How Then Shall We Praise or Blame?

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So all eyes will be on Alabama because of the senatorial election tomorrow. And why not? 2017 has not really been gaudy enough to date, and so I think it should try to go out with a bang.

For those Christians in Alabama who have a functioning conscience, and who have to decide what to do, here are a few summary thoughts.

These charges, if true, should disqualify a man from holding public office—not only for the crimes back then, but also for the lying now (Ex. 18:21). But the issue is not really whether a Christian voter should knowingly vote for a scoundrel. The issue here is deciding who the scoundrel is. Moore has had multiple women come forward to testify about their interactions with him back in the day, and these women are both credible and not credible. But the most credible witnesses have not charged him with anything disqualifying, and those who have charged him with disqualifying crimes have behaved in a way as to render their testimony suspect (e.g. adding info to the yearbook inscription).

In this situation, a conscientious voter should ask himself which scenario is more likely. Is it that Roy Moore was a creepy perv four decades ago, or is it the case that a political hit was orchestrated at the last minute? Mind that it could easily be the latter even if Moore fumbled some of his explanations and defenses. Who is more credible? Moore or the media? If Moore is elected, no one should count it as an endorsement of molestation. Rather, it would be a manifestation of widespread distrust of the Dumpster Fire Media (DFM), and a rejection of what is perceived to be a last minute attempt at character assassination. Even if that judgment turns out to be wrong, it does not mean that such a judgment could not be made in good faith.

If someone threw a brick at my head about things I said or did forty years ago, I could easily be categorical about things I did not do (e.g, no bank robberies), and would not have to “go check.” But I would be almost helpless when it came to recounting things I did do. Let’s see, 1977, I had been out of the Navy two years, and was still at the University of Idaho. I was living on Polk Street, I do know that much. Did I ever meet the daughter of one Eleazer Kronk? She says you did. Um. Mebbe.

Joe Carter’s recent charge of hypocrisy against evangelical voters sticks with a certain kind of voter—the one who says that he doesn’t care if Moore did get his jollies this way back in the seventies, but at least he wasn’t a Democrat doing it. If he was a Democrat, then it would be vile. “Character matters only if it is a Clinton” is hardly a marching creed.

Last point. I would refer you to Robert Gagnon’s astute questions regarding The Gospel Coalition’s strident opposition to Moore together with the fact that they are hosting an upcoming conference celebrating the life of Martin Luther King—who was a courageous man but also an adulterous tomcat. You can read Gagnon’s questions here, and I would encourage you to read down through the comments—Joe Carter responds in the comments, and the interaction is really worthwhile.

This is relevant because if it is hypocrisy for evangelicals to overlook an (alleged and denied) episode of sexual sin in their candidate from forty years ago, what is it to celebrate a man with a much greater honor than a Senate seat when his iniquities (as established by historians and biographers) were commensurate with his other achievements? Many of the voters in Alabama are holding their noses and voting against the abortion candidate Jones, which is not nearly in the same category as celebrating the iconic status of a man who had sex with three different women not his wife the night before he was shot. Note that Gagnon is not opposing the MLK50 conference. He is asking everyone what standard they are using when they praise and when they blame in the public square. By what standard? is a great question. And let’s use it for everyone.

Joe Carter’s response, to his credit, is that he also wouldn’t vote for King to hold public office—any more than he would vote for Moore. Thus far he is consistent, and well done. But TGC is granting King a much higher honor than a mere Senate seat. Shouldn’t the opposition to that be greater, not less?

To celebrate King’s life in this way, while doggedly opposing Moore, is for TGC to say in effect that character doesn’t matter if the issue is racial reconciliation, but that character does matter if the cause is protecting the unborn. And what is this but a variation on the previously rejected hypocrisy of tolerating Republican personal vices while rejecting Democratic personal vices? And if we are allowed to focus on King’s message and platform, and leave the man alone, then why are others hypocrites for doing the same thing with Moore?

I will have more to say about all this after the election. Though you may be tired of it, I carry on!