by Juan J. Guajardo
Many conservatives are disappointed with the way the Republican leadership strong-armed their way through their convention, how they turned what used to be an opportunity for discourse and formal nomination of presidential candidates into a pre-coronation ceremony for the next would-be king and prince. But apparently enough party members are willing to overlook and accept this type of governance—this before they ever take the oath to protect the Constitution and to represent all Americans!
A President Romney would not
1. eliminate the IRS,
2. eliminate the federal government’s involvement in education,
3. eliminate foreign aid,
4. hesitate to go to war against Iran without provocation,
5. review the invasive nature of the Patriot Act,
6. get us out of Afghanistan, or
7. abolish the Federal Reserve.
And let’s not speculate about what he’d do or wouldn’t do regarding abortion and the homosexual agenda. His record and his campaign’s statements speak for themselves.
One problem with many American Christians interested in the civil government sphere is pragmatism. After a lengthy list of failed attempts to figure and machinate political outcomes (need I go through the list?), we should realize that not only is pragmatism anti-Christian, but pragmatism does not work. As Steve Macías puts it, “The American political culture…is characterized largely by opportunism and an unprincipled pragmatism. Candidates are chosen by their ability to win a race, pander to majorities, and their media appeal.”
The most popular argument for a perceived incrementalism is “A vote for someone other than ___ is a vote for Obama.” First of all, chances are my vote won’t make a difference in the outcome of the presidential contest in Texas. Neither will the biggest God-lover’s vote in California. In fact, in most states, it’s the talk about our vote that is more important than said vote itself. Christians employ all kinds of rationale to justify their vote: principle, “world view,” incrementalism, purity, and so on. We easily forget that our vote is an oath, a vow. We are telling God that we are making our choice according to His covenantal will.
I remember also the argument “If every professing Christian voted for ___, he would win easily.” Let’s see, if every Christian voted for Romney, he would win. If every Christian voted for Obama, he would win. If every Christian voted for the Libertarian candidate, he would win. If every Christian wrote in ___’s name, he would win. I guess Christians could easily achieve a tyranny of a “Christian” majority if we were just true to this adage.
So what should Christians do if they don’t know for whom to vote or whom to recommend? Martin Selbrede of Chalcedon.edu makes some insightful and powerful observations to this effect:
It was common in the early era of American Christianity for election sermons to be preached, and one of the most common texts preached upon was 2 Samuel 23:2-3. It is a very powerful passage, and I’d like you to grasp what it says. These are David’s last words, in effect. He said, “The God of Israel said, ‘the Rock of Israel spake to me: He that ruleth over men must be just ruling in the fear of God.’”
Now, David knew exactly what just meant because “justice shall thou do,” from Deuteronomy 16:20, and the laws to be followed by the king were reiterated in the 17th chapter of Deuteronomy. Here we have basically a requirement being laid down by God for those who rule over men. Not only are they to rule over men in terms of the law of God, in terms of godly justice; they are also to rule in the fear of God; in other words, fear of men, which is a snare, does not activate or motivate them. Fear of God purifies them and keeps them far above all arrogance and bribery.
Consequently, there are two requirements laid down in Scripture for those who rule over men. I do not believe it is possible to evade these at any step in the process. If it’s a must, it’s a must. So in essence, I do believe that we need to look more closely or at least veer toward the purist’s side in terms of what they are trying to seek.
However, here it becomes more interesting because it is possible for someone to fulfill this requirement of 2 Samuel 23 and yet not pass muster with the purists. For example, we may not be satisfied with their answer in respect to certain matters of civil magistracy and the function of government, even though they would rule justly and rule in the fear of God; in other words, they would apply the law of God insofar as it is revealed to men as to how to apply it.
This is interesting to me because it suggests that theonomists are a little bit behind their game. We Reconstructionists want to talk about the importance of the law of God, but we have precious little experience in bringing the law of God to bear on our society. We need to be workmen approved not ashamed. Too many kneejerk reactions and quick off-the-cuff comments seem to be marking our approach. I think the dangerous step is to be expedient in either direction. Note that it was expediency that sent Christ to the cross. “It is expedient for one man to die than the whole nation to perish,” as Caiaphas prophesied in the gospel of John.
Far be it from us to follow similar footsteps in our political leanings today. And yet most of us are very willing to throw certain people or groups under the bus for political gain. I’m not sure the Lord is going to honor that. I think each of us must reconsider fully what our mission is as Christians. We do have to answer to God for this verse when we stand before Him. I think that it would motivate us to the highest standards of argument and not justifications for compromise, or perfectionism on the other extreme. The truth may lie somewhere in the middle. Neither side wants to hear this, and I think we need to be more patient and considerate. If justice is required and we are not using the ballot box as a means to achieve godly justice, where will we stand before God when we’ve become agents of injustice and expedience toward something less than what God requires?
Does that mean that you might be outvoted 100 to 1? Well, I know of one prophet in Scripture, Micaiah, who was outvoted over 400 to 1. But he was right, and God stood by His word to that prophet. Perhaps if more of us were more courageous and not so cowardly or willing to bend to public opinion, or to the opinions of men, and not to follow after multitudes to do potential evil, I’m not saying actual, but one must wonder. Our propensity to follow crowds and multitudes and movements is not speaking well of us as those who stand upon Christ and His foundation alone. I think we need to reconsider the foundations of our faith and recognize that we are but babes in the woods when it comes to applying this stuff.
Sure, sure, we talk about the great Christians of the 1600s and 1700s in Scotland and America and elsewhere. But do we have what they had? I don’t see us generating the kind of output in terms of biblical commentary and studies that the Puritans did. We still do paperbacks that are relatively quick, easy reads. Maybe when we’re in a position to write like John Owen writes, or our pastors have that caliber, are we ready to be serious about applying our faith to politics. This does not abjure us of any obligation to do so today, but I think it compounds the necessity for us to study to show ourselves workman approved. Unfortunately, too many are workmen ashamed and they don’t even know it, which doubles the shame—and the damage to God’s kingdom in the meantime. Therefore, I issue a call to all Christians to examine themselves and to examine the Scriptures and to wonder if they have not taken the matter too lightly. Has all the flurry of political urgency made a shambles of our faith?
Like the Moses of Orwell’s Animal Farm, Pharisaic Republicans sweet-talk Christians into believing in the resurrection of Sugarandy Mountain. Not to be outdone, Sadduceeic Democrats are like Orwell’s pigs who assure the animals that since “all animals are created equal,” all their needs will be met by their beloved Napoleon. “Woe to you, Pharisees and Sadducees,” I can hear Jesus saying.
It seems to me that Republicans place “the economy” and “national security” ahead of living by God’s laws and the U.S. Constitution. Yet God promises that if we keep His covenant, He will bless us economically. He also says that if our ways are pleasing to Him, He will make even our enemies to be at peace with us. So I choose childlikely to believe God’s promises rather than worry about the next Great Depression or the next terrorist/foreign attack.
Here I stand, firm but ready and willing to be persuaded by anyone with biblical arguments to the contrary.