Saturday, July 23, 2016

Where In Scripture Does It Say, "Thou Shalt Choose the Lesser of Two Evils"

Elijah hiding out, having said some things to the king he didn't like.
I'm in a lot of trouble with my Adventist readers. As a blogger, I regularly touch the third rail of Adventism - politics. I can't tell you how many times I've been counseled to keep quiet about politics and, if I'm talking to a certain group of Adventists, to both be quiet and vote Democrat!

As anyone who reads my stuff knows, I'm a died in the wool Christian conservative, a strict constitutionalist and firm believer in small decentralized government. I've been told we are not to have an opinion about those kinds of things, but given how close politics comes to being religion it's a difficult thing to do, especially when politics is so apt to use religion as a vote-getting tool.

Jesus very clearly said to, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's."  It should be noted that of the 12 men he told that to, one committed suicide, 10 were executed by governments and the only one to die a natural death was banished, given hard labor and boiled in oil first.  As Christians, we don't so much attack governments as they attack us. It's an old story.

Sometime add up how many prophets were killed by Israelite kings in the Old Testament. And despite this they kept on delivering messages to the kings that they didn't want to hear. The prophet Nathan was lucky that King David feared God because one of David's soldiers was ready to lop off his head when he delivered his message.

And remember what Samuel warned the Children of Israel about when they wanted a king like everyone else. People tell me we should just be quiet and God will put in the leader he wants. At this point I remind them that God gave Israel a king even though He didn't want them to have one. And the Israelite kings did every bad thing that Samuel said they would; everything God through his prophets said would happen did.  Yet, God gave them kings. GOD WAS TEACHING WHEN HE DID IT.

I find that, as a Christian, inaction is not appropriate, especially when I live in a nation that God specifically gave us as a refuge of religious freedom; a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. Since our government derives it's power, authority and very existence from the will of the people, then when we are counseled to "render unto Caesar", we are, in effect, being told in America to "render" unto ourselves for we are Caesar - the source of power. That said, the political choices we as Americans have are not either/or. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.

If we hand over the reins of power to government in some misguided attempt to gain safety, security or the chance to "win", then we are, I believe, doing something God would disapprove of.
I'm from Texas. I admit it, so I think of things in a Texan context. I also grew up in an Adventist ghetto where we rolled up the sidewalks on Friday evening. I have seen what can happen when people take a stand. The boys at the Alamo, as a Trump supporter reminded me, lost that fight. He suggested that losing was the worst thing. This guy could not have been from Texas. The stand at the Alamo bought time for the Texican Army to get itself together and get to San Jacinto where they handily whipped Santa Anna. So the Alamo fight, by pinning Santa Anna's army for 18 days, won the war even though they lost the battle.

When I lived in Keene, we were sent a mule-headed wild man of a pastor named Ron Halvorsen. In my home town the good old boy network had it's roots deep in everything that went on in the town and we were slowly dying. Our kids were leaving. Church was as dry as the Hills of Gilboa. Ron came to town and planted the flag of truth. They fought him tooth and nail, but prayer meeting exploded from 45 people in the Youth Chapel to 12 to 1500 in a jammed sanctuary with another 100 or so kids in their own Wednesday service in the family center. When Ron left the good old boys celebrated. But the damage had been done and they never managed to get back their power. Ron Halvorsen stood for the truth and won, whatever the leadership thought. A lot of us are still in the church because of people like Ron and other brave workers for the Lord. These brave men and women gave us choices we could, in good conscience make. Many of these choices were not comfortable or easy, but they were right and set up against the "go along to get along" path that others were offering, these choices were the only ones we could in good conscience make.

C.S. Lewis pointed out once that “He (the devil) always sends errors into the world in pairs--pairs of opposites... He relies on your extra dislike of one to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” Lewis foresaw the rise of political forces in the world which would attempt to manipulate people; to bend them to the will of their masters. He recognized who was behind such false choices and clearly warned us that such choices would be presented to us in order to maneuver us into a trap. He was right.

It appears that we really don't have a viable candidate running for president this fall. We are told that we must choose one or the other for fear the worst one will be, well, worse. I am a Christian and as an Adventist, the most stubborn sort of Christian, I do not accept the idea that I must choose between two evils. I can't find a passage in Scripture that ever recommends such a course. We Adventists have stood against the tide of Christendom throughout our more than a century and a half history. Many of our fellow Christians dismiss us a a dangerous cult because we won't back down and join the herd. We don't choose one evil or the other. We choose the truth, even though few religious leaders want that choice to even be on the table.

So I suppose being a Texan and a stubborn Adventist, it might be a little easier for me to just vote, "NO" in November.
I'm used to "losing". But, sometimes you do what is right because it is right and winning or losing doesn't come into the calculation. When it all comes down to it, Jesus is coming soon. He is the only one who's approval I wish to win. Heaven is the only reward I want. Eternal life is the only victory worth having. 

© 2016 by Tom King