Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tim Kaine Offers Trump a Key to Victory

While most vice-presidential debates have made little more than a small ripple among raging waves of a presidential election year, history may record that last night’s debate between Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) was a major exception.  Most of the 90-minute match produced the typical bantering back and forth involving punches and counterpunches aimed at the qualifications of their presidential running mates—Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R).
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gov.  Mike Pence (R-IN)
Governor Pence pointed to the lack of candidate Clinton’s qualifications based on her failed policies as Secretary of State under President Obama regarding Syria, Libya, Iran, and Russia; and the fact that she was handling classified information on an e-mail server housed in a basement while using the Clinton Foundation in a “pay for play” with influential world leaders.   Senator Kaine countered with accusations that Trump must be hiding fraudulent tax returns and would conduct his presidency discriminating against Muslims whom he views as evil without exception, against ethnic minorities whom he views as lawbreakers, rapists, etc., and against women who apparently Trump doesn’t trust to make decisions about their bodies.

Were the above accusations and rebuttals the entire substance of this vice-presidential debate, I think nothing historic will have come from it.   However, the Kaine-Pence debate was unique in that each candidate chose to invoke the authority of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures on at least one occasion to question the ethics and character of their opponent’s running mate.

Governor Pence challenged the American electorate to consider what kind of nation we have become when we continue to refuse the right of unborn babies to live.  Pence questioned how Senator Kaine who is pro-life could compromise his own stand against abortion by agreeing to run on the ticket with Secretary Clinton.  Clinton supports late-term abortion up until the time when birth is imminent.  Her campaign also calls for repeal of the Hyde Amendment that respects the moral conscience of those who defend the unborn.  Hyde opposes the use of taxpayer funds for abortion services.  In his opposition to abortion, Pence criticized the Democrat party’s pro-abortion platform by appealing to the authority of the Bible which teaches that unborn babies are already persons with rights.  He stated:

I would tell you that for me the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief that -- that ancient principle that -- where God says, ‘before you were formed in the womb, I knew you,’ and so from my first time in public life, I sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life. Pence added:  Society will be judged by how it defends its most vulnerable – the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn.

Sen. Kaine countered that Gov. Pence and Donald Trump have no regard for women’s right to choose, and that they would reinstate laws that would punish women who seek abortion.  However, Pence denied this charge by saying,

The state of Indiana has also sought to make sure that we expand alternatives in health care counseling for women, non-abortion alternatives. I'm also very pleased at the fact we're well on our way in Indiana to becoming the most pro-adoption state in America. I think if you're going to be pro-life, you should -- you should be pro- adoption.

Senator Tim Kaine, who considers himself a devout Catholic, also appealed to the Scriptures when he questioned the character of Donald Trump.  Kaine’s criticism of Trump’s character came following repeated quotations of derogatory statements Trump has made toward women including Hillary Clinton, and toward Muslims, Hispanics, and individuals who Trump deems unworthy of his respect.  Kaine said, there is “a great line from the gospel of Matthew. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.  By referring to this tiny quote from Matthew 12: 34, in my estimation, Tim Kaine earned the prize for one of the greatest zingers of any presidential debate in American history.

The Judeo-Christian Scriptures reinforce in many passages this principle that our mouth reveals the nature of our hearts, or our character.  Proverbs 23:7 states, For as he thinks within himself, so he is.  Luke 6: 45 expands on Matthew 12: 34 quoted by Tim Kaine,  The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.  Matthew 7: 16-17 records a claim of Jesus followed by His question, and then an application in regard to the character of false prophets:

You will know them by their fruits.
Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence
Whether or not candidate Kaine understood the power of his use of the Scriptures in last night’s vice-presidential debate, I believe he placed his finger on the key to the success (or failure) of the man, Donald Trump, in his bid for the presidency of the United States.  I believe Donald Trump’s greatest opponent both in years past and during the entire 2016 presidential race has been none other than himself.  Trump’s biography is laced with rude and downright immoral expressions that are indefensible.  Even while his running mate was defending many of Trump’s utterances last night, Trump himself was busily tweeting additional words that do not represent him well as a presidential candidate.

But, the truth is that you will know a person by his or her fruit.  The real problem is not Trump’s tongue.  It is his heart.  Nor can any of us be expected to “bear grapes” if our DNA matches that of a “thorn bush” (Matthew 7:16).   None of us can bring forth good treasures with our tongues if our hearts are plagued by evil.

Thankfully, there is hope for Donald Trump just as there is hope for all who, according to Romans 3: 23, …have sinned and fall short of the glory of GodThere is none righteous, no not one, Romans 3: 10 adds.  But, God has not ceased in His pursuit of us.   Centuries before God sent His Son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14) to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), He spoke through the prophet that He would send a Savior.  In Ezekiel 36:26, God promised He would change our hearts so that we can personally know Him and bear the fruit of His righteousness, and not the bad fruit of our own self-righteousness. 

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel is speaking of the transformation that is possible thanks to the incarnation, sinless life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ Who opened the way for salvation from sin and the new birth of Christ’s life within.  Romans 10: 17 states, So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ, and verses 9 and 10, just prior, explain that if you

confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Although we are all concerned about Election 2016, and many wonder which candidate is most qualified, there is a more important “election” that all of us must consider.  Not by our own righteousness, but by putting aside our pride and looking to the cross of Christ where God gave His very life to redeem us from the slavery of sin and death (separation from God). 

And so, we ought to pray for our nation, and pray for the candidates.  For reasons I have written
elsewhere, I am leaning toward voting for Donald Trump.  But, more importantly, I am now praying that he will grasp onto the “key truth from Scripture” quoted by Senator Kaine.  I pray that Trump will take to heart his need to surrender in repentance to God and receive the gift of a new heart and…a new spirit.  From such a heart, godly character can grow, and it is such character that America now needs in leadership like never before.

No comments: