By Norris Burkes Ledger correspondent
Posted Aug 27, 2017
I’ve spent my career working chaplain positions in the hospital, the Air Force and in hospice. They were tough jobs, but King David’s chaplain had a much tougher one.
Remember King David? He’s the dude in the Old Testament who had an affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his commanders. To cover the affair and explain Bathsheba’s ensuing pregnancy, David orders the commander to the frontline and causes his death in battle.
A while later God sends Chaplain Nathan to confront David for his sin. (Yes, Nathan was technically a prophet, but I’m telling this story).
Rather than scream into David’s face, Nate tells David a parable about a rich man who stole the only sheep of his poor neighbor.
David, incensed, demands that Nathan reveal this man’s identity so the rich man can be jailed.
In a most famous Biblical line, Nathan points his finger in David’s face and declares, “Thou art the man!”
Nathan told a king with execution powers that the king was the real thief – definitely not a job I would want. Yet today that job falls on me.
I say to our “king,” President Donald J. Trump, “You’re wrong!”
This past week Trump took a moral laxative, dumping all semblance of virtue in his defense of white nationalists. By saying that there are “very fine people on both sides” he played a tune not even his staff and family will dance to.
I know you read this column for spiritual inspiration. So why am I dragging political headlines into it? I may not presume to be “America’s chaplain,” but like Nathan, God calls me to speak in the face of wrongdoing.
I’ve been appallingly silent – but no longer.
For my whimpering silence, I should apologize. First to my wife and three beautiful daughters that I didn’t publically question the morality of a candidate who boasted of grabbing women’s genitals.
Then, I should apologize to my readers that I didn’t speak up when Trump tried to ban immigrants solely based on their religion.
But mostly, I repent of cowering in silence, hoping it would please my readers and editors rather than using my calling to please God.
Today I call upon people of faith to ponder their silence.
Consider whether Trump’s treatment of women, minorities and the poor has shown any improvement since January. I ask you to prayerfully reflect whether the president’s insolence toward world leaders will be the stability and mental fitness we need to avoid a nuclear war.
I call on the church leaders who’ve supported this presidency to contemplate whether the oval office contains the moral depravity of a mean-spirited narcissist. Like Nathan before me, I rebuke Baptist leaders from my own denomination for continually praising this president and feeding the hate.
As a chaplain, I choose to speak in the best tradition of the clergy. Billy Graham opposed Nixon and the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King fought segregation.
However, as a Christian, I will pray for the best possible outcome in the gentlest possible way. I will follow the ways of peace expressed by the olive-skinned Middle Easterner who offered his life for the redemption of our world.
Whatever you think of my stand, you can count on this: I will vote in the next election, but don’t bet on my silence.
As Martin Luther, the seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation, said, ”… to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
Read past columns at www.thechaplain.net. Email: comm[email protected]. Voicemail: 843-608-9715. Twitter @chaplain.