The Trump victory

Pastoral Messages | November 10, 2016

Having just written an editorial on the Donald Trump victory, for the magazine I help publish – The Christian Century – I’m reticent to preempt that piece with a reworking of its contents here. But since the election results are still so fresh, with even some down-ballot returns not yet counted after 40 hours since the polls closed, I need to say something.

Pundits and pollsters are still trying to figure out what they got wrong, or how all of them missed the mark so significantly. It seems odd, though – doesn’t it? – that the very same people who messed up with the predicting would be the ones to analyze the data and return to us with now trustworthy findings.

In any event, whether you are thrilled or appalled by Tuesday’s outcome, Donald Trump is to be our new president. You be may wondering whether it is realistically possible for him to serve as president to all the people whose fundamental human worth he has regularly insulted. How you answer that question depends on how you interpret Trump’s various serrated pronouncements of the past. As Salena Zito put it in an Atlantic magazine article in September, “The press takes [Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

So which of his comments do you take literally? Will he actually appoint a special prosecutor “on day one” to get Hillary Clinton thrown into jail? Will the $15 billion dollar wall he has proposed ever get built? Will he out-brutalize terror suspects through the use of special torture, as he has promised? Will he actually stop watching NFL football, as he announced during the campaign, because the referees have become too soft and are throwing way too many flags (so their wives back home can admire them)?

We don’t really know the answer to any of these questions. But let’s give the man a chance. He has a lot to figure out. The presidency is a huge responsibility. And our wonderful constitutional system of checks and balances make it virtually impossible for authoritarian rule to ever be realized, which happens to be the fear of some who see fascist impulses in Trump.

Most important to me is how Christians behave in this time of transition and newness in Washington. We just need to be crystal clear about our convictions. We can “live the Beatitudes of Jesus,” which would mean that we’ll never be tempted to bully. We ought never tire of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. We must resist fear, especially when fed by conspiracy and rumor. Insisting on the extension of hope to others is a win-win. Weak and vulnerable people need our embrace, not our mockery. Let’s welcome the stranger and build bridges of hospitality. These are our callings.

I actually believe Donald Trump is capable of embodying any of these convictions, even if he is largely unfamiliar with basic Christian teachings. But in the long, hard road of getting there, he will have to remember what the rest of all need to recall: Namely, once a word leaves the mouth, there is no way to unspeak it and stuff it back into the mouth. Donald Trump will want to take greater care with his rhetoric, hopefully reinterpreting all kinds of things he never meant to be understood literally.

Peter Marty, senior pastor

29 Comments on “The Trump victory”

  • Deb Lamp

    November 13, 2016 at 2:35 am

    Thank you, we the people, needed this honesty and outlook. I pray that others will begin to look more positive.

  • Jim Howell

    November 12, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Thank you Peter. Well said.

    I believe part of the healing and restoration of hope after this unique election begins by seeking out a friend or trusted colleague who voted differently than you…and have a civil discussion with them without becoming confrontational. I had this opportunity yesterday over coffee and breakfast and I believe it was helpful for both of us since we each had a high level of respect for one another…and still do. ????

  • Tom Swenson

    November 11, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    I remember the lessons at St Paul’s when I went there on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I am left with this question. What would have Dietrich Bonhoeffer said? I don’t think it would be Peter’s message. But I could be wrong.

  • Scott Kelling

    November 11, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Your post-election review is a welcome summons to bring out our best instincts and give the President-Elect a “chance”. It is, however, only a tepid solicitation of Christian fairness.
    How can one sincerely ask for cooperation and unity when in the preceding sentences there are these accusatory words of discontent and disfavor: “authoritarian”; “insult”; “fear”; “fascist”; “special torture”; “mockery”; “unfamiliarity with Christian teachings”?

    A true call for comity in this hour could certainly have been rendered without any of these incantations of a bitter election cycle.

    And if we are going to implore fairness and an opportunity for a “chance”, should we not also recall the even more intemperate and inhumane pronouncements, all of which went unchallenged, from the campaign of the vanquished candidate. Would it not be appropriate to also ask whether the defeated will be able to”prove”themselves as able to walk ” humbly with God” after calling EVERY opponent racist, ignorant, immoral, un-just, and deplorable? Would it not be useful to ask, even in defeat, for a disavowal of hypocrisy, corruption, collusion, bribery, perversion of justice and an entitlement of above the law? Is Christianity so far gone that it cannot question a candidate, arms around rapper C Jay, whose music is doing more to send our kids and grand kids into a moral abyss far deeper than any locker room talk ever issued by any man (and woman) ever could?
    Yes, an imperfect person has ascended to the highest office in the land. The reasons for that are myriad, but the most important one is that the Church and the society it serves have come to believe that there should only be a moral compass for one side.
    Equally demoralizing is the fact that this post-election oration never once suggests that we should PRAY. Nor does it come close to the understanding that after the “grace” period of the next 73 days, a repudiated ideology that underwrote a defeated candidate and Party and a failed Administration will rear its ugly head on January 21,2017 and begin anew to chip away at the civil fabric of American society. How hollow then will be the pronouncement “to give the man a chance”.
    If there is no God for us to pray to today, to whom then do we turn?

  • Tony Riordan

    November 11, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Agree we must do our best for a response to this election outcome that somehow promotes healing rather than an escalation and increased polarization.
    This is a sad and scary and in many ways disgraceful time for our country.
    I am struggling to explain it all to my 15-year-old Hispanic daughter. She sees the hatred and racial epithets and misogyny online which have been given sanction now.

    Hate crimes have spiked this week, if you haven’t noticed.

    Mr. Trump has emboldened all kinds of people to do and say ugly things, and there is certainly no sign of him (or most of the people who voted for him), standing up to this ugliness. Try explaining that to a scared daughter.

    We need to not retreat into pseudo mutuality.
    We must persist in the fight to preserve the integrity and respect of all- especially those most vulnerable.
    This election outcome is not a shocking anomaly.
    The reality is this is what we are as a culture, and it is now out just in the open, and we all better fix it.

  • Robert Schwieder

    November 11, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you Pastor….well written….I truly believe “Time heals all wounds”

  • Craig Shoemaker

    November 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you, Peter, for your insightful and profound comments on the election this week. Whether we are pleased or angered with the outcome, let us pray that our new leaders govern with humility and full dedication toward uniting this blessed county we are privileged to live in.

  • Anne Budde

    November 11, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Peter – appreciate your thoughtful words and bravery to address the subject of President-Elect Trump and our nation’s split. The campaign’s lack of civility was difficult to explain to our children. Yet, will must be civil and mature in moving forward as a country. Thank you for bringing “God” into the equation.

    • Larry Price

      November 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Pastor Marty……..Since 1776 we (Americans) have had a peaceful transition of power, from the president on down. Regardless of who occupies the most important political position in the world, it is our duty to stay true to our first amendment: freedom of speech. Let us remember who we are……..Free and Christian Americans! “IN GOD WE TRUST”

  • Phyllis Hofer

    November 11, 2016 at 10:45 am

    I can not tell you how much I needed to hear your calm words. Thank you!

  • Sue Drobushevich

    November 11, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Remembering God is always by our side is helping me through this fear of what could happen…..hopefully Mr. Trump will at the very least surround himself with people that believe the same way.

  • Jana Baltimore

    November 11, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Pastor Marty you never fail to amaze me. To write such an article at a time when emotions run high and yet still being able to give me a sense of peace and hope. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am going to share this with 3 of my daughters who continue to have difficulty accepting Tuesdays outcome.

  • Bonnie Erickson

    November 11, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Thank you Pastor Marty for your words after the election. I miss your articles in the Living Lutheran.

  • Barb Kuttler

    November 11, 2016 at 3:05 am

    I am afraid we’ll see the breakdown of those checks and balances, with one party controlling 2 branches of government, and tightening their grip on the 3rd (they stonewalled the current President’s nominee for the Supreme Court). So I do not share your optimism, but hope you are right!

  • Betty Dresselhaus

    November 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Thank you, Peter Marty. As always, right on.

  • Marilyn McDonald

    November 10, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you!

  • Tim Sondag

    November 10, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Wonderfully written Peter. This election has been difficult for all parties I fully believe we will see a different side of our new president once in office. Politicians stay anything to get elected but once sworn in they all seem to walk a much finer line. Thank you for the reminder to continue our faith in the process.

  • Laura Kalman

    November 10, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I love your words and they are so needed in this time of change. Which is very scary to all. The fear of the unknown has our mind working in overdrive, and these words where sent at the time when we all need a reminder to live the way God would want us to live no matter who is in the office of president.

  • Sheila Mesick

    November 10, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you Peter for these words of reflection, encouragement to carry on.

  • David DeWit

    November 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for the reminder to make the best of things. As Christians we need to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable.

  • Bill Wittkamp

    November 10, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Your words are wonderfully sane and Christian and I thank you for them. Unfortunately, my faith is of the more fragile and tentative variety, and, at this point at least, lacks your quite confidence.

  • Kathy Salthun

    November 10, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Great article….needed to hear this right now. Hope to see you in church Sunday.

  • Dan Molyneaux

    November 10, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    “Insisting on the extension of hope to others is a win-win”

    Great words, all of them but I especially love this Peter.

  • Keith Haan

    November 10, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you for bringing some maturity to the subject

  • Georgeann Kreiter

    November 10, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you for writing this. It is so positive as opposed to so many things that have been said and posted by so many.

  • Darla DeVriendt

    November 10, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Well stated!! Thank you!

  • Myrna Miller

    November 10, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you, Peter.

  • John King

    November 10, 2016 at 2:19 pm


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