Words matter. It’s a lesson I learned early in life and one that I’ve heard preached in Christian circles for decades. Maybe that’s why I’m getting tired of hearing my conservative Christian friends fawn over Donald Trump and then casually add, “I just wish he didn’t tweet.”
But he does tweet. Like a thirteen-year-old girl with unlimited data and a brand new social media account.
In the last 24 hours, Trump has fired off 14 tweets. In those tweets, he pushed for the wall, misquoted the NFL commissioner, railed against “FAKE NEWS,” promoted tax legislation and suggested that the government strip NBC of its broadcasting license (even though NBC doesn’t actually have or need a broadcasting license).
Coming from any other president, Trump’s tweets would have been seen as dangerous, if not delusional, attacks on many of the things our democracy holds dear. In the Trump era, it’s just another day.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to write off Trump’s tweets as bluster. Remember when the press asked the White House how to characterize the president’s tweets in June? Sean Spicer told us, “The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States.”
So there you have it. Trump’s tweets aren’t just tweets. They’re official statements. From your president. From the leader of the free world. From the seat of power in a country that’s supposed to be a paragon of freedom, decency and common sense.
More than official statements,Trump’s tweets are words. And words matter. Because whether you like it or not, they provide a window into the tone, tenor and content of the president’s heart.
“But wait a minute,” you say. “Forget about official statements. You can’t judge Trump based on what he says. Actions speak louder than words.” Well, I’m not sure Trump fares much better on the actions front, but is that tired platitude even true? Do actions really speak louder than words?
Not according to the gospel.
Words reveal the heart.
In Luke 6, Jesus tells us that the words we speak — and the words other people speak — matter because they say something about the character of the speaker:
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.“
In God’s world, words are like a leaky faucet — if you want to test the water in your well, just pay attention to what comes out of the spigot. The president’s well is leaking at a brisk clip and whatever’s going on down in the well isn’t good.
Tweets are words. And words matter.
I make my living as a writer, so I feel like I have some authority when it comes to recognizing words. Twitter isn’t a video game. It’s a communication platform. And tweets are words.
By all accounts, Republican lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned about the president’s mental state and maybe even his fitness for office. Although their concern is based on more than Trump’s compulsive Twitter behavior, Congress is slowly waking up to the fact that the president’s tweets provide a glimpse into the dangerously vapid hole at the center of his being.
Now it’s time for my conservative Christian friends to follow suit. Blind allegiance is the currency of tyrants and dictators. If you want to know what’s in Trump’s heart, just listen to his words. Chances are he’s tweeting more of them right now.