I’ve become aware in recent days that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is drawing a fair amount of interest and perhaps even support from evangelical Christians. This topic interests me not because I am concerned about Christians supporting a Democratic candidate but because Barack Obama is one of the most pro-abortion candidates for the nation’s highest office that we’ve ever seen.
This last statement draws us into a question that I’ve heard debated a good deal in the last few years, the matter of single-issue voting. Some Christians say that it is right to vote for candidates based on one major issue (or perhaps a few) while others decry this sort of mindset, painting it as narrow-minded and undeveloped. I can understand the critique of this second group. Many who make it are, I think, reacting to a troublesome tendency evinced by many of us to not think solidly, soundly, and roundedly about things. That is to say, we get stuck on our biases, on our natural bent(s), and never advance past them. We become so anchored in historic truths and positions that we fail to consider current trends of thought and legitimate issues being raised in the current day. Today, for example, we would put in this class things like global warming and care for the poor. Sadly, I think that many conservative evangelicals like myself fail to give adequate attention to these matters. Because we so concentrate on matters like abortion and euthanasia, matters of life and death, we have a tendency to automatically write off other less-pressing matters simply because, well, they’re less pressing. Though we are to be commended for prioritizing matters of life and death, we are to be chided for making the mistake of converting issues of less importance into issues of negligible importance.
What does all this have to do with Barack Obama and his presidential campaign? Well, I think that many Christians are drawn, as many people are, to Obama by virtue of his youth, his eloquence, his “coolness”, his purportedly fresh-thinking manner. I can understand some of this interest, though I am not as charmed by Obama as some. I am concerned, though, when I hear that fellow Christians are not simply impressed by Obama but won over by him. That is to say, I am distressed when I hear that Obama is gaining support among conservative Christians. Remember that Obama is pro-choice, and not just pro-choice, but ardently so. (See here for more on this matter.) On a matter like abortion, we are not being small-minded when we prioritize it. We are being logical. Matters of life-and-death must take priority in our political philosophy. However much we may be charmed by a candidate’s native gifts or his perceived ability to unite people, we must evaluate him by his positions, and his positions on the most important matters must take intellectual precedence. It is no bad thing to want a candidate who cares for the environment or the poor–we would hope for such candidates!–but it is only biblical to first and foremost desire a candidate who will actively work to stop the slaughter of millions of babies.
In adopting such a mindset, we may well draw derision from some as “narrow-minded” or “intellectually unsophisticated.” We will need to work to show such folks that we are in fact thoughtful. Accordingly, we should not merely bite back, and we should show them the reasons biblically for our thinking. However, ultimately, if it is our fate to be labeled such, we must accept this fate. We must stand for the truth on matters of life and death. We must not allow fear of intellectual sophisticates to drive our decision-making. Much as we may admire aspects of Obama’s person, we must oppose his program, and thus actively oppose his campaign. Though he has a great smile, and a charming manner, he is a pro-death candidate. We may well draw sneers for saying this, and standing for it, but this is the price we pay for standing for truth in a fallen world. May we not be so charmed by talent, or so afraid of opprobrium, that we will not stand for truth–and life.