Social Justice and the Christian Voter

“History is a voice forever sounding across the centuries the laws of right and wrong. Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity.” – James Froude

When it comes to historical hindsight, modern Christians have a tendency to believe that we would always have sided with the angels, particularly when it comes to opposing institutionalized evil. We believe, for instance, that we would have been abolitionists decrying the injustice of slavery in Britain and America.

We believe that if we lived in Germany in the 1930s we would have recognized the inherent threat of Nazism and openly condemned Hitler’s regime. And we white Southern Christians have no doubts that we, unlike our parents and grandparents, would have stood with Dr. King and our other civil rights leaders in fighting to end racial segregation.

We can’t truly know, of course, what we would have done in the past. As much as we prefer to think that we would have stood against oppression and injustice we must not forget that many honest and otherwise admirable Christians were swayed more by the zeitgeist than by the redemptive power of the Gospel. But while we can’t know how we would have faced previous trials of moral courage, we have an opportunity to test our mettle against one of the greatest tragedies in American history—abortion.

Every election season we’re reminded that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. From this obvious truth many people draw the conclusion that their choice in candidates is therefore morally equivalent. It isn’t. While it may be perceived as presumptuous to tell anyone who they should vote for, I truly believe that no Christian should in good conscience vote to re-elect the most pro-abortion president in America’s history.

Such a claim will be viewed as bold, hubristic, and obnoxious. It may very well be all those things; but it is also true. There are certain issues that transcend political parties and partisan politics and for Christians who believe in the Biblical ideal of justice, the protection of innocent human life is nonnegotiable. There are certainly other issues of moral importance that should be considered. But no one who works to expand and normalize institutional evil deserves the votes of a follower of Christ.

The sad and incontrovertible fact is that Barack Obama is deeply committed  to protecting and expand just such an institution evil. Under his watch, his administration has championed the destruction of the innocent and the Democratic Party has enshrined abortion as an essential right. No longer is the mantra to keep “safe, legal, and rare.” Today, the Obama administration and the DNC unequivocally support abortion on demand and opposes any efforts to limit the practice for any reason—including sex-selection and partial-birth abortions.

For that reason Obama should be inelegible for the votes of Christians who take the demands of social justice seriously.

Many Christians, though, will attempt to rationalize their decision by claiming that they are not ‘single issue’ voters. These believers never explain, however, what issues they believe take precedence over defending innocent human life. Whether the government should tax the rich more heavily or whether more can be done to protect the environment are positions on which Bible-believing Christians can honestly differ. But the demands of social justice require that we protect the weak and the innocent. And in America, none are more vulnerable and in need of protection than the unborn.

Others will claim that voting for Obama or other pro-choice candidates “will do more to address the root causes of abortion–poverty, health care, education, etc.” than voting for pro-life candidates. But this “root cause” excuse is a thin fig leaf used by those who are ill-informed about reality. For instance, if lack of education is a “root cause” of abortion, then abortion should be rare among the highly educated. Why then do woman with a college education account for almost 1 in 5 abortions? And if poverty leads to increases in abortion then we should expect increases in welfare benefits to reduce abortion rates. Why has no peer-reviewed research ever found such a connection? A “low information voter” might be able to convince themselves that supporting Obama reduces the need for abortion. But no serious Christian should use such a flimsy excuse to justify supporting an administration that supports such a grave injustice.

Even if the “root cause” rationale was empirically supportable, though, it would not be a reasonable excuse. Would these same Christians support a segregationist if that candidate’s policies would reduce the need for racial segregation? Would they support an proponent of sex trafficking if that candidate’s policies would reduce the need for sex trafficking? Of course not. Support for a segregationist or sex-trafficking advocate would be anathema to those who love justice. So why the lowered standard when it comes to the protecting the unborn?

A Christian can be pro-life or they can vote for Obama. But to do both exhibits a disturbing level of cognitive dissonance.

The decision to not vote to reelect the president is easy. However, refusing to cast a vote for Obama does not require supporting Mitt Romney. The Republican candidate has his own history of supporting abortion and embroyo destruction—at least when the thought it would help him get elected. He also has a history of changing his position when flip-flopping is the prudent electoral move. Romney is considered a  ”pro-life” candidate only because he is flexible enough to support the pro-life cause when it’s electorally convenient. In contrast, when it comes to abortion, Obama is a man of firm conviction.

When we go to the polls tomorrow we will enter the voting booths as Democrats, as Republicans, or as Independents. We will have studied the issues and prayed for guidance in making the right decisions. And, like many who have come before us, our vote will have profound historical significance. While we cannot change the events that occurred in 1857, 1939, or even 1963, history has placed before us an opportunity to rectify an evil that has plagued our country since 1972. When we cast out vote for president we must do so not on the basis of the next four years, forty years, or even four hundred years. We must do so from the perspective of eternity, knowing that we will someday have to answer for our decision before our Creator.

  • Frank

    Amen!

  • Rick

    Does President Romney end abortion on his first day? His first year? After 8 years of President Bush, and with a conservative Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. What’s the game plan for overturning Roe? Could it be that the SC doesn’t want to touch this issue? And if that’s the case, isn’t all of this posturing about “voting pro-life” ultimately pointless? It’s in the hands of 9 justices, and none of them are itching to make a ruling on abortion that will lead to months and years of demonstrations.

    The Catholic Bishops, who are staunchly pro-life, have also said that Paul Ryan’s budget is inhumane in the cuts it makes to social services. For conservatives to try to seize the social justice high ground is laughable, especially in light of their “survival of the fittest/Ayn Rand/we built this/Tea Party” rhetoric. The election is basically pro-lifers who think its okay to cut healthcare and foodstamps and to waterboard prisoners, vs. pro-choicers who don’t want poor people thrown out of their homes and forced to beg. Neither is a perfect choice, so good luck.

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  • JDP

    Rick

    “Roe” was almost overturned in the early ’90s. You know, twenty years after this “inevitable” decision.

    we need 1-2 conservative justices (depending on Roberts) at this point to have an anti-”Roe” majority.

    Sorry, but your obvious concern trolling doesn’t work.

    Also an aside — the backlash against the backlash regarding Obama’s “you didn’t build that” is idiotic. It was an incredibly stupid statement in context, using the banal observation that because people benefit from the society around them, then their own contributions are minimal in the grand scheme of things. You don’t have to be a strawman “Randian” to object to it.

  • JDP

    it also reflected on Obama’s view that “society” and “government” are essentially one and the same. He doesn’t have much use for churches, local communities, other forms of cooperation.

  • JDP

    and honestly, one final comment, it’d be one thing if Rick was a pro-lifer who votes Democrat (and if you are then feel free to correct me.) But this attempt to spin “Roe” as impossible to overturn, from someone who from the look of the rest of his post DOESN’T think it should be overturned, I find particularly loathsome.

    It’d be like a liberal telling an evangelical conservative not to vote for the Mormon based on theological points they couldn’t care less about.

  • http://www.theupsidedownworld.com Rebecca Trotter

    Sorry – that dog don’t hunt for me anymore. The Republicans have no more intention of doing something serious about abortion than the Dems. At least the Dems are honest about their lack of concern over the slaughter of the unborn. Anyone who thinks pulling the lever for a political candidate has anything to do with “standing up for life” is fooling themselves. Abortion is a massive social problem and politicians can’t and won’t fix social problems – we do. If there was a candidate working on a constitutional amendment to over turn Roe v Wade or on fully funding pregnancy crisis centers or on paid maternity leave or services to women placing children for adoption or training fathers for work and providing parenting education to them or any other policy which might make a difference, I’d vote for them. But this standing up and using words to declare your pro-life bonifides and gather votes pile of feces our politicians get away with? Color me not impressed. Really being pro-life takes real work – not casting a vote for the politician who blows the right dog whistle on the issue.
    http://theupsidedownworld.com/2012/11/03/why-i-dont-consider-abortion-when-voting/

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    Ah, I would say something substantive, but I, for the most part, agree. I did feel it important to point out a typo:
    “Whey then do woman with a college education account for almost 1 in 5 abortions?”
    I do this kind of thing all the time, so I figured you’d want to know and correct it.

    Best.

  • http://southerngospelyankee.wordpress.com yankeegospelgirl

    I confess to being a little saddened that segregation is placed on the same plane as abortion. Although I believe it was wrong for there to be laws in place that would force black people to drink from separate water fountains, use separate restrooms, etc., the issue as a whole was and is more complex than people think. That kind of racism was outlawed, but it seems to have been replaced with another kind of racism. Now white people are the target. You can’t say an honest word about crime without being vilified as a racist. You’re a racist by default if the work force for your business tilts toward white workers. And so on and so forth. I really don’t think this issue deserves a place next to something as cut and dried as the murder of human beings.

    But, aside from that, I heartily applaud your main point and am thoroughly sick of the “one-issue voting” and “root cause” memes. Please, make them go away, somebody.

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  • Caroline

    So do you think that someone who is the only match for someone else who requires a bone marrow transplant to survive must be forced to make a donation? If your objection of difference is that the person will be dying of a natural cause, then please tell me about all the “social justice” you are doing to help prevent miscarriages.

  • Sheik Yerbouti

    Rick: I don’t think the author is urging readers to vote for Romney. Besides, there is another candidate who is more principled, more consistent, and more honest — and who wants to remove the whole question of abortion from the federal level and give it back to the states where it belongs. Each state already has murder laws, and they are the exclusive province of each state to dictate and enforce. This strategy also includes removing federal funding for abortion, which will be a big step in lowering the body count.