Written by Allan Erickson on January 12, 2017

Up top: many of us who self-identify as Reagan conservatives are not Mr. Trump’s biggest fans. We have legitimate concerns about a number of issues, including the way Mr. Trump conducts himself. Argue as you may, Meryl Streep is free to criticize Mr. Trump based on his conduct. At a recent awards ceremony she condemned Trump’s ridicule of a disabled reporter months ago, saying:

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

Taken one way, Streep’s remarks ring true. Powerful people modeling certain behaviors encourage others along the same lines. Take Mr. Obama, for example. His frequently expressed disrespect for police officers and his incitement of the Black Lives Matter movement has resulted in incidents of violence and killing across the country for two years.

Taken another way, Streep’s remarks are insipid, mere platitudes. One either respects others from a deep belief others are made in the image of God, or one pretends respect for convenience or self-protection. One engages disrespect and violence out of a deep selfishness operating to achieve some goal or other. In politics, it’s always about power and bullying is a fact of life. In Hollywood, it’s all about power and prosperity. Actors and politicians have no claim to the moral high ground in most cases. Desperately bemoaning bad behavior and calling for change never cuts it: it never gets to the heart of the matter.

Violence and incivility are the fruits of seeds sown decades ago throughout the West and both Trump and Streep prove those seeds have grown and produced a harvest of anarchy. The seeds of atheism and immorality, challenging the existence and authority of God, sprouted and grew like a creeping vine, choking out virtue. And all of it was initiated by people who said they were only helping advance society, they were only engaged in artistic pursuits.

The bottom line: without the fear of God, people have no interest in self-restraint—and the passions run wild. Furthermore, without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, people are cutoff from the power that might otherwise soften their stony hearts, leading to respect, peace, even love.

The Prince of Peace calls on sinners like Trump and Streep, and you and me, to repent, and walk in the newness of life, where real respect, born of reverence, resides. But like Trump and Streep, and you and me, we think we are sufficient unto the task, and in that posture, we all lose.

photo credit: Glyn Lowe Photoworks. Meryl Streep – Berlin Berlinale 66 via photopin (license)

Share if you agree Donald Trump, Meryl Streep, all of us all need the same thing: a good dose of the fear of God in our lives.

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Allan Erickson
Allan Erickson---Christian, husband, father, journalist, businessman, screenwriter, and author of The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence, Tate Publishing, 2012.