- Wednesday, June 12, 2024

“Guilty on all counts.”

This phrase has dominated headlines in recent weeks, sending shock waves through every corridor of the political establishment.

First, former President Donald Trump was convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business documents. Then, just weeks later, Hunter Biden, son of President Biden, was found guilty of three felonies. 

And just like that, Mr. Trump became the first former U.S. president to be guilty of crimes, with Hunter Biden’s saga marking the first time a sitting president’s son has faced criminal charges. These strange political twists and turns show this is anything but a typical election year, with these dramatic moments adding fuel to already raging social and cultural fires.

Here’s the central problem with it all: While most of the world is processing and responding to the cases surrounding Mr. Trump and Hunter Biden in strictly political terms, these are human beings made in the image of God — people with real lives, families and a great deal to lose.  

When I saw “Guilty on all counts” once again flash across my computer screen Tuesday, I almost immediately felt conflicted — and convicted, particularly over my previously flippant thoughts about the case and the president’s son. After all, he is a man who has clearly made some poor life decisions, involving himself in drugs and other unfortunate behavior.

Hunter Biden has had the world at his fingertips, yet has missed the mark again and again. But here’s the thing: It’s easy to kick someone when they’re down, particularly when you disagree with that person’s ideology or, in this case, with the political persuasion of Hunter Biden’s father. 

But what if we’re called to something deeper than giggling over embarrassing photos and memes from Hunter Biden’s past? What if we should be filled with a bit more lament over the state of political affairs and, in this case, the trajectory of Hunter Biden’s life?

I couldn’t help but notice one of the jurors in the case speak candidly after the verdict, addressing these very issues. Juror 10 told CNN it was “sad” to see the course of Hunter Biden’s life.

“It was very sad … not that he was being convicted of these crimes, but that his life had turned out the way it did,” the juror said.

He’s right. Hunter Biden’s life choices scream of dejection. He has a 5-year-old child whom he has never met; her mother is a former stripper. He has also dealt with a crack cocaine and alcohol addiction that wreaked havoc on his life. The guilty verdict on three felony charges related to his 2018 gun purchase while addicted to drugs simply added insult to illustrious injury, further exposing the first son’s troubles.

Don’t get me wrong. Justice must always be served, and bad decisions will have consequences. But in cases like those surrounding Hunter Biden and Mr. Trump, our reactions often say more about us than they do them. So often, we treat the people we see in the media and movies as mere commodities. When it comes to politicians, the dehumanization is even more depraved. 

As sanity, compassion and normalcy continue to be stripped away from our politics, rabid tribalism, anger and vindictiveness have taken center stage. Ravenous forces operating with unrestrained political fervor have shaken off any semblance of self-control, leading some to view ideological opponents as nothing more than mere fodder to be torched and tossed out. 

This “win at any cost” mentality has had a dire impact on civility and has left us treating people such as Hunter Biden and Mr. Trump as proverbial punching bags, acting as though we have free rein to insult and demean them.

Yes, Mr. Trump has operated with a boisterousness that has certainly ruffled critics’ feathers, with his own gruff commentary at times further igniting the ire of those who disagree with him. Still, something seems amiss in the joy so many find in his legal battles and woes.

Critics sadly seem more than happy to dance on the proverbial graves of both men, relishing in the pain and chaos surrounding their convictions. It’s often tempting to jump on that bandwagon, but then we must remember something: Even if we view either one of these men as an ideological enemy, it’s unwise and immoral to enjoy others’ suffering — even if it’s self-induced. 

Proverbs 24:17 (NIV) proclaims, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.” The Bible is filled with this astute advice. Rather than ruthlessly mocking or sending hateful messages on social media about people with whom we disagree, we’re called to do something radical: to feed, clothe and pray for our “enemies.”

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord,” Romans 12:19 reads, with verse 20 continuing: “On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’”

And the next verse drives it all home: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Too many of us today allow our evil to overcome our good when it comes to politics. 

We don’t have to like or agree with Mr. Trump, Hunter Biden or anyone else, and we can fully recognize how their decisions presumably led to their woes. Yet at the same time, we must show grace, mercy and compassion.

Our nation needs more prayer, an increased devotion to God, and God’s divine intervention if we want to fix our political structures. Beyond that, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are deserving of our invocations for changed hearts, changed minds and, ultimately, the discovery of a relationship with the Almighty that transforms their eternal destinies. 

• Billy Hallowell is a digital TV host and interviewer for Faithwire and CBN News and the co-host of CBN’s “Quick Start Podcast.” He is the author of four books.

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