We do not have to choose between evils

David French, senior editor at The Dispatch and a self-described Evangelical and “hard-core Calvinist,” articulates why abstention from voting in the presidential race of 2020 is principled, reasonable, and faithful to our calling as Christian disciples. Here is a salient excerpt from his post, “How, then, should Christians vote?” (February 2020):

I’m reminded of these famous words from John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In other words, virtue is indispensable to the proper functioning of the American nation, and without that virtue, America could become, in Adams’s words, “the most miserable habitation in the world.”.

Put simply, the Christian salt of this American earth must preserve not just its laws but also the core moral strength of its culture.

We see now the immense strain placed on our system by relentless dishonesty. We see the division and discord sown by vengeance and rage. Our culture still reels from the decadence of pornography and sexual infidelity. Yet the church does not treat those maladies when it uses its truly immense political power to place a dishonest, vengeful adulterer at the heights of American political and cultural influence.

One does not cure cultural moral cancer with more cancer. We preserve nothing. Instead, we hasten the decay.

And yes, Christians also hasten the decay if we vote for policies and people who would scorn the church, denigrate the value of unborn life, and celebrate other values contrary to biblical truth. But we do not have to choose between evils. Our nation’s two political parties do not dictate to the church how it must use its vast cultural and political power. The church must instead communicate its standards to our parties. 

If the world’s wealthiest and and most powerful collection of Christians are supine before their political masters in the United States, marching to the beat of secular drummers (even if allegedly “holding their noses” all the while) then I fear the message that sends is that we do not have faith that God’s providence governs the nations. We cannot and must not “put our trust in princes.” There is no such thing as a “binary choice.” We can choose not to yield to the spirit of the times. 

Theological truth can also create a pragmatic reality. Over time, perhaps the best method of cleansing our political class of the low, narcissistic characters who all too often occupy public office is to stop voting for them. 

It’s no answer to respond by declaring, as so many Christians do, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” While we all may be equally in need of a savior, our characters are not all the same. Can a Trump defender say with honesty that the president’s character is similar to Ronald Reagan’s? To George H.W. Bush’s? To George W. Bush’s? Are they even in the same ballpark? Declaring “nobody’s perfect” is an absurd rationalization. It’s gaslighting. We know nobody’s perfect. But some men are decent. Some men are truthful. Some men are brave. Some men are none of those things.

The results of my test are clear. Assuming Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I can’t vote for him. Even if I do like some of the things he’s done, he lacks the character to be president. But I cannot join some of my Never Trump friends in backing the Democratic nominee. Many of them may well pass the character test, but I cannot vote for a person who would put in place policies I believe are harmful and potentially destructive—especially to unborn life.

“Whatever you do,” Paul says, “do all to the glory of God.” I don’t see how it glorifies God to use the power of my vote or my voice to help make Donald Trump the world’s most powerful man.

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