Pastor Doug Wilson, a not-insignificant leader in the Reformed community, counsels his followers to sit out Election 2012, because Mitt Romney doesn’t live up to his standards.
Well, I can’t think of many of my standards Mitt meets either. But Doug is wrong, and dangerously so.
The argument (this year and every other year of his ministry) goes something like this. We are presented with a choice between the lesser of two evils. Of course we’re against hard-core evil, and there certainly is a plank in the Democrat’s eye, but we’re vastly more concerned with the speck in the Republican’s eye. We didn’t get our way in the primary, or in other years our third party Don Quixote ran smack-dab into his windmill, and we’re perfectly happy to let the worse guy win until the world conforms to us.
Perhaps another way to understand this point of view is to rephrase it in pastor-speak. “We’re against adultery, but we’re not going to preach against adultery because, after all, if people stopped wrecking homes they’d still just lust, and that’s exactly the same thing. So since we can’t get perfection we’re just going to sit this issue out, even while the chairman of the deacons does the church secretary on the front lawn.”
Unfortunately, this last bit has from time to time been far too close to Pastor Wilson’s actual position. Just a few years ago he wrote in the print edition of his Credenda Agenda magazine that Christians should support the legalization of gay marriage because (incredibly) homosexuality is (somehow, inexplicably) the fault of bad Christian fathers. After he and his argument were beaten senseless on the World Magazine blog (which also serves as a heavily trafficked discussion site), the good pastor “retracted” his position in the way people usually do: he pretended he’d never said it at all.
No, the whole “lesser of two evils” argument is bunk, especially for a Reformed pastor such as Wilson, whose theology centers on the depravity of man resultant from the Fall. Any institution composed of humans is always filled with sin: the only possible question is “which is the better choice?” And our republican (small-r) system gives us a means to choose that better choice for ourselves, rather than have it thrust on us by heredity or by force. With that choice, of course, comes responsibility, both for what we do and for its likely outcome.
The advocates of “lesser of two evils” theory always deny that last bit, saying the outcome of the election is “in God’s hands”; which is precisely the same as getting plastered down at the local saloon and then driving with the same “reliance” on Providence.
But when we “sit it out”, we guarantee that people other than ourselves do all the choosing. Pastor Wilson’s call for Christians to “sit this election out” is a call for the Presidency, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and with them, the nature of our society for a very long time, to be decided entirely by unbelievers and, in this case, socialists.
Forgive me if I find this terribly short-sighted and narcissistic.
But what it mostly is is dangerous and dumb. It abandons the American system to its enemies, at precisely that moment when not only is the system hanging by a thread, but when vigorous participation by all of its citizens would rout its foes for a generation. As Trace Adkins sings, “there’s more of us than there are of them.” And we ought to start acting like it.
Mitt Romney is not my guy. I’m still hoping for conservatives to do the right thing, rally behind Newt Gingrich now that this is a two-man race, and at the very least deny Mitt his needed 1144. But if that doesn’t happen, Mitt has promised all the right things. Obama has promised all the opposite, and has given us four years of proof that he means it. Under no circumstances can Romney approach Obama’s awfulness, and given a strong Republican Senate majority composed largely of Tea Partiers like Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, the weathervane (or Etch-a-Sketch) from Massachusetts is likely to be herded our way most of the time. Obama will double down on dismembering the Founders’ vision, no matter what.
This choice is dead easy. Mitt might actually keep his promises, in which case he’d be Reagan: he has not run as Bob Dole or John McCain. At worst he’ll be a squish. Obama is a socialist who’s assaulting the Constitution, selling out our allies, and burying us under unprecedented and uncountable debt.
If Pastor Wilson sees no difference here, perhaps he needs to get out of his ivory tower and find a bit of sun.