Saturday, October 27, 2007

Christians In the Voting Booth

The election season is upon us way too early this time around. The candidates have generated no little discussion in the blogosphere, particularly of late it seems. Bob Jones's endorsement of Republican candidate Mitt Romney brought many of Jones' critics back out of their shell.

For my dollar, I see no reason for Jones to have endorsed anyone given the recent history of the school in the political scene. The events of 2000, which were really no different than the events of 96, 92, 88, 84, or 80 (when I shook Nancy Reagan's glove-covered hand), brought too much attention of the wrong kind to the school, and Jones, in my opinion, would have better served the school by not publicly getting involved.

However, there are some who seem to have a strange view of elections, particularly in this regard: They lambast those who would encourage voting for "the lesser of two evils." To me, this is either extremely naive, or rooted in a gross misconception of our fallen world. The truth is that all candidates are evil to some degree. We are always voting for the lesser of two evils (or three, or ten).

When a Christian goes into the voting booth, he does not do so with a word from God about whose name to check off. While the Bible does inform our view of moral issues, it does not do so unequivocally on political issues.

On top of that, we do not live in a simple world, where one issue is all that matters. Elections are complex because candidates hold a variety of positions. They are not a buffet from which can take a little from one and a little from another.

In the end, we have to check off the name of a sinner (or stand defiantly ... or apathetically) with our hands in our pockets. Let's face it: there are not, as of now, any great candidates this time around.

(And no, "If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.")

The GOP is not God's Own Party. It has done a great disservice to Christians. But what should we expect? We live in a fallen world where power is important. Lest our horses get too high, let us not forget that power seeking in the church is as wrong as power seeking in politics is, and power seeking in the church usually has greater consequences.

Here's the bottom line for me: Will I, by my vote, be causing greater damage to our country? I am not convinced there is anyone running in this election that can actually help restore some of the things that have gone wrong. I say that on the one hand because one man (or woman) in the White House can only do so much; they still have to work with Congress and the courts. I say that on the other hand because there is no one running who I have seen who actually has clear Christian values in every area.

Ron Paul seems to be the darling of part of the conservative movement, but he thinks that individual states should get to decide whether murdering babies in the womb is okay. I think murdering the unborn is wrong no matter what state you are in, and I think the nation should say so. He is also for the legalization of drugs, something I oppose. On top of that, I think is he both naive about being president and unelectable anyway.

Mike Huckabee is a Southern Baptist preacher, whose record in Arkansas does not seem to be all that impressive, unless weight loss is a national priority. He says some great stuff, and has some fairly significant problems fiscally speaking, it seems.

Mitt Romney has held different positions on some issues causing some to call him a flip-flopper, but it could well be that his changes are principled rather than pragmatic. Who knows? Romney himself. Besides, he is "too pretty," and he is a Mormon (two common comments, neither of which seems to me to be particularly useful).

Guiliani is a liberal who happened to be mayor of NYC on 9/11. His cleanup of NYC was pretty impressive, but how does that help him overcome his liberal social positions? McCain and the rest all have similar problems. And that's just the good side of the spectrum. It is hard to imagine anyway that a serious Bible-believer could vote in good conscience for anyone currently running on the Democratic side of the spectrum.

For a president, their greatest power is the power of judicial appointments. The next president will probably have at least two, and perhaps four Supreme Court appointments. To whom do we want to give those?

I say you better think twice before casting a vote for someone that is unelectable, and giving four SCOTUS appointees to a Democrat. While Romney, or McCain, or some other Republican may nominate someone who will not overturn Roe, the Democrat most certainly will nominate someone who will not overturn it.

It seems to me our choices, at least in this election, are about a vote for a possibility or a vote for a sure thing.

But in this, I believe we should grant believers the liberty to vote for someone else. I understand the urge to "send a message" to the GOP that our vote is not secure. But I also understand the reality that a lifetime appointment of a liberal justice such as Breyer, Stevens, or Ginsberg has potential that lasts long beyond sending a message to the GOP this year.

And, by the way, we should also remember that we are not voting for a national pastor or a theologian-in-resident. To confuse political endorsements with religious affiliations is misguided to a very great degree. I believe it shows a great misunderstanding of ecclesiastical separation as taught in the Bible. To condemn Jones as compromising ecclesiastical separation by endorsing Romney does not help the cause of fundamentalism. I think it weakens it by confusing what ecclesiastical separation is really all about.

So let's be smart. And let's be principled. And let's not sell the future of the country down the river in hopes of salving a misguided political ideal.


Andy Naselli said...

Thanks, Larry.

You wrote, "Mitt Romney is just too pretty, and he is a Mormon." FWIW, I don't find that a very helpful analysis.

Larry said...

Thanks Andy,

That particular comment wasn't intended to be "helpful" per se; it was more of an attempt to be somewhat light-hearted or humorous. However, two common comments I have heard about Romney are his looks and his Mormonism, which is why I commented on it there.

Neither one is particularly bothersome to me in a politician. We could certainly do worse (and have at times).

I have edited my article in light of your comments in hopes of being at least a little more clear.