Donald J. Trump and the Sermon on the Mount

I must confess, that because of its importance to not only the United States, but the world, I have been following the American presidential election. Like many Christian voters I could not in good conscience root for either candidate. If they are weighed in the balances of the Bible they both come out wanting (c.f. Dan 5:27). Mrs. Hillary is a sly fox, whereas Mr. Trump is an arrogant bear, which is likely why many are bewildered by him but forgot about Hillary. We ought to pray for America, and pray that Christians in that land would look to the Lord for their salvation and not their government (Prov 29:26).

When I was watching the last presidential debate I was struck by how blatantly Trump spoke against Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. When replying to a question about his lewd comments about women he went on the offensive:

TRUMP: It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly, I’m not proud of it. But that was something that happened.

If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words, and his was action. His was what he’s done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women. So you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women.[1]

I have underlined the bit that stood out to me, the words that contrast with what Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30 ESV)

This also reflects the same principle put forward under a different teaching regarding hatred and violence (Mt 5:21–26).

What Jesus is getting at is that sin is ultimately a heart issue. It doesn’t matter if you don’t act but only think, for “from the heart comes all kinds of evil” (Mt 15:19). This is where Trump is dead wrong, falsely believing that because he only used words (one step further than thoughts) and Clinton acted, that somehow makes him better. According to Jesus that doesn’t cut it.

The solution? How are we to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Mt 5:48) even in one’s heart? Part of the intent of the lofty ideals laid down in the Sermon on the Mount is to impress upon us just how imperfect we are, how unrighteous, how sinful, and just how much we need the perfection and the righteousness that only Jesus can give to the one who shows a contrite heart. To that person Jesus promises to transform our hearts by giving us completely new ones! (Ezk 36:26). So let’s stop blaming others and own up for our sinful hearts and seek the Lord.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris