Renowned theologian Wayne Grudem, who had earlier backed Donald Trump, says he was wrong in doing so as he announced he is now un-endorsing the Republican nominee due to his "vulgar comments in 2005 about his sexual aggression and assaults against women."
"I previously called Donald Trump a 'good candidate with flaws' and a 'flawed candidate' but I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character," the professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary, wrote in an article on Townhall on Sunday, referring to a leaked video published by The Washington Post on Friday which carries Trump's 2005 remarks while talking with Billy Bush, then host of the "Access Hollywood" show.
Grudem, who served as the general editor of the English Standard Version, described Trump's 2005 remarks "morally evil" revealing "pride in conduct that violates God's command, 'You shall not commit adultery.'"
"God intends that men honor and respect women, not abuse them as sexual objects," Grudem said.
In his conversation with Bush, the real estate magnate discusses a failed attempt to seduce Nancy O'Dell. "I did try and [expletive] her. She was married," Trump says. "You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait," he adds. "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."
About two dozen Republican leaders, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, have rescinded their endorsements of Trump since the video surfaced.
"If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump," Grudem wrote, and urged Trump to withdraw.
In an op-ed for The Christian Post earlier, Grudem wrote, "I do not think that voting for Donald Trump is a morally evil choice because there is nothing morally wrong with voting for a flawed candidate if you think he will do more good for the nation than his opponent. In fact, it is the morally right thing to do."
Several evangelical and Republican leaders continue to back the GOP presidential candidate to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president.
"As a husband and father of three daughters, I find this behavior deeply offensive and degrading," said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, in a statement. It's not an ideal situation, Perkins added, but "I refuse to find sanctuary on the sidelines and allow the country and culture to deteriorate even further by continuing the policies of the last eight years."
Grudem acknowledged that the question about who to vote for is not easy.
"… If Trump refuses to withdraw, where does that leave us?" the theologian asked. "Hillary Clinton is no better. She vilified the victims of Bill Clinton's sexual advances; she abandoned our diplomats to be killed by terrorists in Benghazi and then lied about it; she illegally handled classified emails on her private server and put national security at risk; she left much of the world in chaos after four years as secretary of state; and she has a lifelong pattern of acting as if she is above the law, protected by the Obama administration's Justice Department, the FBI, and the mainstream media."
Grudem added he absolutely will not vote for Clinton, and repeated, "I'm hoping that Trump will withdraw."
"As to how I will vote, I honestly don't know at this point," Grudem wrote. "The election is still a month away. I have friends on both sides who are surprised that I do not find this an easy question to decide. But I do not find it an easy question. I continue to pray and seek God's wisdom, and ask that God will yet provide a better solution."
But there's no need to become fearful or despondent, he added. "This turmoil in our nation provides a wonderful opportunity to renew our faith in God each day, 'for kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations' (Psalm 22:28). We should continue to pray, mindful of what Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon long ago: 'The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will' (Daniel 4:17)."
Trump has said, "I was wrong, and I apologize."