Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump, Classified Information, & Theology

God wants a relationship with humanity. This theme repeats over and over again throughout the Bible. Church history corroborates the human/divine connection. And, personal experience can complement scripture and history. How do news stories comment on God’s relationship with humanity? Generally, they reflect a broken world. Humanity flees from God. Self-sufficiency and self-reliance morph into self-centeredness.

For example, a recent Washington Post story says, “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador.” Most news outlets seem to agree that he could declassify the information. He could even declassify it while speaking. The legality is beyond my area of expertise, but the theology is not.

What does this story say about God? We cannot know the inner workings of the president’s mind. So, we must set that question aside. Instead, division remains. People take sides. Social media reflects people pushing one way or another. Consensus seems unachievable. Along the linear spectrum of right/wrong, dialogue diminishes.

When the religious leaders questioned Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40, he points to a theme, not a law. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Telling secrets might be illegal. Or, it might not. More importantly, what does it say about trust? Trust in the president? Trust in government? Trust in neighbors?

People shift their beliefs and worldview away from loving God, and their actions reflect this reduced faith. When Pharisees asked Jesus about working on the sabbath, he said, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath” (Mark 2:23-28). The idea of classified information in the modern secular era might seem distant from the biblical tradition. However, the spirit of governance is societal order. Militaries seek to keep the population safe. Intelligence attempts to thwart attacks. In other words, to paraphrase Jesus, “Classified information is made for humanity, not humanity for classified information.”

Whether the intelligence community and the executive branch choose to classify or declassify information is up to them. Did the president do something wrong? I do not know. Are the Russians our enemies? No. Even if they are (or Daesh/ISIS is), Jesus commented on that too. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Jesus’ words can be uncomfortable. Yet, they reflect God’s desire to relate to humanity. All people are equal before God. God is not American, white, or middle-class. The partisan rhetoric in the U.S. has consequences. One of these consequences is the inability to see another person’s perspective. People not only struggle with loving their enemies, but people struggle to love others who hold a different viewpoint.

Did Trump share classified information? This is the wrong question. Instead, a better question might be: how can we repair fractured relationships?


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