I just recently watched a video put up by Wretched.tv’s host Todd Friel which gives an analogy of a house on fire in which you must rescue people and you have to choose who is going to help you rescue people. This analogy is put forth to try and justify the logic that voting for the “lesser of evils” is how we should make our decision of who to vote for. In the analogy each of the choices you have of those who could help you are not perfect choices. They are all flawed in some manner. In the end Friel argues you simply pick the best of the group that you believe has a chance of being able to enter the burning house at all.
Friel’s analogy includes a crippled person who wants to save everyone in the house but is unable to even enter the house let alone carry people out. Friel then says that the crippled person is akin to the candidate who has perfect Christian values but “has no chance of being elected”. The conclusion from Friel is obviously that we “know” that it is either Hillary or Trump, no others have a chance, so pick the best one so you can do the most good with your vote. That is your Christian duty in Friel’s view.
To be fair, I used to think just like Todd Friel. But this is seriously flawed thinking and thank God there were people around me that persisted in showing me my error. Sadly, in today’s world, you can tell a story in a minute and half that promotes flawed thinking and it will take much longer than that to lay out a coherent, linear, sequence of logic, facts and biblical principle to rebut it. This is by no means all that could be brought against this “vote for the lesser of evils” approach, but I think it is sufficient.
His logic assumes we operate in a closed system that God is not involved. His logic assumes that secular-pragmatism rules over Christian-principle. Neither are true. That is, we do not operate in a closed system because we know that God is active and operating and going before us. So it is not a closed system with only man involved or what we as human beings are able to observe is all that is involved. It is also not a closed system in the sense that our votes have repercussions that are long lasting and influential beyond just which person might win the election. I will share more about that particular point later. We know that we are to stand on the commandments of God and to represent Him in our every decision. That is, good ole yankee pragmatism is not what governs us.
The analogy of the burning house is not accurate either. First off, analogies are not arguments. They are suppose to help support an argument or to help illustrate an argument and make it more easy to understand. However, in this case, it seems that the analogy is the argument. Now maybe I am not being fair in making this claim so let me at least say that if there is an argument in here, it certainly does not come from examples in Scripture.
But the house on fire analogy is also not fitting for what we are really talking about in our concern for our nation and who is in leadership. We are not simply trying to rescue people from a burning house. It would be more accurate to say we are trying to stop a culture of arsonists from torching many houses. We have a huge moral and idea problem from the start that has produced a culture of not only arsonists, but a culture of people who think that arson is good. (This observation I credit to Grant Keeter who I heard it from first.)
Sometimes people will immediately claim that as we follow Christ in these dark and evil times, and as we hold to God’s standards in our decision making or stewardship, that we are “too spiritually minded to be any worldly good”. I reject this claim because loving our neighbors and reaching the world with the Gospel of Christ is never in conflict with His word. It just isn’t. If someone is going to make the claim that we are ignoring our neighbors by holding to God’s standards, they are going to have to get specific and prove that. You can’t just claim this.
As Christians, without being navel gazers or unnecessarily idealistic, we instead go after the ideas and worldviews that make “arson” acceptable to begin with. As we go into the spiritual warfare of “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, [and] bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”, we do so in every aspect of our lives and that includes but is not limited to; what jobs we have and how we work, how we run our businesses, how we interact with our community, how we spend our “free time”, how we fellowship in our church, how we involve ourselves in politics, how we raise our children, even how we drive our car down the road,…AND without question how we vote.
In other words, everything we do is submitted to the Lordship of Christ. Everything. And, I would argue, who we vote for and encourage others to vote for would especially be included in this list of what activities are submitted to the Lordship of Christ.
With that being said, let me address a sort of separate but definitely related objection to what I am proposing here and it goes like this: No man is perfect. All are sinners. It is unrealistic to expect to find a perfect man for the job. Therefore, voting for anyone always boils down to a “voting for the lesser of evils” exercise.
This is also flawed. I am not aware of any Christian who believes they should only vote for a person who has never sinned or never will sin. So it is a bit of a strawman argument to begin with. But let me best answer this objection saying that my thinking on who is qualified to be a leader in our government is heavily influenced by the instructions I see in the Bible about who is qualified to be a leader in the New Testament churches and our churches today:
“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” – I Timothy 3
Paul went out of his way to put in writing a standard for leadership in the church. He put forth a criteria that some men are able to meet and some men do not meet. Paul understood clearly that all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Paul understood that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation and that the old has past away and new things have come. These truths Paul knew that all men are equal in former sense and that all Christians are equal in latter sense. But it does not then follow that there is no way for us to discern who is best to be supported for different types of leadership positions.
My point here is that it isn’t true to say that because no man is perfect we are being unrealistic to set a standard of godliness and proven integrity in choosing who is in positions of leadership whether that be in our church or in our government. For example, in choosing who to vote for as President of the United States, could we not at least apply the criteria Paul gives for leadership in the Body of Christ? Oh that we had a man in office who met the criteria we see in Paul’s letters! Oh that we had men like this in every office of every branch whether it be executive, legislative, or judicial! How different would things be? How pleasing would that be to God?
For years and years and years a huge number of Christians have bought into the logic that voting for the lesser of evils is the best way to steward our vote and represent God and look where it has brought us. For the last eight years it got us the most pro-abortion president EVER in office. And now for this next election cycle it has brought us two major party candidates that hate God and are pretty good at hating God. I mean could it get any worse? And this is the fruit that is reaped from the ideas that Todd Friel and many others like him are promoting. We cannot ignore the fact that the lesser of evils logic has been dominant in each election for many decades with the promise that we are improving things in doing so but the opposite is true. It has only gotten way worse. That glaring outcome cannot be ignored.
How you vote does not just effect right here and now. But it sends a message to the whole world of what is important to those who follow Christ. It sends a message to the whole world of whether or not we trust in what God has told us or we trust in what the world tells us. How we vote tells our enemy what we are willing to give up. And for those who vote for wicked and evil people who hate God or are lukewarm about God, it tells the enemy that we really don’t believe that God is involved at all. How we vote now, effects the choices of candidates to come and has long term repercussions that are serious.
In a democracy such as we have today Christians have been given the opportunity to be an example. I am not saying this is the sole way we communicate. I am certainly not saying that all Christians need to do in order to walk the Narrow Path in this day and age is to vote. I am not at all saying that our involvement in the weightier matters is simply to vote. But I am saying that we should take advantage of the opportunity that God has given us and be good stewards of this.
If we allow secular-pragmatism to drive our decision making on this instead of the Christian-principle of God’s word, then we are no different than the rest of the world. We can expect to look no different. The “lesser of evils” type of voting has in a very real way been a squandering of a resource and opportunity and is one way Christians have lost their saltiness and hidden their light. Voting with God’s word and character informing your vote, will look very different from the world. It will be noticed and it will help people to see what it is God truly desires of those He created and those He died for to redeem. What if instead of unifying on the standard of putting our finger to the wind of the culture, what if instead, God’s people unified on a standard laid out in God’s word? And what if those in leadership roles amongst God’s people, especially those with microphones and pulpits, were to advocate unifying on a godly and biblical standard? Crazy I know.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5
I do believe that the churches in America have lost their saltiness and are hiding their light and this has been manifested in many ways. Foundational I think it comes from idolatry and a low view of God’s word. We substitute ideas and systems in place of God’s clear commandments and desires. But it is not too late for us all to repent of these compromises and lack of trust that we have embraced. It is not too late to acknowledge that it is God’s word that is true and it is God’s standard we seek to establish in everything around us including our government.
Todd Friel’s conclusion is based in large part on the assumption that he knows what the outcome is going to be or at least he has a list of the only possible outcomes. He is playing oddsmaker and is trying present his decision-tree as common sense. And that is flawed thinking as well. Ultimately we don’t know the outcome. Even if a small remnant of millions of Christians who live in America actually voted for a godly candidate, we don’t know the outcome. Imagine if everyone who proclaimed the name of Christ actually voted based on a criteria they learned from God’s word?
We know the result ultimately belongs to God and that our responsibility is only to be faithful. We see examples of the “underdog” winning over and over in Scripture. But make no mistake people, those who are faithful to the God of the universe are never an underdog.
We see the ultimate example of what appeared to be the path of utter failure -the path of the cross. That even Jesus’s most faithful follower tried to talk him out of it because it wasn’t pragmatic and it made no sense to him, that in truth and in God’s providence, was the path to the most significant victory in the history of mankind – the resurrection.
From a political point of view, we know that our own nation was born under “odds” that most said were insane. How could the Colonies become independent and go to war against the greatest power in the world?
We know that God is sovereign. Will we trust in the world’s pragmatism? OR will we trust in His providence?
As for me and my house, I will no longer doubt God but I will do my best to be like Moses before Pharaoh, or Joshua going after Jericho, or David fighting Goliath, or Daniel in the Lion’s Den, or Jesus being tempted by Satan…in other words, in the face of many options that might seem like a good compromise to get what you can, I will instead remain firm to stay consistent with what I know God desires.