Yesterday I received this question in an e-mail from Faith, a godly young woman I respect very much: As a Christian, should we vote for who we think should lead our country solely based on their stance on abortion? I have been thinking about this question and I am having a hard time putting my thoughts into words.
Thanks for asking, Faith. I addressed this question several months ago in my blog about Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. But I'll try to answer it in the context of this presidential election.
First I'd like to ask you readers to watch a little four minute slide show below that shows you beautiful photos of babies in the womb. (Click here if you are unable to view the video.) Notice the continuity of children's development, and that those adorable children who are born are simply bigger and older than the ones who are unborn. There is no difference in value in God's eyes, and there should be no difference in ours.
The Bible is emphatically clear on when human life begins. On exactly the same issue, science is equally clear.
Here's some Scripture to orient us, because without it we are always confused. Please don't skim over it. Forget the words of men, forget the media coverage of the presidential race. Just think about these words of Almighty God:
If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech…I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him… (Leviticus 20:1-5)
Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed. (Deuteronomy 19:10)
He sent them to destroy Judah…Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive. (2 Kings 24:2-4)
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood… (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you. (Ezekiel 35:6)
Every Christian should take these teachings seriously. Is the unborn an innocent human being? If you claim to be prolife in the historical meaning of the word, then your answer is yes. Is abortion the shedding of innocent blood, the taking of human life created in the image of God? If you say you are prolife, your answer must be yes. (Please do not redefine the meaning of the word prolife and say "I'm prolife" if you're really not.)
So, is the candidate’s stand on the issue of shedding innocent blood important enough to disqualify him as a candidate? Yes. While a single issue can’t qualify a candidate, it can disqualify him. In my opinion, this issue clearly disqualifies Barack Obama, just as it disqualified Republican Rudy Giuliani.
I don’t think someone is a good candidate just because he is prolife. But he cannot be a good candidate unless he is prolife. Personally, if he is committed to legalized child-killing, as a matter of conscience I must vote against him.
John Piper takes this same position in an article he wrote about one-issue politics.
Now, when someone says, "But still, abortion isn't the only issue," I agree. I care very much about the poor and racial equality. That's why if John McCain was committed to legalizing the killing of the poor and the killing of ethnic minorities, I would not vote for him either.
But suppose you have two candidates, one who has promised to defend and further the legalized killing of one group of people (any group: women, minorities, disabled, unborn, poor.) You disagree with the other candidate in areas that in their own right might be important, but do not involve the merciless slaughter of millions of people. Furthermore, the second candidate—whom you consider boring and disagreeable—believes that same group of people has the right to live, and he says he will defend their rights, and appoint judges who will defend it. Now, which candidate should you vote for?
If neither candidate were committed to the legalized killing of people, any people, then I would say, by all means weigh and measure those other important issues and make your choice. But can you seriously argue that these other issues trump the killing of millions of innocent children, not just now, but in the decades to come under a proabortion Supreme Court that could have been a prolife Supreme Court?
Don't you believe that though there were other issues in Nazi Germany besides the killing of Jews, Gypsies and the disabled, that all those other issues were trumped by that one? If Lincoln's platform involved ending slavery yet you agreed with Douglas (who wanted slavery to remain legal) in lots of other areas, would you feel right voting for Douglas, knowing you were voting for slavery?
So I say OF COURSE THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES. I don't minimize them. All I can say is the differences between the candidates on those issues don't stack up, even cumulatively, to the legalized killing of human beings. It's a matter of relative importance, not just a number of issues. A man who is a good husband in most respects, but who beats his wife, is not a good husband. That issue outweighs all the others.
In a previous blog comment, someone said they wouldn't vote for McCain due to his failures in his first marriage. I too am troubled by John McCain's treatment of his first wife. He has said it was a failure on his part, but whether he has repented, I don't know. This is one of several things I don't like about John McCain. But his past failure in marriage is not comparable to Obama taking a present stand for the legalized killing of children.
I am not excited about John McCain in every area. But when I compare him to Barack Obama in the overriding issue of our day, the right of preborn children to live, there is a stark and radical difference. In America right now, the rights of Jews to live and slaves to be free are not on the table. The right of unborn children to live is on the table. The killing of the unborn is the holocaust of our day. Where do you want to have stood on this issue? Where do you want the man you vote for to have stood on it? If your grandchildren ask you one day whether you voted for or against the right of children to live, what will you say?
Yesterday someone else left a comment saying, Hurry and compose a blog to the under 30's Christians who are planning to vote for a 3rd party candidate in hopes of "sending a message" to the RNC! FOCA could very well be the last nail in the coffin.
I sympathize with wanting to send a message to the Republican Party. I have done this both in state elections and once on the presidential level. One year I wrote in a third party candidate Alan Keyes, an African American who has boldly stood up for unborn children. There is a time to do this.
But is this the time, when failing to vote for McCain could ultimately remove hundreds of laws limiting abortion at the statewide level—informed consent and parental consent and late term abortion measures? As a physician commenting on my last blog said, prolife physicians and nurses and hospitals could find themselves with a federal mandate to perform abortions, and lose their licenses if they refuse. The Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama promised Planned Parenthood he will sign if elected president (my previous blog has this on video), could ultimately do all this and more. It may also make life very difficult for Pregnancy Resource Centers.
Would John McCain be a great president? I don't know. Maybe he wouldn't even be a good president. There are so many claims by both candidates that their words seem like wind to me. I don't feel like I know a lot. But I do know for certain that one candidate defends the right of the unborn to live, and the other is utterly committed to be sure that it remains legal to kill them. And on THAT issue I know what God says is right and wrong.
Yes, I realize Obama is cool. As I said two blogs ago, I really wanted to vote for him, so I could be cool too. John McCain is not so cool. And he's a Republican at a time where being a Republican definitely isn't cool. The question isn't whether I'd like the Republican Party to change. (I would.) I'm not voting for the Republican Party. In one sense I'm not voting mainly for John McCain. I am voting for McCain because it's my only way in this election to vote for the right of unborn children to live rather than die.
Now, if you think that's an overstatement, that the difference between the candidates isn't that great, or they will not influence the future of abortion in this country, I challenge you to look at Obama's dogged commitment to the legalized killing of unborn children, backed up by his 100% proabortion voting record. And look at McCain's repeatedly stated commitment, also demonstrated by his voting record, to oppose the legalized killing of children. If you think your presidential vote is not for or against unborn children, you don't understand the significance of the Freedom of Choice Act or the significance of the balance of power of the Supreme Court with the Obama judges who are certain to be pro-legal-abortion and the McCain judges who are virtually certain to be anti-legal-abortion.
My conversations with fellow Christians who are prolife but are voting for Obama have common themes these days. They always emphasize "Obama is prochoice, not proabortion." To which I respond, "actually he is pro-legalized-abortion." This is emphatically true, based on his own words and 100% consistent voting record. It shouldn't be considered a matter for debate. What politician in the country is more strongly committed to legalized abortion than Obama is? Every radical proabortion group knows this, and everyone of them have been working tirelessly to get him elected.
Believing what I do that the unborn are human beings in the fullest sense, to be pro-legalized-abortion is exactly equivalent to being pro-legalized-killing-of-three-year-olds. Or pro-legalized-killing-of-teenagers. Or pro-legalized-killing-of-women. Or pro-legalized-killing-of-Jews.
What would you think if a politician said "I'm not pro-rape, I'm simply prochoice about rape. And though I would not choose to rape a woman, I believe that every man should be free to rape a woman if that is his personal choice." And what would you do if that politician promised the rape lobby that if he is elected president, the "first thing I would do" is to sign legislation that would invalidate all the state laws that restrict rape in any way?
Well, I think I would say that man is pro-rape, wouldn't you? But technically, no, he is simply prochoice about rape. Well, okay. Be prochoice about whether someone should eat Mexican food or Chinese food, or cheer for the Phillies or the Rays. But don't be prochoice about whether men rape women or kill children. Because that is to be pro-rape and pro-killing.
Now, no doubt Obama supporters will think this is an outrageous analogy. And those who don't believe unborn children are really human beings would understandably feel that way. (Though, both scientifically and biblically, they are absolutely wrong.) But what about all the people who keep insisting they are prolife, that they really DO believe the unborn children are precious human beings created in God's image? If that's what you really believe, then you must accept the analogy as valid. (On what basis is it invalid unless it's because the unborn aren't really human and therefore don't have human rights?)
Is rape, despicable as it is, really worse than overpowering and tearing apart an innocent child in his mother's womb? If you are REALLY prolife, not just if you say the words "I am prolife, but there are many other issues," but I mean if you REALLY believe these are children, then the analogy to rape, kidnapping, or killing teenagers or women or Jews or African Americans is perfectly legitimate. How could it not be? Don't skim over this—seriously, I want to hear your answer.
So, feel free to go against the clear evidence about who the unborn really are. Then just admit that you are not prolife. Sure, it's irrational, but at least it's a good explanation of why you would support the strongest pro-legal-abortion candidate for the presidency in the history of our nation.
But PLEASE don't just mindlessly say "I'm pro-life" then contradict that statement by saying you are supporting a candidate for president who is utterly committed to not only maintain legalized abortion through policy and appointment of judges, but who also HAS PROMISED (through the Freedom of Choice Act) to try to reverse all pro-life state legislation passed by vote of U. S. citizens in the last thirty years.
I've heard other prolife people say "I don't like either candidate, so I'm not voting at all." Well, ask yourself who you're willing to punish by not voting. If it's political parties who will pay, fine, I really don't care about them. Sure, it would be better not to vote than to vote against God's children's right to live. But if instead of abstaining you have a chance to vote for God's children's right to live, why would you not do that? (Don't vote for the man, vote for generations of children who will have a chance to live if he's elected, even if he's just a mediocre president in other areas.)
If you sense I'm taking this a little personally, I confess that I am. Twenty-eight years ago we opened our home to a pregnant teenager and helped her place her child for adoption. Soon thereafter I served on the board of the first Crisis Pregnancy Center in the Pacific Northwest. I have talked with many women devastated by their abortions. Nanci and I have given our time and money to the prolife cause. For over two years Nanci stood almost every week outside an abortion clinic offering alternatives to abortion. It wasn't fun, but she was faithful, and I respect her deeply for it.
I've been sued by abortion clinics for peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience. As a result of those lawsuits and court decisions and their intentions to garnish my wages, I had to resign as a pastor and spent a few days in jail and over thirty days in a courtroom (I preferred the time in jail). I was on the losing end of the largest judgment ever brought against a group of peaceful nonviolent protesters. And, yes, I've researched abortion exhaustively, and written books about it, including ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments and Why Pro-Life?
I have seen what abortion does. I've seen the severed limbs of children. I once held in my hands part of an unborn child that had been put in an abortion clinic dumpster. It hurt deep in my gut. I've seen abortion up close. It is not a theoretical or philosophical issue. It is a bloody crime against humanity and against the Creator. Please feel free to disagree with me in a thousand areas, many of which I don't know that much about and about which I admit I may be totally wrong. But consider that maybe, just maybe, in this particular case, when it comes to unborn children and their being killed in abortion, as a result of what I've seen the last thirty years, maybe I understand some things some people may not yet understand.
Perhaps that's why last night I wasn't thinking about victory celebrations and balloons and confetti, and who will be wearing what, and how cool or uncool the candidates are, and how the winner will look on Inauguration Day. I was on my knees weeping for the unborn children, and for the fact that many Christians are going to vote against them. And others are going to abstain from voting for them. If every prolife Christian voter would vote for unborn children instead of against them, we would elect a prolife president who would not sign FOCA, who would appoint prolife judges instead of proabortion judges, and who would not reverse decades of gains made by the prolife movement. But right now this looks very unlikely.
And though I know it will outrage people for me to say this (and I take no pleasure in that), I believe that the blood of children will be on our hands. Yes, I think that God is already judging this nation for the blood of these children that cries out to Him from the ground (Genesis 4:10). And I believe there will be far worse judgment to come. He has always brought His wrath upon nations that kill their children. Why should He treat us differently? "Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you" (Ezekiel 35:6).
I don't think that anyone has the right to vote for a candidate who is committed to legalized abortion unless you are willing to watch the video below showing you exactly what abortion does. (Click here to watch the video.) If you are not viewing the video to see what happens as the result of an abortion, then I hope it's because you know the truth. But if you refuse to watch this because it is too horrific to look at a dismembered child, then don't you think abortion is too horrific to be legal? And too horrific to be supported by your candidate? And too horrific for you to vote for by voting for him?
Yes, I long ago lost my objectivity about child-killing. You know the first moment that happened? Thirty-one years ago. It was when, listening to Francis Schaeffer in 1977, that I realized for the first time (my church hadn't taught me this), that these really are children.
The truth is that these unborn babies are just as real, just as precious to God as my four grandsons who I would die for in a heartbeat. If I had the chance to stand between them and a would-be killer, I wouldn't have to think or pray about it. I'd do it.
Well, you and I aren't being asked to do something heroic when we vote in a couple of weeks. But we do have the opportunity to do something for, or against, the lives of countless children, perhaps for twenty or thirty years to come. (Yes, by all means, regardless of the election outcome, we can still reach out to help women in difficult pregnancies and educate people about abortion. And the prolife movement will continue, but it will have lost a great deal of ground.)
On Tuesday November 4, don't think you are merely expressing a preference between two men, choosing who you like, who you'd enjoy hanging out with. You're not voting for a friend, a dinner companion, a dance partner, someone to sit next to at a ball game or to be seen with at a party. Don't allow yourself to vote as if this were American Idol. In the arena of an unborn child's right to live, these candidates stand for things far bigger than themselves. And when it comes to the right to life of coming generations of unborn children, they stand for two polar opposites.
If you claim you're prolife in its historic sense (which concerns unborn children), please don't violate the sacred meaning of that term by voting for the legalized killing of unborn children. Instead, vote for their right to live. If it helps, substitute the pictures of the men with those of babies, then vote for the baby's right to live.
If none of this makes sense to you, please reread the Scripture at the beginning of this blog. Then ask God what makes sense to Him.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9)
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25:40)