There are many ways Christians can find information that will tell them how they should vote in the upcoming election. There’s no shortage of information in the media, though some Christian media outlets try not to become too immersed in political activity. But if you can’t find it there, you can go on the internet and find hundreds of pieces of advice from hundreds of people on social networks and blogs. There are plenty of places in Christian media that are more than willing to tell you exactly how they think you should vote, along with plenty of prooftexts from the Bible to support their opinion. And if that doesn’t work, there is still the reliable paper known as the Christian voter guide, distributed a couple of weeks before the election.
The assumption of the voter guide, most Christian media outlets, and most individuals who think they are presenting a well-rounded argument based on Christian beliefs, is that abortion and gay marriage are where all Christians should draw the line. The object then becomes gathering information about the candidates and their position on those two issues, essentially, whether they are in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage, or whether they are opposed to it, and they pass this information along as if that’s all a Christian voter needs to make up his or her mind.
If it were only as simple as that…
I know that the Republican party has a pro-life position regarding the issue of abortion in its party platform. Though there is some discussion about it from year to year, the Republicans have been very consistently making sure that remains part of their platform. And most Republican candidates, whether they are running for an office that has the ability to affect the issue or not, will verbalize a pro-life position. The bottom line is that abortion has been legal since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Roe v. Wade. Overturning the Roe decision would be just the first step in eliminating abortion on demand. Once a Supreme Court overturned Roe, then individual states could pass laws restricting the practice, anything from severe, restrictive regulation to eliminating it altogether. Some states would do that, while others would not control or regulate the practice at all. That would be the best case scenario.
But at the present time, abortion is legal, and largely unrestricted as far as a woman’s access to the procedure goes. The Roe decision is still the “settled law of the land,” according to Chief Justice John Roberts. And yet, since opposition to abortion became a plank in the Republican party platform, no fewer than three Republicans have served as President of the United States, with the power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. If one of those Presidents had actually done more than just give lip service to their pro-life position, the Roe decision would have been overturned by a more recent court, and states would have the ability to pass laws restricting abortion. So it appears that it is not merely a matter of whether a Presidential candidate says he is opposed to abortion on demand. It will take a candidate who will actually do something about it. All three of the Republican Presidents who’ve served since the Roe decision was made appointed at least one Supreme Court justice who was not committed to a pro-life perspective. In so doing, they’ve kept the Supreme Court at a 5-4 majority favoring what is known as the pro-choice position. So it would seem that past record should weight heavier on this particular issue than a promise to follow the party platform does.
Let’s be honest. If Bush really was opposed to abortion, and genuinely interested in seeing it end, he had six years, and two Supreme Court appointments to accomplish this. Instead, he split his judicial appointments between one justice with a reasonably strong record on pro-life issues, and one whose position was not able to be distinguished from the decisions he had rendered. As it turns out, he believes that Roe v. Wade is the settled “law of the land” and has repeatedly refused to hear cases that would lead to overturning it. Is that what Christian voters expected when they cast their ballots for former President Bush and all of those congressmen and senators that they thought were committed to this position? What’s worse, claiming to be pro-life but never taking advantage of opportunity to deliver, or using it as a political wedge to provide advantage to one candidate over the other?
The other issue which clearly demonstrates the line of demarcation between Republicans and Democrats is gay marriage. Opposition to gay marriage is also in the Republican party platform, and is a question you will find in voters guides to help you determine, as a Christian, how you should vote. But I think this issue also bears closer examination. Marriage is a state’s jurisdiction, not a federal government one. So even though the federal government has passed a “defense of marriage act,” states still have control over marriage licensing, and they have that control because of the Republican party’s defense of states’ rights. And it is worth pointing out that Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, became the first governor in the US to order municipal civil clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses for same sex couples. He wasn’t following his party’s platform when he did that. What makes you think he’s changed his mind, other than for political expediency, to get the GOP nomination.
Same sex marriage and abortion are very important moral issues. But it is probably more important to evaluate the actual record of accomplishment of a politician on this, and similar issues, and not just how he says he feels about it. And frankly, while abortion and gay marriage are important issues, they are not the only ones that require the thoughtful consideration, and application of Biblical principles. Health care as a basic human right as opposed to being an “industry,” is definitely an issue that has a Christian perspective, as does education, and a whole long list of economic issues. And neither party has a corner on the market on the “Christian” perspective.