Christians throughout the world recently celebrated the first Sunday of Lent. We told the story of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. Satan tempted Jesus with food, glory, and political power.
Jesus resisted Satan’s temptations, but we often succumb.
Satan is usually known as the “Tempter.” But in Hebrew, the word literally means “Accuser.” Satan is best understood not as a fallen angel in a red suit with a pitch fork and horns. Christian tradition claims that evil doesn’t have a real essence. God created all things good, so evil is not part of creation. Satan, and evil in general, is a parasite of the good. Since the word “satan” means “accuser,” we should understand Satan as the human propensity to accuse one another.
Trump and the Satan
Since evil has no “being,” it’s safe to say that Donald Trump is not Satan. But I think it’s also safe to say that President Trump has mastered the ability of making accusations. Nearly every day there’s a new accusation from his Twitter account. The media is the “enemy of the people,” radical Islam is flowing through our borders, “illegals” are ruining our economy, and protesters are being “very unfair.” Sad!
Last week started off as Trump’s best in the White House. By most accounts, his speech on Tuesday to the joint session of Congress was a huge success. Was this finally Trump’s pivot?
It was not a pivot. We discovered the next day that Jeff Sessions either lied, misspoke, or forgot the truth that he had met with Russian ambassadors during the presidential campaign. As the scandal developed, Trump insisted that Sessions did nothing wrong and that he should not recuse himself from investigations into the matter. Hours later, Sessions did just that.
The Washington Post reports, “Trump was mad – steaming, raging mad.” Signs of Trump’s Russian ties came back to haunt him during his moment of triumph. And that’s when Trump went on the attack with another round of accusations.
Early Saturday morning Trump tweeted that Barack Obama tapped his phones. Apparently, the only evidence for the accusation comes from Breitbart news and conservative talk radio host, Mark Levin.
Trump tweeted, “How low has President Obama gone to tap [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Notice that Trump’s accusation mimics accusations leveled against him. It may be that Trump officials colluded with the Russian government to hack the “sacred election process.” Trump’s tweets on Saturday were a desperate attempt to change the narrative of the story. He didn’t threaten the sacred election process; Obama is guilty!
Democrats and the Satan
Trump is not the only person caught up in the spirit of accusations. Democrats have a role in this, too. I don’t know the truth about the relationship between the Trump Administration and Russia. And I’m not a fan of Jeff Sessions, but the accusations levelled against him don’t seem fair. Until a few weeks ago, James Clapper was the director of national intelligence. Democrats made a big deal when he said on “Meet the Press” that there is no evidence of Obama wiretapping Trump’s phones. But Clapper also said he never saw evidence that the Trump administration colluded with the Russian government as it sought to influence the election. Democrats have been virtually silent on that point.
Sessions gave a meandering answer to Sen. Al Franken’s question if “there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.” He responded that he “did not have communications with the Russians…” Within the context of the question, Sessions seems to have told the truth – he did not participate in “a continuing exchange of information” with the Russian government.
He did meet in in his office with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. But, “A host of Democratic lawmakers – including then Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Amey Blobuchar (Minn.), Jack Reed (R.I.) Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) – have also met with Kislyak.” Many Democratic leaders are demanding he resign for meeting with the Russian ambassador. Should those Democratic lawmakers resign, too?
Russia, the U.S., and Satan
And then there’s Russia. Did Russia seek to influence the election by hacking Clinton campaign emails? 17 U.S. intelligence agencies claim that Russia was behind the attacks. Politicians and the media claim that if it’s true, it’s tantamount to Russia attacking the sacredness of democracy.
I don’t know the truth about Russia. But I do know the truth about the United States. The United States has always talked a good game when it comes to democracy, but our hands aren’t clean when it comes to meddling in foreign democracies. We have a long history of not simply sabotaging elections, but overthrowing democratically elected governments. What Russia may have done to the U.S. pales in comparison with what the U.S. has done to other contries. As Ryan Cooper of “The Week” states, “When America meddles in foreign elections, it doesn’t just hack. It murders.”
Satan, Truth, and Resistance
What’s the truth? The truth is that when we are consumed with satanic accusations, the truth doesn’t matter. In fact, the truth is the first thing to be sacrificed. In a world of satanic accusations, all that matters is that we move from one accusation to the next. The more Trump makes accusations, the more he distracts us from the things that matter.
Those of us who still believe in the truth must resist the satanic game of accusations. Our temptations to accuse make us just like Trump. He is caught up in the satanic principle of accusation. It is bigger than he is and he doesn’t know how to stop. He’s addicted. We must not become addicted.
The truth does not reside in hostile accusations. It resided in love and justice. The truth seeks better and more just policies, but it resists making accusations against Donald Trump.
In our search for justice, when we make accusations against Trump and his administration, we run the risk of falling under the influence of Satan.
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