A similar thing happens about a hundred or so times a day lately, as I engage professed Christians who still support this President: they unknowingly reveal their true religion. In the disorienting bombast of heated debate, they inadvertently expose themselves and their hearts.

When faced with the mounting evidence and growing laundry list of moral atrocities proffered by this President and his administration (affairs, lies, clandestine porn star payoffs, Russian election interference, unprecedented abuses of power, intentional healthcare sabotage, and separation of families at our border) — in a careless panic, they invariably drop a familiar closing salvo:

“But the economy!”

Unable to refute the reality of his sinful transgressions themselves (things they know to be antithetical to their calling and their Nazarene namesake), this becomes their go-to conversation stopper; the supposed surefire mic drop, that settles everything and closes the case and trumps the rest.

It’s also a flat-out heretical disgrace, and something a follower of Jesus should feel sickened even saying. Let’s assume for a moment that a President is solely responsible for the present economy at any given moment (which of course, he is not).

Let’s assume that all the economic indicators right now in America are universally positive (which of course, they are not). And let’s assume that these indicators will yield the personal financial windfalls they imagine are coming (which of course, they certainly won’t).

Even if these things were true, in what version of Christianity does any of that mean a thing? Since when is the point of our faith tradition to accrue cash and horde wealth and grow our nest eggs at any cost?

In what heretofore undiscovered translation of the Gospels, is financial security and material wealth a reason to overlook unchecked depravity and repeated assaults on humanity? Seriously, this is some seriously wrong, golden calf idolatry happening here, like table-turning-over kinda sanctified nonsense.

These are words attributed to Jesus, in the biography of him written by Matthew:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Not very ambiguous is he? Not a lot of room for interpretation here, is there? Here’s more from Jesus, just a chapter later:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And then of course, there’s this little chestnut written by the Apostle Paul to a young protegé:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Do you see the problem? Christian supporters of this President are in a really tough spot—and the Bible they claim to love, has placed them there.

There are no wild theological gymnastics that can somehow make one’s 401K more valuable than the lives of sick people losing healthcare, or migrant children still displaced, or people of color marginalized by alarmist rhetoric.

No way to exegete a way into God being cool with anyone supporting a guy who daily breaks several Commandments and countless moral laws, just so folks can see a little bump in their mutual fund.

For professed Christians to willfully ignore adultery, lying, child abuse, sexual assault, theft, bigotry, racism, obstruction, and treason, “because the economy” is essentially to renounce Jesus while taking the money and running in the opposite direction.

It isn’t really about loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, or about loving your neighbor as yourself, and it isn’t even about abortion—it’s about the cash.

In Matthew’s 16th chapter, Jesus poses the same question to his followers that MAGA Christians are going to have to reckon with, not because I say it but because the Bible claims that he does:

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

I wonder what their response will be, should their eventual afterlife meeting with God come to pass—the one they’re always threatening other people with.

I hope they do get the opportunity to stand before their Maker, and try to explain why they ignored and excused away and encouraged and gloated in this President’s prolific inhumanity.

My heart strangely warms, imagining them being asked by Jesus, why they justified a man who brutalized “the least of these” (the ones whose skin he preached that he would come here wrapped in)—and hearing them say (while certainly soiling themselves), “Forgive me, Lord, but the economy!”

I anticipate great weeping and gnashing of teeth, and lots of last second, Hail Mary prayers.

This isn’t about the numbers, it’s about the cost of chasing them. In the Bible, Jesus is eventually betrayed by one of his own students and closest followers, for 30 pieces of silver. The intoxicating allure of a few shiny coins proves to be enough to make him sell his soul and sellout his beloved. He makes a quick cash grab and abandons everything of true and lasting value, all the while loudly claiming allegiance to a God he has replaced.

There really is nothing new under the sun, is there?

John Pavlovitz

The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.