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Devotionals

The Definitive Examination of Morality, Voting and Sin

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First of all, the section regarding unintentional sins no longer are in place because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Unintentional sin however is still about things you do, not things other people do. Leeman keeps making this illogical leap that says we gain a transference of other people's sins based upon casting a vote. If that was truly the case, no Christian should ever vote. Let me guess, that's a sin too? Please. Let me put this chain of causation nonsense to rest. In 2000, George W. Bush ran as a pro-life candidate, even though his history was pro-choice. Christians everywhere demanded a vote for Bush because of this issue alone. We will call that issue E. Bush also ran on impoverishing tax cuts for the rich and eventually would get us into the Iraq War on fake intelligence, for the sole purpose of greed and money. Bush had complete control of both houses of Congress for two years yet they never brought up abortion. Not even once. He ran again in 2004 as a pro-life candidate and the church was positively giddy to vote for him again. Of course, abortion never came up again. So according to the Leeman logic, we become guilty of the impoverishing the poor, a very important subject to God, because we gave Bush the sword of the state. We also are guilty of the unintentional sin of the Iraq War including the millions of people who died because of it. Oh, and what about issue E? You remember, the only reason why we voted for Bush? Yeah, we never even got that. Our vote does not convey sin upon us beloved and thank God for that.

"3. There's a distinction between morally permissible laws and immoral laws which is crucial to our moral evaluations. Some laws or actions promised by a candidate, in and of themselves, are morally permissible, even if they eventually prove to have unjust outcomes. For instance, think of laws establishing the tax rate at x percent, or to establish an immigration quota at y people per year, or to incarcerate a person for z years for possessing an illegal drug. Other laws, by their very nature, are always unjust (see Is. 10:1-2). So it is, for instance, with laws establishing race-based slavery, segregation, or discriminatory mortgage-lending practices. And so it is with laws establishing abortion. Our posture toward morally permissible laws with bad or unjust outcomes should be different than our posture toward morally unjust laws. With morally permissible laws, we can talk about "reducing the bad outcomes," even while continuing to affirm the moral permissibility of a law. Not so with inherently unjust laws. The goal with unjust laws must be to overturn them, plain and simple, lest our ongoing support affirm what's inherently unjust (see Rom. 1:32). What sense would it make to support a pro-slavery senator while seeking to reduce the number of slaves? Now, realpolitik considerations sometimes involve compromises. Half a loaf is better than no loaf, they say. Still, even as we accept halfway measures for the sake of reducing bad outcomes, our overall goal and strategy must remain overturning the unjust law." - Jonathan Leeman

So we come to it. The same issue that seemingly every political Christian operates off of. I am unsure why it is being compared to discriminatory mortgage practices but that aside, sin is sin. Leeman is trying to create an area for super sins such a slavery and abortion but let's examine his referenced immigration quotas. So if immigration is a minor issue, what about when the powers we elect use immigration for their own personal prejudices and separate mothers from their children? Do you honestly think this is a minor issue to God? Why are we not guilty of that unintentional thingy? His tortured logic on abortion is betrayed by the truth that even if he got his dream of overturning Roe, that does not end abortion. It merely returns it to the states. It ensures that any woman living in Missouri will have to travel to another state to get an abortion. What however did you also get with positions A, B, C and D just to achieve E?

"4. The character of a candidate matters by the same chain of moral causation described in point 1. Does the character of a candidate matter to the ethical significance of a vote? Yes, and it does by the same chain of moral causation described above, only now culpability transfers not through issues like a, b, c, d, and e, but through the person him or herself. If I choose a babysitter for my children whom I know has poor character, or a landlord for the apartment building I own whom I know has poor character, or a treasurer for my church whom I know has poor character, I become at least partially complicit in any bad decisions each of these individuals make. Jesus tells us that, "Every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit" (Matt. 7:17). If I knowingly plant a bad tree in my garden, is just the tree then responsible for the basket of bad fruit which my children carry inside? Am I not responsible, too? A leader's character and behavior teaches and even authorizes what's morally acceptable within that leader's domain. Suppose a baseball coach has a pattern of telling racist jokes. By doing so, he's teaching his players that racist jokes are acceptable. In a sense, he's even authorizing them to sit in the dugout and make such jokes among each other. He's creating some space in their conscience for such activity, even if other authorities in their lives condemn racist jokes. In other words, character has a very real and tangible effect on a body politic that's analogous to passing a law. It's like the passing of an informal and unspoken law supporting those things, which people will notice and follow (see 1 Tim. 4:16). A leader's life is powerful. Suppose then you knowingly hire this baseball coach who makes racist jokes. Do you not risk becoming at least somewhat complicit in his racism? If so, might not the same principle apply to voting for a dishonest and unvirtuous candidate?" - Jonathan Leeman

Here is the rub. How do we know who we are dealing with is morally acceptable? Let's travel back to the 1990's when the Clinton scandal was at its height. The only thing that mattered for Christians in those days was moral character and Bill Clinton had none. The three loudest voices on the Republican side were Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston and Dennis Hastert. You could not turn on the TV without one of these three amigos standing at a microphone admonishing us all on how important morality was in our elected leaders. Fast forward ten years and hindsight provides us with delicious ironies and hypocrisies. It seems at the very time they were railing against Clinton, they themselves were morally repugnant. Gingrich was secretly having his own affair with a woman half his age who he would leave his wife for. Livingston had so many affairs his own party made him resign, oh and Dennis Hastert? Guilty of molesting little boys. None are righteous Jonathan. All have turned away. It is interesting however that Leeman says it is important to not vote for morally suspect candidates but clearly he wants you to vote for the least moral candidate in history in Donald Trump. That is the power of the dream of overturning Roe has on the NAR church today.

"5. Saying "But Democracy!" doesn't sanctify your vote. People say, surely there's always a morally righteous choice. That's true, but the Bible never guarantees one of the two major candidates in an American election is a righteous choice. Maybe the righteous choice is not voting or writing in a candidate (see principle 7 below). Let's make sure we're not sacralizing democracy." - Jonathan Leeman

Absolutely. I would take it a step further and say there is never a righteous choice. The best we can ever hope for is a lesser of two evils choice.

"6. There are a number of rocks on the scale, but some rocks are heavier than others. Two principles are bound up in this point, and we need to pay attention to both simultaneously. On the one hand, a just government must attend to a multitude of issues--the economy, foreign policy, national defense, criminal justice, healthcare, various social issues, and more. There are a number of rocks on the moral scales that Lady Justice must weigh. On the other hand, some rocks are heavier than others (Matt. 23:23). They're more morally significant. Thinking ethically about voting means accounting for more than one rock, but it also means acknowledging that some rocks are heavier than others. A related point here concerns the question of "one-issue voting." Can one issue disqualify a candidate? Hopefully every Christian would say that a pro-stealing, or pro-pedophilia, or pro-slavery candidate is disqualified, no matter how good he or she is on other issues. I wish everyone would arrive at this conclusion on abortion. Also, can bad character disqualify a candidate, potentially outweighing the other rocks on the scale? If what we said above is true--that bad authorizes and creates moral space for immoral activity--it's hard to see how bad character cannot disqualify someone. Imagine how radically the political landscape would change if every Christian in the United States embraced the last two paragraphs. Some will call this idealism, which might be a fair critique if "idealism" means acting on principles, not outcomes. That, too, is something you must weigh: pure principles vs. realistic outcomes. My recommendation is to weigh these things preparing yourself for the Lord's final judgment." - Jonathan Leeman

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 

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