I recently wrote a column in which I pondered the inconsistency between “moral relativism” and the understanding of truth implied by a Christian disciple’s acceptance of Christ’s mind as his or her own. I wrote the article in light of a Washington Post piece by Eugene Scott in which the author contends that Christian support for Donald Trump involves the embrace of “moral relativism”. In defense against this charge, WND’s editor Joseph Farah writes, “If anyone ‘converted’ from his previous political beliefs, it is clearly Trump. … And, whatever his past suggests, President Trump has demonstrated at least a public respect and reverence for the Creator of the universe and His ways.”
In my article, I wrote about ”the confusion now being generated by the pastorally flexible approach to fundamental teachings in vogue with some at the highest levels of leadership in the [Roman Catholic] Church,” to which I belong. I therefore fault Mr. Scott’s article for singling Evangelical Christians, as if the drift toward “moral relativism” is not challenging the whole of Christendom. However, I also wonder what satisfaction there is, from the perspective of Christ, in Mr. Farah’s distinction between President Trump’s public respect and reverence for the Creator, and the implications of what Mr. Farah characterizes as his past life.
Obviously, it is plainly contrary to the example of Christ to hold people who have repented of their past life in bondage to past sins. In the midst of commencing his teaching ministry, Christ read from the Book of the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2):
The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart. To preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord….”
It was in this spirit that he promised his disciples: “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:18).
But, as Christ himself made clear, repentance is indispensable. He also made clear that public words, and even actions, are insufficient. What matters is the heart, and the things that signify freedom from the bondage of sin. As Christ says:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And why call you me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say (Matthew 6:45-46).
It’s telling that, though he uses mouth and heart in his figure of speech, Christ immediately chides those who fail to carry his words into action.
In our everyday experience, of course, we all know that human behavior often displays a dismaying mix of contradictory words and actions. But it can also be the result of shrewd and purposeful calculation. Some salespeople are not at all averse to using what they call “sales puffery” to attract customers. So, they describe their product with words that they know to be untrue. To do so, they steal from what they know to be the treasury of good expectations in the hearts of their clientele. That allows them to exploit their good faith in order, to steal away their money as well.
Isn’t this possibility of deceit, in words or actions, why Christ compared people to fruit trees and admonished his disciples to judge them by their fruits? Many are those who promise great things, which they mean to deliver only for themselves. At the very least, the overall importance of Christ’s instructions suggests the need to avoid identifying oneself with great things until evidence of their fruits appears.
But what some Christ followers who are deeply sincere in their intentions sometimes neglect to ponder is Christ’s reason for instructing us to look for the fruits: “For a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.” I was reminded of this recently by two separate events.
First was President Trump’s announcement that, unlike his predecessors, he ordered that the U.S. Embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem, its capital, as per the U.S. law Congress overwhelmingly approved in 1995. The President’s move was greeted with fanfare and appreciation (including my own). But shortly after his public announcement, he signed the waiver necessary to postpone the move for another six months, just as all his predecessors had done.
The latter action does not necessarily imply that President Trump is insincere. But it means that, just as Christ instructed, we must wait upon the fruits of President Trump’s words and executive action.
Secondly, President Trump became the first President to deliver a live address to the national Right to Life march in Washington, D.C. last week. Passionately appealing to the good hearts and intention of his audience he praised the right to life movement. He emphasized the need to reduce the numbers of abortions, and enforce limitations on late term abortion, etc. Toward the end he declared, “Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the ‘right to life.’”
However, the Declaration of Independence lists life as an unalienable right, endowed by God, the Creator of humanity and everything else. The Bible, which America’s founders relied on for their understanding of Creation, describes the Creation of humanity as such: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: …So, God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
What are President Trump’s Christian supporters to make of the fact that, also last week, he sent a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, an advocacy group for homosexual rights, in which he wrote: “We are a Nation founded on the undeniable truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under the Constitution. As we write the next great chapter of our Nation, we reaffirm our commitment to these fundamental truths and will work to ensure that all Americans live in a country… where their opportunities are limitless.”
It’s remarkable proof of the inroads of moral relativism that some Christians refuse to see the contradiction between President Trump’s words to the Log Cabin Republicans and his speech to the 2018 March for Life. His words to the homosexual activists ignore the fact that the right to life listed in the Declaration if Independence is undeniable because it is unalienable—i.e., inseparable from the status of “human being.” The same cannot be said of the court-fabricated right of homosexuals to marry, or of so-called transgenders to be regarded by, under penalty of law, the gender descriptor of their choice.
Support for America’s founding principles and for the understanding of rights implemented in the Constitution does not require any Christian excursion into “moral relativism.” Indeed, the Constitution’s 9th Amendment forbids any construction of the rights enumerated therein that “denies or disparages others retained by the people.” Among these, the rights endowed by God, antecedent to all government, must take first place. Whatever the SCOTUS opines, no court invented fabrications can Constitutionally supersede them.
I pray that President Trump’s actions will reflect his expressed support for the God-endowed right to life, rather than his implied support for court-fabricated rights. Such rights include not only the contrived right of homosexuals to marry, but the court-invented right to abortion. Any attempt sincerely to put either of these rights on an equal footing with the God-endowed rights of life and the natural family is, at the very least, an excursion into “moral relativism.” Chaos might be a more accurate description. This is what comes of outwardly praising God’s name while absconding from His authority. It’s also something the mind of Christ never sought.
Alan Keyes is a leader in the Conservative movement and a previously highly-ranked diplomat under President Reagan.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.