The Doc File

The online journal of Luke Dockery

Abortion, Part 3: How I Vote

This is the third part in a series on abortion, and specifically on why I feel abortion is the single most important issue when it comes to voting. My views on abortion are based on certain philosophies and premises, which you can catch in Part 1 and Part 2.

In this post, I’m going to shift gears a bit and try to explain how I vote in general. It’s been a difficult post to write in a lot of ways, but it’s been good for me to flesh out my thoughts.

Abstaining From Politics

As a quick note, I should mention that there are some who believe that Christians should abstain from politics and voting altogether. After all, our true allegiance is to Christ, not some earthly office or entity, and Christianity is about being salt and light, not about getting others to do what God wants via legislation.

While I respect that view, I also believe that the thinking behind it is flawed—I’m confident that God wants us to use every avenue we have to influence others for good and inject the values of His Kingdom into the world, including our political voice.

Political Parties

On my Facebook profile, my political views are listed as “Inconsistent”. I described them as such not because I consider them to be inconsistent with each other, but because I consider them to be inconsistent with either of the two major parties that dominate our political landscape today.

Generally, I have conservative views on economic issues. As a product of (among other things) Harding University’s Belden Center for Private Enterprise, I believe that capitalism, low taxation, and limited government regulation of business are generally good things.

That being said, those views (some of which are pretty strong) don’t really impact my vote that much because at the end of the day, no matter which party is in control, as Americans, we are among the wealthiest people in the world. If our economic recession lasts longer than expected and cuts deeper than expected, as Americans, we will still be among the wealthiest people in the world.

Instead, the side of politics that matters more to me are the “social” issues, or maybe a better term (which I’ll use for the rest of this post) would be “moral” issues. From a Christian perspective, it’s fundamental that morality is more important than money—how good you are is more important than how rich you are.

And that’s my major problem with the Republican Party—while they may agree with me on many moral issues, when push comes to shove, they just don’t consider those issues to be as important as money. And worse, I think some Republican candidates don’t care about them at all, but just pay lip service to them in order entice me to vote for them.

Of course, on the other hand, you have the Democrats, who I disagree with on a lot of moral issues and disagree with on economic policies.

So here I am, inconsistent with both major political parties, determining my vote based on the issues that I think are most important—the moral ones.

Moral Issues

Christians (and others) who support pro-choice candidates are quick to point out that there are a lot of moral issues besides just abortion—and they’re right. There’s a bunch of them, and I could probably do weeks’ worth of posts covering them all, but instead, I’ll just briefly mention a few in order to illustrate that my views are somewhat scattered across the political spectrum (I won’t mention abortion, since that’s the subject of the next post).

As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post, the teachings of Jesus on the “Least of These” influence my thinking on a lot of these issues:

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Matthew 25.41-46.)

Environment

God created this world for us to use, and also for us to take care of. This idea of stewardship represents a balance that I think a lot of people miss.

Having said that, I think the case for Global Warming (or, “Global Climate Change” now that statistics show that we’re not warming as originally predicted) is unconvincing, and has become overly politicized, as evidenced by the fact that the significant number of scientists who have refuted global warming have been silenced and ridiculed.

Gay Marriage

God defined marriage as being between one man and one woman, and as Christians, I think we should do what we can to support that definition. To me, that certainly includes opposing gay marriage, but at the same time acknowledging that, with the divorce rates we have, American heterosexual couples are doing a good enough job of destroying marriage without help from anyone else. Let’s protect marriage, but let’s also admit that homosexuals aren’t the only ones who are bringing damage upon it.

Immigration

The Bible is pretty clear as to how we are to treat the foreigner—with hospitality. Because of this, I have very little patience with the general position of the Right on immigration.

I realize that we have a lot of illegal immigrants in this country, but I’m also virtually certain that the vast majority of them would choose to become legal if it were easier for them to do so. That’s what I call the iTunes Effect: when the iTunes store gave people an affordable, legal alternative to stealing music, many, many people immediately took advantage of it. I may be naive, but I think immigration would work in much the same way.

Furthermore the U.S. has always been a country of immigrants. It’s how we got our beginning, and it’s what gives us our identity. The Statue of Liberty actually says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free…” but all too many people seem to want to add an “unless they’re from Mexico” clause to the end. I think that’s ridiculous. And sad. And not biblical.

Poverty

I feel convinced in my own mind that ideally, it should be the job of the Church, not government, to take care of the poor, but considering that Christendom as a whole hasn’t done a very good job of that, government helping out might not be a bad idea.

I question whether or not the typical policies of the Democratic Party really help out the poor that much, but at least, in theory, their heart is in the right place. And to those with more conservative views who think that taxation basically amounts to stealing (a view I’m sensitive to), I think it’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t say, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s—unless he asks for more than you want to give him.”

At the same time, I see a lot of inconsistency regarding political views on poverty. If poverty was such a big deal to the Left, you would think they would also oppose things like state lotteries (which statistics have shown feed off of the poor) and alternative fuel sources such as ethanol, which take food (corn) and turn it into fuel when thousands of people around the world starve every day. It makes me wonder if poverty is the Left’s lip service issue just as abortion is the Right’s.

War

I know that this is a major issue with some people, so I may not do it justice in my brief comments, but I’ll try.

I’m not a pacifist. I think war is a terrible thing, and should be avoided when possible, but I also think it can be justified. I think that’s a Biblical view, although I respect the opinions of those who disagree.

Regarding our current war, I know it’s very unpopular, but if we’re honest, I think we’d acknowledge two things. First, back when war was declared, the vast majority of politicians (although our President-Elect is a notable exception) and the vast majority of American citizens were in favor of it. I think too many people are trying to deny responsibility for that. Secondly, having made the decision to go to war, it’s incredibly irresponsible to just pack up and leave in the middle when all indications are that things will get worse if you do. That might be the case now, and it certainly was the case back when the Left first started demanding a pullout.

Having said that, if all the Iraq War accomplished or all it was about was removing a dictator from power who had committed genocide on his own people, then I think it was justified. Similarly, if Hitler had decided not to invade every country in Europe but had still gassed every Jew he could get his hands on, I think war would have been justified in that situation as well.

Conclusion

Once again, my point in bringing up all these issues is not so much to convince anyone on any particular subject, but rather to illustrate what I believe is a consistency among my views on different moral subjects, but an inconsistency between the moral views I hold and the views generally held by either major political party.

So what does that leave me with? Since there are clearly a lot of moral issues, and my views on these issues don’t all line up neatly with a specific party, how can I ever choose to vote for one candidate or another?

Well, if all issues were created equal (you can see where I’m going with this), I wouldn’t be able to—I’d be locked in a stalemate of conscience. But that’s not the case. Sometimes, the magnitude of a particular issue can make it so important that it should take preeminence over all others.

Slavery was such an issue, and abortion is another.

10 Comments

  1. All my thoughts exactly, Luke. And amen to the immigration issue. I get so flabbergasted (crazy word, huh) by Christians who rally about keeping immigrants out of America. I mean, how do they think we Americans got here?! Ugh. Anyway, I’m proud of you for presenting your views in a humble way. Great post.

  2. Very well-articulated, Luke. We actually agree on a lot more politically than I might have thought, and I’m coming around on this particular issue.

    I guess this doesn’t have anything to do with abortion, but I particularly liked the way you expressed your thoughts on other issues:

    1. Stewardship for our planet.

    Regardless of the unfortunate politicization of environmental issues, we ought to agree to strive for a sustainable living environment on Earth, God’s creation. What that entails, I suppose, is another story. Right now, I just pray that we make wise choices individually and attempt to conserve our natural non-renewable resources.

    2. Immigration and the iTunes effect.

    I hadn’t thought about immigration in that light, and I think you’re absolutely right.

    I work in a town (Dalton, GA) and an industry (carpet) which is dominated by workers from Latin American countries. I don’t doubt that a large number of them are in this country illegally, but the way the way that many people act toward them is reprehensible. I guess it’s easy to forget that we were once the unwanted visitors in this country.

    3. Poverty.

    I think you’re right to question what Democrats have done to positively affect the lives of the poor in this country. Hopefully every little bit helps, but it’s easy to get discouraged. It seems like we could collectively do a lot more while not training people to rely on the government for help.

    I also agree with your point on state lotteries. People have free will, sure, but it’s effectively a “poor and stupid” tax. I don’t care what the lottery pays for (higher education in the cases with which I’m familiar), it’s a terrible idea for the government to take advantage of people who clearly don’t know any better than to gamble away their money.

    Anyway, sorry for hijacking your post a little there. One last thing:

    I keep trying to decide whether I need to update my Facebook profile, which still says I’m “liberal.” That selection dates back to when the number of options for declaring political views on Facebook were much more limited. Although I have voted for my share of Democrats, nowadays I probably identify with the libertarian point-of-view as often as the liberal one, if not more often. I don’t know if that makes me a closet libertarian, a moderate, “inconsistent,” or something else.

  3. Lori,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Immigration is a pet peeve issue of mine.

    It also frustrates me that guys I like (such as Huckabee) can’t earn support from the Republican Party as a whole in large part due to the fact that he’s soft on immigration.

  4. Good post, Luke, though I notice that you forgot to mention the equally pressing evils of (1) the designated hitter rule; and (2) the existence of Bud Selig.

  5. John,

    No worries about hijacking. Everything you discussed was something I brought up, so fair game.

    1. I’m a big fan of alternative fuel sources (other than ethanol), and generally, I think that the answer to our oil problem is to develop as many other fuel sources as possible.

    In the meantime, I think reasonable domestic drilling is a necessity; it’s going to take years to fully switch over.

    2. There’s a lot of illegal immigration in NW Arkansas as well, which leads to some of the same unfortunate sentiments you referred to.

    Regarding our own history as unwanted immigrants, I guess (like in a lot of areas of life) it sure is easy for us to lose perspective sometimes.

    3. Agreed on the poverty stuff.

    4. I was frustrated with Facebook for a long time because of their limited options for political leanings.

    I was pleased when they finally provided the option for you to type in whatever you wanted, but I’m not sure “Inconsistent” really tells anybody much unless I go through the whole explanation. I dunno, maybe that’s the point 🙂

  6. Jared,

    Thanks, and you’re right, but if you’ll go back and look, you’ll notice that I said I wasn’t going to cover all moral issues, just some.

    That being said, I think the use of aluminum bats in youth leagues through college is a much more corrupting and insidious evil.

  7. Great stuff. Uncanny how similar we think on some of this stuff. Also, I think you’re doing a great job of presenting such a hard subject. I look forward to more on the same.

  8. I find it interesting that some Christians believe people can do whatever we want to the earth because Jesus is coming back soon. Last time I checked, if someone has you take care of their house they don’t appreciate coming home to find out you trashed it.

  9. Jonathan,

    Thanks, I appreciate it. But maybe not so uncanny…you know what they say about “great minds“…

  10. Will,

    Ha, yeah, that’s a good point. Maybe the metaphor would be slightly more accurate if you built a house for someone and gave it to them, but the point is the same—you’d still be upset that they had trashed the house you gave them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2017 The Doc File

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑