To Paraphrase Freud, Sometimes a Vote is Only a Vote

Are evangelicals this concerned about family farms when they buy their food or about the U.S. military when the pay their taxes?

So why so much attention to conscience when it comes to voting for the next POTUS?

For some reason, this vote says more about evangelicalism than the gospel that pastors preach (maybe that’s an indication that you’ve lost perspective?):

Evangelicals, deeply divided over Donald Trump, are wrestling with what the tumultuous 2016 election will mean for their future.

His candidacy has put a harsh spotlight on the fractures among Christian conservatives, most prominently the rift between old guard religious right leaders who backed the GOP nominee as an ally on abortion, and a comparatively younger generation who considered his personal conduct and rhetoric morally abhorrent.

“This has been a kind of smack in the face, forcing us to ask ourselves, ‘What have we become?'” said Carolyn Custis James, an evangelical activist and author who writes about gender roles in the church.

Then we have the argument that Christianity is a helicopter faith (it hovers over everything):

To undertake this particular activity—voting—the Christian must be convinced that the ballot is cast as an obedient response to the command of God in discipleship. The Christian seeks to discern the word God has for them and to act upon it faithfully. One participates willingly in democratic elections as a disciple or not at all. This might mean that the Christian abstains from voting or votes for an alternate candidate who they believe (again, in good conscience) will best carry out the office. Yes, God works through material affairs themselves to inform the Christian of whom a candidate is and what is at stake in voting for them, but his revelatory providence is by no means restricted to the empirical and obvious.

Whatever happened to the idea of Christian liberty?

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also. (Confession of Faith, 20.2)

So unless we have a proper warrant from Scripture for not voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, like not supporting a self-centered windbag (think Nero) or not voting for a sinner (think Nebuchadnezzar), what’s the big deal here? Aren’t Christians free? Can’t we disagree about politics, just the way we disagree about novels, cars, food, and banking?

But if you are a w-w Christian and every single millimeter of life is shot through with spiritual significance . . .

Well, then why not more hair pulling about the World Series and trying to discern God’s commandment for which team to root?

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37 thoughts on “To Paraphrase Freud, Sometimes a Vote is Only a Vote

  1. Evangelicals did/do view the POTUS as the national protestant cultural pope-savior or vice antichrist, as the case may be. Major antithesis. Russell Moore wants a third way, but what would really be cool would be for someone to do a podcast about a more Machensian alternative.

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  2. What’s going on? I’ve been busy at the polling centers turning people away who don’t have a driver’s license and mocking them at the same time, “Maybe you can get Uber to vote for you. Make sure to tweet about your failure. It’s the first of the month, have you paid your rent, loser?”

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  3. For this Clevelander, the pic of the Cubs stings. Oh well. . . maybe next year.

    Why so much attention to conscience when it comes to voting for the next POTUS? It’s like we have some sort of messianic fixation on the executive branch. Our pastor wants to have a prayer meeting for revival the eve of the elections. I rolled my eyes.

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  4. When it’s not about you/mmmmeeeeEEEE (Douthat via Dreher):

    A vote for Trump is not a vote for insurrection or terrorism or secession. But it is a vote for a man who stands well outside the norms of American presidential politics, who has displayed a naked contempt for republican institutions and constitutional constraints, who deliberately injects noxious conspiracy theories into political conversation, who has tiptoed closer to the incitement of political violence than any major politician in my lifetime, whose admiration for authoritarian rulers is longstanding, who has endorsed war crimes and indulged racists and so on down a list that would exhaust this column’s word count if I continued to compile it.

    It is a vote, in other words, for a far more chaotic and unstable form of political leadership (on the global stage as well as on the domestic) than we have heretofore experienced, and a leap unlike any that conservative voters have considered taking in all the long years since Roe v. Wade.

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  5. CW – but do they really want a Nehemiah Scudder* for POTUS?

    *Interregnum (or Interregnum of the Prophets)
    Theocratic and totalitarian government that prevailed in the United States around the end of the 20th century, until overthrown by the Cabal. It was founded by the demagogue Nehemiah Scudder and perpetuated by successors who were more self-serving politicians than religious fanatics, but who used religion to keep the populace under control. Source: Robert Heinlein Concordance, taken from the SF novel, “If This Goes On…,” 1940.**

    **The story is set in a future theocratic American society, ruled by the latest in a series of fundamentalist Christian “Prophets.” The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later).

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  6. Darryl, blah, blah, blah. It’s all about risk aversion and it’s not doled out equally. As long as your discreet about skinning me, then o.k. Nonsense. The damage she can wreak with her connections and leverage is enormous. He has virtually no political allies and if/when he goes off the rails he’s gonna be a lot easier to impeach. Can you imagine the trench war when we need to impeach her? Oooof.

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  7. There are good reasons to not vote for Trump but it’s not because of the fear that he’s some version of Moore’s Molotov cocktail of a candidate. It’s because his economic policy doesn’t work. Killing globalization in a single four year span is almost unrecoverable in a single generation without setting yourself on some kind of domestic war footing plan. It’s almost as bad as going back to the gold standard, almost. Outside of a yet unforeseen technological advancement, you need incrementalism on the economic front. IOW, his character when set against his political peers is no problem. It’s his grasp of economic policy that should be anyone’s big concern. Fortunately he appears to be a lot more bark than bite, meaning he can be persuaded so long as he is allowed to save face, or as any underling already knows, ‘it needs to be the boss’ idea’. Hillary is the entrenched, dripping with actual self-enrichment on the back of her political office, whose proven character in the role should give pause and a re-think, maybe even a revision.

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  8. Dr. Hart,

    Two questions:

    1.) This is not a rhetorical question: If the choices were between Hitler and Stalin (and a third party who couldn’t win), would Christians still have the Christian liberty to vote for either major party candidate (or vote third party or not vote)?

    I know the United States is not there. I’m not saying the current situation is at that level. I’m just curious for thinking through Christian liberty on this.

    2.) A follow-up question would be: what WOULD be proper warrant from Scripture for not voting for a candidate?

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  9. Allan, but are Hitler and Stalin code for holocaust or genocide? So do Christians vote for the mass execution of groups? Of course, not. But none of us knows what a candidate will do. Russians didn’t vote unless they belonged to the party. Germans didn’t know all that Hitler would do (nor do we with Trump or Hitler).

    So the better question might be — can Christians defend Stalin or Hitler after the fact? They can if Nebuchadnezzar is any guide.

    I don’t know of a proper warrant from Scripture not to vote for a candidate. I do know of many to vote against certain policies.

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  10. Dr. Hart,

    May I ask two follow up questions?

    You said, “I don’t know of a proper warrant from Scripture not to vote for a candidate. I do know of many to vote against certain policies.”

    1.) Does it follow, then, that if we have a strong doctrine of Christian liberty and sola Scriptura, that we can never claim that it is sin to vote for any particular candidate, no matter how bad (because there is no warrant from Scripture not to vote for a candidate–nowhere in Scripture demanding we can’t vote for a certain candidate), but we can claim that it is sin to vote for certain policies (because there is scriptural warrant against some policies–e.g. pro-choice policies)?

    2.) If that’s the case, does that mean that the church ought never to discipline members for voting for a bad candidate no matter how bad, but that the church can and ought to discipline members if they vote for a sinful policy?

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  11. Bedouin Proverb: “As the camel falls to its knees, more knives are drawn.”

    Likewise for the Christian Right. And how long, sharp, and gilded are the knives drawn by the various thrones within the Gospel-Centered Empire. Who will win this Game of Thrones? Who will be the Caliph of Christian Conservatism? Russell Moore? And what of the defeated princelings of the Christian Right – surely their armies are ready for 2020?

    The Man of Darkness (Trump) has united all the various factions of the Gospel-Centered Empire: Rachel Held Evans and Russell Moore, Al Mohler and Jen Hatmaker, Thabiti Anyabwile and David Gushee, Matthew Vines and John Piper. But what happens after the evil has been routed? Peace? Love?

    These are truly Dark Nights of the Soul as I ponder the immense power struggle to see who will finally sit on the Iron Throne.

    Give me back my Ol’ Time Religion, please.

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  12. Bah! What is all this quivering and quaking over this Trump fellow? This Douthat fellow lacks historical knowledge of real presidential power. Those quaking evangelicals will do what is best for the union. Trump is JV compared to me but plays a decent similtude

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  13. The cubs win the world series and now this from Darryl:

    “I don’t know of a proper warrant from Scripture not to vote for a candidate. I do know of many to vote against certain policies.”

    That’s a surprising statement! Are Christians ever obligared to vote?

    Allan, what is the scriptural warrant for calling support for prochoice *policies* sinful? Where does scripture layout the scope of secular states? If there is no bound on what the state must do to preserve innocent life, then why shouldn’t the state require 24/7 monitoring of all minors to ensure they are not abused? If the answer is that it is impractical and a violation of privacy, then where does scripture tell us where to draw the line on practicality and privacy? If the bible doesn’t tell us, doesn’t that indicate that where one draws the line is a matter of adiaphora? Wouldn’t this also apply to ssm, the draft, vice laws, taxation, immigration policy, war, speed limits, building codes, r&d spending, and the 1000’s of other decisions politicians make every day?

    That’s not to say scriptural teaching is not clear on whether one should provide an abortion, enter a ssm, do drugs, hire a prostitute, skip out on taxes, etc….

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  14. Allan, I am reluctant to conclude supporting a policy is sinful since laws and policy are never black and white. Public life is a world of grays. That’s why the conscience discussion seems lame to me.

    I can’t imagine a church disciplining anyone for politics, though I am open to such scenarios.

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  15. Dr. Hart,

    So then, would your conclusion be that we can never claim that it is sin for a citizen to vote for any particular candidate no matter how bad (Trump, Clinton on one end of the spectrum and Hitler and Stalin on the other end)—and that we can never claim that it is sin for a politician to vote for any particular policy no matter how bad (pro-choice legislation that will extend the number/scope of abortion beyond what it is now; legislation to exterminate a particular people group such as in the Holocaust; etc.)?—i.e. Christian citizens and politicians have the Christian liberty to vote for literally any candidate or policy?

    I know that Scripture does not give detailed instruction and commands for Christians in how to go about their voting (whether as citizens or politicians). And because of that, I agree that we need to strongly emphasize Christian liberty in voting. Believers are free to use wisdom where Scripture is silent. I think the church over the years has really messed this up and has added to God’s Word so to speak (Deut. 4:2) with man-made rules that thou shalt vote for this candidate or policy and not that one. The church has all too often bound the consciences of God’s people where Scripture does not bind them.

    However, it seems that Scripture would draw the line somewhere on what a Christian can vote for (if not with regard to candidate then surely with regard to some policies)—am I wrong on that?

    For example, granted the biblical, Reformed doctrine of the two kingdoms that the United States is not the kingdom of God or a theocracy and therefore is not to impose the Mosaic civil code or even the first table of the law, and granted that instead the United States is the common grace kingdom of man which instead of being under the Mosaic Covenant is to be seen through the lens of the post-diluvian Noahic covenant, isn’t the one thing we can all agree ought to be the function of the non-theocratic kingdom of man is to protect life by punishing murder (Gen. 9:5-6)? If that is the case, isn’t there a moral “ought” there that Christian politicians ought to vote for the protection of life and ought not to vote in the opposite direction?—especially if that’s the main (some might even say the only) God-given function of the non-theocratic common grace state?

    That’s just an example—but my broader question is: Wouldn’t Scripture draw the line somewhere on either what a Christian citizen or a Christian politician can vote for (either with regard to candidate or policy)? Or is it still the case that—though Scripture has given us the main, general function of the kingdom of man, it doesn’t give us particulars in how to seek that goal politically, so we still have to say Christians have Christian liberty in which candidate or policy they vote for no matter how bad (no matter even if that candidate or policy seems to be working against the basic function of the kingdom of man in Gen. 9:5-6)?

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  16. Allan,

    Christian citizens and politicians have the Christian liberty to vote for literally any candidate or policy?

    This is my question as well regarding the way 2K is applied. Seems like at some point one would have to answer no to this question, but I see a lot of the 2Kers here reluctant to say, “No.”

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  17. Robert, I’d vote against a politician or policy that sought to institute something along the lines of an Emperor’s Cult and would do so on the grounds that it would violate my religious conscience. Outside of that it would be difficult for me to locate a policy or vote that is truly a straight up or down consideration(though it may be sold as such) much less one that could be conjoined with, “thus sayeth the Lord”.

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  18. Zrim,

    I may be missing something (I often do!—so feel free to help me). But I’m pretty sure I answered sdb’s post above where I discussed Scripture’s teaching on the basic function of the non-theocratic kingdom of man’s function (as seen in the common grace Noahic covenant). It seems to me that if that’s what the Bible’s teaching is on what the common grace state ought to be doing, then our goal as believers ought to be to see the state doing that (protecting life by punishing murder—Gen. 9:5-6).

    Then I asked a follow-up question—posing two different ways we might respond to that biblical teaching and asking if one of these is the correct response in keeping with Christian liberty:

    “Wouldn’t Scripture draw the line somewhere on either what a Christian citizen or a Christian politician can vote for (either with regard to candidate or policy)? OR is it still the case that—though Scripture has given us the main, general function of the kingdom of man, it doesn’t give us particulars in how to seek that goal politically, so we still have to say Christians have Christian liberty in which candidate or policy they vote for no matter how bad (no matter even if that candidate or policy seems to be working against the basic function of the kingdom of man in Gen. 9:5-6)?”

    So I guess I’m still wondering—which is it? Or is there a third response? Or am I still missing something? I don’t doubt that I could be.

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  19. Zrim,

    Not begging the question, just trying to figure out if you all are really saying “There is absolutely no guidance in Scripture as to which policies are sinful and cannot be compelled to vote.”

    There’s a line somewhere, is there not? Do you mean to suggest that if a candidate promised to round up all Christians and execute them, it would not be a sin to vote for such a candidate?

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  20. SDB,

    Allan, what is the scriptural warrant for calling support for prochoice *policies* sinful?

    I guess it depends on what you mean by prochoice policies. You’d have to flesh this out.

    Where does scripture layout the scope of secular states?

    Rom. 13; Gen. 8–9. You can also draw parallels with the OT law vis a vis those passages. If capital punishment is ordained in Gen. 9 and the OT law prescribes it, that’s not some guidance on some of the scope of secular states? Paul and Peter both say the state is God’s instrument to punish wrongdoers. That suggests that there is some definition of wrongdoing that both have.

    If there is no bound on what the state must do to preserve innocent life, then why shouldn’t the state require 24/7 monitoring of all minors to ensure they are not abused? If the answer is that it is impractical and a violation of privacy, then where does scripture tell us where to draw the line on practicality and privacy? If the bible doesn’t tell us, doesn’t that indicate that where one draws the line is a matter of adiaphora?

    At this point, I think one should probably look to the Pentateuch, properly interpreted, for some guidance. Does God call for the state of Israel to monitor lives 24/7? No. Does any other passage in Scripture suggest you should? No. Does Scripture suggest that murderers when apprehended should be punished? Yes.

    That’s not to say it’s easy, but it’s also not impossible, I don’t think.

    Wouldn’t this also apply to ssm, the draft, vice laws, taxation, immigration policy, war, speed limits, building codes, r&d spending, and the 1000’s of other decisions politicians make every day?

    To some degree, yes.

    It just seems an awful stretch to go from Christian liberty to there are absolutely no political positions that are inherently sinful and that Christians cannot support. Where it gets complicated is when you have a candidate that might hold some of those positions, whatever they are, and some that are adiaphora/permissible. It’s hard to draw from Scripture what you must do then. But it’s awfully hard for me to imagine God being happy with me voting for an amendment to the Constitution that says every third baby girl born in my state must be executed, or something to that effect.

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  21. Allan and Robert, all fair enough questions as far as they go, but do you do this much parsing for “ssm, the draft, vice laws, taxation, immigration policy, war, speed limits, building codes, r&d spending, and the 1000’s of other decisions politicians make every day”? My guess is no.

    Sorry, but my own hunch is that all of the questioning is a way of simply vying for the pro-life cause. Robert, we’ve covered a lot of this ground before (and I don’t want to indulge the absurd hypos you always come up with, asked and answered). I’m anti-abortion on the face of the question, but I’m not a devotee and I don’t see why this is the litmus test for anything, including 2k. I have no problem as one politically opposed to elective abortion with another believer having a different view than me and being satisfied with pulling the opposite lever than him, whether he’s a lawmaker or not. I fight him politically, not spiritually. But i discipline the one who gets his or her actual hands bloody.

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  22. Zrim,

    Actually, I try and do parsing for it all, as far as I am able.

    I’m only suggesting the “absurd hypos” because I simply want you to acknowledge a simple fact that I suspect you actually believe, and that is that there are some policies that it would be a sin to vote for. Determining what those policies are may not be easy, but surely there is a point at which a Christian, if he is voting, must say no.

    Now I don’t believe a Christian is under any obligation to vote or to exert his effort toward opposing policy x. There’s only so many hours in the day. But that’s different from saying that the Bible gives no guidance whatsoever on public policy.

    I’m anti-abortion on the face of the question, but I’m not a devotee and I don’t see why this is the litmus test for anything, including 2k. I have no problem as one politically opposed to elective abortion with another believer having a different view than me and being satisfied with pulling the opposite lever than him, whether he’s a lawmaker or not. I fight him politically, not spiritually. But i discipline the one who gets his or her actual hands bloody.

    It comes down to an issue of biblical clarity and the role of the state. If the Bible requires the state to punish murder and elective abortion is a species of murder, the only Christian position is to be against elective abortion. Given the complexity of our political system and political parties and candidates, however, I don’t think that necessarily rules out voting for a candidate who is pro-choice.

    The only way around it is to question either of the two premises. If the Bible doesn’t require the state to punish murder, then elective abortion is a-okay, and so is every other form of murder. If elective abortion is not a species of murder, then it’s a-okay.

    Seems to me that one could say the Bible isn’t clear on those issues and then not much care. But if one believes the Bible is clear on those issues, then you have to say it is a sin to vote for policy x. And I’d say that about any political issue.

    But of course, then you have no perfect candidate, so what you do then is a matter of Christian liberty, I think. But to suggest there is no Christian position on an issue but then to believe the Bible speaks clearly to an issue seems, on the face of it, to be absurd.

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  23. @Robert
    I take the texts in Gen 9 and Rom 13 to be descriptive rather than prescriptive in order to buttress a point other than, what is the role of the nation-state.

    As far as drawing lines for the state based on the Mosaic law, you are going to run into trouble there too. For example, in Leviticus we learn that slaves who survive a day or two after beating and then die should not be avenged. Sounds like there are exceptions there. Presumably it is still wrong to give a slave such a beating that s/he dies three days later, but the law seems to let the owner off. I’m not expert on Levitical law, but I suspect that it had something to do with pragmatic concerns. We have no such biblical guidance for secular nation states though. Further, we have no example of the Apostles working to change the political system in Rome.

    It just seems an awful stretch to go from Christian liberty to there are absolutely no political positions that are inherently sinful and that Christians cannot support. Where it gets complicated is when you have a candidate that might hold some of those positions, whatever they are, and some that are adiaphora/permissible. It’s hard to draw from Scripture what you must do then. But it’s awfully hard for me to imagine God being happy with me voting for an amendment to the Constitution that says every third baby girl born in my state must be executed, or something to that effect.

    Just a few things here:
    1) I’m sure you can find a hypothetical that would be problematic. No, a Christian cannot vote “yes” for a referendum to have every third baby girl killed. I don’t know of the potential for any such laws. Note also, a better parallel to your hypothetical would be a referendum to halt investigations of the deaths of baby girls.

    2) Whatever a believer does, must be done in faith. To say that the believer must follow his conscience is not to say that anything goes. A believer’s conscience is being formed by the holy spirit, but that does not entail that all of our actions are going to look the same. If for you, voting for a pro-choice candidate is sin, then it is sinful for you to cast such a vote. That does not entail that it would be sinful for me to cast such a vote. For another, voting at all may be sinful.

    3) We are faced with complicated trade-offs because of our two party system. What if you could get a pro-life amendment to the constitution passed by also co-sponsoring an amendment to put the right to gender reassignment surgery into the Constitution? A bit extreme I suppose, but more akin to the kinds of tradeoffs real politicians have to face. The reality is that the consequences of any one vote is highly unlikely to have unintended consequences. Who would have predicted that the abortion rate would drop steadily for 25yrs after its peak in the early 90’s? Did Casey and the shift in strategy that brought with it influence that shift? It’s hard to say.

    4) From what I can tell there are three main thrusts for which 2k is a corrective:
    a. The theocrats – while minor on the national stage, they are not insignificant in P&R circles. Folks like the Bayly bros. who think that you are sinning if you aren’t marching in front of an abortion clinic, the folks who want to implement the death penalty for homosexual acts, etc… support a really corrupted view of the church.

    b. The transformational neolegalists – those who call living in the suburbs, driving an SUV, and watching football on your big screen sinful. They take their idiosyncratic preferences for crunchy, organic goodness in the city (or small, sustainable – natch, family farm) and turn it into a burden on others. When the words creational, missional, intentional, or any other -als start flowing, watch out(!) because their hip legalism isn’t far behind. These are the folks happy to call everyone who doesn’t embrace their idiosyncratic politics to repentance (repent of your carbon footprint, OWM-privilige, and expired library card).

    c. God & country types – America is God’s other chosen country. Gotta support Israel too! We must repent and call on the name of the lord so that we can get that dirty muslim out of the white house – we need a godly president like Reagan. If you vote democrat, you can’t be saved.

    Now I suppose that one could make the case that a believer couldn’t embrace certain political platforms or policies. But rather than trying to make a blanket claim or a checklist of matters a Christian could never vote for or matters a Christian could never vote against, perhaps it is better to describe 2k as a stance. Namely, it is not sufficient for a policy to be a good idea or to have good intentions behind it to require Christians to support it (and vice versa). To call something sinful for other people, there must be clear biblical warrant. If your reasoning could be used to call eating meat sacrificed to idols sinful, then you have stumbled into a form of legalism.

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  24. @allan

    … isn’t the one thing we can all agree ought to be the function of the non-theocratic kingdom of man is to protect life by punishing murder (Gen. 9:5-6)?

    I agree that the state should punish murderers, I’m not convinced that Gen. 9 is the basis for that.

    If that is the case, isn’t there a moral “ought” there that Christian politicians ought to vote for the protection of life and ought not to vote in the opposite direction?

    It seems to me that there are a number of other considerations that come into play here:
    1) What counts as “murder”. Soldiers in a unjust war? Not everything done in battle is OK. What about someone who could stop a death and doesn’t? Are bystander laws sinful? If you are the only person who’s marrow could save a kid with Leukemia are you obligated to donate? If you don’t are you killing that kid? If the state has the responsibility to protect life, why shouldn’t they mandate everyone be made available for blood transfusions, etc…?

    2) How far must the state go to protect life? Do we err on the side of protecting life or protecting the rights of the accused? Does privacy matter? Does efficacy matter? If the law is unenforceable and has negative consequences, should it still be in place?

    3) What are the trade-offs in the vote? What if I can build a coalition to do good things that requires I give up banning abortion? What if such a ban would just be struck down by the court anyway? What if it is even more indirect in that I can get a good law passed iff I vote for a SC justice who is likely pro-Casey/wade?

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  25. Allan,

    I think I largely/mainly agree. But notice that most pro-choice folks don’t argue that the life inside a woman is fully human and a woman’s choice should trump human life. They argue — and I mainly disagree — that the life is only a fetus and not fully human. So we do have a consensus that taking innocent human life is wrong. What constitutes human life is the question.

    Right?

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  26. Robert, I don’t think anyone has said that “the Bible gives no guidance whatsoever on public policy.” What has been said is that it isn’t so obvious what the Bible has to say about any particular set of political questions. Don’t you think that’s different?

    The only way around it is to question either of the two premises. If the Bible doesn’t require the state to punish murder, then elective abortion is a-okay, and so is every other form of murder. If elective abortion is not a species of murder, then it’s a-okay.

    Seems to me that one could say the Bible isn’t clear on those issues and then not much care. But if one believes the Bible is clear on those issues, then you have to say it is a sin to vote for policy x. And I’d say that about any political issue.

    The Bible also prohibits idolatry, intoxication, fornication and lying. Do you think a proposal to punish those things by force of law is really so cut and dried? I don’t. Just because the Bible makes moral prohibitions doesn’t automatically mean those things should be politically sanctioned. Are you saying if I vote to let any of those vices persist without legal sanction I am sinning? I can imagine that when America was crafting a state that allowed idolatry to persist that this was a line of argumentation by the theocrats, that to side with it was sinful. Again, I think this is reasoning that the pro-life movement loves to hear among Christians since it’s getting religious force for its cause (powerful), but I read it as a movement’s ideology winning over the church’s theology. Ouch.

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  27. Steve and Robert,
    Do you mind if I jump into this convo?

    Steve, you said:
    “I have no problem as one politically opposed to elective abortion with another believer having a different view than me and being satisfied with pulling the opposite lever than him, whether he’s a lawmaker or not. I fight him politically, not spiritually. But i discipline the one who gets his or her actual hands bloody.”

    Isn’t it the case that there is a formal kind of being accomplice by saying that you don’t care about the perverse mind of a fellow Christian who is himself a formal accomplice of the same perverse mind, and will, when he pulls the lever to promote the murder of innocent citizens?
    Paul said not only homosexuals where guilty but those who approve of the act were also guilty.

    Also, if you have pro abortion politicians or planned parenthood administrators in your congregation would it create a scandal if they receive holy communion?
    What I mean by scandal is; would other people in the congregation think that it is okay for themselves to also vote proabortion and receive communion? Would they have a reason to be confused and or angry about the voting or legislating or servicing of fellow communicates?

    Thanks for your thoughts on this!

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  28. “Would they have a reason to be confused and or angry about the voting or legislating or servicing of fellow communicates?”

    Goodness what a mess.

    “Would others in your congregation have good reason to be confused or angry if they saw a person receive communion whom they were aware were formal or very close material accomplices of the abortion?”

    Would a pro- choice legislator be permitted to your church’s table?

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  29. Hope I can interject also. The deeper question is to what degree am I responsible for X if I do not actively oppose X?

    To my mind, that question is necessarily murky. Scripture doesn’t actually require us (afaik) to actively go out, find evildoers, and compel them to cut it out. However, it does warn against welcoming false teachers (2 John 10-11), encouraging the sinner in his sin (Ezek 13.22), and other abettings of sin.

    The “social justice warriors” take a harder line, that if you are not actively opposing evil, then you are complicit with it.

    To my mind, this proposition ends in absurdity. So I currently have a FB friend who is arguing that unless you are doing EVERYTHING YOU CAN to oppose Trump, you are abetting his wickedness.

    Oddly, she has no plans of trying to assassinate him, so apparently there is some limit to what one may do to oppose Trump!

    So I would side with Steve here. Scripture requires us to oppose abortion as a species of murder; but it does not require us to actively seek out those having abortions and compel them to stop — unless those people fall under our spiritual care and are accountable to us for their sin.

    BUT

    allowing abortion might still be bad public policy (and is, in my mind), so that one might well vote against it for non-religious reasons. But someone can disagree and not be in sin, especially because if outlawing abortion wouldn’t actually reduce abortion rates.

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  30. Susan, but aren’t you begging some questions here? Switch out murder with another moral vice and ask yourself the same questions. A proposal exists to criminalize idolatry or fornication, i.e. Muslims mayn’t openly worship and unmarrieds mayn’t cohabit without the possibility of the civil powers coming to arrest, try, convict and punish. Do you like the sound of that? If yes, oh my. If not, maybe you actually can begin to see my point, which is that to believe certain things God clearly opposes may exist in general society doesn’t mean you actually approve of those things. I disapprove of murder, idolatry, and fornication, but I don’t see how that means I should appose any political effort to criminalize activities that yield them.

    I still think permitting elective abortion is bad law in ways permitting idolatry and fornication isn’t. But I also still fail to see why those who don’t think it’s bad law are themselves guilty of what their views entail. We simply disagree. Further, I am willing to live in a society where I think bad law continues without pushing the panic button or riding bandwagons about the fall of western civ because of certain bad laws. I also don’t want you disenfranchised from society simply because you participate in what I confess is idolatry. I do want you disciplined in my church, however.

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  31. When you write in “worldview”, should you spell your choice “w-v”?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2016/11/06/john-macarthur-isnt-and-is-voting-for-donald-trump

    Some claim to vote ” not as Christians but as humans”.

    Some Reformed folks need to explain the clay in Romans 9 as not being in regard to the clay’s “default sinfulness” or the clay as “human creatures but not as sinners”. But I don’t think the question is really about being infralapsarian or supralapsarian . Sin or no sin, God makes two kinds of vessels, not just one while leaving the other.

    “The vessel of wrath” did not become different from the vessel of mercy., except by God making them different.

    “Before they did good or evil” does not mean “before “God decreed that Adam would sin on their behalf”.

    Before they did good or evil, Adam was already decreed by God to sin the sin that God imputed to them.

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  32. Throckmorton seems to have an errant view of of what fascism really is all about. In fact, Trump’s opponent and the party she represents more accurately fit the definition.

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