We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils?


One of my followers posted this video on Facebook:

It didn’t take me long to see logic fallacies and abuse of Scripture being used to make the narrator’s point.  In a discussion, I was asked if I could explain the problems I saw a bit more in depth, so this is my analysis.

From the very beginning of the video (less than two minutes into it) he says the problem is situational ethics (“SE”).  This really demonstrates that he doesn’t understand what SE is, because SE rarely comes into play in voting.

An example of SE would be this:  I am totally against stealing because it is wrong, but taking home office supplies from work I justify because it “isn’t really theft” or “they just pass the cost along,” etc.  Or perhaps I copy someone’s video so I don’t have to buy one because “no one is hurt.”  Or perhaps I have a friend who practices homosexual behavior, and because he’s my friend I decide it’s okay because, after all, he’s in “love” with his partner, unlike those homosexuals who habit the bathhouses.   These are examples of situational ethics: I’ve decided which situations allow me to violate God’s rules.

Before we continue about the video, let me make the point that voting for politicians is not like selecting pastors:  probably a majority of politicians aren’t even believers, and many who claim to be violate God’s laws to please most of their constituents or to advance their own careers, etc.  Also, when voting we select the politician who will be the best for the country, not just for Christianity.  Some times these will overlap but this isn’t necessary.

Another thing to think about before continuing is that this nation has two primary political parties, and any other party has never garnered enough support to win.  Even if every true Christian voted for a 3rd party, it wouldn’t be enough because true Christians are the minority in this nation (and probably in every other nation). The Democrat party platform calls for same-sex fake marriage and the rest of the homosexual agenda (and the “transgender agenda), abortion, sexual immorality in general, promoting atheism, sanctioning theft (redistribution of the wealth) and violation of all personal rights, etc.  This means that every Democrat candidate supports this party platform and therefore any vote for them is furthering an ungodly and anti-God ideology (remember when God was mentioned at a convention and the audience booed?).  The Republican platform is against all these things that the Democrat platform is for.  Of course candidates from either party often don’t follow their whole party platform, but any vote for any Republican should be a better political choice for Christians than voting for Democrats only because of their party platforms.  All being human, we can expect sin in both ranks.

Our only time to choose the very best candidates for promoting a godly society is during the primaries when many candidates are presented to us, and it would be the time to vote for a 3rd party if you find that person to be the most godly candidate as to his ideology.  But once the party candidates have been selected our choices as to who to vote for are severely limited.  IF the third party candidate has a very strong showing throughout the campaign season, he might just be the best choice for a possible win, but that has never happened in history.

Choosing which candidate to vote for is never a matter of situational ethics.  We never decide that a candidate’s behavior is okay just because he’s our candidate, nor do we decide any of his bad political ideas are okay just because he’s our candidate.  We make our selection as to which candidate will be best overall for the nation, and hopefully also be the most godly candidate in general.  This may often be seen as “voting for the lesser of two evils,” but it may also be seen as voting for any Republican so as to be voting against the Democrat party (and/or any other party running).  Votes never have to just be “for” someone; they can also be “against” someone.  So the reverse idea is really voting for the better of two sinning candidates.

Now let’s continue in the video, and we can immediately disregard his whole claims about SE, because most of what he says applying SE to politics in general is erroneous.  “Voting for the lesser of two evils” is not SE.  When you see that this charge is erroneous then it’s easier to dismantle the argument.  “If you listen carefully and think critically” during this video, you will see that “voting for the lesser of two evils” is actually a misnomer, but Gordon insists that this is actually the only thing we are doing.  I think most voters who say that are really thinking, which of the two candidates will do a better job of obeying the constitution, providing for the defense of the nation, supporting our rights and slowing down the cultural decay?  And since we cannot impose Christian values on the candidates, we aren’t necessarily selecting in regards to God’s laws as opposed to selecting the one who will be the best in obeying the law of the land.

Gordon brings in a total logic fallacy as an example of voting between people like Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler.  No candidate in the American system of government would ever be on this level, so he is making an absurd suggestion to begin with.  Again, we are selecting candidates who will best uphold U.S. Law.  So what he gives us is just a red herring to distract us from what is really happening in the political process.  His whole argument is based on the idea that we are voting for people who are following GOD’s laws rather than our Country’s laws (and, as noted above, these may overlap but do not have to — this is NOT a Christian nation and we are not voting for a theocracy.)

His next idea is that selecting a candidate is similar to buying a product.  This is comparing “apples to oranges.”  First, with products one has a multitude of selections, and the only moral element is whether immoral actions produced the product.  He then again states that if you “listen carefully and think critically” you will come to the same conclusion as he does in regards to politics.  The implication is that he has the godly ideas and if you disagree with him, then you are in rebellion against God— “there’s only one way of doing it if you believe in the Bible”.  I’d say this is arrogant as well as presumptuous.

He calls SE a “sin,” which is correct, but then he says the way we vote is SE, which is not true.  He continues to claim we vote as to who is less evil, but that is NOT what we do, no matter how many times he makes this claim.  We vote for who will MOST represent us and protect the laws set up by our Constitution — we cannot vote for who is most moral because the most moral person may be one who has no consideration for the Constitution!  Again, we are not voting for church leadership — we are voting for which pagan will be the best leader for our nation, and good leaders are often immoral people in many other ways and may even be atheists.  Gordon wants to force people to look for candidates that most conform to Christian morality when we are dealing mostly with non-believers!  It’s the same mentality which says that we must make a non-believer moral before we can preach the gospel to him!

In the section “Duverger is Lord,” Gordon says you are either following Duverger’s ideology about voting or God’s ideology, and yet HE is determining what Jesus would say about our voting system.  And, no, not everyone follows Duverger’s philosophy when voting; this may be the way many vote, but not all.  And then Gordon compares our voting system with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego problems or Daniel’s problems.  Or Jesus being afraid of the Pharisees and apologizing for making them upset.  This is a logic fallacy.  These men had to choose between obeying God or obeying the law of the land.  We are not making such choices while voting, but if Gordon makes it appear that way, then he can say our voting methods are ungodly.

Then he says that Republicans with unrepentant sin are not viable to vote for, again holding non-believers to Christian standards!  And if you think otherwise, then you are making Duverger as lord!  Then he says you can do write-in votes even knowing that write-ins may be valid for primaries but will never win a presidential election unless the write-in is supported by the majority of the population!  And if you aren’t agreeing with Gordon, then you are not obeying God!  And also that you are practicing idolatry of party and a hypocrite!

Then Gordon decides that if you are not accepting his ideology, you are doing the same thing as the world.  The problem is that he totally neglects the fact that we are NOT voting for a church leader!!!

Gordon claims he sinned by voting for John McCain in 2008.  I would really like to know what command of God he violated by said vote.  True, the REASON one votes for a particular candidate CAN be sinful, but that is generally not the case (unless one is voting Democrat because of their whole party platform being in violation of many of God’s laws). 

Gordon’s ignorance of the candidates led him to his voting ideas.  Just because he voted via ignorance, that doesn’t mean everyone else is.  Additionally, his reasons why he thinks his voting was sinful, was because he is holding the individual candidates to Christian standards!!!  (What he truly suggests is single-issue voting; if a candidate sanctions euthanasia for an individual but is a staunch supporter of the Constitution, then it is wrong to vote for him — again holding the candidate to Christian moral standards when we are voting for a national leader and NOT a church leader.)

His continual calling the voting ideas we follow are nothing but SE is the only way he can look like he’s correct.  His original premise is erroneous and therefore his conclusions are bad.  And it’s all from the devil if it isn’t Gordon’s way.

In the last section he considers a political party to be like a child, and always rewarded for terrible behavior.  But the party is made up of MANY people and not all of the members of the party behave badly.  However, he makes claims against the Republican party when there are only a few members who do as he charges, so he blames an entire party for the behavior of a few.

Gordon claims we as Christians have made the monster of a political system we have.  He neglects the FACT that this is not a Christian nation, and the majority of voters are not real Christians, and Christians can only do the best we can with what we are given to work with.  This will mean more and more bad choices picked by the majority of the population. But if we think differently, we are following Duverger’s law.  Gordon’s problematic idea is that Christians are the majority of the population and therefore are the ones who really make the choices of candidates rather than the choices being more by the media and other background institutions, which leaves us with choosing which candidate will be best for the country overall (and by extension would be best for Christians overall).

Gordon says to let the Republicans lose until they obey God’s laws, regardless of the fact that they are mostly non-believers!!!  And this is supposed to make the nation better off!  He says if the candidates can’t meet the following “purity tests” then they are too dangerous to have political power:

First is a combination of the 5th and 7th Commandments:  Honor father and mother and do not commit adultery.  Stop threatening the institution of family, hold homosexuality as wrong.

Second, is from the 2nd commandment - don’t murder.  Outlaw abortion.

Third is not to steal or covet.  Ergo, no redistribution of wealth.  He then claims that God only required 10% taxes of His people and if a government take more it is setting itself above God. The problem is that the tithe was the support for the priesthood, and the Jews had a lot more mandatory offerings that that tithe, and God gave Christians NO tax other than what they felt compelled to give.

Four is from the 9th commandment — Thou shalt not lie.  Actually it is about bearing false witness and not lying in general.  The issue of lying is a whole other topic but suffice it to say that deception is not always sinful.  For more on this issue, see my article.

While the candidates we select for lower offices can be held to higher standards in regard to this list because they are responsible for making laws, a president does not have the ability to change laws — that right is assigned to the legislature by the Constitution.

Gordon ends by saying that we have to get back to the law of God to save the nation.  I agree.  However, our culture no longer has a Judeo-Christian base and we can’t force anyone to accept Christian morality.  Since that is a fact, then we can’t expect any candidate to follow God’s laws.

Incidentally, in the “purity test” we find that the Republican party platform calls for all of them, while the Democratic platform is against all of them!  And yet Gordon rails against the Republican party as much as he does the Democratic party. 

Gordon ends by saying the 10 Commandments is what we need for the nation.  But the 10 Commandments were never for anyone but Israel.

When we examine “Reverend” Gordon’s belief system, as found on his Church’s sitewe find some questionable issues in regards to the teachings of his church, not the least of which is that three of the pastors appear to be brothers or other close family members:

*  They are “neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic” who teach the gifts of the Spirit are active today.

*  They have female “associate” pastors, with the claim that women can be pastors as long as they aren’t the lead pastor.

*  They believe in “Total independence from civil government interference, yet maintaining an interposing authority upon the civil government. Individual Christian citizens understand the proper use of civil authority according to God’s laws, which are fundamentally set-forth in the Ten Commandments. In short, when civil authorities violate the immutable principles of the Ten Commandments, a true Christian congregation will confront defiance and rebellion against God for the sake of the gospel and the common good.” (my bold and underling emphasis)

Scripture nowhere says we are to have an “imposing authority upon civil government,” nor does it tell us to “confront defiance and rebellion against God.” It only  says that governments are established by God and that we are to obey the government and its laws so long as they don’t conflict with God’s laws (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17: Acts 5:29).  No nation besides Israel was commanded to obey the 10 commandments.

This information, together with articles on the site, tends to make me believe they are “reconstructionist” or “theonomist” in their beliefs, which explains the ideology behind the video.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was very helpful, thank you!

Ms. B

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Great post; you nailed it. But, by the way, there is a large reformed Christian sect, I have encountered lately, many of whom WILL NOT VOTE. For a while, I couldn't understand their convoluted thinking until I put it together with their misguided doctrines of the Church. They believe the Church is Israel and so they are bound to Israel's covenants. They are amillennialists who believe that Jesus is already reigning; they despise our constitution and they hate our government because they want it to establish Christianity ONLY and outlaw the freedom of existence for every other religion. They will not vote for any candidate (either party) unless he (NO women) is a Christian (who meets the biblical qualifications for elders) Or, some may vote for any unqualified third party candidate just to confound the process. And the worst thing about it is, they won't be reasoned with.

I am going to share this on my blog if you don't mind.

Anonymous said...

The Republican party is no better than the Democratic party. Platforms are talking points not action items for laws. Just look back at history to see this truth. Republicans have held the majority in the House and Senate but didn't act on the platform items (abortion...), end of discussion.
We will all give an account of how we live our life. Knowingly voting to put a person in any office who is a lier is to give them the right to do what ever they want to us. We know they are not truthful and give them power to rule anyway. How do you kill millions of your own people(Hitler, Pol Pot)? Lie to them, that's what they did. Political leaders have done it multiple times in history for it only to be repeated again. Why because we are voting for the better of two? If they lie neither are fit for office, our lives depend on it. Don't be deceived God raises up and puts down leaders with our without our votes. But we give an account only for how we lived a life that glorifies our Lord.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ralph,

Share away! :oD

I am so tired of people who think we have to vote for a Christian or at least one with total Christian morality. They can't seem to see that voting for politicians is not the same as electing a church leader. It's so simple that it just passes over their heads. Sad.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

You sound like you could have made this video. You are in error.

When it comes to party platforms, you have to use them as the basis of the ideology of its members. I understand that not all members of the party will follow the platform ideology, but we have to deal with what we have.

And yes God can work without our votes, but in this country we have the privilege of having a say-so, and when we don't exercise that right of getting the best on the ballot, they I think God gives us what we deserve -- the Obamas of the world.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

To the person who hides his identity - Someone will win this election. Your responsibility is to do the best you can with your one vote. But I realize that might be hard for you because, after all, it takes a few minutes to drive to a polling place and mark a ballot once every four years.

Anonymous said...

I'm in error? How so?
The platforms are only talking points they don't mean anything if nothing comes from them. A lie is a lie. If I tell you what you want to hear but have no intention of actually doing them, you're saying I'm obligated to act on your lie?
So when I'm exercising my privilege to say no to both candidates because I believe they are unfit for the position I'm now in error? Would you use that with any position on a biblical heresy? You have to choose between two wrong choices because it's my "only" option? No you don't believe that and neither do I. Keeping the Republican party around when in reality it's a wolf in sheep's clothing is not good for the country. They crowd out a real party that is for the people. I'm not talking about positions on ideas I'm talking about lying. I will not enable liers nor work to put them in positions of authority over me. They can not be trusted to do what is right. Honesty is better than a lie you like to hear about moral issues any day.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

Take a look at history and you will see that for the most part both parties have followed their party platforms. So I guess that means the platforms aren't lies after all.

Again, it sounds like you either made the video or are in agreement with it. My explanations as to the proper view of voting are in the article. Feel free to disagree, but don't say it's because I accept lying.

And don't bring in comparisons do dealing with heresy -- I noted well that politics is a whole different ball game because we cannot hold pagans to Christian morality.

Have a good day, sir.