The first thing I saw was his apology.
Oh no, what was he apologizing for now? What crazy thing had I missed while I was busy out living my life? Up to this point, last Friday, I was finishing my work-week and looking forward not only to the 2nd presidential debate on Sunday, but the fact that the following Monday – Columbus day, was a holiday and I would be able to get some much needed rest and relaxation.
This was what popped up on my computer alongside a picture of Donald Trump, via an application that interrupts what I’m doing to bring me breaking news:
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
I immediately did a google search to find out what this private conversation was he was referring to. It wasn’t long before I was able to see the whole tape.
I was not only in shock, but in disbelief, not that our potential new president had said these things, but that such pornographic words had crossed new boundaries so that now all could hear. I’ve heard them. I’m sure my friends have heard them. Once in a while, I have heard such words even in the presence of polite church company during a movie which I (we) probably should not have been watching.
At such times I had wished I could hide, as all present seemed to act like we didn’t just hear what we, without warning, were involuntarily exposed to. That inner place we as believers instinctively cover, the place of our deepest unknown sin which only God and ourselves know we are forgiven for, this place, exposed for one embarrassing, barely acknowledged moment, at such times, goes back into hiding immediately.
These words, which the parts of me perhaps not yet fully redeemed by God knew, were now catapulted before my biggest role models. No one on earth, except fortunate children protected by caring and cautious moms and dads, could escape them.
I went through a list in my head of everyone I knew must be following the presidential race. All my favorite pastors, they heard these words; The blessed Christian figures I looked up to in my own community, the wives of famous men, the president, his wife. These words no one dared speak in public had crossed a collectively assumed, invisible, artificial boundary of presumed righteousness, never to return again to their previous hiding place.
Among all the banter leading up to the 2nd presidential debate, which I followed like a hawk, and even instigated on my own facebook page, this one concern plagued me the most. I wanted to protect my heroes. I did not want them to hear or be exposed to the reality of the true depths of the sin in our modern day culture.
Late Friday evening, I saw Mr. Trump’s apology video and forgave him immediately. I suspected Mike Pence had advised him to apologize. Later, based on a New York times article I read, I found this to be the case.
All day Saturday I wondered how Trump was handling everything. I pictured the chaos surrounding the Trump administration. I thought about how embarrassed he must have felt around his children especially, and wondered how his wife responded. Many of my questions were answered in an article I found today in the New York Times, which was released on Saturday:
“What is God doing?” I had begun to wonder on Friday upon stumbling across this news which shook the nation. It could be one of two things, I thought. God could be giving us a warning, one final chance to denounce this man and try to get someone else in there instead. I wondered if Pence, now a hero following his well noted performance in his debate, could sit in Trump’s place. And many others suggested this as well.
Or, could God be directing us his children, to look inward at our own selves? I immediately posted on my Facebook page, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
As I contemplated these things, I perceived that an artificial wall had previously stood tall in our public lives, ostensibly separating us from this sin which was a deep and very real part of us all. To know the teachings of the Bible is to know that all are guilty of sin.
“As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12).
According to the Word of God, all must repent to receive eternal life in Christ. And all of us are guilty of the same sins. In the book of James it says:
“But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:9-11).
I suspected that my new friend Mr. Pence would also take this stance, as he seemed so genuine in his proclamation of his own faith. I watched him carefully for the next few days. Perceiving in him the heart of a minister, and maybe even a pastor, I surmised that he would not be above it all. Those who did perceive themselves to be above such sin, and not capable of the same behaviors, had abandoned our GOP candidate. And this was likely the first response of many of us who decided to stay loyal instead, before stopping for a moment to take a look at our own selves.
But threatening to leave someone due to the vile nature which we are all born with, is to say that one does not possess the same tendencies, that one is above this disgusting reality which more than pervades our culture. To say one is not some how capable of such horrendous thoughts and actions, is to lie about who one really is, or was, before coming to Christ, and possibly to be reliant on one’s own self as savior.
To those of us who put our faith in something greater than ourselves, we were confronted this week, not only with a tape of a great leader that had fallen, but with a reflection of the true depth of our own sin.
To forgive this man means to begin to accept and understand God’s love, and His ability to truly forgive the most heinous of sins.
The reality is, when we humbly look at the deprivation of this society we have been placed in and learn to apply God’s grace and forgiveness, we are thereby conjuring more forgiveness and grace onto our very own selves. We thereby allow the truth of God’s mercy to flow into those desperate places within us where we need Him most.