It’s a new day in America. After months of living inside the hurricane that has been this election season, half of the country woke up this morning to the crippling news that the election didn’t go our way.
I tried to stay up to watch the votes roll in. I tried to remain invested in the democratic process and engaged in what was going on. But when it became a reality that the red states were going to win, I just had to turn off the TV and try to sleep. I had faith that even a sloppy sleep would help wash off the sludge of the election, but the REM cycle tides didn’t clean up my spirit like I hoped.
Watching the votes come in, my soul sunk into the mattress on my bed. Seeing unashamed evidence of so many people voting for a man who is so brazenly barbaric, so unapologetically backwards and so unbearably misogynistic, I couldn’t help but be grieved. I grieved as a progressive American who believes in equal rights, but mostly I grieved the loss of the evangelical witness. While I’ve distanced myself from their conservative ideals and have found that God is a lot bigger than we give Him credit for, I cannot allow myself to be associated with that moniker any longer.
If my Facebook and Twitter feeds are to be believed, the public reason for Christians to vote red was mostly abortion-related. They couldn’t imagine a strong woman standing at the podium who spoke openly about her right to be in control of her own body. The woman-on-woman sexism many Christians exhibited was appalling and when one of their own dared to stand up for herself (i.e. Beth Moore or Jen Hatmaker), they pounced on them like a gorilla on a cupcake. God forbid we have different views and God forbid a woman of faith stand up for herself.
Most of those women would tell you they didn’t vote for a particular man, but they voted against the baby murderer in the pant suit. They chose to negate every horrible, immoral, sexually aggressive, misogynistic, and demeaning thing their candidate has said, all of which has been replayed ad nauseam on every news broadcast and website scroll for months. Some said the reason to vote red was the future of the Supreme Court, but again, that came across as mostly about abortion just dressed as a horse of a different color. Even with abortion being a sticking point, listening to the vulgarity from the man the red chose, there’s no moral, biblical or spiritual way any evangelical should be able to support him.
Which begs the question: Have we peeled back the veneer of what the evangelical base actually looks like?
The sea of white faced supporters in red hats on TV looked very much like the KKK militants who endorsed their candidate. At the most rudimentary level, that should have shook Americans to their cores, but it didn’t. This issue didn’t just come to light last night as the election results rolled in. I didn’t see videos of pastors shouting from their pulpits that their fellow Americans were being disparaged by this Reality TV demagogue so flagrantly. There were no cries of social justice from the Bible Belt over black men being killed without reason. When 49 people were gunned down in a gay club in Orlando, I didn’t see outrage from pastors over what happened to them. Evangelicals have become incredibly good at sending “love and light” to people when they’re hurting, yet in the voting booth yesterday, they were only concerned about their place within their “Christian nation.”
There’s a saying that’s popular among Christians that says, “You may be the only God someone will ever see.” This morning, that God looks like a sea of red-hat-wearing bigots being championed by a fear mongering racist. Many evangelicals I know don’t have a very wide worldview; they tend to only be able to see as far as their American church pew. I know enough to know the world is always watching and in this case, they’re seeing who and what those Christ-followers voted for.
The evangelical message, as it’s been known, has been irreparably soiled. It’s been shit on by the fear of change and the fear that their place in privileged white America was in danger. That privilege never has been and never will be diminished, but like sheep, they bought into his lies. My mother always told me, “Do not be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.” This resonated with me as a young person because I lived my life 24/7 in, at, and within Bible Belt church culture and I had to function in the real world outside of that. This resonates today because so many people abandoned the practicality needed to run a nation in favor of trying to impose their singular mindset on others.
“But not all red state voters are all those negative things!” You’re right. But by voting for someone who is a violent racist, who is staunchly immovable in a changing culture, who is incoherently misogynistic, they have played their hand. None of these things look like Jesus or his followers as described in the Bible and if the goal is to emulate Jesus, to be Christ-like as the name suggests, they failed meteorically. They were offered 30 pieces of silver and they took it.
The Christ I know exists, moves and touches people through love, not fear. Jesus was not mean-spirited. Jesus did not boast. Jesus hung out with prostitutes, the incurably diseased and those with special needs. When the storms raged, both literally and figuratively, Jesus was calm and measured. He didn’t lash out irrationally. Something tells me His Twitter account would look more like Oprah’s and less like a red state politician’s.
An anthem made popular by gospel singer CeCe Winans tells the biblical story of the woman who brought her most valuable possession to Jesus. She brought a box of alabaster to Jesus, irreparably broke it and poured out the oil to wash his feet. With no Nikes, Doc Martens, or red-soled pumps to keep their feet clean, it’s a fair assumption that Jesus’ feet looked like the aftermath of a Tough Mudder race. Yet this woman, who had nothing to offer except her brokenness, gave it to her God. From her brokenness came fullness.
Today, that woman is me. I’m broken and hurting and feel like the wind has been knocked out of me. I’m saddened by the state of this brand of Christianity but I will today, as I do every day, try to show people that the love of God is a life of fullness and is not defined by what a red or blue state voter says it is. I will try to show people that God’s grace umbrella is wider than we can imagine and that His love is conditionless. I can’t change the way people voted, but I can hope that the God of the Universe hasn’t left us in the lurch and that His love will win out in the end. As Anne Lamott says, “Grace always bats last.”
I woke up early today and spent the morning praying for my friends who have been “othered.” My gay friends. My friends who aren’t white. My friends who aren’t Christians. I weep over the fear we feel and I weep over the fact that many of our families and friends voted against our well-being. But I also pray that from our moment, our days, even our weeks of feeling broken, we will muscle toward fullness for ourselves and for the people who voted against us. I pray that from this steamy dump of an election result, Christians who don’t prescribe to the politicized “evangelical” moniker will stand up and make it known that those people don’t speak for all of Christendom and that Jesus isn’t defined by a red voter status.
Today, we have each other. And we have Big Macs and nachos and chocolate and economy-sized bottles of wine. Take the day to nurse your wounds and invest in some aggressive self-care. As for tomorrow, after we go to the gym to work off our self-care, I have the hope and the belief that we can see change and that the love we give will reach those who voted against it.