10.09.2016

Let Him Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone


Donald Trump caught on tape making lewd comments about women in 2005 reminds me of another unpopular Donald.  In 2014, Donald Sterling, then owner of the LA Clippers, was caught on tape making abhorrent comments about African-Americans.  Those comments cost Sterling his place in the NBA, and Trump's comments may prove to cost him the presidency. 

In both cases, media and friends alike piled on to express their outrage.  And outrage is the appropriate response.  By harboring and expressing his vile comments, Donald Sterling proved he has no place in an organization that counts African-Americans as both employees and customers.  And, by harboring and expressing his vile comments, Donald Trump proved he has no place serving as leader of the free world. 

And yet, as with any time we heap condemnation on another, let us pause to examine ourselves too.  Both Donald's remarks were made in private, and it was only the combination of their public figure status and someone's decision to both record and then release the audio that brought those private remarks to light. 

My point is not that either Donald is excused from voicing such abhorrent opinions under the shadow of privacy; far from it.  Indeed, quite the opposite.  For what we say, even in private, reflects what we believe in our hearts.  So it is appropriate to judge and even to condemn a man's character by his words.

Rather, my point is to ask myself (and to encourage the same self-reflection by others) what sorts of things I have said or thought in my life that are as disgusting and offensive.  What manner of condemnation and anger would I provoke if my basest words and thoughts were laid bare for all the world to see? 

In fact, I believe that I and all of us are subject to an audience of one at every moment, which is a God who is merciful to our souls and yet is just as it concerns the sins of our hearts and minds and mouths.  He sees and knows all, and that reality impels from me the sentiment of the psalmist in Psalm 130: "If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?"  (Thankfully, mercifully, the psalm continues: "But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.")

As with Donald Sterling, Donald Trump ought to be held to a higher standard than our stray thoughts or our whispered words.  He is a public figure in a public campaign.  He is deserving of the public condemnation he has received, and is proving himself to be undeserving of the public office he is seeking.  But if we are joining in on the outrage, let us consider the content of our own stray thoughts and whispered words, and of the deepest sentiments in the darkest corners of our hearts, and ask ourselves with trembling whether we would escape an even more withering assessment by an infinitely more righteous judge.  May God have mercy on us all.
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