Thursday, November 06, 2008

May Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?

The following is an excerpt from an article that was written before the outcome of Tuesday’s elections, but I feel it is worth posting. For the full article and URL, click here:

Sen. Barack Obama’s ardent support of abortion is evil. Yet Sen. John McCain’s less active support of abortion is evil as well. While Sen. McCain’s advocacy for abortion is less pronounced than his opponent, he nonetheless condones the shedding of innocent blood in some circumstances — something God Almighty abhors (Proverbs 16:16-17).

In view of this fact, many well-thinking Christians have asked this important question: Should we vote for the lesser-of-two-evils in this circumstance? If we believe Sen. Obama will vociferously promote abortion, while Sen. McCain will be less of an advocate for the murder of the innocent, should we cast our vote for the latter?

To answer this question rightly, we must turn to God’s Word, the ultimate source of authority that gives us everything we need for life and practice — including a theory of ethics on how we should approach choosing civil magistrates:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

In considering our duties at the ballot box, we cannot appeal to our human autonomy in deciding this question; we must bow our knees to God’s inscripturated Revelation. William Einwechter states the matter succinctly, “In voting, the question is not, ‘What makes the most sense to me?’ but rather, ‘What does God’s Word require of me?’”

In short, whatever God says goes. To quote the prophet Moses, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32).

So just what are the biblical requirements for choosing civil rulers? To explore this question in detail, we would urge you to examine William Einwechter’s excellent article, “Biblical Standards for Choosing Civil Magistrates.” For the purpose of this discussion, we offer these brief thoughts.

Exodus 18:21 is among the primary biblical texts that establish the requirements for choosing magistrates:
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.

One of the chief qualifications for rulers found in this passage is that they “fear God.” Elsewhere, King David affirms: “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3).

How do we know if a respective ruler fears the Lord? Among the most important indicators are these: that he hates evil (Proverbs 8:13) and is committed to executing justice as God prescribes (Romans 13:3-4; Psalm 82:1-4; Jeremiah 22:1-3; 7:4-7).

One of God’s primary mandates to civil rulers is to protect the shedding of innocent blood (Deuteronomy 19:10; Exodus 23:7) and to punish those who take life unlawfully (Genesis 9:6; Deuteronomy 19:13) so that evil will be purged out of the land.

A God-fearing ruler will hate what God abhors — including the murder of the innocent (Proverbs 16:16-17), and he will not hesitate to use every means within his duly-constituted power to protect the lives of the defenseless (Proverbs 24:11-12).

Civil rulers who support the shedding of innocent blood invite God’s judgment upon a nation (2 Kings 21:2-4; 24:2-4) and should expect His wrath as punishment (Psalm 106:37-42).

Being mindful of these truths, our nation’s founders wisely recognized the right to life as an inalienable right in our Declaration of Independence, and the framers of our Constitution affirmed this same principle in the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution sought to further protect this inalienable right.

The legal sanctioning of abortion as well as embryonic stem cell research directly violates our nation’s charter documents, but more important than this, these heinous practices violate the fundamental order that God established for His creation and commanded civil rulers to oppose in their jurisdictional posts as God’s ministers of justice (Romans 13:3-4; Jeremiah 22:1-3; 7:4-7).

What then of the lesser-of-two-evils argument? If only two candidates appear to have a reasonable chance of gaining the presidency, should we support the one whose advocacy of the evil practice of abortion is likely to lead to fewer unborn babies killed?

The answer is no, for God holds men accountable for how they steward their individual vote — whether or not they cast it for a biblically-qualified candidate — not for the outcome of an election.

Man’s whole duty is to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). We are thus not permitted to break His law in seeking to influence the outcome of an election, even when we believe that our vote could “save more lives.” The Almighty Sovereign governs the affairs of men and nations (Daniel 4:34-35; Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 46:9-11); and it is He, not finite voters, Who ultimately raises up and brings down the rulers He wills should rule (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32; Psalm 75:6-7), whether they be good (Psalm 78:66-72) or evil (Exodus 9:14-15).

When it comes to our vote in an election, the standard is clear: Duty is ours; the results are God’s. Voting for a lesser-of-two-evils candidate is not a lawful option for us to pursue. God will raise up whom He wills; let us trust Him to decide the election as He deems best.

While their advocacy varies by degrees, both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain support abortion in some circumstances and are thus disqualified from receiving our vote to serve as rulers in the civil realm. Neither man “fears God,” and neither man should receive the support of God-fearing Christians.

Might abortions increase if Sen. Obama is elected as America’s next president? Quite possibly. But as believers, we must fear God more than man. We must fear violating the standards established by our great Creator in how we cast our vote even more than we fear the potential results of a Barack Obama presidency.

Such is our duty before the Lord.