What are we to make of the victory of Democrat Doug Jones in very Red Alabama?
What are we to make of the victory of Democrat Doug Jones in very Red Alabama? Was this a vote against Trump and therefore part of a larger, national shift, a precursor of things to come? Was it a vote for decency and honor, assuming Roy Moore was guilty of the charges brought against him? Or did fake news and lying allegations steal the election from a devoted, Christian conservative? Those questions will be debated endlessly in the days ahead – and with good reason – but as an evangelical follower of Jesus, I’d like to propose some other questions for us to consider.
1) Were we guilty of putting our trust in the Republican party? This has been a nasty habit of ours for several decades (especially among white evangelicals), as if having a Republican majority in Congress, along with a Republican president, was the key to moral and cultural change. To the extent we believe this to be true, we are putting our trust in flesh and blood rather than in the living God, looking to man to do what only the Lord can do.
Did we actually believe that the key to national transformation was maintaining a Republican majority in the Senate? (Or conversely, for those evangelicals who tend to vote Democrat, did you believe that regaining a Democratic majority was the key?) Have we not remembered that, for all the good done by the Moral Majority, it erred by largely becoming an appendage of the Republican Party?
I recognize the tremendous power of the three branches of our government, and I long to see God-fearing judges and God-fearing politicians making righteous decisions for our nation. And I understand that our votes play a role in seeing that vision come to pass. But we fool ourselves if we think the government can do what only the Lord’s people can do, and to the extent we play the numbers game, to that extent we will be disappointed. (Need I say anything more than the words “the political establishment”?)
2) Do we pray for the elections more than for awakening? Hardly anything stirs up passions like politics, and every four years (or, sometimes, every two years), we get freshly charged and provoked. How many times have you heard it said that, “This is the most important election of our lifetimes!”?
I do believe elections are important, and for better or worse, America looks different today than it would if Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, were president. But how much more important is spiritual awakening? How much more critical is revival in the Church, which then has the potential of impacting the nation and beyond?
If we prayed for revival and awakening the way we pray for (or talk about and think about) the elections, our nation would be shaken.
3) Were we willing to trade our integrity for a seat in Congress? Because I was unsure if the charges against Judge Moore were true, had I lived in Alabama, I would have voted for him, since I much preferred his moral vision to that of Doug Jones. Then, as I have suggested elsewhere, I would have expected the Senate Ethics Committee to look into charges against him. If he was exonerated, he could then serve effectively; if he was found guilty, I would have expected him to step down, leading to a fresh election for the state.
But I would not have voted for him if the most serious charges against him were true. This is not only because of the seriousness of the charges, but also because he would have been lying about them to this day. That also means he would have been falsely accusing the women he had violated as teenagers when he denied their claims today.
Had he been guilty, and had this been part of his public record, I would have gladly forgiven him, seeing that this happened decades ago and no one brought charges against him in the decades since. But I believe it would be wrong to say, “I don’t care if he’s guilty or not. This is about saving the lives of the unborn and getting the right people in the Supreme Court and securing our borders, so he has my vote anyway.”
I understand the sentiment, but I reject it. Remember: If he was guilty back then, he is a lying hypocrite today – and a lying hypocrite of the highest order, one who touts the Ten Commandments but flagrantly breaks them. I do not see how we could vote for such a person in the name of righteousness.
Again, had I lived in Alabama, I would have voted for Judge Moore because I wasn’t sure of the charges against him. And I still hope that the charges are not true, which would mean that a massive, ugly, political hit job succeeded in bringing down a good man. But I believe we further tarnished our witness by saying, “Guilty or not, lying or not, he has my vote.”
If you say, “We already tarnished our witness in voting for Donald Trump,” I understand, but respectfully disagree. That’s because we knew what we were getting (in contrast with saying, “I will vote for a man who claims to be a Christian but is really a lying hypocrite of the worst kind”). We understood that Trump’s past life was anything but Christian and we knew that many aspects of his personality could be divisive and destructive. Yet we believed that God had turned his heart in certain positive directions (towards religious rights and towards the unborn, to give two major examples) and that if we voted for Hillary Clinton, we would have blood on our hands.
Personally, I do not see that as comparable to voting for Judge Moore if you believe he was guilty of the charges and therefore deceiving and lying to this day while hiding behind the cloak of the gospel. (Once more, for the record, I hope he is not guilty, and we still don’t know either way. And even if guilty, he is not guilty of being a “serial child molester,” the way some in the media are presenting it.)
4) If our greatest weapons are spiritual, why aren’t we using them? Do we have any more effective tools for national change than prayer, fasting, holy living, and evangelism? Has the Great Commission changed from “go and make disciples” to “go and elect politicians”? How many of us even share the gospel anymore? How many of us actually believe that people are lost without Jesus?
I don’t ask these questions to condemn but to probe. Is America corrupt because the Church is compromised? Has America gone astray because we have failed to lead the way? Has America lost its conscience because we have ceased to be its conscience? And if we don’t take the gospel mandate seriously, how can we expect the world to take us seriously?
5) Are we willing to trust the Lord regardless of the outcome of the election? I know this ties in with larger questions of God’s sovereignty, which include: Does the Lord determine the outcome of elections where the populace can vote, or does He only set up and remove kings, where the people have no vote? Or does the Lord give us what we deserve, in which case it’s up to us to change the outcome by living differently?
Let’s put those questions aside and ask this: What if Judge Moore was robbed tonight because of false accusations? What if a pro-abortion liberal won a Senatorial seat because of a left-wing plot fueled by the media and funded by the likes of George Soros? What if a tremendous injustice was done?
Even if the worst-case scenario were true, are we willing to put our trust in God, who always has the last laugh, believing that He can turn things around for greater good? And if Judge Moore was guilty and not deserving of a seat in the Senate, can we trust that righteous people were restrained from voting for him, and all of this is divine chastisement?
Obviously, emotions are high on all sides, but if we turn those emotions into prayer and holy action, it will turn out for the greater good.
What, then, shall we do? That’s a question that each of must answer for ourselves. (For my three-minute video commentary, go here.)