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'Locker Room Talk' is No Excuse: Christians, Trump, and the Election

After talking this week on BreakPoint about the awful doctor-assisted suicide bill in Colorado, we’d planned to cover the complete misrepresentation of Intervarsity by both Time magazine and progressive post-evangelicals. But that will have to wait.

The headlines were stolen this week by a video of terrible comments made by Donald Trump in 2005. It has further divided the American people, and it has further divided Christians. In just the last week I’ve been accused of being both pro-Trump and “a tool of the progressive agenda.” Even so, I’m going to wade into these contentious waters today.

It should go without saying that the media are not unbiased. They’ve been looking for a silver bullet to end Mr. Trump’s campaign, and they think they’ve found it. So they’ve swarmed. But that’s no excuse. Mr. Trump handed them the ammunition.

His comments from 2005 are indefensible and disgusting. That’s why it’s so disheartening to hear Christians, including some Christian leaders, dismiss them. “His words were from eleven years ago,” some say. That might have mattered if he were, at the time, a teenager addicted to today’s hip hop music. But he wasn’t. He was 60.

“Others have done worse,” others say. But that’s not a moral argument, and it doesn’t make Trump’s words any less repugnant.

Trump himself, after an initial apology, has repeatedly dismissed his own comments as “locker room talk.” In doing so, he’s only dismissed his own apology.

Look, we’ve given men a “boys will be boys” pass for far too long. As many have noted, Trump’s words went far beyond “locker room talk.” I agree. There’s little evidence of it today, but I was an athlete through high school and college. I’ve heard locker room talk. It got raunchy, but it never approached braggadocio about sexual assault.

But that locker room excuse has been bugging me all week for a different reason. It assumes that the tamer stuff that we more accurately labeled “locker room talk” is itself harmless. But it isn’t. That sort of talk is an outward expression of a dangerous attitude about women and sexuality. It’s among the most damaging and dangerous of all the lies from the sexual revolution.

When I was in college, a young woman, a dear friend, had the courage to tell me how I had objectified her. By God’s grace, my eyes were opened to the pain this “locker room talk” attitude can inflict. I was horrified when I realized how much I had hurt her.

And today, I’m horrified by what I see on both sides of this presidential race. During the Lewinsky/Clinton scandal, many, Chuck Colson included, proclaimed that “character counts.” They were right. And it still matters today.

And yet here we are: facing an election involving two of the most unlikeable and morally unqualified candidates in American history. And yet they represent political parties and agendas with dramatically different ideas for the future of America, particularly on the issues Christians care about most: life, marriage and religious freedom. So what now?

Well first, civic engagement is still not optional for Christians. We must do the good we can and stand against the evil that we can. And that means voting. There are so many important things on the ballot: representatives and senators, decisions about legalized drugs and legalized suicide, and yes, who will be president. We must show up to vote.

Second, those settled on that top-of-ticket decision need to be somewhat gracious to those who are still struggling. Don’t be smug, sanctimonious, or dismissive. And let’s stop saying silly lines like, “Well, we aren’t electing a Sunday School teacher.” No one ever said we were.

And third, this election is revealing deep problems politics alone cannot solve. As Chuck said, salvation will never come in Air Force One, and I’ll add especially not this year. So the Church will have to find a way to be reconciled with each other, if we are to be the force for reconciliation in the world that God has called us to be.


BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

Publication date: October 14, 2016

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