Maslow, Trump and Muslims

Remember Maslow and his “hierarchy of needs”? The basic premise is that we will sacrifice everything else we hold dear if we do not have our basic foundational needs met. If a person is dying of thirst or cannot breathe, he will do anything, including risking his personal safety, to get air or water. As you move up his chart, Maslow claims that people are more concerned about their safety than their self-esteem or belonging to a group. His theory is that people will abandon their higher values if they feel like their safety is at risk or their group identity is being threatened.

At the top of the chart is what Maslow calls “Self-Actualization.” If all the other core needs are being met, according to Maslow, only then can you worry about idealistic values such as being moral or abandoning our prejudices. I remember my professor saying “Religion is in this top triangle called self-actualization.”

I understood the basic logic of Maslow’s hierarchy, but as a believer in an all-powerful God, I was surprised that my professor, at this Christian college, was limiting God to a small triangle. I saw God as outside of Maslow’s chart. God uses the things in the “hierarchy” to make me, and our society, better. Look at the story of Job. In a way, these “needs” are tests or a way to develop our faith. If we are hungry, well, God knows the number of hairs on our head, He certainly knows that I need food.

My Christian group identity was important to me. This was my safety net through which God worked. If I was in need of anything, I could approach “my tribe” and probably have my needs met. In my worldview, God had given me this community. He supplied my needs in various ways and if I did not have something, perhaps God was teaching me something or perhaps, whatever I “needed,” was more of a “want” than a need.

I thought most Christians would see things in a similar way. God is above all. However, as I have worked with Peace Catalyst and stood in front of numerous Christian audiences talking about loving Muslims, I have found Maslow very helpful in explaining the various reactions I receive. I can talk about Biblical principles of loving others as we love ourselves, and I can quote Paul’s speech in Athens where he said that God made everyone and determined the times and places that they would live and did this so that people could connect to their Creator, but some “Christians” just were not buying it. Quoting the Bible was naïve to their minds. Their safety was on the line. Many claimed that to be safe, we needed a “strong response.” Others saw the browning of America as a threat to our identity, “our American values.” It really didn’t matter what God had to say about things, these Christians were processing through a different set of filters. Verses that suggested that God is working all things together for the good of those who love him, were dismissed as impractical or dependent on our “using the brains God gave us.” To live sacrificially, doing to others as we would have done to us, had it’s limits.   Apparently, we are only to love others if they look and think like us.

Why are so many “evangelical, Bible believing Christians” jumping on the Trump bandwagon? It certainly has nothing to do the spiritual fruit demonstrated in his life.

Galatians 5:19-25 says;

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

These are principles and ideals that we are to live by. I don’t know Trump’s heart, nor does anyone else, be they supporter or detractor. All I can do is look at his life and words. But when I look at scripture, and look at Trump, and look at “believers” who are supporting him, I think Maslow was on to something. My question is, in what are these evangelical people believing?

You will know them by their fruit.