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The Perils of Voting One’s Conscience

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The vast majority of people who will vote on November 8th will do so based on what their conscience tells them is right.

The obvious problem here is that a large percentage of them—likely a sizeable majority—have consciences formed or at least influenced by the vagaries of fallen human reasonings and desires as well as the worldly and at times even satanic feedback loops that dot our cultural landscape. These people voting their conscience is akin to what Bildad the Shuhite described to Job. Danger lies everywhere.

(Their) confidence is severed, and (their) trust is a spider’s web. (They) lean against (their) house, but it does not stand; (they) lay hold of it, but it does not endure.                                                   Job 8: 14,15

But a potential problem also exists for sincere Christians whose consciences have been conditioned by the Holy Spirit and God’s word.

Recently, while the primaries were winding down, I spoke with a good friend. Gregg Cunningham is a leading advocate for life and also one of the most politically astute men I know, having served in the military (as an officer in the Air Force), in a state legislature and in the arena of public policy for many years. Our conversation, as these things tend to do in this surreal political season, turned to the upcoming presidential election.

“Are you going to vote for Trump?” I asked, knowing that he rather be water-boarded to death than cast a vote for Hillary. Gregg opened with a qualification I’ve grown use to—listing the many flaws that make the Donald such a problematic candidate—before getting to the “but…”

“But if Trumps ends up being the Republican candidate, of course I will. What else can you do? We’ve got to stop Hillary.” He then reeled off several of the dangerous “bugs” that will come with running the Clinton 3.0 program: SCOTUS appointments; the deconstruction of the 2ndAmendment; pimping for Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry; expanding government while increasing debt; strengthening both her party and the ongoing swing from republicanism toward unchecked democratism by granting first work permits and then voting rights to millions of illegal aliens; the weakening of the military; runaway multiculturalism that weakens both national security and identity; the continued push towards statism, socialism, and globalism; stumping for the LGBTQ agenda; etc..

He was so convinced and convincing that I was almost embarrassed to tell him that while I got all of that, my conscience was nevertheless troubled at the prospect of voting for a man like Trump. I strengthened my case a bit by naming some Christian friends he knew and respected that were equally troubled; some having even gone #nevertrump.

After he calmed down, Gregg threw out an idea I had never considered: that is that I and the others like me should pray about whether there is an element of self-righteousness percolating somewhere in our thought processes.  Perhaps, he went on to say, some part was more interested in taking a stand against what we saw as compromise and hypocrisy—and thus feeling good about ourselves and being “not like other men” (Luke 18:11)—than we were in our country and the millions of lives that would be negatively impacted by the Clinton agenda.

I pushed back, asking how he knew that Trump couldn’t create more harm and havoc than Hillary and then proceeded to offer scenarios were he might. Back and forth we went, ending, as most conversations I have on the subject these days, with more questions than answers.

But the idea Gregg sowed has stayed in the back of my mind. And from time to time I have asked the Lord to show me if some degree of pietistic or Pharisaical thinking could be leavening the loaf of my discernment.

Today, another friend brought this thoughtful and thought-provoking article to my attention. I commend it to yours.

But as I was reading, the seed sown by Gregg began to stir and certain phrases from the article came into sharper focus:

“For my part, my conscience is more important to me than the outcome of this presidential election….”

“It is simply this: Vote as if your ballot determines nothing whatsoever—except the shape of your own character. Vote as if the public consequences of your action weigh nothing next to the private consequences. The country will go whither it will go, when all the votes are counted. What should matter the most to you is whither you will go, on and after this November’s election day.”

My conscience, the shape of my character, whether I will go…there’s a very slippery slope here.

And I must be honest: I’m very uncomfortable putting the “shape of my character” in the same ballpark as the millions of innocent babies who will be tortured to death by a Clinton Court.

Elections have consequences.  Individual votes determine the outcomes of those elections.  It’s magical thinking to pretend that “the public consequences of your action weigh nothing” when those public consequences result in preventable child sacrifice.

Look, I don’t want to judge the author’s heart or intentions. Pragmatism is not an absolute. Opting for the lesser of two evils can be a righteous decision in some instances. With others, not so much. Compromise, to lift the line from Chariots of Fire, “can be the language of the devil.” Or it can be ordained of God. (2 Kings 5: 15-19)

But we would all do well to humble ourselves, pray and ask God to search our hearts and remove any tare, any leaven of self-righteousness. This is vital in every area of life. But as we approach this great valley of decision, a lot more than just the well-being of our own souls depends on it.

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