November 8, 2016 Leave a comment
In yesterday’s sarcastic contribution to the “Okay I’m panicking so I’ll vote for Trump after all” genre, some readers felt that I was too quick to dismiss the SCOTUS question. It’s the central argument for why Christians must support Trump, and it’s made rather comprehensively in this article.
And yet, I remain unmoved. The argument is theologically, culturally and practically spurious.
Theologically, because God rules the outcome of this election and the future of this, and every, nation. No believer who seeks God’s will in sincerity, who prays, from the heart, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” need carry the weight and guilt of today’s developments or their consequences, no matter who they vote for or whether they vote at all. “Be still, my soul! Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past.” Vote your conscience and trust God.
Culturally, because the court has never determined the direction of our culture. This is just nonsense. Yes, it has done awful things and made far-reaching decisions that negatively affect our political process and our personal lives. But for the most part those decisions reflect the views and attitudes of far too many of our fellow citizens. The court follows public opinion – it doesn’t shape it. If you doubt this, choose any issue and begin asking people why the Supreme Court ruled on it as they did: what was its reasoning? What arguments did it accept or reject? Who concurred or dissented? My guess is that ninety-five out of every hundred won’t know. Popular views are shaped by friends, the entertainment industry, media, academia, religious leaders – but not the Supreme Court.
Practically, because Republican appointees can’t be counted on to buck cultural trends even when they are real Republican appointees nominated by real Republican presidents. Especially where abortion is concerned, the focus on voting Republican for the sake of SCOTUS nominees has been a forty year long exercise in futility. Without assigning motives, it is true beyond question that the only thing actually accomplished by this myopic approach has been the creation of a multi-billion dollar pro-life lobbying industry that transfers vast amounts of wealth from sincere believers to professional activists and leaders within the morality industry.
Here is the awful truth, my friends: Roe v. Wade was a Republican decision. The Supreme Court has not had a Democratic-appointed Chief Justice for over sixty years. For most of that time Republican appointees have enjoyed a solid majority. When Roe was decided, seven of the nine justices were Republican appointees. Only one of those, Renquist, joined Justice White, a Democratic appointee, in the dissent. That’s right – six Republicans and one Democrat struck down state restrictions on abortion. (Obergefell v. Hodges and NFIB v. Sebelius were also handed down by a majority-Republican court.) Ever since then, the prospect of limiting abortion has been exclusively linked by the morality industry to getting more Republican appointees. It’s a lie.
If you doubt this, consider the strange history of the Sanctity of Life Act – the most constitutionally sound and practically hopeful effort to limit abortion on demand in my lifetime. It was introduced five times: in 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. Note that in 2005 we had a (real) Republican president and solid Republican majorities in the House, in the Senate, and on the Court. Yet it was opposed – vehemently opposed – by every major pro-life organization and the majority of Republican politicians, even to the extent that they used Dr. Ron Paul’s support for it to question his commitment to the pro-life cause. Why? Because – I suspect – by rendering the Supreme Court irrelevant, it would have hurt the pro-life fundraising machine along with the abortion industry.
We’ve been played. For decades. It’s time for Christians to say this is enough. Overturning Roe is no longer a convincing reason to continue to support whomever the GOP selects, especially not when their candidate (a) represents perfectly the immorality, sexual hedonism and the just-do-it mentality that drives the culture of death, (b) is incapable of articulating or defending the case for life on his own, and (c) never even pretended to care about the unborn until he decided to run.
Andrews is right: we will have Trump or Clinton. The real question for the church is not getting our say, but guarding our witness. Will we hold up a light in the darkness or make an alliance with it? Will we wait for Aslan or decide to summon the witch because at least we know where she is?