Allow me to begin by giving you all a round-up of links that offer some very different perspectives on Debacle 2016. Wayne Grudem presents a case arguing that Christians can vote for Donald Trump. Thabiti Anyabwile presents his reasons for voting for Hillary here, which will be the inspiration for my comments today. And David Bahnsen outlines a case for an approach that I believe is as sound as it gets, given our lamentable circumstances.
Update: Another piece worth reading is by Alex Chediak here.
Thabiti begins by saying that he is not looking for a wrangle. “I’m not looking for a debate with anyone.” But that is not how debate avoidance works. The way to avoid a debate is to refrain from saying something really controversial in the middle of a hot political season. While Thabiti has every right to nix the trolls at his blog, if he gets to write with passion on a subject like this, then a passionate but respectful answer should not be considered out of line. I do respect Thabiti’s judicious temperament a lot, but I believe that this is a bad mistake. I hope my reasons for saying this become increasingly evident as I proceed.
Setting the Stage
Thabiti presents an argument for voting for Hillary, but it would be a mistake to think that he is in any way endorsing her or her policies. He makes it most plain that he is simply preferring the devil he knows to the devil he doesn’t know.
“At this point, assuming Trump and Clinton are my only options, I’d vote for Clinton. Okay… take a deep breath. Count to ten. Pray. Here’s why: I prefer the predictable over the unpredictable.”
And . . .
“I regard a President Trump the worse of the two evils before us.”
And there it is. This is the necessary result once we are have allowed ourselves the right to choose between evils. Admit the principle, and you cannot object any more simply because of the acknowledged fact of the evil. Because we don’t have an evil-o-meter that we can hook up to the candidates to settle the matter objectively, we are all still having to estimate what we believe the consequences of each candidate’s election might be. But surely that is a matter of debate, right? The future is always more nebulous than mortal men want to believe. Someone could make a calculated bet that a Hillary administration would be much more resisted by Congress than a Trump administration would be, and that it would therefore result in fewer evil consequences. That is a judgment call that seems well within tolerances. He might be wrong on the facts (as I believe), but he could sincerely believe himself to be choosing the lesser of two evils. And we are good with people doing that, right?
This means that in principle Thabiti is doing the same thing that Wayne Grudem is doing—the difference between them being what they believe the practical consequences of the election might be. But no one actually knows that. We could wind up with a President Pence six weeks in—but it would still be irresponsible to vote Trump and then pray for heart attack. God expects us to make our choices on the basis of what we know, and not on the basis of what He alone knows.
God tells us what to do. The consequences are His.
“Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens” (Ex. 18:21, ESV).
We are supposed to choose based on character, and not upon our supposed ability to trouble-shoot the future before any of it has happened yet.
There is a very real procedural tension in what Thabiti writes. He says that he did not vote for either the Republican or Democrat in the last several elections. He says (in effect) that he refrained from voting in the McCain/Obama race or in the Romney/Obama matchup “because I found their moral positions on vital issues unconscionable.”
But notice what this amounts to. Thabiti is saying that he felt comfortable sitting elections out because Romney—to take an example from the three—held to certain moral positions that were “unconscionable.” But this continues on for a few elections, and what finally motivates him to action? He is now voting because of the fact that both candidates are appallingly unconscionable. He refrained from voting when it was (comparatively) tacky to do so, but now is participating when it has become a matter of high wickedness. Something seems really backwards here.
I should not refrain from drinking three shots of whiskey because that would be “intemperate,” but then agree later in the evening to chug a bottle of Johnny Walker. I should either stick to my guns, or admit that I was being inconsistently fastidious earlier. Sticking to my guns is to be preferred for my money.
Thabiti says, rightly, “We must actually resist the evil as best we can.” I agree with this, but would suggest that we have more practical options than he suggests—because our options extend beyond voting.
According to Thabiti (in this election), the cost of voting against Trump (voting for Hillary) is not a cost that is too high. I would suggest that it is too high for a number of reasons—but here is my central one.
“But here’s what we know about both Stalin and Hitler. They both stampeded through their countries and neighboring countries destroying lives. If we’re not just being hyperbolic with the comparison . . .”
This is no hyperbole. We destroy lives as well as they did, and not just metaphorically.
It is astonishing to me that Thabiti was able to say that he was planning to vote for the (evil) Hillary without mentioning one of the principal evils we are dealing with. The current regime in the United States has killed about 50 million Americans thus far, all under the authority of penumbra-like rationalizations, and so we are a nation well steeped in our bloodguilt.
But this is not just simple murder on a gargantuan scale, it is also aimed in particular directions. An average day in these United States sees about 1,876 black children lose their lives in abortions. That’s one day, and nobody leaves teddy bears propped up against fences for them. Blacks represent about 13% of the U.S. population and about 36% of the abortions. The abortion rates in our country lean genocidal. And this is not just something that is done to the black population by white planners (although it is that)—it is also a pattern in which black fathers and black mothers are complicit. This is not something that is happening by some kind of unfortunate accident. It is a complicity that they need to be led out of, and it needs to be men like Thabiti who will do it.
In our elections, black Americans overwhelmingly support the party of death, the party that is killing them, and they desperately need leaders to get them out of that particular Egypt. I do not say they should go over to the Republicans, but they need to get somewhere else. Thabiti voting for Hillary is like Moses voting for Pharaoh (“the devil he knows”) because who knows what the Amalekites might be like?
At the current rates, this means that in a Hillary administration, in the course of one term only, another 2.7 million black children will lose their lives. That is the population of Chicago in one four year term. Many of their bodies will be sold for parts. In comparison to this butchery, the appalling slave market in Old Charleston pales in comparison. If Sodom will rise up in the last day and condemn Capernaum, Old Charleston will rise up in the last day and condemn us and all of our wicked ways. They will point to the blood running down the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, and they will have a point that leaves us standing in an ashamed silence.
2.7 million black children will die because of the policies of a woman that Thabiti says he is likely to vote for. I am referring to her full-throated support of abortion rights. The fate of these children (and many more) will also be sealed by her Supreme Court appointments, who will seal up that machinery of death for another generation. Exactly how many more “Chicagos” can the black citizens of this nation spare? And Thabiti says he is going to vote for her because it is an evil he can count on.
Being salt and light in our nation is not something we do every election. We don’t just vote, and then see what happens before we vote again a few years later. Our presence in this nation is not simply periodic.
In this election, I am preparing myself for life in a beleaguered Christian opposition—regardless of who wins the election. And if I am going to be in that opposition (whether against Trump’s authoritarianism or Hillary’s despotism), I want to go into that opposition with my garments clean. I do not intend to have the yard signs of my coming adversary in my garage.
The state is going to continue to come after the church. In some way or another, the battle against the Church is really going to be joined regardless of who is elected. Things are so bad that the libertarian candidate is a statist. The libertarian candidate doesn’t have clue about religious liberty.
The issues will include what we can say from the pulpit, what can be taught in the classrooms of our schools and colleges, what kind of people must be hired by all Christian institutions, what professions conscientious Christians can go into (pharmacy, baking, etc.), and so on. The issues extend into many areas, but the battleground is going to be religious liberty.
Thabiti says that he is not constrained by the two-party system, but I am afraid that is exactly what he is constrained by. If we in the Church are on the verge of having to say “a plague on both your houses,” then it would be good if millions of us hadn’t just finished voting for one or the other of those houses.
Scripture teaches us that we must have equal weights and measures. The judgment we apply to ourselves are the judgments we must apply to others. The excuses we permit for ourselves must be excuses we extend to others. If Thabiti is willing to cast a (reluctant) vote for the woman who approves the slaughter of 2.7 million more black children, and he will do so because he believes the alternative could well be worse, then he must be forever silent on the behavior of Christian anti-slavery advocates who genuinely feared the consequences of instantaneous manumission. His ability to criticize positions (like mine) on the slavery issue is just clean gone. If “the issues are complicated” applies to our current atrocities, then how much more do they apply to a subject that the New Testament directly teaches on?