Pharisaism, Compromise, and the Lesser of Two Evils

Well meaning but fuzzy-thinking Christians often express their disdain for any concept such as choosing between the lesser of two evils. Some purist and at times Pharisaical evangelicals are especially throwing this one around concerning the US election and voting for Romney.

While I have written heaps on this already, I guess I need to keep writing on this until a little common sense and biblical realism creeps into the discussion. So much confused thinking and unbiblical foolishness abounds here that it seems a steady stream of articles will be needed to knock this silliness on the head.

A related term which crops up here is ‘compromise’. So let me seek to deal with both issues here. In a fallen world there is no escaping some compromise, and sometimes we only can choose between two far from perfect choices. In fact, the simple truth is this: quite often in our life we choose between the lesser of two evils. We cannot escape it. It is part of living in the fallen world, which includes every single one of us, even the most fastidious and puritanical.

And another fact of life is that we constantly face compromising situations. This too is the inevitable result of living in a fallen and very imperfect world. There are few times when we have choices which involve something perfect on one hand and something completely evil on another.

Sure, there are many ethical issues which approach this. For example, abortion is a great evil, and seeking its removal is a great good. But so much of life involves dealing with less than ideal choices. Do I take that bout of chemo with all its nasty side effects, in order to live longer, or do I suffer the cancer?

Take another example of what should be fairly clear cut: opposing Hitler. He was evil and he had to be stopped. Were America and the Allies perfect and free from fault? Of course not. All nations are less than ideal. But when it came to stopping the Nazis, it would have been foolish in the extreme to seek to argue that we should not, because we too were evil in some ways.

And there would have been some of these misguided purists who did seek to make that argument. The same in the Cold War: they pushed the phoney moral equivalence line that said, sure, the Soviets are really bad, but America is not really much better.

But in a fallen world, in which all sorts of less than ideal situations present themselves, we are not so much interested in the lesser of two evils, but in the greater good. To try to stop Hitler was not to say the Allies were perfect, but that they were far superior morally speaking, and in a fallen world, the greater good was to stop the Nazi global conquest.

It is the same in the US elections. Obama is not the epitome of evil, but he is getting there. Almost anyone would be preferred to this man. As I keep saying, Romney is far from my main choice, but he is the only man we now have to prevent Obama getting a second term and destroying America, if not the world as well.

As Newt Gingrich said back in May: “As for the presidency, I’m asked sometimes, is Mitt Romney conservative enough? And my answer is simple: compared to Barack Obama? You know this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical, leftist president in American history.”

So let the various purists pick whatever beef they have about Romney: he is a Mormon; he is not conservative enough; he is not pro-life enough; etc. In all these areas he is not perfect. But compared to the radical leftist secular humanist pro-death Obama, I will take Romney any day.

And those who are still thinking of third parties or independents, they will achieve nothing, but the re-election of Obama. Whether it is the Ronbots or others, if they abstain from voting, or waste their vote on anyone other than Romney, they will have no right to complain if Obama gets back in. They may pat themselves on the shoulders and think they were so pure, but they have simply become complicit in evil.

As Gary DeMar said: “There’s talk of Ron Paul running as a third-party candidate. What’s it going to prove? Let’s say he gets 10 million votes. He won’t get a single electoral vote. And even if elections were won by majority vote totals and not by electoral votes, he still wouldn’t win anything. The lesser of two evils franchise will say that they will be ‘sending a message.’ Yeah, that they’re idiots.”

Yep, idiots alright. And for all their pious talk of avoiding compromise and avoiding the lesser of two evils, they have actually done nothing but contribute greatly to evil. They are simply being hypocrites here. And they are being Pharisees as well.

What is a Pharisee? Jesus made it crystal clear what the heart of the problem was with the Pharisees. It was all about hypocrisy and self-righteousness. They saw evil as being “out there”. It was all about externals. They conveniently forgot that evil in fact resides in every single human heart. Jesus made this quite plain as he rebuked the Pharisees in Matt 23:25-28.

So today’s Pharisees see evil out there, which they must not be contaminated with, which they must remain pure from. Now of course there is some compromise which is evil, and there are of course things which we must refuse. But in an important matter like this election, we have only two options: more Obama, or no Obama. It is that simple.

I like these very wise words from John MacArthur: “So what I would say is – look, whether or not a person who runs for president or vice president or congress or senate or governor, whether or not that person is a Christian, is not the issue – that’s not the role of government. You’re not choosing a pastor. Since when all of a sudden do we think that someone’s religion is the issue in picking a president anymore than it would be an issue in picking a pilot to fly you somewhere? I don’t really care what the religion is, I just want to know he can land the plane.”

Matt Barber is no great Romney fan, but he is voting for him. He puts it this way: “It took one word to convince me: judges. The next president likely will fill at least two Supreme Court vacancies in the next four to eight years. Appointing Supreme Court justices may be the single most significant thing any president can do. For better or for worse, it profoundly steers law, public policy and culture at large in perpetuity…

“Though Mr. Romney’s judicial appointment record while governor of Massachusetts was erratic at best, he has pledged during this election cycle, ‘I will appoint conservative, strict constructionists to the judiciary.’

“Flip-flop? Perhaps. Still, Mr. Romney has proved that he cares about and understands political self-preservation. If Mr. Romney wins the White House and expects a second term, there is a strong chance, I believe, that conservatives can hold him accountable to his word. Indeed, political self-preservation will provide Mr. Romney a strong incentive to honor his pro-life, pro-family conservative rhetoric. Most important, it significantly increases the chances that he will appoint originalist judges to the Supreme Court as promised.

“With Mr. Obama, we know what we will get – we’ve already gotten it. . . . Some might say I’m putting pragmatism over principle, but I disagree. In this case, the two are not mutually exclusive. Remember Christ’s counsel: Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

“My friend and colleague Cynthia Dunbar, a law professor at Liberty University School of Law, recently wrote: ‘In this election year, we find ourselves with only three realistic courses of action: 1) Don’t vote; 2) vote for Obama; or 3) vote for Romney.’ It’s simple: A Christian nonvote is a vote for Mr. Obama in that it fails to affirmatively cancel out an Obama vote. Furthermore, any Christian who votes for Mr. Obama will get to take that up with God. This leaves us with our third and final choice: Christians must vote for Mitt Romney. A second Obama term is simply unacceptable. We won’t survive it.”

Or as Rebecca Hagelin wrote: “Romney, while far from perfect, has got to win this election if we are going to have any hope of preserving biblical morality or the American dream. I never look for the best Christian to be President – I look for the one who best reflects a strong moral character, and who is most likely to preserve my rights as a Christian and freedom-loving American.”

So forget all this purist and Pharisee talk about compromise and the lesser of two evils. If these purists, for whatever reason, allow Obama to get back in, they will have compromised already, and will have been directly responsible for great evil. Indeed, they will have blood on their hands.

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19 Replies to “Pharisaism, Compromise, and the Lesser of Two Evils”

  1. Yes, I get that Romney is a Mormon but surely that is better than a baby killer, isn’t it? That whole purist thinking is so flawed, to seriously paraphrase: “Let him who is pure make the first vote” wonder how that one would have ended…

    Rick Armitage

  2. Here is what another Christian blogger says on this:

    Turk recognized that there are some Christians who will either try to vote for a third party candidate or not vote at all because both Romney and President Obama support abortions, though Romney only approves of it in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother.

    For many Christians, abortion is murder, immoral and sinful and voting for a candidate who supports abortion would be wrong.

    So by not voting, these Christians “protect their holiness.”

    Turk offers: “Doing nothing and calling it a moral victory is cowardly. It may actually be evil. But if it is nothing else, it is certainly this: failing to do as much as possible to make a difference toward the improvement of those things which you can effect and can make better. Failing to show that much compassion and effort is morally lazy.

    “In the world we actually live in, where in our country there are about 1,200,000 abortions every year, one candidate/party is saying that we could eliminate 960,000 abortions by saying the only exceptions might be physical health and welfare of the mother. It’s moral malpractice to say that seeking to reduce the number of abortions by 80% is the same as saying 100% of all abortions are politically and morally OK.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Two things God has promised judgment for: The shed blood of the innocents and turning our back on Israel. Both Romney and Obama are in the same camp supporting abortion options and wanting the two state solution for Israel.
    You are right in expressing your opinion, but it must be expressed as an opinion only, because that is all it is. Going to far as to judge the rest of us wrong that will not stand before God and vote for Romney is not your right.
    Anita Ingram

  4. Thanks Anita

    With all due respect it is obvious that you are fairly clueless regarding the positions of both men on both issues. You really need to do some study on this. There is nothing whatsoever identical between the two on abortion. Obama wants abortion on demand any time for any reason. He loves Planned Parenthood and wants to keep supporting it. He even has no problem with infanticide.

    Romney in stark contrast opposes all abortion except the so-called hard cases. I disagree with him on this, but that means he opposes around 99% of all abortion, while Obama opposes 0% of all abortion. Romney says he will defund PP on abortion. And he certainly does not back infanticide.

    If Obama gets in he will appoint more pro-abortion judges who will be on the bench for decades. If Romney gets in he will not be making such radical appointments. So please tell me again how they are identical on abortion.

    The same of course goes for Israel. Romney supports it while Obama is doing all he can to undermine and destroy it. But I have written plenty of articles here showing how Obama is siding with Israel’s enemies and how he is supporting Islam around the world.

    Sorry, but your rather uniformed comments and your rather foolish moral equivalence really help no one here. As I have said zillions of times now, Romney is not perfect and he is not at all my first choice, but compared to Obama on these issues and so many others, it is a no-brainer who to go for. No one in their right mind – especially anyone claiming to be a Christian – can simply stand by and allow Obama back in. If that is what you want, that is up to you. But you will have to give an account for your decision one day (just as we all will), and you will have to explain to your kids and grandkids why you allowed the evil of Obama to continue.

    Oh, and by the way, why is it that it seems you have a right to speak so authoritatively on these matters, but I somehow don’t?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. As an Aussie, I watch the US election from the sidelines: Both parties are indeed far from perfect – Government has a duty before God to effectively express care for the poor, the sick and society’s most vulnerable. However, that duty ought never to extend to funding the elimination of unborn infants who are denied the choice to live by such actions.

    The economic rationalism of US conservative politics places too much faith in human nature – commerce must submit to the checks and balances of just and honest standards policed by the state. I have no faith in “market forces” to deliver a just society.

    The development of US government policy and practice will affect the future of Australia – Australian policy makers have always obsequiously followed “overseas expertise” and trends in formulating policy in social and education service delivery.

    John Wigg

  6. Well Bill I will make Prophecy now. American’s will be silly enough and morally Bankrupt enough to vote Obama is for a second term. They are already financially and Morally Bankrupted and they instead of seeking for change and changing American fortunes will instead vote for more of the same because they have already become blinkered and cannot see the Forest for the Trees.

    America will ultimately get the President they deserve, not the President that they need. We have to be realists in this matter. America has gone too far down the Immoral Track and have passed the point of no return. Although Satan does not own one inch of a Nation save Men allow Him this has already happened and according to The Book Revelations this has to happen before the Saviour can make his long awaited Second Coming.

    America is now a Moral Basket case because so many of our Christian Brethren felt it better to sit on the fence rather then stand up to fight for their moral beliefs. The Scriptures are replenishment with references to the fact that no Christian or Disciple of Christ should ever compromise on their Moral beliefs, but alack and alas this has already happened and always with greater expediency than ever. The culture that now exist is that the ends justifies the means.

    Christians have been counseled through all Dispensations that they should live in the World but not be of it. Christ stated that Men could not afford to sit on the fence because who was not for Him were against Him. We can’t afford to have one foot in either Camp. Both feet must squarely be in either one Camp or the other there can be no compromise.

    For He who is compelled in all things is a slothful Servant and I will spew Him out of my mouth. It would be much better that a Millstone be hanged around his neck, and he be drowned in the depths of the Sea”

    The majority of America is past caring having sold it’s Soul for a mess of pottage. No more “God bless America because any blessings to this Nation will come from Satan” as too many Americans have chose to be his rather than Christ’s Disciples.

    That is noted with the increased use of the word Xmas instead of Christmas or Christ Mass a celebration of his birth into this mortal World. America has literally taken Christ out of Christmas and everything else relating to Jesus Christ. And they are already ripe for the picking.

    Leigh Stebbins

  7. Thanks Leigh

    I am not as pessimistic and without hope as you appear to be. With God there is always hope. America is certainly in a bad way – all the more reason for God’s people to humble themselves, pray and work for revival and renewal. Who knows, but God might intervene and turn things around? That should be our prayer at least.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  8. Hi Bill, first Anita, maybe we are expressing an opinion but I am sure Bill and others on here strive to express Gods mind in a given situation. Maybe we fail because we are earthen vessels and need that iron sharpens iron, but there are many times I am sure it is more than an opinion.
    Who to vote for, well we don’t live in a perfect world and have to do the best we can with what there is. There was a situation I knew where a friend chose a certain doctor because he was a believer but his condition got much worse. The mans wife a very experienced nurse suggested the doctor look at a certain condition that could be causing the now very serious situation but the doctor refused and the man became a vegetable and they stuck with that doctor out of loyalty. Over a year later out of frustration they asked another non Christian doctor to follow up the wife’s suggestion, he did and as a result they were put on a simple drug and within a week the man was back to normal. This raises the question is it better to go to an incompetent doctor because he is a believer or say to a Muslim Doctor because he is an excellent doctor with a top reputation. I know which one I would chose? We have to do the best we can with what we have, I don’t always like the choices before me but try to be led by the Spirit, sometimes I have been wrong because His choices and wisdom seem foolish, but God gives grace to the humbled.
    Rob Withall

  9. John wrote:

    “The economic rationalism of US conservative politics places too much faith in human nature – commerce must submit to the checks and balances of just and honest standards policed by the state. I have no faith in “market forces” to deliver a just society.”

    This is 100% wrong. It is actually conservatism that places little faith in human nature. Market forces are the mechanism that ‘average out’ human nature and use selfishness and desires by parents to improve the world for their children as motivators for civilised behaviour by connecting performance to wealth creation. If you make less effort, there is less reward, generally, and you and your children will suffer.

    Furthermore, there is no “just and honest standards policed by the state.” Someone in Canberra or Washington can never spend money as efficiently as the owner of that money can. It seems remarkable to me that John acknowledges that human nature is corrupt, but somehow magically that nature is transformed into angelic motivations when those very same people work in government. Not likely!

    The simple fact is this – we are stuck with human nature and either you accept a model which connects success to effort and averages out the combined natures of everybody, OR you are stuck with a small elite who make all the decisions – corrupted by their human nature.

    Just last week I read the short book by Oleg Atbashian called ‘Shakedown Socialism’ which tells of a writer and teacher from Ukraine who at one time was even employed as a propaganda artist for a Communist Party committee in Siberia, but moved to the USA.

    It is an eye-opener, and as someone who personally experienced the ‘we know better’ attitude from government first-hand in the old USSR, he would laugh at such absurdity about the goal to create a “just society”. The idea is impossible, precisely because of the corruption of human nature.

    Capitalism is not perfect, but it is easily the most successful buttress against poverty and economic injustice in the history of the world. No other system comes remotely close. And I would like to make it clear that the government is not the mechanism in God’s eyes by which the poor are meant to be looked after – we are. The Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 clearly points the finger at individuals, not political ideologies. I note that Jesus never mentions who we voted for to supposedly care more for others, but who we clothe, or feed or looked after when sick.

    This is Oleg’s satirical website where he writes under the name of Red Square:

    Mark Rabich

  10. Thanks guys

    Some folks act as if we have no choice here at all: ‘It’s either a Mormon or a Muslim’ they say. But even here there is a real difference. Romney cannot do much to push Mormon theology on the nation. Maybe some of its pro-family values, but that is OK. Obama however can do much to implement the Muslim agenda, by allowing sharia law, creating a dhimmi state in the US, warring against Israel, appeasing the Islamists, etc, etc. So there really is no moral equivalence here at all. Obama can do great damage, while a best, Romney can keep evil at bay for 4 or 8 years.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  11. Thanks, Bill, especially for your thoughtful replies to some of those who have commented.
    Mark, thanks for your answer to John. I couldn’t agree more. Conservatism sees the reality of what human nature is – fallen – and puts policies in place that allow for the best outcome given what human beings are. Libertarians like Ron Paul are clueless about human nature and so create dangerous policies. The Left has the ridiculous problem of deciding to override God-given cause and effect and actually robs what they call the haves to give to what they call the have-nots. This they call social justice. Don’t get me wrong – I and conservatives generally care about supporting the poor. That is why I believe in welfare. But what we don’t want is some left wing government subverting God’s natural order and making the poor rich through government robbery of the middle class and wealthy who have legitimately earned that wealth.
    Angela Parham

  12. I’m in complete agreement on most of what has been written here. Perhaps someone could explain to me where the New Testament says we will come under judgement for not supporting the modern state of Israel (politically I believe we should support them, but that is a different point).

    David Morrison

  13. Some believers say not voting for Romney does not mean they are voting for Obama. That is technically true but practically false. One might as well say, ‘I will not fight against Hitler, but that does not mean I support him’. Yeah right, try telling that to those languishing in concentration camps. To refuse to vote for the only person on the planet who can displace Obama is to side with Obama. Thus the purists are fully complicit with evil, despite all their protests and false righteousness. They are Pharisees pure and simple.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  14. An excellent article on this is here:

    Our wise forefathers, seeing our nation disintegrate before their eyes, did what they did in Philadelphia because it was the only way forward – otherwise they would lose their country. Today, our nation is likewise disintegrating. Whether you like Mitt Romney or not is irrelevant, just as the founders’ attitude toward slavery didn’t deter them from doing what they had to do to save the nation. Electing Romney is simply the only possible way to stop Obama from continuing on as president. Everything else is folly.

    So if, rather than casting your ballot for Romney/Ryan, you vote for a third-party presidential candidate like the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson or the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode, or write in some name like “Jesus” or “God” or “Ron Paul” (I cite these examples since some people are claiming this is how they will cast their vote for president), or if you refuse to vote, you are knowingly contributing to the continued reign of Barack Obama, the most catastrophic president in history, whose actions of late have bordered on treason and who has almost destroyed America in four years and will complete the job in four more.

    As I said at the outset, this is a very close election. Every vote counts. Your vote counts. A few ballots in a few key states next week may well determine the destiny of America for all time.

    God forbid that good people, believing they are honoring God, upholding higher principle and refraining from supporting evil, would be deceived through their own anger and pride into doing the opposite and betraying all that they love.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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