Christian author Eric Metaxas has some words for people who read the title of D.C. McAllister’s Federalist article – “Why It’s Justified to Vote for a Morally Questionable Politician” – and immediately thought, “You’re joking, right?”
No, the article title isn’t a joke, and Metaxas is very serious about making sure you “think logically” when you read it:
The thing is, if logic were involved at all, the article never would have been written in the first place:
Character does matter, and when two people are running for office, you need to take into account the character of both candidates as well as their values regarding governance and policy, for these reflect character as well…the fullness of the person needs to be taken into account, not just one aspect, failing, or virtue, but the whole of the man or woman—his or her complete character.
Unfortunately, many social conservatives, and Christians in particular, treat secular leaders as if they’re spiritual leaders, as if any stain on their character, fault from their distant past, or even theological apostasy disqualifies them from political leadership.
McAllister should be a bit more specific here: it’s the secular Democrat leaders that conservatives want to see disqualified for “moral failings.” With their Republican brethren, no crime is too heinous to withdraw their support. Trump voters are still grousing about Hillary Clinton’s emails, even after Trump Junior’s email server was found to contain far more incriminating information involving Russia. Sometimes, the sinfulness of a man or men in office can bring the ruin of a party or a nation.
Political leaders, however, are not spiritual leaders with the same responsibilities, burdens, and covenantal obligations of leaders within Scripture. This doesn’t mean we can willy-nilly vote for immoral men, because there are consequences to these kinds of choices in everyday secular life.
McAllister seems to be speaking out of both ends of her mouth: character matters, yes, and Christians can be judged for elevating a person of poor character into a position of influence. But don’t feel too badly about voting for an immoral person, because God can still use them. Well, which is it?
Furthermore, when a politician is caught in a consensual affair (for example), that’s quite a different “moral failing” than getting banned from a shopping mall because he made teenage girls feel unsafe. The former indiscretion can break trust within a family and ruin a marriage, but sexual abuse is a crime.
For the love, it doesn’t matter that a politician has “moral failings.” On some level, every human has them. But not every politician is an unapologetic pedophile. Let’s make a bit more effort to distinguish between different types of “failings” here, shall we, McAllister?
McAllister then goes on to document a history that anyone who grew up Christian is familiar with: God uses imperfect people. He worked through David, despite being an adulterer and murderer. Jonah was cowardly. Peter denied knowing Jesus, etc. The point is that God doesn’t require anyone to be perfect in order to be useful in working toward the greater good.
I think we know by now that perfect politicians don’t exist. But whatever happened to the simple requirement of being competent? Whatever happened to candidates who at least pretended to give a damn about minorities, rather than openly flouting their sympathy, if not outright support, for Neo Nazis?
McAllister simplifies her reasons for voting for Trump as thus: he seemed less corrupt than Hillary, and he’s anti-abortion. She writes in the conclusion of her piece,
Outside the realm of criminality and abuses of power that degrade the office and put the public at risk, a sinner can still serve and do great things.
They could… but when the person’s sins reveal an unrepentant man capable of doing far worse, and the credible allegations of his wrongdoings continue to mount, you don’t get Jesus Points for being forgiving. At that point, you’re just being duped.
This piece originally appeared on Friendly Atheist