An open letter on our presidential election...
(Tim) Take a few minutes to read this open letter posted earlier today on Facebook by Josh Congrove, a doctoral student in Classics here at IU. A member of Church of the Good Shepherd, Josh has taken leadership in our church's anti-abortion work. Before her death last Christmas, Josh used to come over to our house to play the piano for Aunt Elaine. You'll read no better commentary on the election this year.
As I write this note, I do so with a measure of reluctance. I am often loathe to enter the realm of politics—where compromise is and has always been king—with a dogmatism that believes it can be redeemed or captured for the kingdom of righteousness if only we vote in a certain way. But in this election, where the issues are so clear, the mass of citizens (especially college students) so blind and in lockstep, and the eternal consequences to souls so great, I have concluded that to not speak forthrightly on this issue is ultimately to be unfaithful to Christ and His word. And so in writing these thoughts I'm not speaking to any one particular person; I know how some of you will vote; for others I don't have a clue. But my goal here is that our minds and hearts would be captive to the Word of God, and that we would make informed, intelligent choices that follow Christ rather than the prevailing wind of our culture.
Those of you who know me well know that I have no particular love for either political party. Republicans have a habit of claiming to speak for Christian values, eagerly garnering the votes of Christians, and then demonstrating that they care more for big business and the money it brings than they do for righteousness and justice, and for defending the poor who are rich in the kingdom of heaven. Democrats never cease of talking about values and of what the government can do for us, even while belonging to a party whose prevailing secularism undercuts their every position and prevents the government from carrying out its responsibility to dispense justice (Romans 13). As I see it, the best Christians can do is to make an informed, godly decision in an evil world, and obviously this is difficult at times.
Having said that, I won't beat around the bush...
Anyone who votes for Barack Obama must do so with the full knowledge that he is supporting the greatest advocate of child-slaughter that has ever sought the American presidency. This fact is not in dispute, and indeed, is well documented: from his refusal to vote for the Born-Alive Infants protection act (which simply would have not allowed infants to die of neglect or starvation), to his promise to tear down the parental consent laws that protect young girls from being ravaged by greedy abortionists, to his acceptance of NARAL's (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) endorsement, to his avowed support of the flesh-tearing, limb-chopping procedure that is the reality of Partial-Birth abortion, Barack Obama's placidity of tone is matched only by the bloody ruthlessness of his policies.
It's crucial for you to know the purpose of your vote. As Americans, we've been given the right to select a leader who can best govern our country; as Christians, we know from Scripture that the principal obligation of such a leader is to administer justice in the stead of God (Romans 13), and this means the government's basic, non-negotiable job is to administer justice so that its citizens are protected from evil men who would act unjustly. Understanding this is critical, because it makes it clear (1) how misplaced our expectations of government are, (2) that there are standards we should use in evaluating a man for the Presidency, and (3) that Barack Obama's support of child-murder completely disqualifies him from that office. A Christian who votes for Obama, then, is saying that a man whose hands are stained with the blood of America's children is fit to administer justice in the highest office in the land. Can you honesty say this? Is there anything of justice here? anything of mercy? How much of the fruit of our nation are we willing to sacrifice for the sin of our souls?
At this point typically come the objections, which are outwardly different but internally similar: Obama is actually a faithful Christian who holds a different view on this issue. Obama's support for child-murder is offset by his opposition to the war in Iraq. Obama's economic policies show that he cares for the poor whom Jesus loved and Republicans hate. And after all, abortion's only one out of a multiplicity of issues Christians must consider, right? Words are so limiting, you know, and they fail to express the innate complexities of this issue; rather, they force reality into such stark dichotomies: light, darkness; good, evil; life, death. How confining and tiresome this is! How much more freeing it is to be able to appreciate the candidate in his smooth, transcendental whole than to get bogged down in the bothersome matter of whether he actually supports life or death!
Yes, my friends, this has been the genius of the Obama campaign: to convince faithful Christians that he is one of them, to trumpet his evangelical credentials while denying the Gospel, and to hoodwink them into believing that in his left hand a man may allow the sword to slaughter the souls of the unborn, all the while holding high in his right hand the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God he has rejected. It is a picture utterly seductive to the souls of many, and utterly destructive to the same. The war in Iraq (which, anyway, is mostly quiet now) as it functions in the Obama campaign is mostly a useful red herring to distract Christians from the more hidden—and thus far more nefarious—war against life in this country, whose side his campaign has enthusiastically joined. My purpose here is not to defend the war, which I believe Christians can legitimately oppose, and with which I myself have numerous problems. But to claim any sort of moral equivalence between the deaths of combatants in the Iraq war and the unabashed, thousandfold-greater slaughter of children in this country is at the least illogical and absurd, and at the most utterly wicked.
But then again, this is our habit, isn't it?: to loudly lament far-distant sufferings that are politically useful, to decry poverty worldwide and chastise the idiotic single-issue voters—all the while turning a blind eye to the children who are dying next door to us. Provoked by images of suffering, we make a big show of our compassion towards woes distant and unseen; but the glaring murder of our children here is all too clear and bloody, and thus we must suppress it. And so here each of Obama's professed concerns for the poor fall utterly to the ground. We cannot claim to be concerned about the poor and their quality of life until we confront our nation's disregard for that life itself. We neglect the poor by failing to recognize that to battle abortion is the first, not the last, step in fighting poverty, for it is a scourge on the poor above all; and if Obama's protestations are typical of America today, at the tribunal of God these will be not our defense, but our doom.
Now of course, as Christians we do have to remember to look at the entire picture, and to think of the multiplicity of other issues for us to consider. So let's do that. Hmm, let's see...what if we consider Senator Obama's unswerving advocacy for the public recognition and legalization of homosexual unions in this country? What of this professed Christian's support for what God has expressly labeled an abomination in His sight, and whose public recognition will be one more way in which we benignly consign men and women to everlasting destruction. What if we consider Obama's backhanded support for human cloning by rejecting bills that would ban it? What of his labeling of a child as a "punishment" inflicted on its parents?
So you see, my friends, we're once again back to this issue, not because it's the only issue, but because it's the defining issue. Our own Declaration of Independence has it right: that life is the first, greatest, inalienable right given to men, not by government, but by their Creator. God is the Author of life, because He is life eternal, and a man who tramples the life of the unborn neither understands America's historic beliefs nor knows the God who gave them. Make no mistake about it: abortion is the principle issue you must reckon with at the ballot box. What will you do? If you pull the lever for Barack Obama, will you hear the silent screams of the children who will perish from his policies? WIll you see them even now half-dead, lying by the side of the road, wounded and bleeding? Will you see Jesus in them, bind them up, care for them? Or will you, like the Levite, turn a blind eye, chalk up their existence to an immoderate passion of the "right-wing," and take the smooth, broad, path toward destruction? In the end, it really is about choice, isn't it?
And when you make your choice, please remember that your vote counts not simply in the visible, countable sphere of this world, but far more in the eternal realm of the next. Your vote, like every other action you take in this world, is an expression and fruit of your faith, and so whether you vote for life in this election is in part a reflection upon whether you know the Author of life. Think about it: what common ground does your faith of life have with the support of death that hallmarks Mr. Obama's campaign? And when we know the God who has promised that our every idle word, thought, and deed will be brought to light, it is the height of arrogant foolishness to believe that our vote in this election will not also be brought into judgment on that day. When all our defenses and rationalizations are made empty and vain by His Word, what will be your answer for your vote? Will you say that you voted for Obama because you couldn't impose your moral values on others? Will you point to Obama's economic package as your way of saving the children even while you ignored them being slaughtered? Will you say that there were so many issues to consider that you ignored the biggest one? Or will your silence speak for itself?
So, am I saying you should vote for McCain? Maybe, maybe not; I haven't decided yet. God has granted us discernment and discretion to make the best choice we can in an evil world. But I am saying that for a Christian to vote for Obama is not the act of a conscience that is faithful to God and what He loves. If we love God we will keep His commandments; if we love our brothers we will not support the man who would allow a million of them to die each year; and if we love our country we will not elevate to the highest office a man whose testimony shows that he despises the children of whom is the kingdom of heaven. Yes, we should love and have compassion for Senator Obama, because his positions are simply the fruit of man's sin that has infected us all, but I still must conclude that Christians who support Obama have fundamentally misunderstood his position. For it turns out that he is not anti-war but pro-war, except that the war he has joined is against not a foreign enemy but rather the children of his own people whose defense he has abandoned, and against the God whose blessings he has scorned and trampled under the feet of his own ambition.
So in the end, let's remember that God has given us an opportunity to take an active role in deciding who will govern us. Use it wisely. Love God; honor the government; pursue peace and holiness with all men, but do not be deceived by promises of "change" that lay America's children on the altar of political prosperity. In the end, we are fooling ourselves if we think we can serve both the Author of Life and the mass of our fellow college students, who mindlessly follow the sweet tunes of their piper—leading they know not where. Yes, let us love the men headed for ruin, but if you truly love Senator Obama, call him to repentance—not leadership. Demand that he who names the name of Christ depart from evil. Pray for him, but do not help him add another link in the chain of wickedness he has already forged. Bloodshed is no trifling matter in the eyes of a God who is not mocked.
Under His mercy,
"Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you." (Ezekiel 35:6).