Once again, Cal Thomas has thundered forth his personal interpretation of a single New Testament verse, certain in his belief that his view settles a 21st century American political argument for all time: “For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” Using this citation from Romans 13:1, Thomas argues that God himself has placed Donald Trump in power.
He then cinches his claim by noting that the Bible is replete with stories of “leaders with severe moral flaws.” But despite his choice to overlook the moral flaws of Donald Trump, Thomas must be reminded that the moral flaws of biblical leaders did not go unchallenged or unpunished. Saul was summarily rejected as king for a single act of disobedience to the prophetic word of Samuel. David lost the moral high ground via his act of adultery, and then witnessed a despicable series of events that flowed directly from his moral failure and ultimately mired the nation in a savage civil war. Solomon’s multiple adultery and harlotry ripped his kingdom into two separate nations and sullied his reputation for all time.
Simply by applying these biblical standards, it should be clear that challenging the gross immorality of Donald Trump is not only constitutionally prescribed, it is also biblical to the core. In fact, it is impossible to imagine any biblical prophet or New Testament author who would fail to challenge Donald Trump.
It would be nice if Thomas could leave biblical interpretation out of his political opinions. But since he persists, he should consider that relying on a single verse from Romans has implications far beyond what he is desperate to say about Donald Trump today. If Romans 13:1 is literally true, then every president in our national history has been God’s choice. To cite only one example, it would be instructive to hear Thomas explain whether Barack Obama was “placed there by God” to establish the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear treaty. If he was — and according to the Thomas view of Romans 13:1, he must have been — either a) Donald Trump must be viewed as striving mightily to undo the work of God or b) Thomas must suppose that God made at least one mistake in placing first Obama and then Trump in the Oval Office. The identity of the “mistake” president is determined by the political viewpoint of “we the people,” and cannot be foisted off onto sacred Scripture.