I am a ham radio operator. I have enjoyed this hobby for decades. So, this weekend I went to a ham radio get-together, a hamfest. It was in a country area of Alabama. I had great fun and met a lot of people. But, I met one person who left me aghast. As he talked to me, he became increasingly fundamentalist, questioning my doctrine and questioning my Christianity. Finally, he started to speak about how he could spot a Democrat by the spiritual darkness that hangs around them. He said that there was no possibility that any person could vote for a party that supported abortion without being corrupted by the devil.
I was tempted to reply that ignoring immigrants who were brought in as children, ignoring wage discrepancies between employees and upper management, ignoring … Well, you get the idea. But, then, I realized that I would be making the same type of argument that the old codger was making. It is a mistaken argument. Why is it mistaken? It is mistaken because it picks certain, and only certain, pro-life doctrines and makes them the predominant doctrines in all arguments. It turns ethics into a numerical argument. The number of abortions somehow overcomes a lot of other numbers. But, that is not how ethics works. There is no place in Scripture or Holy Tradition that allows you to choose one set of numbers in order to make those numbers the only numbers that count. Rather, the opposite is shown. From the condemning of unbalanced scales, to the condemning of paying bribes, to the condemning of killing the innocent, all are cause for the Lord our God to take action. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed just as much for their lack of hospitality to strangers as they were destroyed for their sexual sin. Both are cited in different Scriptures when it comes to explaining God’s judgment.
I fear that the USA will be judged whether one votes Democrat or Republican. Regardless of which party one votes for, sin will be involved. A violation of pro-life principles will be involved. It takes the most seared pro-life person to argue that only abortion is counted by God, particularly since there is no Scripture nor Holy Tradition that points in that direction. Yet, there is also a body of work from the Early Church Fathers that condemns both abortion and inappropriate war. At least one Patriarch of Constantinople warned the Emperor that the lack of care for the poor would bring the Roman Empire down into the dust. When one looks at both the Biblical warnings and the warnings found in Church history, one finds that there are any of several pro-life causes whose failure to observe brings down a country. It is, therefore, no surprise that every empire thus far has failed. It is not merely the weight of bureaucratic, or other, accretion; it is the fact that no empire has been able to fully follow every pro-life prescription.
Thus, when voting, every Christian ends up following the doctrine of the lesser of two evils–the Christian version not the secular version. Regardless of which party one picks, there are pro-life principles being violated. As a result, God may choose to take action regardless of which party wins. More than that, I would argue that the argument that only one party is truly God’s party is more likely to bring God’s judgment on a country than the open acknowledgment that whichever party we choose there is some sin involved.
Now, for various reasons, I would argue that the mere counting of abortions is a fully inappropriate way to make a decision on which party for which to vote. One has to consider what overall moral good will be achieved. The mere counting of abortions, if the country otherwise has a large number of people living in misery, may be an insufficient basis upon which to claim moral superiority. That is the mistake those who insist that we must vote Republican make. The argument they make is that quantity is more important than quality. That is not necessarily a true statement. I am one who argues that overall quality is more important than quantity.
But, Saturday, in that small Alabama town, faced with an unreconstructed Southerner, I decided to leave town. It was better than beginning an argument. I thought of the song, “Me and My Shadow.” Yes, I and my sin left town. But, honestly, I thought that I left a bigger shadow behind, a most dangerous shadow. For, it was a shadow that saw no grey areas, that saw no subtlety, that only saw raw numbers, as though that justified every other sin committed against life. It was a shadow that justified other pro-life sins, without a care about them, only because one opposed abortion. There is no Biblical or Traditional justification for that. There is only a certain expectation of God’s judgment to come. In that, I agree with those who are only anti-abortion, with little to no concern for other pro-life issues.
Lord, have mercy.