I was talking with a friend about the political monkey house that is our time, and the subject moved to the condition of the church in all of this.
First, some ball park data. About one quarter of the electorate self-identifies as evangelical, and I am talking here about the white, born-again types. Please note that this is a kind of believer that is closer to what Gallup thinks an evangelical Christian is than the apostle Paul did, but it will do for the rough cut numbers. In 2012, about 21% of them voted for Obama. This works out to about 6.4 million. And that would include — unless I miss my guess — quite a few of their pastors.
So let me say the controversial thing first, albeit at a minimal level, explain briefly what I do not mean by it, and then briefly defend it. Any evangelical leader — by which I mean someone like a minister or an elder — who voted for Obama the second time, is not qualified for the office he holds, and should resign that office. Unless and until he repents of how he is thinking about the challenges confronting our nation, he should not be entrusted with the care of souls. A shepherd who cannot identify wolves is not qualified to be a shepherd.
Just to keep things simple and straightforward, I would say this solely on the basis of Obama’s radical pro-abort position.
There is a Catch-22 in this, of course. Nobody is going to step down for this reason, because they will not see the need for it. Not seeing the need for it is the reason they are disqualified. If they were to repent, and come to see the need for their resignation, there would then be no need to resign. It is not as though voting for Obama is a permanent moral disqualification, like adultery. Rather, it represents and exhibits a fundamental condition of cluelessness. And the last thing we need is more clueless leaders. The last thing we need right now are more blind seers.
“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; And to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Is. 30:8-11).
While the stats given earlier are for white gallupian evangelicals, I also believe the same principle applies to black Christian leaders. Not only must the dignity of human life be upheld by white and black Christian leaders alike, to the extent we may allow any differences, it should be to expect a greater vehemence in opposing abortion (in the person of its advocates and enablers) from black leaders. This is because it is their people who are being disproportionately targeted by the white Sangerites. And a black Christian leader who cannot identify a Sangerite is a rabbit leader who does not know what a hawk looks like.
Now, before the yelling starts, let me say what I am not saying. I am not saying an Obama vote is the only way a Christian leader could disqualify himself in the voting booth. I am not saying that God is a Republican. I am not talking about anything that such men who voted for Obama should have done instead. I am simply talking about a very obvious thing they must not have done. The optometrist usually has you try to read the big E on the top before trying anything else. So let us start with the easy question, while at the same time recognizing that just because I think it is an easy question won’t keep people from thinking that I am being outrageous.
Neither am I saying anything about the average parishioner. No doubt, he should be up to speed on biblical engagement with the issues of the day, and I would want to urge him to grow in his abilities to do so. But shepherds of God’s flock have a moral responsibility in this that is directly connected to their ability to discharge the responsibilities of their office. If a man is a pastor, and he voted for Obama in 2012, then his cultural astuteness is about as sharp as a bowling ball.
A generation later, it is easy for us to cluck our tongues at the German leaders who did not see what Hitler was doing, but it is very hard for us to see our complicity in things that are every bit as atrocious.
See, I did it. I mentioned Hitler, which is going to cause someone to appeal to Godwin’s Law. In Internet debate, according to the law, the first one to make the Nazi comparisons loses. This is apropos and funny in multiple situations. But if we live in a world in which genocide can and does occur — and we do — a supercilious appeal to Godwin when someone invokes the Holocaust when talking about Cambodia’s killing fields, or to the Rwandan slaughter, is to be too clever by half.
So here is my brief defense of this stand. Killing babies is no trifle, and any Christian leader who acts as though it is a trifle should not be in the position he is in.
Should be, “as sharp as a wrecking ball.”
“Unless and until he repents of how he is thinking about the challenges confronting our nation” of course implies ministers, as such, should be thinking about the challenges confronting our nation.
JohnM, at the risk of being too clever by half, I’d suggest that not thinking about it is a way of thinking about it — if a minister thinks it’s not his job to think about it at all, that’s a kind of thought about it, that is wrong.
“if a minister thinks it’s not his job to think about it at all, that’s a kind of thought about it..” Well, I guess that is a way of thinking about it, in a kind of not choosing is choosing way, but then not so much a thought about the content of “it”, so I’m not sure if it qualifies as thinking about it after all. But anyway, I can’t help wondering, so I thought I’d ask – Is this all a postmil thing?
“Killing babies is no trifle, and any Christian leader who acts as though it is a trifle should not be in the position he is in.”
One of my thoughts on on the subject is that abortion is a human rights issue, (as opposed to any other kind of rights issue). If humans have rights then those rights apply to the unborn as well as he rest of us.
Amen and amen. If one can’t get abortion right, for crying out loud, how can he be expected to judge wisely on lesser matters?
Pastor Wilson, would this argument carry over into the gay marriage issue? Or would you see a different type of argument there?
Doug, have you had occasion to talk with John Piper about the intersection between his pro-life commitments and his racial-reconciliation commitments where they meet in President Obama (and his supporters in the african-american religious community)? I find myself curious how he might respond to this post…
Yes, I think it does carry over into the gay marriage issue. In the question of gay marriage, it is still wrong to kill babies.
Pastor Wilson, I understand your concerns, but may I respectfully suggest that this is much the same sort of ecclesiastical imposition on conscience in matters political that was one of the chief causes of the Reformation and one of the chief concerns of all the Reformers? I would like to draw attention to at least four problematic points in your reasoning—two of them concerning your pithy summary statement at the end, two of them concerning your broader line of reasoning. 1) Killing babies is certainly no trifle; nor is it a trifling matter to preside over a country while supporting… Read more »
Judging a pastor’s qualifications based on a vote for Obama is fine as far as it goes. It seems to conveniently exonerate those who supported Bush, McCain, and Romney. What is the difference between voting for, or using your blog to support, an obvious wolf vs. a wolf in very poorly fitting sheep’s clothing? Recent GOP Presidential candidates all have claimed to be pro-life while officially condoning the taking of that life in politically convenient situations. McCain promised that, despite his unequivocal claim to Rick Warren that he believed that life begins at conception, he would do everything he could… Read more »
This was addressed during the Piper/Wilson Q&A moderated by Joe Rigney after the Desiring God Conference.
Piper said in effect he does not believe he knows enough to call people to repent for who they voted for from the pulpit.
Video Link – http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-church-and-the-world-homosexuality-abortion-and-race-with-john-piper-and-douglas-wilson
Moor, the answer to your question is here at 46:56: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-church-and-the-world-homosexuality-abortion-and-race-with-john-piper-and-douglas-wilson
A very dull post. Meant to appeal to a constituency rather than delight to the Spirit. I think the rationale has followed the exhortation, rather than the other way round. You have missed your calling as a politician.
The appeal to the dignity of the unborn is trite. One would really see mouth and money meet e.g. imparting your much-ado-ed education free of cost to impoverished sections of your community. That would make what you say interesting. Right now, your type are a dime a dozen.
Contra Vishwanath, I have rarely read a pastor saying something like this. Most pastors have neither the mind or the courage, and I agree with what Doug wrote, provided that it be consistently applied to the scoundrels with an “R” in front of their name, who use the language of Christianity and then proceed to act the opposite of their rhetoric in their manner of legislating.
Protection of the unborn is not trite, even if those with dull hearts find it mundane that we have a profitable industry of killing children in the most conspiratorial and aggravated manner possible.
@Vishwanath, Your comment is a great illustration of the zero-sum game Pastor Wilson talks about. He did not get sufficient time addressing free education for the poor therefore his defense of the unborn is nullified. Totally bypasses any contemplation of what he actually says in the post.
Vishwanath, Your comment is a great illustration of the zero-sum game Pastor Wilson talks about. He did not give sufficient time addressing free education for the poor therefore his defense of the unborn is nullified. Totally bypasses any contemplation of what he actually says in the post.
Glad and grateful to hear this so succinctly put. Seeing abortion as the state’s instrument of mercy in assuring a young woman may fulfill her (completely secularized) potential is but the flagship of the egregious fleet of effects of one party’s ideology. I’ve been a bit distressed about the level of education of our younger generation of church folk regarding the underlying philosophies driving our political divide. Recent events sent me to revisit a couple of cogent articles from Touchstone Magazine’s archives of a decade ago: “Political Orphans” http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-03-029-f and “The Godless Party” http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-03-023-f
I wholeheartedly agree with Doug and so does the Lord:
He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15
Thanks to all who provided the link, much appreciated!
You speak the lies of a derelict false church–it is you who are Anti-Christ and against whom the Spirit of God is moving in the fields of history. You are the idolators and pharisees who crucified Christ, and your demoniac religions are going down, down, down by God’s Righteous Decree. But what to expect when a man presumes the office of preacher? Such a one is a presumptuous ego, wholly unsaved. God has no need for preachers and churches are nothing but indoctrination centers for the Nazi Republican party. Traitors to God and country, worthy of death. You are not… Read more »
I’m not convinced that Romney’s stance on abortion was any better than Obama’s. What if you have two pro-abortion candidates? Does it then disqualify a pastor if he votes at all?
If the same number of babies gets killed under Romney as they do under Obama, then should you vote based on different issues, or just not at all?
If you folks ACTUALLY cared about abortion.
Bans do not cut abortion rate (BBC)
Abortion Rates Are Higher In Countries Where Procedure Is Illegal, Study Finds
Providing birth control to women at no cost substantially reduced unplanned pregnancies and cut abortion rates by 62% to 78% over the national rate, a new study shows.
And why would Christians be concerned about abortions in the first place? The soul is eternal, is it not? Not even Jesus had to worry about death because he must have known he would be resurrected. Religion poisons everything.
Let him who has never voted for a candidate who has sinned throw the first stone.
Those church leaders have the first amendment right to practice THIER religion how ever they want whether you like it/agree with it or not you fascist, anti-freedom, anti-American, inhuman, soulless, waste of life, troglodyte trash. Get over it, BIGOT!
Sounds like you have a real case of Inquisition envy, Rev.