“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you- Matthew 5:38–42.
“But to you who are listening, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you- Luke 6:27–31.
“I’d like to punch him in the face,” then-candidate Donald Trump said during the 2016 campaign, remarking that a man disrupting his rally was escorted out with a smile on his face. “He’s smiling, having a good time.”
I did a post not too long ago about how a Christian could vote for Donald Trump. I asked several Christian Trump supporters how they could vote for Trump when he displays many un-Christlike characteristics. That issue seems to have come up again, this time using specific examples. So my plan is to tackle these over the next few posts. To do this in any kind of fair way, I will try to factor out my desired outcome for the 2020 election and look at this in the most inductive manner possible. I make no promises that I will do so perfectly, but that is my goal.
So let’s compare these quotes above. Jesus commands his followers in their personal, individual interactions with people to be non-violent. He commands us not to retaliate when we are wronged. We are to give to people without expecting anything in return. Why? I think we can find the answer to that earlier in the chapter. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven- Matthew 5:13–16. We can’t be the salt of the earth and the light of the world if the light is acting like those still in the dark.
So what about the Trump quote? What is the philosophy or worldview where that comes from? It’s hard to analyze it the exact same way because we don’t have a vast book where we can compare one precept with another to try to get an overall picture that in no way contradicts itself like we have with the Bible. But we know from his words what he was referring to when he said this. The man who Trump was talking about was a protester who Trump felt was throwing punches at security. If that is indeed the case, then that would fall under the category of Romans 13. The guard was the authority in that event. “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted. Those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those, who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right, and you will be commended. For the one in power is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience”- Romans 13:2–5. Those in power are not to turn the other cheek or allow themselves to be taken advantage of because they are the ones wielding the “sword” to establish peace and order. Suppose the person he was talking about was being violent toward the security. In that case, they have the right to use physical force to subdue him. But Trump’s statement that he would like to punch the guy in the face seemed to be aimed more at causing that individual harm because of his demeanor, which would be a violation of the Sermon on the Mount quoted above. So how do Trump’s words match up with the terms of Jesus? In that case, they didn’t.
However, in another attempt to be fair here, if we are going to examine how Trump’s words compare with the Sermon on the Mount, we must do the same with his opponent, Joe Biden. Biden told a voter in Detroit who was concerned about his guns being taken away by a possible Biden Administration that he was full of ____. Then Biden threatened to fight the same guy who continued to question him. “Don’t tell me that, pal or I’m going to go out and slap you in the face.” When another voter in Iowa questioned him about Joe’s son Hunter’s corrupt dealings in Ukraine, Biden called the man “a ____ liar,” “fat,” and said that the guy was “too old to vote for” him. He also called a 21-year-old female college student in New Hampshire a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier” when he asked her if she had ever been to a caucus and she said she had.
Comparing two very flawed individuals like President Trump and Joe Biden to Jesus Christ or his Sermon on the Mount is not going to yield excellent results. If you’re going to base your vote on issues you care about, then examine the candidates' policy positions and previous actions. If you’re going to vote for the person whose rhetoric closely aligns with the words of Jesus, you might as well vote third party, write in a name, or stay home this election year.