(RNS) Tobin Grant has accused me of lying. He says Wayne Grudem “now claims he was ignorant of Trump’s past.” But that is itself an untrue statement. I never claimed I was “ignorant” of Trump’s past.
Grant objects to what I wrote most recently on Oct. 9 in an article posted to Townhall:
“Some may criticize me for not discovering this offensive material earlier, and I think they are right. I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so. If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.”
That is true, and I stand by it. I did know earlier that he had boasted about being unfaithful in marriage, and it was on that basis I thought he was an unwise choice in the primaries. That is why, back in February, I publicly spoke against him and said his adultery meant Republicans shouldn’t vote for him.
But once he won the nomination and the choice was between him and Hillary Clinton, I still thought I could hold my nose and vote for him. So I said in my July 28 Trump article, “He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages,” but I still thought we had to vote for him.
I never said I was ignorant of Trump’s past.
Some Christians may think they could never vote for anyone who has committed past adultery, but that was not my decision in July. I was against him in the primaries partly because of his boasts about adultery, but I thought we had to support him in the general election, in spite of his adultery. There’s nothing untruthful or inconsistent about that.
But then the new video showed a candid self-confession of repeated sexual assaults against women, and also a specific confession of attempts to seduce a specific woman.
Then I read some of the Howard Stern material and saw Trump give approval when Stern was talking about Trump’s own daughter Ivanka as a sex object.
These specific details of a continuing pattern of sexual sin and sexual assaults against women went beyond what I knew about Trump’s vague boasting about past adultery, and made me decide that I had to withdraw my earlier article. So what I said in my Oct. 9 article is truthful: “If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.” That is exactly true.
In fact, there are probably thousands of Christians who went through exactly the same thought process as I did:
- They opposed Trump because of his moral character in the primaries.
- They reluctantly supported him, in spite of his moral character, after the Republican convention in July.
- After the video was released on Oct. 7, they learned more details about his moral character and decided they could no longer support him.
I don’t think that anyone who followed that thought process is claiming that they were “ignorant of Trump’s past,” but they would say, “I learned more details and therefore I changed my mind.”
What I wrote about my thinking about Trump in both articles was completely truthful. Tobin Grant’s article is a distorted record of what I said, and it is a false accusation.
(Wayne Grudem is research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix)