospel, either through words or actions. By their own deeds and words, they are leading far more people away from Christ than to Him.
They are not the good sheep. They are not even “good” goats. And the damage they do could be incalculable.