PMW 2020-092 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
We are facing a watershed election that may determine whether or not we continue as a Constitutional Republic. Obviously, God is sovereign and in control. But as Calvinists we recognize the importance of human responsibility. I am posting this article this week in anticipation of the national elections in America next week.
Some Christians refuse to vote for Donald Trump because of his attitude and some past sins. I sympathize with them. However, like it or not, we will be electing only one of two candidates for President: Donald Trump or Joe Biden. This causes us to have to consider Lesser-of-Evils voting. I happen to believe we have the right to vote for a lesser-of-evils candidate. In this and the next few articles I will be summarizing my argument from my book Political Issues Made Easy.
I will not be voting so much for Trump, but for his policies. And I will do this on the basis of his policies being far superior to Joe Biden’s.
I will be reflecting on our political hopes and strategies for a strong Christian influence on America’s future. But before I get into this question, we must recognize our nation’s political structure.
America is a republic, not a democracy. Rather than being a democracy run directly by the people, we are a republic in which we elect our officials and empower them to make decisions on our behalf. The word “democracy” never appears in our Constitution, whereas it specifically states that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government” (Art. 4; § 5). We are reminded of this important reality whenever we repeat our Pledge of Allegiance, for we the pledge is “to the republic for which it stands.” The fundamental purpose of our Constitution is to direct our national government in how to operate as a republic.
Political Issues Made Easy
by Kenneth Gentry
Christian principles applied to practical political issues, including the importance of borders, the biblical warrant for “lesser-of-evils” voting, and more. A manual to help establish a fundamentally biblical approach to politics. Impressively thorough yet concise.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Nevertheless, in our constitutional republic we elect our government officials by majority vote. The Constitution states that members of the House of Representative are to be elected “by the People of the several States” (Art. 1; § 2). Originally Senators were elected by state legislators (who themselves were elected by the people): “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof” (Art. 1 Sect. 3). The Seventeenth Amendment (ratified, April 8, 1913), however, changed this, insuring “two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof.” The President is elected indirectly by the people through the choosing of Electors by the (popularly elected) legislatures of each state (Art. 2; § 1). This system insures that each state, regardless of size, will be proportionally represented in the presidential election.
Thus, every adult citizen of the United States (unless he is a felon) has the right to vote. And as Christians our worldview obligates us to vote so that we might exercise a righteous influence on the governance of the nation. But now the rub. Though Christians are well-represented in America, two problems reduce our influence: (1) we do not represent a majority of the population, and (2) we are not in agreement among ourselves regarding political matters.
As a consequence of our present circumstances, we have few really good candidates from which to choose for our leaders. What are we to do? How shall we operate in such a mixed political environment? I would like to offer direction for what we as Christian citizens should do. As I begin I will first consider:
Our Current Dilemma
Because there are so few candidates operating on strongly-held biblical principles, and because more often than not those few good ones have little chance of winning a general election, we find ourselves facing a dilemma. The voting quandary we face is known as “the lesser of evils.” That is, if we as voters are in a political election involving several candidates and we realize that the best candidate cannot win, what are we to do? We face the prospect of either voting for our preferred candidate, knowing that he will lose, or voting for an alternative, more viable but less acceptable candidate with the hope that he will defeat the other even lesser qualified candidate. In this case the alternative candidate becomes the “lesser of evils” remaining among those who have a good chance of being elected.political c
Politically-conservative voters — and especially, Christian conservative voters — have a particularly difficult time facing this prospect. We are committed to principles rather than pragmatics. Consequently, voting for someone who is politically deficient in several respects is a hard pill to swallow, especially when there is a strongly-Christian candidate in the race. After all, we hold the truths of Scripture without compromise and are commanded in Scripture to “stand firm in the faith” (1 Cor. 16:13; cp. 2 Cor. 1:24; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 6:1, 13, 14; Phil. 1:27; 4:1; 1 Thess. 3:8; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Pet. 5:12). Indeed, our eternal destinies depend on such! How can we compromise our convictions in a political election? How can we vote for the lesser of two evils?
Many devout Christians, therefore, even urge us not to consider voting for the lesser of evils. For instance, a website called “Defending. Contending” states: “my current position is that true Christians should not have to vote if they first have to sit down and estimate which candidate is the lesser of two evils.” Peter Diezel puts it more forcefully: “I just can’t get myself to believe that it is good to vote for evil. The last I heard, the lesser of two evils is still evil.”
Standard Bearer: Festschrift for Greg Bahnsen (ed. by Steve Schlissel)
Includes two chapters by Gentry on Revelation and theonomy. Also chapters on apologetics, politics, ecclesiology, covenant, and more.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Dean Isaacson of the strongly-Christian Constitution Party concurs. He complains that:
“a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. If you are willing to compromise your principle for the sake of winning, don’t be surprised when the candidate you voted for compromises his. Isaiah warns us that if we do not stand firm in our faith, we will not stand at all (Isa. 7:9). Paul tells us, in Ephesians chapter six, after we have done everything to stand, we must stand and stand firm. Therefore, principle-attending to the laws of God must be our absolute goal. Our convictions dictate that we cannot win using the same strategies as the moderates, liberals and neo-conservatives. We do not win by building big tents and coalitions. In fact, we are not commanded to win; Christ taught us to be faithful.”
These are strong words representing vigorous evangelical challenges to Christians considering voting for a candidate lacking the full panoply of conservative convictions. And as I have been urging throughout this book, we certainly must bring our firmly-held Christian worldview to bear upon the political order. What are we to think of these challenges? How are we to respond to the challenge of the lesser of evils?
I believe that though these comments are well-intended, and though they have a surface plausibility, they ultimately fail as a proper Christian response to our predicament. Let me explain from a conservative-political and a Bible-based Christian perspective why I would say this, by noting:
Our Christian Response
I will consider this in the next installment tomorrow.