Forgiveness Is Not the Way Forward

I am relieved that Trump will be leaving office, but I am genuinely despondent that the majority of white Christians voted for Trump again, even after all the racist dog whistles and his bastardization of the Christian faith. We seemed to have learned nothing from this summer of visible and violent racism. Instead we are ready to “seek unity” and be embraced kindly across the aisle now that the so-called “Christian” candidate is no longer in power.

I am writing this out for me and for those of you who recognize Trumpism as the idol it is, who are trying to figure out how to love one’s enemy and protect the vulnerable at the same time, who are confused of what to make of these calls for unity and forgiveness. I am absolutely not interested in debating the nature of Trumpism.

The same Christians who raised up whole generations to fight a culture war in the political arena in Christ’s name are the same Christians now saying, “Let’s not talk about racism. Just preach the gospel.”

The same Christians who said that anyone who doesn’t support Trump aren’t true Christians are the same Christians now saying, “Let’s not let politics divide the church.”

The same Christians who compromised truth, decency, and compassion to aggressively advance white Christian nationalism in the name of “taking back America” and “religious liberty” are the same Christians now saying, “Don’t put your trust in princes. God is on the throne.”

This is spiritual gaslighting. Donald Trump’s presidency exposed how pervasive the rot of white Christian nationalism is in the church. We all saw it with our own two eyes. Let’s hold each other accountable and allow the chastening of the Holy Spirit to convict and transform us so that the marginalized don’t have to suffer AGAIN while those of us with political power learn our lesson.

Unity comes through repentance. We absolutely must seek the good of everyone rather than seeking to dunk on them or destroy them. We are about the work of redemption, not vengeance. Besides, we are all on the hook here: American Christianity has been so shaped by white supremacy and nationalism that the work of repentance is ours to share. We are indeed all in danger of becoming what we profess we hate.

None of us are worthy to throw stones, but let’s not pretend that the issues we fought over these past four years were just abstract ideological skirmishes and not clashes that harmed real people in real ways. Our energy should not go towards shaming and tearing down Trump supporters, but neither should it go toward smoothing over disagreements with those who enabled harm in Jesus’ name. Our energy belongs to healing those who were actually harmed and preventing further harm. The white American church has a serious issue of using forgiveness and unity to cover for abusers and oppressors.

White Christians are not the persecuted minority in danger of extinction, the victims needing reassurance and protection. We are the powerful majority who have intentionally and unintentionally caused or enabled harm toward those with less political and spiritual power, and the message we need to hear is not to forgive, but to REPENT.

Why then have these people turned away?
    Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
    they refuse to return.
I have listened attentively,
    but they do not say what is right.
None of them repent of their wickedness,
    saying, “What have I done?”
Each pursues their own course
    like a horse charging into battle.
Even the stork in the sky
    knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
    observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
    the requirements of the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:5-7

5 thoughts on “Forgiveness Is Not the Way Forward

    • cj

      May I please share this? I will credit you but only if you are okay with me sharing :) Thank you. It says what I’ve been struggling to articulate. It seems rich to me that people are suddenly calling for unity after very recently supporting a man who sowed hate and division at every chance. It’s not about forgiveness, it’s about focusing on those who are harmed and working to prevent that happening again.


  1. Fran Johns

    As a deeply committed (octogenarian) Christian, I agree with your reasoning and surely the need for redemption. But I believe the immediate need is for ALL of us, Christian or otherwise, to start listening very carefully to each other. The 70 million Americans who voted for Trump, after 4 years of chaos, division and lack of leadership, did so for a strange multitude of reasons. Somehow we’ve got to learn to hear each other and seek truth.


  2. heather

    They have invested so much in the narrative of being persecuted that it is almost impossible to break through it. I don’t understand the people I know who claim Christianity as their primary identity while backing a leader who is the exact opposite. I don’t know how to reach them.


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