Every election cycle, Christians have the same debate. Should we choose the lesser of two evils? Some Christians take the position that it’s evil to choose the lesser of two evils. However, this reflects a semantic and conceptual confusion.
When we speak of choosing the lesser of two “evils,” “evil,” in this context, doesn’t mean “wicked” or “immoral.” Rather, we’re using the term the way we call a natural disaster a natural “evil.”
When we call a hurricane (to take one example) a natural “evil,” we’re not saying that the hurricane is wicked or immoral. The hurricane is not a sinner or villain. Rather, we’re using “evil” in this context to mean “harmful” or “injurious.”
That is what is meant by the lesser of two evils. In a political setting, which candidate will do the least harm?
And there’s nothing wrong with taking the possible consequences into account. Many Christians operate with a crude deontologism. Because Christian ethics includes moral absolutes, they act as if the circumstances are irrelevant. But that’s simplistic.
Although the end doesn’t justify any means whatsoever, it would be reckless never to take the possible consequences into account. If I’m a hunter, I should make reasonably sure that the rustling in the bushes is a deer or lion rather than a fellow hunter before I open fire.
Motives also matter. It makes a difference whether the person who tripped me was a blind man or a prankster. The blind man had no intention of doing so, whereas the prankster had every intention of doing so. So even moral absolutes can take motives and consequences into account.
This doesn’t mean we always have to choose the lesser of two evils. There are limits to compromise.
But I’m dealing with the opposite position: the idea that it’s always wrong to choose the lesser of two evils. It’s not.