Litmus test?

Presidential politics is a fascinating topic, in my mind anyway. I’ve always been fascinated by the political machine that exists in America. For a while, prior to being called into ministry, I had big plans about college, law school and a career in politics. Thankfully those were shortlived as God called me into the ministry. I am certainly grateful that I am where I am in my calling today.

That being said, I watch the political world with no small fascination and as such I found myself glued to my laptop as I watched the Democractic National Convention this evening via I was particularly interested in Michelle Obama’s speech as well as the prayer by Donald Miller, a young evangelical writer who’s books I have enjoyed a bit. As I listened to the messages being sent tonight I began to think about this upcoming election (naturally) and my own decision in regards to a Presidential candidate. Unlike too many other clergy, I refuse to endorse a candidate or to even publicly communicate who I’ll be voting for. Rather than name names, what I would prefer to do is talk about a single topic.

In the evangelical world we often talk about a “litmus test” in regards to candidates. While the test differs from person to person, it seems as if many of us have some kind of litmus test when it comes to a canididate. For me, it is incredibly simple, yet oh so powerful. I will readily admit that I have one absolutely certain litmus test, and it’s a non-negotiable reality for me. The position a candidate takes on the issue of abortion will possibly break my support of their candidacy, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will insure my support of their candidacy, either. So what does that mean for me? Well, for me that means that the question of a candidate’s position on the sanctity of human life, particularly as it is seen on the abortion issue, is a conversation starter, or stopper, for me. So, does that mean that I will automatically vote for a candidate simply because he communicates that he is pro-life? The answer there is no. It simply means that for me to begin considering you, we have to get over that hurdle first, before we can ever deal with anything else. Beyond that, I am more than willing to vote for a third party candidate, or even write in a candidate, if we can’t get very far in our discussion beyond their commitment to the sanctity of human life. I am commited to not waste my vote on the “lesser of two evils” candidate.

So, what about you? Do you have a litmus test?  Do you think I am crazy because I do?

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

13 thoughts on “Litmus test?

  1. Like you, Micah, I have a pretty good interest in political stuff. I have been pondering this election, trying to figure out what to do (and what I teach my children about it). I have been reading as Dobson says maybe he’ll vote for McCain, and as Joseph Farah ( makes a case for voting for a third party candidate as a show of revolt toward the two perhaps-not-so-dissimilar major party candidates. I agree that abortion is a powerful issue, that perhaps it is indicative of the nation’s moral compass. And we may be closer right now to overturning Roe v. Wade than ever before. That can only happen at the Supreme Court level, and the next president could very easily have an opportunity to appoint multiple justices. With Obama, we can be assured of what we will get. With McCain, I myself am much less sure, as he seems to capitulate more often than he makes a stand. Unless a pro-life third-party candidate really becomes viable before the election, which is incredibly unlikely, the choice is probably going to be less than ideal, because third-party votes could easily hand the election to Obama. Then again, much could happen in the next couple of months.

  2. The USA is a 2 party system. We can’t get away or around it. Yes I agree an individual should be totally against abortion [which I am].
    I can’t agree about the idea of writing in a person and voting for them or not voting at all. All this does is give the greater of the evils a vote. We MUST choose.

    On a local election the idea of a write-in would be great but it would never work for a presidential election.

    Burl Penny

  3. Burl-

    I’m not 100% sure. While I want to agree with you, I’m not convinced that the lesser of two evils is the better option. If one really believes the candidate to be the lesser of two evils, they are still affirming their support of what they deem to be evil. Sure it’s not quite as evil, in their mind, as the other candidate, but it is still evil none-the-less.

    It seems to me that a vote for a write-in or third part candidate with less of a chance to win is still the better option (morally speaking) than to vote for the candidate who is more likely to win but who holds positions that are morally offensive.

  4. Matthew 7:11 starts out “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts………
    All humans are evil, therefore, you are always voting for the lesser of two evils. There is none righteous, no, not one.
    I absolutely agree that the candidate must be pro-life but from there we will always have to choose the lesser of two evils.
    To me, writing in a candidate especially on the national level is a wasted vote. That is why it is so awesome that we have the freedom to vote!

  5. Tom and Micah-
    No vote cast is a wasted vote. The presupposition is that only votes cast for “potential winners” are valid. That itself is an invalid assumption.

    Well, I’m was not thinking about those hanging chads…

  6. Marty-

    See, that’s been my question. If I vote for a candidate in order to keep another candidate out of office, in other words voting for a candidate in order to vote against another candidate, is that good stewardship of my vote? It’s a curious question and one worth probing.

    Of course, after the events of the week I’m feeling more satsified with my potential vote.

  7. Micah-
    I have to admit to having a moments euphoria, to being impressed with Sarah Palin and to thinking that McCain made the most politically savvy move in the last three elections.

    However, adding Palin does nothing to change the essential issues as to why I did not support McCain in the first place: he has no plan to address the national debt, has a great plan for increasing the budget deficit by continuing to borrow from China, and no plan to realistically make his pro-life stand practical in any way.

  8. I have no qualms about voting for John McCain based on his pro-life stand. He has the strongest pro-life stand of any major party presidential candidate ever. He is the only person to clearly define human rights as beginning at the moment of conception. He made that statement at the Saddleback forum. He added some umph to his statement in my opinion, by nominating Sarah Palin as vp, who is certainly a strong pro-life individual. There may be economic differences to think about with McCain, but I don’t think the pro-life stance is a problem.

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