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.