Doug Wilson Is Wrong

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.

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  • Rod D. Martin

    UPDATE:  Doug Wilson responds to my post here, but only in part, and only in a roundabout way.

    First the good news: Pastor Wilson has — for the first time anywhere — completely and thoroughly retracted his Credenda Agenda admonition to the Christian community to embrace gay marriage and support its legalization. Churchmen from Marvin Olasky to Andrew Sandlin were unable to manage such a thing over a period of years, so yeah, I’m feeling pretty good right now.

    Unfortunately, a couple of funny things happened on the way to that forum.

    1. Pastor Wilson first states that I mischaracterized his words. This is odd, since he proceeds to quote those words (or most of them, anyway) at the bottom of his piece and retract them. Maybe he hopes people won’t read that far.

    2. He also blames the whole thing on his former compadre Doug Jones. Now, I don’t know Doug Jones, and for all I do know he’s a raving communist loon who makes tartar sauce in the off-season. But it just seems, well, unseemly to blame the guy who’s not there anymore — especially after you just got done blaming me for mischaracterizing things — right before you admit you’re the editor and it was entirely your responsibility. Which brings me to:

    3. Doug Wilson has done more to call men (and particularly husbands and fathers) to take responsibility for their actions and inactions than most anyone I know. It’s silly and self-wounding to act otherwise here.

    But of course, that was also the point of my piece, the vast majority of which Doug ignored in his response. Doug is a leader, of an admittedly smallish but significant flock. Modeling indifference toward this election is not the sort of manly leadership we need from him right now. I genuinely doubt that, even over a Spurgeon-like beer and cigars, the good Pastor and I could find more than a couple of things to disagree on regarding Mitt Romney. But one of them would certainly be this: we are responsible for the likely outcome of our actions when we vote, and particularly when we lead others to vote (or not to vote, as the case may be).

    I won’t rehash the case I already stated in the main post. I will simply say this. The socialist in the White House daily shows how much he hates people like us and all that we stand for, and not only that, his willingness to take any and all concrete steps necessary to implement his worldview and exterminate ours. The legal implication of the so-called “contraception mandate” alone would be the end of both the Establishment and the Free Exercise Clauses: the legal logic of its implementation would not only require Doug to officiate at the wedding of those gay couples he once wrote about, but then to hire them to serve in his church’s pulpit as well. This is the most brazen assault on religious liberty in our nation’s history, an order of magnitude beyond anything before. And a second term Obama will make it stick with Supreme Court appointments we cannot undo.

    Pastor Wilson seems oblivious to this. One writer chastised me for accusing him of narcissism at this point, but I did not mean that to be aimed solely at Doug: far from it. It is narcissistic of all of us to look at things only from our own point of view, and Doug is far from the only Christian doing so. Yeah, we didn’t get our way in the primary: so what? We have a bad choice and a better choice now: vote for the better choice, because doing otherwise is sanctioning the bad. As suggested in the original post, while I’d prefer perfection, I’ll take a little lust over home-wrecking adultery any day. And for what it’s worth, Mitt promises to be a saint, a standard he can be held to daily.

    We must occupy until He comes. We do not have the liberty of majoring only on those topics (family? liturgy?) for which we have particular passion and talent. And I guess if there were a bottom line to all of this, it is that I wish we’d had more of the good Pastor’s brilliance and fire back during the primaries when we had any number of candidates more to our liking. This has been a process in which the front-runner changed almost weekly. A few more warriors in the fight might well have made the difference. Potshots and boycotts after the fact will only advance the cause of our very relentless enemy.

    Perhaps next time. Or even this time. It is not too late.

  • luke.nieuwsma


    You make some interesting points here, but you need to make sure that in the midst of your own hard-hitting words, you are exercising fair play as well. For one thing, slamming another position as incredibly short-sighted makes sense, but randomly levelling the charge of narcissism… isn’t likely to make a reader like *you.* It just makes you seem kinda ornery, even if you’re right.

    Secondly, the article Douglas Wilson and Doug Jones wrote in Credenda Agenda magazine was published back around 2004, which is not “a couple years ago.” 2004 was 8 years ago, close to a decade.

    Anyways, your article did prompt Pastor Wilson to write a post retracting parts of that article from 8 years ago, which can be found here:


  • stoos


    I would certainly agree that our president is a socialist, but don’t we also have to deal with the fact that our party is about to nominate a Mormon?

    I have seen very little discussion of this point and here is my concern: I can point to several places in the Scriptures where God’s disobedient people faced false religions on the one hand and godless barbarians on the other and it was more often than not the godless barbarians who God used to discipline His people and ultimately accomplish His purposes.

    Jeremiah chapter 29 and Isaiah chapter one would be two such places that come to mind and of course you then have Habakkuk who I think is the prophet who currently speaks the loudest to modern America.

    Also, I think it is important to point out that those of us who are not convinced that we will have a choice in the fall for President believe that we should “sit this election out” in the way you describe it above: There plenty of local races to be concerned about and if we are ever going to change Washington DC it is going to take a LOT of change in worship & representation at the local level in my humble opinion.

    And just one last note: IF we are down to a two man race why did you not include Congressman Paul as the alternative since he has more delegates than Newt?


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