Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article appeared in USA Today on February 6, 2018.
I’ve heard the allegations about Donald Trump’s past moral failures. I don’t pretend to know what’s true and what isn’t. But there is a truth I do know: Faith in Jesus Christ calls us to live with moral clarity. And that means calling sin — sin.
I did not before the election — and I will not now — excuse immoral behavior. Such conduct is unacceptable. But Americans can only hold the president accountable for what he does in office. We can’t change the past.
Candidate Trump apologized for some past conduct and made the case to evangelicals that he was ready for a fresh start. Many evangelicals responded, “OK, we’ll give you a second chance, you get a do-over.” Some interpreted that as excusing or condoning his past conduct. That’s simply not true.
I, like many evangelicals, did not support Mr. Trump until it was a choice between him and Hillary Clinton. At that time, we began a conversation that led to Mr. Trump meeting and exceeding the threshold set for him to gain our support.
He committed to appoint pro-life judges and embraced the conservative GOP platform, turning the election from a contrast of personalities into one about policies. Since then, he has been keeping his promises and advancing policies essential to making America good and prosperous.
However, this support is conditional. If he were to revert to past behavior or fail to keep his promises, support would rapidly diminish. But that hasn’t happened. Nothing has changed since the election, so why should our support change?
While evangelicals can give him a do-over regarding their political support, only through repentance and accepting God’s forgiveness through Jesus can he, like anyone, have a totally new start.
Evangelicals are not offering blind allegiance. They are offering reasoned support for a leader who is keeping his promises.