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With those of us who consider ourselves voters with a biblical worldview on the defensive more so than ever before in American history, a discussion is happening within our ranks about principles versus pragmatism that is long overdue.
Recently on my radio program, this vital discussion was given another forum when I had the chance to interview Tom Minnery, the longtime head of the political arm of Focus on the Family. (A podcast of that interview can be found here.)
I played for Mr. Minnery a clip of a 1990 vow his boss, Dr. James Dobson, made when he said for as long as “God lets me live” he’ll never vote for any man or woman “who will kill one innocent baby.” I asked Mr. Minnery if Dr. Dobson had violated his heroic pledge by supporting phony pro-lifer John McCain for president after previously saying he could not support him, and why shouldn’t voters of biblical conscience return to the standard Dr. Dobson so courageously articulated.
Minnery admitted Dobson had violated his pledge, but also responded to a principled challenge with a pragmatic hypothetical. He asked me why we shouldn’t support a candidate who was 99 percent pro-life except in cases of rape and incest. I responded that God’s law says, “Do not murder,” and does not allow for sub-sections, addendums, clauses, distinctions and exceptions. It is, after all, an absolute, is it not? I then asked him if he could find me one biblical example of “the lesser of two evils” pragmatism he was advocating.
He could not.
I can understand why non-Christians, or Christians who have lost all their biblical senses because they’re unevenly yoked to the political system, may find Mr. Minnery’s pragmatic hypothetical reasonable. Before I was a Christian, I also thought, spoke and reasoned as a child. However, the hypothetical has real-world consequences.
Back in the 1950s, a young Michigan teenager was raped. Her parents responded by taking her to a back alley abortionist, because Planned Parenthood hadn’t yet received government subsidies from Republican and Democratic presidents to make the killing of babies legal and sanitary. The back alley abortionist was a quack and unable to consummate the procedure safely, so he refused to carry it through. The pregnancy was allowed to go to term.
The teenager who was the rape victim eventually gave birth to a baby girl, a baby girl that was adopted via Bethany Christian Services by a Christian physician and his wife, who up until this point had been unable to have children of their own.
They named this baby girl Mary.
Mary eventually had five brothers and sisters because her adopted parents were able to conceive after they adopted her. That seems to happen a lot, doesn’t it? Mary grew up and met a member of the 101st Airborne named Bob. They married and had one child, a daughter they named Amy.
That Amy is my wife.
We have three children – Ana, Zoe and Noah – and I’m pretty sure they’re the most beautiful and brilliant children in the world, except for yours. However, had we elected scores of pragmatic 99 percent pro-life politicians the likes of which Mr. Minnery would have God’s people support, stories like my wife’s wonderful testimony wouldn’t take place.
Instead of saving 99 percent of the babies, we would’ve tragically destroyed my entire family line because my whole life changed when I met my wife. I wouldn’t have become a Christian without first meeting my wife. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my wife. Given the path of destruction I was on before Amy came into my life, I can’t tell you how many lives I may have destroyed alongside my own.
Those of you who believe in such pragmatism are welcome to look my mother-in-law in the eye, as well as my wife and our three children, and explain why we need to negotiate lives away for a seat at the table of political power. Perhaps those of you buying into this unbiblical paradigm can be the ones to sign the death warrants for those babies in the 1 percent, since you’re so self-righteously sure of yourselves and your pragmatism.
God’s law isn’t punitive; it’s for our benefit. By following it we save babies like my wife and my mother-in-law. By negotiating it, when it isn’t even ours to negotiate, we sentenced them to pagan “justice” of liberal governments and ungodly judges. Simultaneously, we waste years and years, not to mention millions and millions of dollars, fighting to pass functionally useless and largely symbolic legislation that ends with the line “and then you can kill the baby.”
I’m used to hearing morally relativistic arguments from the left, which has long since given up absolutes for situational ethics on a sliding scale provided the check clears.
It’s both heartbreaking for me and even more tragic for our country that we’re now hearing them as well as from the right.
The final result of us abandoning Dr. Dobson’s righteous 1990 pledge can ironically be summed up from the words of Dr. Dobson himself. When speaking to the staff at Focus on the Family upon his retirement recently, he looked back over the last three decades and indicted the pragmatic paradigm himself when he came to this sad yet honest conclusion:
“Now we are absolutely awash in evil … and we are right now at the most discouraging period in that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we lost all those battles.”
Steve Deace is the host of “Deace in the Afternoon” on 1040-WHO in Des Moines, the legendary frequency in the first in the nation caucus state where Ronald Reagan was once sports director. His show airs 4-7 p.m. central time and can be heard online at www.whoradio.com.