Perspectives on How Conservative Christians Should Vote

With less than a month to go before the election, political blog posts are popping up everywhere, as expected. My blog is certainly no exception, though I expect that from here on out I’ll turn my attention back toward other matters for a little while.

Today, though, I just want to highlight some prominent Christian thinkers/authors who have written strong arguments in favor of a particular viewpoint of how Christians should approach the election. There seem to be only two real options out there, with a few varieties of each: 1) Voting against Obama (as opposed to voting for Romney), or 2) Voting your conscience (either a third-party candidate or abstaining).

It comes as no surprise that I’ve not seen any posts titled “Why Conservatives Should Vote for Obama”, but I think it’s telling that I also haven’t seen anyone really talking about how much they love Mitt Romney. Maybe I just don’t run in that crowd. If you’re aware of a staunchly pro-Romney article from an evangelical perspective, I’d love to see it.

Here are some of the best representative articles of what our options appear to be:

Voting Against Obama / For Romney

Wayne Grudem, author of Politics – According to the Bible, was one of the most prominent supporters of “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”. While I’ve yet to hear his actual sermon from yesterday morning, I’m assuming based on things he wrote leading up to it that he endorsed Mitt Romney. He has compiled a list of 24 “moral and spiritual issues in the 2012 election” with differences in the two main political parties detailed. From his conclusion:

In the current political system in the United States, every vote for every candidate is much more a vote for one party or another than for the candidate. This is because laws are not passed by individuals but only by one political party the other, under the leadership of that party’s elected officials. Therefore Americans need to choose which column best represents their view, and then vote for candidates in the party that represents that column.

Dan Phillips pulled no punches in saying, “This election’s choice: Romney, third-party (=Obama), or don’t vote (=Obama)”. While he’s no admirer of Romney, he thinks any Christians who don’t vote for the GOP candidate are “idiots”. (See my response to Phillips’ article here.)

You want to make a difference? Vote for the only candidate with any possibility of making any positive difference in any of the categories I’ve outlined. That would be — much as I regret to have to say it — Mitt Romney.

Phillips’ fellow Pyromaniac Frank Turk makes a similar argument, utilizing mathematics. Primaries, he says, are the place to vote your conscience. But in the general elections,

You have to vote for someone with a mathematical likelihood of winning if you really want to affect change… a vote against Obama but not for Romney ensures Obama’s victory.

One variation on this theme is seen in those who argue explicitly against voting for the Democratic Platform, without actually endorsing a candidate. This is best represented in this John MacArthur clip from last Sunday:

Voting Your Conscience

What of those who can’t bring themselves to pull the trigger for Romney, yet know they can’t vote for Obama?

Douglas Wilson attempts to carve out a position in which he can prefer a Romney win on one level, yet not vote for him to help make it happen. Though many have critiqued this as an illogical viewpoint, he makes a good case for it. And while he thinks that Obama will lose, he feels “we will deserve everything we get” if Obama wins.

So I grant that Obama is bad and that double Obama will be double bad. Got it. And I grant that Obama will be far worse than Romney if you placed them side by side and kept them there. But who is going to follow Romney? Will it be eight years of Romney, then eight years of Ryan, and then the millennium? Come on. Republicans will do what Republicans do, which is to say, they will screw it up somehow. They always seek to propitiate the gods of bipartisanship.

Thabiti Anyabwile says that he won’t vote. In his first argument for why not, he turns to W.E.B. DuBois for justification in protesting a “helpless vote” by not voting. After taking a lot of heat he wrote an excellent follow-up article, the best part of which is his insistence that Christians need to “care about abortion and more than abortion.” I couldn’t agree more!

It’s not rhetoric I want in my candidate, or invented lives and embellished pasts, faux images and focus-group-tailored soundbites. I want to elect a free man, someone who stands flat-footed and leans into the cross-current of moral drift with conviction and courage. If he’s out there, he has my vote. And if a two-party system denies a righteous man opportunity to stand for justice then the system itself is the evil we need to oppose.

Principles for Voting

Perhaps the most helpful thing to keep in mind this November are certain Biblical principles which should guide our voting. Many Christian leaders have spoken on this without endorsing any candidate or platform (which, by the way, is the best way for a pastor to address politics from the pulpit, in my opinion). The best succinct version of this is R.C. Sproul’s article Principles for Voting, much of which is taken from his excellent book on Abortion.

Another excellent resource is Tony Evans’ new book How Should Christians Vote? The book is this month’s free download from ChristianAudio. I listened to it this weekend. I’ll try to get a full review posted sometime this week, but for now I commend it to you. It’s less than two-and-a-half hours from start to finish, and will be well worth your time.

As for me, I’ve all but made up my mind, but I’m probably not going to tell you who I’m voting for. In fact, I’m probably not going to write much more about the election until it’s over. I am interested in hearing your take on these articles, though. Who speaks for you? Are there any viewpoints I’m missing?

10 comments on “Perspectives on How Conservative Christians Should Vote

  1. So the only reason to vote for Romney is because he is against abortion. I, a former Baptist grew up in Mormon country. The Mormons I knew did not have high morals nor was their theology like any Protestant or even Roman Catholic beliefs. A Baptist minister I knew started a church in a small town in Utah; and the church burned probably by a Mormon arsonist. Mormons are mostly very intelligent, industrious people. I expect to meet many of them in Heaven, but if Romney is true to the Mormon faith, he will listen to and do what the Mormon leaders tell him to do. If this argument does not convince you let me tell you about the time I spent the afternoon in the Durango city jail when I was five years old. The charges were against my father for preventing Mormons from stealing barbed wire he just strung. So prevent women from aborting an unwanted fetus and live with a Mormon president.

    • John Gardner says:

      Say what?

      In my experience, Mormons typically are very moral people. I’ve never once heard a single instance of Mormons burning down a Baptist church. That’s a pretty big claim for you to make, and one I doubt has much veracity.

      I do not expect to meet any Mormons in Heaven, save for those who have rejected their Mormonism in favor of faith in Christ. But as I’ve said several times previously, Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith is pretty much a non-issue for me. There are tons of reasons not to vote for him, but that’s not one of them.

  2. jasoncohoon says:

    I’m still awfully torn up on this issue. My gut says not to vote at all, not to neglect my “civic duty” but to peacefully protest a system that has become corrupted and one-sided. I’m glad you found at least one prominent Christian who agrees, because I was starting to think no one did.

    The problem with this, (and writing in Ron Paul) is that such a protest will go totally unnoticed. There will be no record that Jason didn’t vote, or that Jason wrote in Ron Paul. So such a protest would be of the heart alone.

    I could vote against Obama, but that would mean endorsing Romney. I don’t believe you can vote against one candidate without endorsing another. I did that in an election, I voted for one candidate simply to oppose another, and I deeply regret that decision. That candidate took the reigns and did things I consider morally wrong and utterly corrupt, and I feel partially responsible for those evil acts because I voted for him. If I vote for Romney simply to stop Obama, and Romney takes the office and does bad things with it, I don’t know how I will handle the guilt of that decision.

    So I am torn between the “evil” of not voting/write-in, or the “evil” of voting for Romney, whose beliefs I do not agree with, and whose policies I do not condone (even if they are better than Obama’s).

    I am still praying and seeking God’s will for which decision truly will leave a “clean” conscience.

    • John Gardner says:

      I feel you, Jason. The only reason I feel obligated to vote at all is because I feel that failing to participate in the voting process prohibits me from protesting its results. Perhaps this is a false distinction… I don’t know. I really respect Thabiti and he makes a good case for a principled non-vote.

      The real solution to the problem, though, is something on which I think every single person above (including the guy who says we’re baby-killing morons if we don’t vote for Romney): Christians need to get more involved in the political arena at the grassroots level. Real change comes through convincing people in our own circles, not in casting a vote for an executive. We need more liberty-minded candidates in local and state elections, and more voters to support them when they do. We need Christians who are willing and able to do the intellectual heavy-lifting to follow political ideologies through to their logical conclusions, and to build a positive case for a better way.

      Your vote is a tool; so is your voice. May your conscience remain clear as you use them both.

    • John Gardner says:

      Something else that may or may not make a difference… Thabiti is a resident of Grand Cayman Islands (a British territory) but votes as an American citizen in North Carolina, where only three names are on the presidential ballot (TN has 7 names on ours). Given the more limited choice of Romney, Obama, or Johnson, I would also have to abstain, as I could not cast a good conscience vote for any of those three.

  3. The only reason one should vote for Romney is the hope he can help bring us out of the unemployment , high prices, and other problems we are having. Romney made millions, but I am not sure he was ethical in the way he did it.

  4. shannon says:

    Not to open up a seperate can of worms entirely, but for some of us we have another option…as a christian wife, married to a godly man, I simply asked him who I should vote for. In the history of our marriage, I have always known who I was voting for and we agreed on the candidate. This year I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, as did my husband. We both dislike Romney in many ways, but I’ll be voting for Romeny/Ryan because I was horribly conflicted as to the right choice to make. My husband seems confident in voting for the platform Romney agreed to, and rather that torture myself further I am taking his advice. So for any of your female readers who believe in biblical authority, there is another option on the table…

    • John Gardner says:

      Absolutely. I certainly feel the burden of headship over my family, and view weighing important decisions like this as part of my responsibility for my family. I greatly respect my wife’s opinions, and always discuss these matters with her (it’s all old news to her by the time it hits the blog!), but she doesn’t feel the need to research candidates because she knows I already have. I suspect we will always vote the same way; not because I coerce her, but because she wants to follow my lead on political decisions. Besides… it wouldn’t do our family any good at all if our votes essentially canceled each other out.

      Thanks for the comment!

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