Charles Spurgeon was the premier English preacher in the late 1800s, known as the “Prince of Preachers.” His statement, “Of two evils, choose neither” has been widely quoted by preachers, politicians, and pundits during this political season. However, Spurgeon’s actual quote from The Salt Cellars: A Collection of Proverbs & Quaint Sayings has nothing to do with voting. It relates to when a Christian is faced with a choice of obvious sins such as lying or stealing–he is to choose neither.
A statement made by Michael Marcavage is often attributed to Spurgeon in an attempt to trash Trump. Marcavage said, “Christians must turn from the endless cycle of voting for the lesser of evils and expecting an unrighteous act to produce a righteous result. From a communist to a cultist, choosing the lesser of two evils is still evil, and never should we do evil that good may come.” The attribution to Spurgeon is used to thump Trump.
Spurgeon declared in his sermon Particular Election: “Let us, whenever we shall have the opportunity of using the right of voting, use it as in the sight of Almighty God, knowing that for everything we shall be brought into account, and for that amongst the rest, seeing that we are entrusted with it. And let us remember that we are our own governors, to a great degree, and that if at the next election we should choose wrong governors we shall have nobody to blame but ourselves, however wrongly they may afterwards act, unless we exercise all prudence and prayer to Almighty God to direct our hearts to a right choice in this matter. May God so help us, and may the result be for his glory, however unexpected that result may be to any of us!”
He also said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” All men have at times lusted but is a wife to be nonchalant, noncommittal, and nonresistant if her husband watches porn every night? Both are evil, but one is less odious than the other is. No, all sins do not carry the same penalty and are not rated equally offensive. As Spurgeon suggested, discernment is required to differentiate between options–the difference between right and wrong and the difference between wrong and very wrong–ergo, Trump or Clinton!
At the 9/11 terrorist attack, people in the burning Twin Towers had a choice between being burned alive or jumping out the windows. More than 200 people jumped to their deaths. They found themselves in a position where no decision was the “right” decision but had to make a decision. They had to make a choice and they each chose the most preferable one although each decision produced a horrible death. They considered one death less offensive than the other.
John Barber wrote, “Imagine our two families are miles from land in a sinking boat. Suddenly, out of the mist, come two boats to save us. One is captained by an adulterer; the other is captained by a thief. Which boat will you get into? You say, ‘Neither one. I’m waiting for the evangelical boat which is captained by a devout Christian who will end abortion.’ I say, ‘You’re kidding, right?’ You reply, ‘Both these guys are reprobates and I’m not going to choose between two evils.’”
There are no other sane options so which captain do you permit to save you? Of course, you prefer to give your business to a born again, anti-abortionist, conservative, constitutionalist, free enterprise, King James Bible quoting, creationist captain who homeschools his kids and tithes to his local Bible-preaching church. But you don’t have that option and it really doesn’t matter since you are going to drown or be devoured by hungry sharks. You choose the boat that appears to be stronger, safer, and swifter and believe that the character of the captain is irrelevant at this time. However, his ability, his availability, and his agreement to save you are very relevant.
Matt Barber of Barbwire.com wrote, “These are perilous times, and we’ve got difficult choices to make. When we’re sinking, sometimes God sends us a boat with a reprobate at the helm. He has a history of doing quite a lot with reprobates.” That He does.
Many Christians and Conservatives demand perfection but perfection doesn’t exist. Many profess to be principled people who demand a “whole loaf” insisting on getting everything they want instead of something. The “half-loafers” see the big picture and are willing to accept small victories always keeping their eyes on their goal. One good example is the Homosexual Lobby. Look where they were only 20 years ago and today they are in the catbird seat. They had one failure after another punctuated occasionally with small victories until they won. Now they have convinced the American people that a hormone-infused teenage boy has the right to ogle nude young girls in bathrooms, shower rooms, etc., and those of us who disagree are brutes, bigots, and bullies! The homosexual crowd accepted less than what they wanted until they got what they wanted.
As a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, I did not always get what I wanted. I never voted for evil but I had to make decisions: a full loaf or half a loaf.
I ask the Never Trumpers and the critics of “the lesser of two evil” principle what a legislator should do when confronted with voting for an imperfect abortion bill as happened in North Carolina.
In the NC legislature, a bill was before the Joint Finance Committee of the House and Senate dealing with abortion funding for poor women. A famous Pro-life leader came to town and convinced the pro-life crowd that they should go for the whole loaf; after all, it was the right thing to do. No abortions. The alternative to the bill was to add an exception for the life of the mother and fetal deformity. The problem was that about 100 babies would be killed if they had a known deformity in the womb. A long-time friend of mine was a full-time lobbyist for the Christian school movement in the state and had the authority to speak for them and the pro-life people. He and another preacher decided to go with the “whole loaf” people who didn’t want any babies killed. They decided that the “lesser of two evils” is still evil.
Senator Harris was manager of the bill and asked my friend and the local pastor in private, “Is this what you want me to do? I’ll do whatever you say.” They told him “No exceptions.” My friend knew they had the votes to pass the bill with the two exceptions that would greatly limit abortions. The Senator followed their admonition and the vote was taken and they lost bigtime. My friend said, “I was standing against the concrete wall inside the room and I was sick inside. We had just sounded the death knell for 8,000 babies through tax-funded abortions. I have never gotten over that. We clearly had the power of life and death in our tongues when we talked with Senator Harris. In order to save 100 babies, we sacrificed 8,000 babies.” I wept when he told me that.
The Christian lobbyist said he can still hear the Senator, a godly Baptist deacon ask, “Is this what you want me to do?” My friend said, “It still haunts me to this day.”
He told me, “We tried to respect the position of Christians who would not go the route of the lesser of two evils. We were such nerds! It was the stupidest thing I ever did in my whole life! So, I’ve got a tumor in my soul when it comes to deciding ‘the lesser of two evils.’ I have to be patient with Christians who struggle to escape the ‘lesser of two evils’ dilemma. But there is no escaping it. When that’s what it is, that’s what it is.” God never promised all our decisions would be easy.
Most people don’t understand that in every election we must choose between the lesser of two evils since no two candidates are equally principled. Our choice is not usually between an openly vile person and a virtuous person who loses his temper at times but between people who in totality are at different places on the general moral spectrum.
I don’t like Trump but I will vote for him even though I’m not sure he is trustworthy; however, I know I can trust Hillary to do what she has always done and she has the cash and consultants if not the character and charisma to actually win the presidency! She will continue America’s slide onto the garbage heap of history so I’ll go with the “lesser of two evils” or “half-loaf” since the other loaf is wormy, worthless, and wicked.
Boys’ new book Muslim Invasion: The Fuse is Burning! was published recently by Barbwire Books; to get your copy, click here. An eBook edition is also available.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.