Peter teaches us that only truth could save this Christian from himself. Today, Mary Trump reminds us that this truth can set Uncle Donald, his fans, his opponents, and indeed all of us free. For the sake of that truth, Jesus lived and died… As we exit Jerusalem and Judea, we need show His love to those difficult to love, and speak His truth to those we love.
In Nigeria, I have heard Animists, Muslims, Atheists as well as Christians describe a person who shows compassion to strangers who are in need as a Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan is a title reserved for some rare angel among mortals. The title alludes to that man who helped a wounded stranger, described in one of the parables of Jesus Christ. Yet, more sobering is the fact, according to Jesus, that only those who behave like this classic Samaritan will live, happily, hereafter. More humbling, for those who claim to follow the teachings of Christ, is the fact that the Good Samaritan was not a Christian, the bad Samaritan was.
Many centuries before Mary Trump gave an historical account of her Uncle, Donald Trump’s thinking crisis, Luke, a physician and religious historian had reported too of Simon, a Samaritan with like narcissistic condition. This other man was a Christian. In fact, Simon had been through the church rite of confirmation. So, he was eligible for communion. Like Donald Trump, this man “amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention”, but Peter was straight with him, “I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Peter’s spot diagnosis and dispassionate rebuke compelled this bad Samaritan to straighten up.
However, in the case of Trump, it’s a pity that psychologists would not offer him a spot diagnosis, except he surrendered himself for their tests. This reality is what his niece laments in her book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. A psychologist herself, Mary offered instead a psychosocial history of Donald that helps the world understand her uncle’s thinking challenges. Mary’s exposé helps us to empathise with the child Donald rather than be irritated at the adult Trump, but it also speaks to the hypocrisy of those who support his abnormal adult behaviour, rather than correct him in love. This is why Peter stood out in Samaria.
I was used to seeing urbane and well-informed people throw in their support for President Trump for reasons best known to them. I usually walked on by. After all, mental slaves of power and money do this everywhere in the world, including somewhere called Nigeria. This is the reason why some six Republican lawmakers still held on to promoting Trump’s open distortion of the facts of the U.S.’s 2020 presidential election, despite the desecration of the U.S. Capitol by white women and men who Trump misled with his toxic lies.
As I nod my head to assimilate the absurd theory of any of my pro-Trump friends, the guy then feels in charge and decides to come down to my level, gently saying: “My brother, you know, Trump is against abortion and gays. The democrats are for abortion and gays”. To this, I respond meekly, “I see.”
However, I started feeling uneasy when I began to hear the pro-Trump conversation in unlikely places, a few days to the November 2020 U.S. election. First at my roadside mechanic workshop. Then at the shop where I refill my cooking gas. I decided to write this piece when I heard the Trump conversation among a group of men and women queuing to buy akara, trying to figure out why the US election results did not favour Trump.
Every time I asked someone in Nigeria why they support Trump’s antisocial behaviour, they usually tell me three things: The first response goes like this: “Well I know he is not normal, but God uses even sinners to accomplish his purposes”. Then I enquire: “What purpose is Trump helping God to fulfil?” That’s when I’m told the two other reasons. The first shock is when the fellow tells you: “You know Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at last.” Since folks as this are usually frenetic when they talk, I usually ask gently, “How exactly is this God’s purpose?” Then they begin to weave some fantastic hermeneutics around Trump’s legend and power over the world, and link his divisive actions to the time when Jesus will return to the earth, via Jerusalem – how some clergyman on TV or the internet revealed this to them, when Jesus refused to open up on His arrival date. At that point, I generally keep quiet.
As I nod my head to assimilate the absurd theory of any of my pro-Trump friends, the guy then feels in charge and decides to come down to my level, gently saying: “My brother, you know, Trump is against abortion and gays. The democrats are for abortion and gays”. To this, I respond meekly, “I see.” Yet, what I don’t see is how democrats unzip the trousers of irresponsible males and force them on vulnerable women, just so they can have an eventual abortion to support.
What I see is young women desiring to have a baby someday, and mature women trying every way and spending fortunes to have their own babies. What I see is pregnant women in their dresses showing off their rotund bellies in joyful pictures. What I see is women crying alone in the night when they lose their pregnancies, through a miscarriage or a regrettable abortion. What I think we need to give women who are compelled to endure the medical procedures of abortion, its health risks, mental trauma, and the irreconcilable loss that haunts them afterwards, is empathy, counsel, love, and choice, but not another repressive anti-female legislation.
“Some of you once lived this way”. A verbally abusive U.S. president and a practicing homosexual U.S. Mayor live the same way. To feel less disgust for the former and more disgust for the latter is not holiness. It is prejudice. Christian males who engage in forbidden love with money or alcohol and passive homosexuals think the same way.
Yes, Trump has another virtue. “He is against gays. He is against liberals. Liberals live and let LGBTQ live. They ought not to live. At best, they should be hunted, confined and left to rot in prison. Their very existence is a threat to our children! Homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt children! They will make those children crazy like they are!” I have great empathy for those who think this way, because I had always believed in the power of the law to suppress those who have these atypical sexual behaviours. That was before I read Paul’s letter to Christians in Corinth: “Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
“Some of you once lived this way”. A verbally abusive U.S. president and a practicing homosexual U.S. Mayor live the same way. To feel less disgust for the former and more disgust for the latter is not holiness. It is prejudice. Christian males who engage in forbidden love with money or alcohol and passive homosexuals think the same way. And it’s a terribly dirty way to think. We all need someone to wash our heart and desires, someone to cleanse our mind and spirit. We all, including lesbians and gays, need God’s help not man’s hate. And if He helped the LGBTQ folks at Corinth, He can help us too.
The world always presents us with the famous Simon, a good Christian and bad Samaritan. Peter teaches us that only truth could save this Christian from himself. Today, Mary Trump reminds us that this truth can set Uncle Donald, his fans, his opponents, and indeed all of us free. For the sake of that truth, Jesus lived and died. He lives with us today in Spirit and in holy writ, to help us clear the web of lies that distance us from the neighbour who is mutually suspicious of us too. As we exit Jerusalem and Judea, we need show His love to those difficult to love, and speak His truth to those we love. Only Jesus’ kind of like love and truth can resolve the complex societal problems at Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world.
Oluseyi Olufemi writes from Abuja. He can be reached at email@example.com.