Why I can’t vote for Donald Trump

It took me months of pondering to recognize how I could write about Donald Trump in a way to keep it from politics or how the media talks about him.

This is about neither politics nor the media.

If it were about politics, alone, I might be a Trumper. I’ve always been conservative. And pro life.

But, it’s not about politics. It’s about what comes from the man.

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When I was a pastor, if I had spoken in the manner our president too often speaks and tweets—making fun of people, berating people, belittling people—I would have been kicked out of office.

At first, I would have been given a stern talking to. If I kept it up, I would have been gone.

If I had previously held the respect of the members of my congregation, I would have lost it. I would have deserved to have lost it. The blame would have rested where it belonged: on me.

Pastors are held to high standards. A few of the biblical criteria are that ministers are to be self-controlled, gentle, with behavior that is above reproach. And don’t forget the Golden Rule, to treat others as one wants to be treated.

If pastors are to model such behavior, shouldn’t the person holding the office of President of the United States be similarly obligated?

If—the way our president has done—I called out those who perhaps could stand to lose weight, before the leaders of my congregation had a chance to corner me my wife would have asked me where my head was.

If—the way our president has done with opponents, those who no longer work for him, and even some in his own party—I referred to anyone as a clown, or a spoiled brat without a functioning brain, or a low class slob, I would not have even gotten out of the room before I was nailed for my behavior.

And if I used such language on Twitter or anywhere online, my wife Julie would have taken my phone away and blocked my internet usage the way parents have to punish their children who cannot mind their manners.

And all of the behavior that would have been unacceptable would have remained unacceptable no matter how well I ministered to my congregation, no matter how well I might have preached.

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I framed this as when I was a pastor. I’ve not been a minister for five years. But I’ve remained Julie’s husband. And my children’s father. And an Eilers. Not to mention my most important standing: Christian.

And all of the behavior that would have been unacceptable from me when I was a pastor remain unacceptable.

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People who don’t act in a respectable manner do not deserve respect.

Donald Trump too often does not speak or tweet in a respectable manner, thus I do not respect him.

He’s my president, and I respect the office he holds. I pray for him every day. I long for him to serve our nation that we might live in peace and prosper, that we might be a shining example to other nations.

I do not wish him ill, but because I do not respect him I don’t want him to be president.

I would prefer he recognize his boorish behavior for what it is. I would prefer he change the way he too often treats others.

If he were to do so, I could come to respect him as a human being.

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Please, use my name

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It was a big change, going from minister to lay person. In retiring, everyone who knew me as their pastor wanted to keep calling me Pastor. It was done from love. It felt good. While I encouraged people to begin calling me by my first name, if they wanted to call me Pastor I was fine with that.

When, last August, I changed my name from Greg to Gina, many made the switch without incidence. Many did not. I understood the challenge involved with this. I was patient. Now, I was not only leaving the ministry, I was leaving behind my birth name.

Revealing that one has gender dysphoria is hard enough for some. Revealing that one is transitioning from male to female is a much greater leap. Changing names makes it all so real. The person who is transitioning needs to be as patient with his loved ones, friends, and peers as he or she wants from them.

I received several communications, for several months, in which the writer wrote, “Dear Greg,” and then made the case for the insistence on my birth name. In each case, the writer was a Christian, some of them were ministers, and they stressed that Greg is the name in which I was baptized, and then they urged me to take seriously the arguments they laid out.

I have not been addressed as Greg in so long that I cannot recall when it last was. Now, I am experiencing something else, and this one hurts me even more because there is no explanation accompanying it.

In the past two weeks, I received several messages and emails which were addressed to no one. There was no salutation. The people simply began with their first paragraph.

Often, in online communications, especially short ones and those following immediately on the heals of another, one does not include or continue to write a salutation. These communications are not those. These are longer, more formal messages and emails, some with folks whom I don’t know.  Definitely the type where “Dear Gina” would be appropriate.

I want you to know: As much as you struggle with my dramatic change, I feel like a non-person when you don’t use my name.

In some cases, I have been the one initiating the conversation. Each time, I used “Dear So-and-So,” and concluded with my standard closing, “Peace, Gina.” When the reply came, the person closed with his or her standard closing, say, “Regards, Mary,” but did not begin the note with a salutation.

Two times, I deliberately wrote replies with a salutation, where I often would cease with that, and included my standard closing to demonstrate the formality of the communication, to test the waters. Both times, the reply came with no salutation but with the person’s standard sign-off.

Many years ago, a teacher pointed out how a political opponent never used the name of his foe. The other guy was “my opponent” or “the senator from Indiana” or whatever worked in the context, but never the man’s name. To say his name, my teacher pointed out, would legitimize him, and the politician did not want to do that.

I feel illegitimate when people refuse to use my name.

Please know how terribly hard on me has been transitioning. I have written plenty on it. I have done that to educate, so that all might know that this is not undertaken lightly. It’s not a whim. It is the stuff of life’s greatest struggles.

I continue to have my struggles. They are easing, but they are not done. I take things to heart perhaps as deeply as anyone. I long to be accepted. I’ve always longed to be liked. My name is as important to me as your name is to you.

It’s a Golden Rule thing. Even when something is hard for us, even when we have our objections, our job is to treat others as we want them to treat us. I have made this the aim of my life, and have practiced it in the toughest spots, treating the other person with respect even when I did not respect the person because of his behavior.

You might not respect my transitioning. I understand that it is very hard for many. I will continue to educate.

In the mean time, I respectfully ask you to use my name. My name is Gina.

I do not despise my birth name. If I did not have this tremendously challenging situation, I would still be happy to be called Greg. It’s a good name. I am pleased to possess it.

But, for now, Gina is my name. In fact, it’s my legal name.

Please, use my name.

Finally, kindly take note that in my relationship with you I show you the three things to which I committed myself when I became a pastor: to be friendly, to show respect, and to demonstrate loving concern to all people, no matter what.

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To close on a lighter note and demonstrate that all is not “woe is me,” and even to show that my sense of humor is as dorky as ever, I present the meme that my friend, Jan, created for me soon after I posted this essay on Facebook. If you know Stewie, you know that compliance is the only course of action! 🙂

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