For almost 12 years in the 1990s and early 2000s, I was rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro. My wife and I returned to Wilkes about 18 months ago upon my retirement from full time ministry
I am writing for myself alone as I am distressed about some of the supposed theological rhetoric of our current sordid presidential campaign. I am a priest and a lifelong Republican. I am grateful to be the former. As a priest, I am embarrassed to be the latter.
Many prominent members of the clergy have responded to the revelations of Mr. Trump’s lurid conversation with Billy Bush on “Access Hollywood” 11 years ago with grace and mercy. That is how it should be when a person seeks forgiveness.
And no one knows the level of grief that resides in his heart for his disrespect of women and others, so judgment is for another venue. But as Alexandra Petri recently wrote in the Washington Post (Oct. 14, 2016), we have known for some time what Mr. Trump has said consistently during the campaign about women and human sexuality when the microphones are turned on.
Now, he has added to our understanding how he feels about people when he thinks no one is listening.
Throughout the ages, awareness of human frailty or sin, if I may be so bold, has prompted reflection and repentance. Think of John Newton, slaver, then priest, then composer of “Amazing Grace.” Some fled to the desert until they could live with themselves again. The same has been true for me and many of us. But forgiveness for crass behavior toward our sisters and brothers is not a qualification for higher office; it is a call to amendment of life.
Frank Laubach has written, “The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is he says ‘Amen,’ and runs away before God has a chance to answer. Listening to God is more important than giving Him your ideas.” Over the centuries, Christians have made the most profound impact on their surroundings through the power of following the example of the one from whom we draw our name.
Mr. Trump might profit most by hearing pastors and others call him first to repentance, then to personal renewal, service and witness. Only then should he listen to what might be the call to lead.
(THE REVEREND) J. KENNETH ASEL, D. MIN.
North Wilkesboro, N.C.