Our friend David Bahnsen pointed me to the following three articles. The first is by another friend, Gary DeMar, urging us to vote for Romney. The second is a dissenting view, found here. And the third is by Jim Jordan, and he lays out the best case for Christians voting for Romney that I have seen thus far. But a few buts are in order, which is why this sentence is bookended with them, every which way but.
In order to make sense of this, you will have to read Jim’s article first. I’ll wait.
In order to navigate this question by means of Old Testament narrative, we have to first decide what the analogy is — which OT situation are we in exactly? Are we Jews in Babylon, seeking the peace of the city (Jer. 29:7)? Or are we Jews in Judah, deciding whether or not to support Manasseh’s reelection (2 Kings 20:11)?
The issue is not whether we can live under and flourish in a system of pagan empire. Jim is quite right about that. And if I am in Babylon, seeking the peace of the city, and I am reading the newspaper accounts of the court intrigues between Nabopolassar and Abil-Ishtar, I may well want ol’ Nabo (as we call him) to come out on top of that power struggle. They are both pagans to the back teeth, but Nabo is friendlier to us believers. I could easily see myself praying that way, in much the same way that I am hoping and praying that Obama goes down in a fashion as to leave behind a three-mile high column of smoke.
One of you will say to me then, thou hypocrite! You are praying for a Romney victory (in effect), but you aren’t voting for him?
Sure. Preference and support are two different things entirely. The Arab “Spring” gives us another (much higher profile) example of this same kind of thing. Assad in Syria was much gentler with the Syrian Christians than his replacements will likely be. So which way should the Syrian Christians pray? And can they pray that way without “supporting” Assad? Of course — Assad is s bloodthirsty thug, and no one should support him. But he might be the pirate that certain people would rather be captured by. Something similar was the case with the Christians in Egypt under Mubarak — not all thugs are created equal.
So preference and support are not the same thing. I would much prefer Romney over Obama. If Obama is defeated, I will thank the Lord. So it is one thing to root for Nabo over Abil-Ishtar, but signing up for Manasseh’s relection campaign would be a little different, wouldn’t it?
“Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Ex. 18:21)
It is the difference between living under a ruler, and helping to select one. It is also the difference between living in Judah from Josiah to Zedekiah, under consistent decline and drift, and living under Augustus versus Caligula and then back to Vespasian. I would much prefer Vespasian to Caligula, but neither one gets a pinch of incense from me.
In order to know how to apply the typology, we have to answer certain questions first. Is the United States a Christian nation in spiritual decline or is it a neo-pagan empire? That is not an easy question to answer, and I actually think there are strong elements of both going on — which means that our typological lessons are more complicated. We are Jews in Babylon who have been given the franchise, and we are trying to figure out what to do with this this dern Babylonian two-party system.
I am more than willing to grant that we must not give way to ideological perfectionism as we evaluate candidates. I have written to that effect before — Ron Paul doesn’t pass the purity test on homo issues any more than Romney does. But I have also noted, and I say this in passing, that those who argue against ideological perfectionism for candidates are often the most insistent on ideological perfectionism for voters (as measured by willingness to rally round in the campaign).
Say I don’t vote this next round. I sit it out at the presidential level, or vote third party, or write in a candidate. Elsewhere on the ballot, I vote for solid conservative candidates up and down the roster, including a number of Republicans. I pull my weight in helping to arrange the Democratic bloodbath that I believe is coming this November. But I can’t bring myself to vote for Romney. Why is there so much energy in the denunciation of that position, and it is a much more negative energy than is directed at Romney himself — for Romneycare, for his support of homosexual scoutmasters, for his willingness to punch much harder fighting conservatives in the primaries than liberals in the general, and so on it goes?
I am no perfectionist. I am a Republitarian. I try to vote in that imperfect way. So sue me.