Christianity Today, a leading evangelical periodical, recently published a scathing editorial calling for Donald Trump to be removed from office. The editorial, written by editor Mark Galli, stated that in the current impeachment process “. . . the facts in this instance are unambiguous: the president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral” (Christianity Today, Dec. 19, 2019). The article went on to say that the president’s Twitter feed “is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused,” and that “we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence.”
By all accounts President Trump was infuriated by the editorial and tweeted that Christianity Today is “a far left magazine . . .which has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years” and would rather “have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President.”
Mr. Trump is surely one of the most controversial and divisive presidents we have had for many years. People either love him or hate him. But in a case of impeachment it is important that in the heat of the moment we do not lose sight of the facts and that we uphold the rule of law.
The immediate question is whether or not Mr. Trump should be removed from office on the two charges listed in the Articles of Impeachment recently passed by the House of Representatives. One of the charges, that of obstruction of justice, involves a complicated constitutional question revolving around the separation of powers and the executive privilege, and should probably be left to the courts to decide. But one can hardly remove a president from office simply because he is trying to take advantage of his legal options.
But that leaves the central charge in the case: whether Mr. Trump abused his authority by threatening to withhold military aid promised to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government announced an investigation into the business activities of Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, a possible opponent of Mr. Trump’s in next fall’s election. If the charge is true, it would be tantamount to an “emolument” forbidden by Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, and would be on par with bribery which is specifically mentioned as an impeachable offense in Article II, Section 4. Hence, if it can be proven that there was a “quid pro quo” in the Administration’s dealings with the Ukrainian government, President Trump should be removed from office.
The Christianity Today editorial, however, went beyond that and addressed the broader issue of whether or not evangelical Christians should be supporting Mr. Trump at all. The editorial states that “this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration,” and went on to mention his “immoral actions in business and his relationship with women,” and his Twitter feed “with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders.” None of these would necessarily be impeachable offenses, and other presidents have been guilty of at least some of these. But the editorial went on to make a telling point:
“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump
in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this:
Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how
your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to
your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world
will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral
words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If
we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we
say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for
decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that
abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the
same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of
our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?”
“Remember who are and whom you serve.” We have been called by God to advance His kingdom. We must promote the moral standards He has laid down in His Word, and call our fellow human beings to repentance and faith Jesus Christ. We believe in the sanctity of life. We say that we believe in the sanctity of marriage. We should also believe in the sanctity of truth (Ninth Commandment). To give unqualified support to a political leader with such moral failures as Mr. Trump’s is to profess one thing and then support its opposite. We will have made ourselves hypocrites in the sight of the world. Who will listen to us then?