Part 3 of Who Should Christians Vote For?
Voting for the lesser of two evils is a very pragmatic approach to an election. Basically, you evaluate the situation based on circumstances and make a decision. At this point a 3rd party candidate is a long shot to win anything. So, if you don’t want the worse evil candidate to win, vote for the slightly less evil candidate.
Pragmatism is something we use every day. Where will you eat? What will you wear? Tons of mundane decisions are made all the time based on pragmatic choices. There are times when a pragmatic choice is good. In fact, the only time a pragmatic choice wouldn’t be a good choice is if it violates what you know to be true, what you know God wants from you.
I went searching for examples of pragmatism in the Bible. Positive or negative. People that were pragmatic, and people who weren’t. I’m sure I missed some, but here’s a list of what I found:
- Abraham had his wife pose as his sister: Genesis 20. It was pragmatic for Abraham (who feared for his life) to say Sarah was his sister, but God had other plans.
- Israel spying out the Promised Land: Numbers 13,14. It was pragmatic to refuse to enter the Promised Land. God kept Israel in the wilderness until an entire generation died.
- Israel defeats Jericho: Joshua 6. A pragmatic person would say marching around a city would have little effect on defeating it.
- Moses’ mom did not kill him: Exodus 2. It wasn’t pragmatic to hide a male infant. But Israel was ultimately freed because of her actions.
- Hosea didn’t divorce Gomer: Hosea 3. A pragmatic Hosea would divorce a woman who returned to prostitution. But God used his love as a symbol for his relationship with Israel.
- Jeremiah kept preaching: Jeremiah 25. A pragmatic prophet would stop preaching after a few years with no results, but Jeremiah kept at it for 23 years.
- Daniel in the lion’s den. Daniel 6. A pragmatic Daniel wouldn’t have ended up in the Lion’s Den.
- Fiery Furnace: Daniel 3. A pragmatic Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego wouldn’t have ended up in the fiery furnace.
- Solomon Takes wives: 1 Kings 11. The wisest man on earth decided it was pragmatic to marry and take concubines from other nations, and he ended up worshipping false gods
- Ananias and Saul: Acts 9. It would have been pragmatic for Ananias to stay away from a renowned killer of Christians. But then he wouldn’t have been there to begin discipling a man who would write half the New Testament.
- Jerusalem Council: Acts 15. It would have been pragmatic to give in to the Jewish believers and make Gentile believers follow Jewish customs.
- Timothy: 1 Timothy 4:12. Pragmatism says that older people know more than younger ones.
- Gamaliel: Acts 5. Gamaliel gave some very bad pragmatic advice.
The only positive reference to anything pragmatic comes in 1 Corinthians 8. Although believers might have the freedom to do something, we should pragmatically choose not to do it if we might cause others to stumble, and sin.
Generally, pragmatism is not a good thing in the Bible. Many, many times God asks us to do things that just don’t make sense based on circumstances. I’ve seen it in my life. I’ve seen it in other’s lives. I’ve seen it time and again in the Bible.
Some of the examples above are specific to a particular command from God. Normally you wouldn’t expect walls to fall down by marching around them. It normally isn’t smart to present yourself to someone who kills people who follow Christ.
But other instances are just followers of God honoring God in every circumstance, even if it doesn’t make sense. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t know they would survive. (Daniel 3:16-18) They knew God could save them if he so chose, but regardless of circumstances, they were going to choose to honor God.
Luckily no one is asking us to bow to an idol. And they aren’t threatening to kill us if we don’t. We’re just trying to figure out how to vote.
Pragmatism is the foundation of situational ethics and the heart of post modernism. Valuing pragmatism more than the things God values is what has led us into this political wilderness. Making a pragmatic choice between two evils will always end with choosing an evil.
When presented with a choice where the pragmatic answer is different than the answer you know lines up with what the Bible teaches, what will you do? If you believe that there is a minimum standard for civil leaders, and the candidate you’re considering voting for does not meet it, will you make a pragmatic choice or keep looking?