Yesterday evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem retracted his endorsement of Donald Trump. In his “de-endorsement” Grudem candidly admits that he really hadn’t researched the depths of Trumpean depravity:
“Some may criticize me for not discovering this material earlier, and I think they are right. I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so. If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.”
I give Grudem high marks for admitting this mistake. It takes courage and character to admit when you messed up royally, especially in such a public fashion.
But that doesn’t mean it is time to move on. How is it that a leading Christian theologian and ethicist like Grudem could demonstrate such an utter lack of wisdom and discernment? To begin with, he says he failed to “investigate earlier allegations in detail….” Why is that? It’s not like he would need to scroll through microfiche at the local library. All it would take is a quick google search.
Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that one hardly needed to bother researching allegations to recognize Trump is not deserving of a Christian’s vote. His behavior in the public square for months was a parade of truly beastly acts of misogyny, racism, and demagoguery.
Like many who have abandoned Trump in the last couple days, Grudem appealed to the shocking 2005 video with frat-boy sidekick Billy Bush:
“His vulgar comments in 2005 about his sexual aggression and assaults against women were morally evil and revealed pride in conduct that violates God’s command, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). I have now read transcripts of some of his obscene interviews with Howard Stern, and they turned my stomach. His conduct was hateful in God’s eyes and I urge him to repent and call out to God for forgiveness, and to seek forgiveness from those he harmed. God intends that men honor and respect women, not abuse them as sexual objects.”
I agree that Trump’s behavior here is hateful. But what about his demonization of immigrants and Muslims? What about his appalling denial of climate change science? What about his shady business relationship with foreign governments? How about his gaming the system to exploit loopholes in tax law and bankruptcy? (If a person on welfare games the system Trump and his GOP supporters would denounce them as a leech. But apparently it is okay if a rich person does the same thing.)
The list of Trump’s sins goes on and on. By focusing on “adultery” as the issue, Grudem demonstrates the glaringly narrow moral vision that is typical of mainstream evangelicalism. (It is interesting that Grudem makes no mention of Trump’s role in various Playboy softcore porn films. Usually pornography is included on the shortlist of evangelicals ethical/social concerns.)
To sum up, while I welcome Grudem’s de-endorsement, it raises deeper concerns with Grudem and that of the evangelical tradition he represents.