Dear Robert: Me and My Single-Issue Vote

Dear Robert,

Theoretically, you’re right: being a Lutheran doesn’t mean that you “have to vote Republican.” In actual practice, though, here and now, it kind of…means that you have to vote Republican. This is unfortunate, as the Republicans are a rather seedy bunch.

I’m a single-issue voter, which is not at all what I’d prefer. Maybe if murdering children becomes illegal, I’ll be able to be more nuanced and eclectic in considering how to cast my vote. But if the agents of government have actively arrayed themselves against the most basic purpose of civil government, i.e., to restrain sinners from murdering one another (cf. the mark of Cain), then I’m not going to put myself out too much seeing what else they “get right.” And as you have no doubt noticed, they have done exactly that. It’s pathetic, but, yes, in the upcoming presidential election, I will hold my nose and vote for the baboon who opposes abortion, whether out of common sense, basic decency, or mere political savvy. (Honestly, it’s more than likely that its a combination of all three. The heart of man is desperately wicked; that indicts your favorite candidate’s opportunism, too.) The point is, when it’s the stupid party versus the evil party, I’m with the stupid party every time. (None of this matters, though: Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president.)

For the record, if I had to pick an “-ist” to describe my political idealism, it’d be “monarchist”— it’s taken me awhile to come around to this position, and I’m not going to get sidetracked on that topic right at this moment. (Interested in the sidetrack? Here it is.) But none of us have our druthers, so we’d best speak about real circumstances: since I am a citizen of an ostensibly federal republic which is slowly morphing into an ever more plebiscitary democracy, I consider it my duty to vote for the lesser of two evils— or, in a non-binary election, the least of however many evils are on the pitch. I used to be one of those people who raised a hue and cry about “not being for either party,” as though that was somehow original, following this up with the ingenious observation that “the lesser of two evils is still evil.” Then I realized that this was a nonsensical, highly idealistic position in light of the fact that A.) this is a fallen world, B.) it has ever been thus, and C.) it will ever be thus, until Christ rolls up history like a scroll and raises the dead. Trust not in princes, senators from Kentucky, or former first ladies.

All politicking aside, though, if you press me, I have a hard time thinking that the United States of America is not a failed experiment. (Interestingly enough, every signer of the Constitution believed that the republic had already failed by the time of his death. If I’m remembering correctly the citation for this is in Forrest McDonald’s book Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution, but I can’t track it down at the moment.) This no more demonstrates a lack of patriotism on my part than my observation that my grandfather is dead demonstrates a lack of love for him. “Liberty” is a thing of the past, and we Lutherans, we Christians, need to stop stomping around in a high dudgeon like it’s just a matter of time before we get it back, crashing on the barricade thinking that we’re going to “reclaim America for Christ” for the next generation, etc. We’re not. Leave that to the fundagelicals. Instead, we need to devote our precious little time and strength to learning how to live in a society that is now opposed to us. Men, protect your families. Pastors, protect your flocks. He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. Hold fast to Christ in the mysteries of the Church. Confess the faith. Darkening days are coming.




PS. This quote is too good not to share:

“The Lutheran Churches are sunning themselves right now under the illusion that they have something other to expect from the world than the dear holy cross, which all those have to bear who proclaim to mankind the Law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But this illusion will soon be over. Our American brothers in the faith will also learn this in the setting of painful experience. Instead of establishing a church office in Washington, they would have done better to establish a place somewhere in the loneliness of their vast land, where prayer is offered day and night for their public authorities and for the peace of the world.” (Hermann Sasse, “Ecclesia Orans,” April 1949; In Statu Confessionis II:57)




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One Comment

  1. A bit more generally I have said (and gotten a lot of hot water because of it) that while it is not necessary to be a conservative to be a Christian, being a liberal, if followed persistently and for a long time will lead one far from the faith. I am not God so I cannot say where one’s departure will finally end up. I only pray for those who place the secular dreams of the left ahead of Our Lord.

    I agree with you that voting Republican is, presently, the lesser of two evils and that in our fallen world such a choice is often the best we have. And we must make it and not hold out for a result which is manifestly not going to happen. But this requires the intercession of reason and a sanguine temperament–something which most people, even Christians are highly skeptical about. We’ve all been “heart-washed” and feel that detachment from what appears to be a looming catastrophe is kind of a cheat.

    I know how you feel about the future of our country. There was a time–about 25 years ago when the Berlin Wall fell and was quickly followed by the end of the USSR–when I thought people in our country were finally “getting it.” Even prominent liberal economists were proclaiming the death of socialism and the triumph of capitalism. Then Clinton was elected. The first term was so bad I thought he was finished and could not be re-elected. Then he was re-elected, partly due to the fecklessness of Republicans. Then Bush II was elected and for a few months seemed to be starting on the right track. Then 911 happened. I remember getting very angry that very day that the outcome will be that the American people will ultimately be held culpable. Sure enough we got the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. We forgot that that infamy was perpetrated by a score of foreign men against our people. It never got better with Bush and by his second term it was obvious that his successor would not be a Republican. I remember arguing with folks that it was not Hillary that was the real threat but Obama. Not only was he winning primaries but his status as a minority meant that once in office he would be bulletproof. And once in office I basically alienated some of our fellow members at Immanuel when I said that Obama would prove to be the most extreme and uncompromising kind of leftist who really wanted to do dirt to our country.

    And now 18 months hence we are poised to repeat the disaster that occurred in 2008. Come Lord Jesus!

    Still, we should not give up hope and certainly–as you said–we should not give up. We should gird our loins. I remember in Perelandra that Ransom came to the horrible realization that he was not sent to argue with Satan al la Weston, but that he would have to fight him tooth and nail. That he would have to get down to Satan’s level–so to speak. It seemed dirty and undignified and certainly outside the “skill set” of an academic. Many of us Christians mistakenly believe that Our Lord expects us to refrain from actually fighting for a cause. Because real causes are full of ambiguity and sometimes involve injustices committed by the those on the side of the Good. We wonder whether by doing so we can remain Christians. So we remain in abeyance waiting for a clear signal, appropriate response and timing. We believe, like the left, that ultimately a formula of words, inspired words in our case, will be what is necessary to win. We don’t even want to use negative language (a wimpy expression!) against our opponents or call into question his motives. And even those who see more might be required still want a set of circumstances that are so abundantly clear that if law-breaking or violence are called for then there can be no doubts about them. Ditto personal sacrifice. Gosh!, what if I lost my job because I spoke up! We still have a long way to go.

    We no longer think generationally. If the battle can’t be won in our own time then it’s not worth it. Yet that may be where hope lies–hope short of Christ’s return and, as you say, rolling up history like a scroll (a nice figure of speech). Generations used to be willing to make sacrifices for posterity and maybe we should too. Yet another reasons to, “Hold fast to Christ in the mysteries of the Church. Confess the faith.”

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