Friday, January 23, 2009

"How can I call myself a Christian and vote for a Democrat?!"

“How can you call yourself a Christian and vote for a Democrat, knowing that their platform is pro-choice when it comes to abortion?”

Of course, that’s caricature—as if the only reason to oppose the Democrat party is due to the isolated issue of abortion.

“In addition, there are many other issues that are sensitive to the hearts of God’s people also. Many of us are just as passionate about the economy, energy, international affairs, the war in Iraq, immigration, healthcare, education, and social security to name a few.”

Of course, this is code language for claiming that the Democrat party is right on all these other issues. It’s only wrong on the isolate issue of abortion. Therefore, all these other issues outweigh its position on abortion.

“This is why God tells us to speak up for ones who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9), but He also tells us that the righteous care about justice for the poor (Proverbs 29:7).”

Are the poor all of a kind in Proverbs? Doesn’t Proverbs say that some people are poor due to their lifestyle choices? Doesn’t Proverbs say that some people are poor because they are sluggards? Is Proverbs sympathetic to the plight of the sluggard? Does it mandate a welfare program to provide for the needs of the sluggard?

Pastor Williamson is assuming that some Americans are popr because of social injustice. Is that accurate? Aren’t some Americans poor because of single-motherhood and out-of-wedlock birth? Aren’t some Americans poor because of drug addiction? Aren’t some Americans poor because they’re college dropouts?

Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, welfare programs create a culture of dependency. They don’t solve poverty. They exacerbate poverty.

“God is concerned for the unborn and as He is concerned for the poor born. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus explained how people who ministered to the hungry, the thirsty, the alien, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned were true believers and they would one day be welcomed into His kingdom. He went on to say that people who didn’t have those kinds of priorities for the disenfranchised would be cast into everlasting punishment. This tells us that God is upset over how we neglect, mishandle, mistreat, and even chastise the poor in this country.”

Of course, this is a classic misinterpretation of Mt 25. The “disenfranchised” in this pericope are persecuted Christians.

“We must keep in mind that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed primarily for mistreating the poor in her midst (Ezekiel 16:49).”

i) This assumes that poverty in America is a result of oppression. What’s the basis for that comparison?

ii) Moreover, there are obvious differences between attempts to reduce abortion and attempts to reduce poverty.

Abortion is a direct act of homicide. There are fairly straightforward legal means of lowering the abortion rate. You use the same methods you use to crack down on homicide generally. You severely penalize it as a deterrent.

There’s no straightforward means of reducing poverty where poverty is a result of an individual’s lifestyle choice. How is Pastor Williamson going to prevent promiscuous men and women from conceiving children out-of-wedlock, who will thereby lack the stability of a two-parent home?

“With that being said, it’s fair to ask another question also: How can we call ourselves Christians and not care about the poor?”

What about people who don’t care about themselves? Who don’t care about their own children?

What makes Pastor Williamson think we have all that much control over the behavior of consenting adults?

“We must assess and address the systems that help produce and perpetuate poverty in this nation.”

Of course, this is just warmed over Marxism, and it turns a blind eye to actual sources of poverty within his own community.

“Therefore when voting it’s up to each individual Christian to determine how God would have him or her to vote. How God leads one to vote will be different from how He leads another person to vote.”

I see. Does he lead people to vote for David Duke and George Wallace?

“God knows we all have different experiences and perspectives that factor into our decisions.”

If that’s the basis on which God leads us, then God isn’t leading us—he’s following us.

“This means we are not permitted to judge our brothers on their political choices because that leads to self-righteousness and contempt (Romans 14:1-12).”

i) If some of his parishioners were skinheads and Neonazis, I wonder if he’d be so tolerant. What if his associate pastor was a Kleagle for the KKK?

ii) More to the point, the NT can be quite judgmental of professing believers whose conduct is out of step with their Christian profession.

“We will vote our choice for President but we must bear in mind that God Himself has already elected the next President in eternity past (Psalm 75:6-7)! Therefore, let us stop fretting, fighting and judging and trust God’s wisdom and eternal plan.”

If he’s going to retreat into fatalism or hyper-Calvinism, then he can spare us the social gospel. Wasn’t Jim Crow part of God’s eternal plan?


  1. Help me out. What's the answer to the last question and what's the connection to hyper-Calvinism in this context?

  2. We don't know in advance who God decreed to be president. Moreover, God uses our votes to achieve his appointed end. Therefore, it's misleading of Williamson to insinuate that it doesn't matter who we vote for, or that we shouldn't judge other voters based on their voting patterns. Indeed, his position is incoherent. He's trying to play both sides of this issue.

    On the one hand, he clearly things it does matter which party you vote for. His own sympathies lie with the Democrat party. On the other hand, he acts as if the consequences don't matter for purposes of judging another voter.

    He also makes the mistake of acting as if predestination implies divine approval for the outcome. That's not the case. Pharaoh is a means to an end. That doesn't imply God's approval of Pharaoh.

  3. Steve - Could the Church in any way tell us who to vote for national elections?


    "Steve - Could the Church in any way tell us who to vote for national elections?"

    Legally or morally? At the moment it's illegal, although I think that law is Unconstitutional. It ought to be challenged at some point, although one needs to be prudent about the timing (among other factors).

    There's a difference between telling people who to vote for and who not to vote for.

    There is also an indirect sense in which, if a church applies Christian ethics to certain social issue of the day, it's already saying something about the candidates.

  5. Steve: Suppose you have to choose between two candidates. One of them is pro-life on abortion but liberal otherwise. The other is pro-choice on abortion but conservative otherwise. Who do you vote for?

  6. While Victor didn't ask me that question, I would just point out that it's far too simplistic of a question. For instance, let us suppose that this is a senatorial candidate. Further, let us suppose that the pro-abortion advocates have 59 senators and one more will make it fillibuster-proof. In that case, abortion becomes a weighter issue to consider; just as it would be weightier if there were 59 pro-life senators. But say it was split 50/50 so that abortion will not actually be a political issue. Under those circumstances, the other factors become more important politically.

    So it doesn't just matter the makeup of the two candidates, but also the makeup of the current Congress (as well as the president) before you could make a rational determination on that issue.

  7. Victor: Suppose you have to choose between two candidates. One is pro-waterboarding but otherwise liberal, the other is anti-waterboarding but otherwise conservative. Who would you vote for?

  8. Victor Reppert, how about Obama saying during his presidential campaign that he's against gay marriage and does not oppose Proposition 8 in California, and yet he opposes a Federal Marriage Amendment establishing marriage as being between 1 man and 1 woman?


    "Steve: Suppose you have to choose between two candidates. One of them is pro-life on abortion but liberal otherwise. The other is pro-choice on abortion but conservative otherwise. Who do you vote for?"

    Are you getting forgetful in your dotage? You already asked me that question:

    I already answered that question:

  10. Thanks. When I asked initially I came back to see if anyone had responded, and one of your fellows had but you had not.

    What you said seems to imply that if you can't persuade someone that the Republicans have morally better policies as compared to Democrats overall, you may not be able to appeal to abortion alone as a basis for voting Republican in spite of overall disagreement with Republicans on a wide range of other issues. It would further be important to assess the likelihood that electing a pro-life candidate in some particular situation would have much effect or not. So, for example, a pro-life Democrat might want to vote for a Republican senatorial candidate if that candidate's election would help prevent an otherwise likely bullet-proof Senate majority which might override a FOCA filibuster.

  11. I've consistently attacked one-issue voting. And I'll stick to it with your waterboarding example.