Politics is a “city of man” venture. We live in a fallen world. I believe we are all far worse than we care to believe, and certainly worse than we want publicized. We are painfully aware of everyone’s faults, sins, and “me-too” moments now (as a side note, I believe this tendency is driving good people away from public service since “Who wants everything bad you’ve ever done dredged up and hung out for public opprobrium?”).
On several occasions recently, I have encountered stalwart Christians who have posted links to stories covering other Christians (in a positive manner) who announce their intention to vote for Joe Biden. The conversation usually goes in three directions.
First, for example, Christianity Today recently reported on Richard Mouw, respected leader and former president at Fuller Seminary saying he “plans to vote for Biden, despite some qualms about the Democratic Party’s positions on abortion and religious liberty.”
When I read this, I replied to the post saying, “Qualms? QUALMS? Lord have mercy! Vote for Beelzebub for Pete’s sake. If you vote with the darkness of abortion, all your other virtuous commitments to justice are so much hot air. Such foolishness!”
The respected Christian brother posting the link said I was missing the point and that we all have to choose our qualms (true enough in a fallen world). He went on to say that President Trump has so egregiously transgressed the commandment against bearing false witness, that he, too (it seemed), must vote against Trump.
I do not have a record of my rejoinder to his comment because after I posted another response, . . he blocked me from his page. Yes, . . . I was “canceled” because I showed so little patience with people who would vote for candidates who advocate the killing of unborn human beings (100% of the time, right up to birth). In fact, six months ago, only three Democrats had the moral courage to vote in the affirmative for cloture on the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” – those against included 42 Democrats and 2 Independents. This is a political movement that cannot even bring itself to direct medical professionals to save the life of child who survives an attempted abortion. Let that sink in . . . they would rather the medical professional let the baby die – essentially commit infanticide in a sterile back room by state decree in order to protect “reproductive choice.”
And Christian leaders have “qualms” about this stance?
Then there’s a Billy Graham granddaughter with a winsome piece in USA Today about how awful Trump is toward women and how those who support him are “spitting on the legacy” of Billy Graham (ouch!). Though she never clearly says in this opinion piece what her recommended alternative is, she does so in her Twitter account here: she will happily vote for Biden. So, again, due to Trump’s bad behavior, she is willing to throw her support behind those who advocate for and support those involved in the killing of unborn children. Makes. No. Sense.
One man on that comment stream said the following to me:
“But like many who are pro-life until birth you support a man who violated almost every commandment of the ten and never attends church or prays for forgiveness over a man who has spent his life trying to help the downtrodden, attends church weekly and constantly asks for forgiveness. You and Trump are a total contradiction.”
I have tried to reason with some followers of Jesus about what I call the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the law. Some will tell me we simply cannot vote for Trump due to his breaking so many commandments. Yes, every sin is an act of cosmic treason against a holy God (the vertical dimension of the law). And all sin deserves eternal punishment (regardless of how often we go to church). But we also must realize that while it is a sin to insult a man or even wish him dead, it is far worse (with respect to the horizontal dimension of the law) to plunge a knife in his chest and end his existential life. Thus, I gladly admit to Trump’s terrible behavior; but he is not advocating killing unborn babies made in God’s image.
Second, in another story, we read about an evangelical who is directing Biden’s “national faith engagement.” For this Moody Bible Institute graduate, “The key religious issue of this election is systemic racism.” My initial response to the posting was to say, “Sorry, can’t do a party whose primary commitment is abortion of black and disabled children. People (I’ll even say ‘believers’) who claim to be ‘pro-life Biden supporters’ are holding two completely contradictory ideas in their heads simultaneously. SMH”
Several dozen responses followed including the now predictable charge that I am merely “pro-birth” and I don’t care about the babies once they are born, so shame on me. I usually don’t dignify the charge with a response. I could talk about my four adopted black children (and several others who call me “papa”) and how my wife and I have been pro-life 24/7/365 for several decades now; or how my circle of friends have adopted scores of children as an outgrowth of our pro-life convictions. “Pro-birth”? Please!
I usually simply say, “Being pro-life is certainly more than being ‘pro-birth’ of course, but it is certainly not less than being pro-birth!”
Most of my friendly (and some not so friendly) opponents in such debates say, “But Trump is so profane, nasty, adulterous, boorish, rude, and mean.” All true (and we could add a few more accurate epithets). I sometimes tell people that I preferred about 16 other candidates to Donald Trump, and I resigned my Republican party affiliation four years ago upon his nomination.
But – let me be clear – I will always prefer a mean, lying, adulterer who is pro-life, over a nice, kind, grandfatherly gentleman who advocates death to unborn children through a racist agency spear-heading a holocaust on minorities. Period.
I have had other well-intentioned believers respond with “But Planned Parenthood does good things; and I don’t know any Democrats who advocate abortion up until birth – it’s only to the point of viability.” Sigh . . . . It seems some people must be living in a cave or simply are not listening. The New York Times (last year during Democrat candidate debates) surveyed candidates regarding limits on abortion. Only one of the 15 or so respondents advocated limits. Just ONE! Other published results from NPR or WaPo show a more nuanced look at the issue, but still half of all candidates said, “No limits what so ever” while others said, “Stick with Row v. Wade limits” (which essentially means, “It’s a wild card depending on interpretation and application”).
I could have added: Let’s be honest – clearly the most egregious example of systemic racism is the work of Planned Parenthood decimating Black families through abortion for decades. I have a particular antipathy for Planned Parenthood and thus for people who would do anything in any manner to help the organization survive and grow. Counselors at Planned Parenthood would have advocated for abortion for at least half of my eight children. When I see followers of Jesus work for the success of a party that is 100% behind Planned Parenthood, . . . I have to give the benefit of the doubt that they have simply been blinded to Planned Parenthood’s clear and unambiguous racist history and continuing racist practices affecting black and other minority communities.
Third, there are those who say, “at least vote third party, keep your conscience clean; by voting for Trump, you endorse all his bad behavior.” I could answer by saying that when a Christian votes for Biden he or she is endorsing abortion, . . . but I won’t say that. I don’t believe that about brothers and sisters in Christ, nor should they believe I endorse bad behavior from Trump. I respond with two points:
First, I believe a vote of any candidate is never necessarily an endorsement of that person’s morality. If it were, I could never vote for anyone. We have all known Trump’s severe moral deficiencies for years (imagine what we still don’t know!). Politics is a “city of man” venture. We live in a fallen world. I believe we are all far worse than we care to believe, and certainly worse than we want publicized. We are painfully aware of everyone’s faults, sins, and “me-too” moments now (as a side note, I believe this tendency is driving good people away from public service since “Who wants everything bad you’ve ever done dredged up and hung out for public opprobrium?”). So I often say politics and Polish sausage are alike in so far as the process of making each product may create nausea and seem absolutely repulsive; but one hopes the end product of each may be something that “tastes good.” I am voting for a world-view and a philosophy of government, not for any particular man or woman.
But second, until a viable third party rises, a “protest vote” or a “stay at home no-vote” actually helps the other side whose world-view commitment is solidly pro-abortion. Such a protest or third-party vote is fine in places like New York or California where the result is so lop-sided a conservative vote does not matter. In such cases, keep your conscience clear if you must. But in closely contested states like Florida, I sincerely believe we do not have that option. The pro-abortion party will gratefully cheer on every conservative pro-life third-party vote or no-vote since it essentially becomes a vote for them. Politics is often necessarily a “lesser of two evils” situation, and never more so (in my opinion) than in 2016 and 2020. Again, a city of man issue.
Let me be clear again: I yearn to see justice accomplished and equity established. I long to see more fair housing and less bad policing. We all want criminal justice reform and peace in our cities. But if you’re dead, none of these social justice goals matter. For those image bearers who don’t survive birth, for those who die by abortion, it’s all moot.
We must begin by getting “Life” right. Everything else follows. Abortion is a grisly, sickening, grotesquely dark business. The current VP candidate for the Democrat party prosecuted a man who exposed Planned Parenthood’s illegal selling of human fetal body parts. But the criminals marketing in human flesh still operate with impunity as they perfect methods of abortion that allow them to harvest more organs for yet more profit.
I cannot see, frankly, how any follower of Jesus can throw their lot in with such modern day Phoenicians engaged in child sacrifice for the sake of economic gain. “Reproductive choice” has become god for many. The abortion business (and advocating for it in any fashion) is far, far, far worse that calling someone names, mocking a disabled man, committing adultery, lying, cheating on taxes, or whatever you wish to add to Trump’s list of sin.
Finally I must add one more: a pastor in Georgia running for office was asked about abortion (or “reproductive choice.” Notice: in his responses, he never musters enough courage to say the word abortion! Rather, he uses seven or eight euphemistic terms to weasel around the grisly, racist, ugly truth behind abortion. Again, I am left shaking my head in disbelief. Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood has endorsed his campaign for office.
May God grant mercy on us all as we seek to follow Him in our confused and ever-darkening culture so focused on death for convenience and economic security. I, for one, want to see abortion ended and I cannot – ever – support a candidate of any party who works for abortion’s flourishing and continuation in our land.
Dr. Mike Beates is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and lives in Winter Park, Fla.