“Zeal without knowledge is not good.” Proverbs 19:2
Joe Scarborough is a bright guy who has been holding forth on his “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC for a few years. He and his co-host Mika offer up endless cups of anti-Trump rhetoric, with free refills, every day. His show is sort of political antimatter to those found on conservative cable programs. In fairness, Scarborough occasionally introduces some beneficent towards the president as when he recently said that he has never heard Trump speak a racist word. In any case, I am not a consistent viewer as the hosts often revel in boorish stereotyping of conservatives and evangelicals in particular. Yet….Scarborough is, at times, inciteful and engaging. But, as I read his recent comments about the Bible and Trump supporters, I am reminded by Solomon that “Getting all fired up but not knowing what you are talking about is silly.” (That’s a loose translation of Proverbs 19.2 above.)
So…this is neither an attack on Mr. Scarborough or a defense of Mr. Trump. It is an attempt to re-assure my evangelical friends who have supported this president (despite his often tiresome behaviors) that you are not displeasing the Lord. Evangelicals supporting Trump are embracing a great compromise but in the real world that is not unusual. Thus, as a pastor with forty years’ experience, allow me to offer my view of what is really going on here. In short, Mr. Scarborough is engaging in shame talk hoping to dissuade evangelicals from continued support for this president. It’s as if he is saying “What is wrong with you evangelicals? You say you are committed to Biblical truth but you can vote for this guy?” I’d suggest that this strategy is really quite puzzling and inconsistent.
He seems to be insisting that Christians should live and advocate and vote in accordance with the Word of God. OK. But when we do that, does he offer commendation? For example, I have not heard Mr. Scarborough affirm the Biblical views of Vice-President Pence and his wife. In particular, she has been mocked for teaching at a Christian school that affirms a Biblical view of marriage. Yet, she is labeled a bigot. Since the Bible has nothing good to say about homosexual activity, she should be commended for her position. She is not hateful. She has harmed no one. But she has been attacked … for her Biblical views. Thus, we have Mr. Scarborough selectively pointing towards Matthew 25 and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 thru 7 but ignoring much of Scripture that is contrary to his progressive assertions. If he is really worried about following Biblical guidelines, he should immediately commend Mr. Trump’s stand on abortion. The only president in history who has ever spoken without apology in a state of the union message …. spoken OPENLY AND WITHOUT APOLOGY in defense of the unborn … is Mr. Trump. Zeal without knowledge condemns evangelicals for not condemning the separation of families at the border. Zeal without knowledge ignores 2000 children daily ripped from their mother’s wombs!
Yet, zeal is often good. Agreed but here is the tricky part: some say Matthew 25 demands such mercies be extended. And it does. To the homeless and helpless. But this and all of other Biblical injunctions as to Godly ethical behavior are given to individual believers. I may be required to care for my needy neighbor but the words of the Lord Jesus Christ were not directed to governments and intended to offer paradigms for the formulation of public policies, but to individuals. But clearly the Bible has influenced societies. This is…complicated.
It should be said that both English common law and American Constitutional law were deeply rooted in Biblical teaching. The Bible has influenced moral behavior for centuries. If we say no one can legislate morality, we fail to see that nation states do that all the time. They cannot legislate the moral proclivities of the heart but they can tell me I must not drive a hundred miles an hour through the village. Why not? Because I might kill innocent people and that would be immoral. So, we cannot legislate morality but we can legislate moral behavior. Or not. My point is that clearly the Bible has had a major role in western civilization in the development of public policies. But still, with the exception of ancient Israel, it is primarily a body of expectations from the Almighty to His people. In reality, the Christian who hopes to see biblical virtue in government often has to make a compromised choice between proposed leaders. That’s what happened in 2016.
Where are we now relative to the Bible and how we live and legislate and vote? Clearly, the imprint of biblical morality is becoming less relevant in our post-modern culture. For example, that is why, until recently, divorce was not possible unless adultery could be proven. That was true in most states. Today, that requirement cannot be found. Would Mr. Scarborough seek to bring back that way of doing things? Or, if Mr. Scarborough really wants voters to follow biblical truth and teaching, would he affirm the stoning of homosexuals and adulterers as found in the Old Testament? Of course not. So, using the Word of God to condemn those who don’t like your political policies is a dangerous business. Often zealous but ignorant. In the end, using Scripture to develop civil law and/or condemn your neighbor’s voting choices is dangerous undertaking at best.
I am rambling a little. So, anyway … my sense is that Joe Scarborough is a decent and thoughtful man. But evangelicals will continue to support a president who defends the unborn with terrific judicial appointments. And I hope someone tells the talk show host that he’d do well to go and see the movie “Unplanned.” Nothing has changed. As an evangelical being lectured in matters of morality by people who avert their eyes from the holocaust in the womb, I am offended. Fifteen hundred to two thousand innocent babies are killed in the womb daily. Everyday. Their arms are torn off or their skulls crushed. Their skin is burned away and Mr. Scarborough wants me to re-read Matthew 25 and consider it?
A last thought … again, the ethical teachings of the Bible are given to individual believers. As a Christian, I can turn the other cheek. Nations cannot. I don’t have to build a wall but nations do. And nations have armies and gates. The Bible is filled with them.
More importantly to my heart … in the time it has taken to read this simple blog article, at least fifteen unborn babies have been put to death. Perhaps Mr. Scarborough and all of us would do well to open our Bibles and re-read the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not murder!”
Blessings! Pastor Alberta