Friday, September 05, 2008

Two Kinds of "One-Issue Voting"

We’ve struggled this election year with resolving the “one issue” voter behavior in our lives. Most of us are one-issue voters if we like it, yet we find ourselves pressing against it because we don’t want to narrow Christian concern to just one or two issues (i.e. abortion). War, poverty, environment, etc are also things we should be concerned about. Consequently, we’ve been resistant against being forced into a box just because we Christians. There are two ways to look at “one-issue” voting. (The second was just brought to our attention.) The first is this: that because a person is “pro-life” (for example), he or she should be elected. The second is a different kind of logic. It speaks not of what qualifies someone, but what issue(s) automatically DISqualify a person. I recently read an essay by John Piper entitled, One-Issue Politics, One-Issue Marriage, and the Humane Society. Because he’s more articulate than we, we’ll let him speak for himself. The whole article is online.

No endorsement of any single issue qualifies a person to hold public office. Being pro-life does not make a person a good governor, mayor, or president. But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office. For example, any candidate who endorsed bribery as a form of government efficiency would be disqualified, no matter what his party or platform was. Or a person who endorsed corporate fraud (say under $50 million) would be disqualified no matter what else he endorsed. Or a person who said that no black people could hold office—on that single issue alone he would be unfit for office. Or a person who said that rape is only a misdemeanor—that single issue would end his political career. These examples could go on and on. Everybody knows a single issue that for them would disqualify a candidate for office.

It's the same with marriage. No one quality makes a good wife or husband, but some qualities would make a person unacceptable. For example, back when I was thinking about getting married, not liking cats would not have disqualified a woman as my wife, but not liking people would. Drinking coffee would not, but drinking whiskey would. Kissing dogs wouldn't, but kissing the mailman would. And so on. Being a single-issue fiancé does not mean that only one issue matters. It means that some issues may matter enough to break off the relationship.

So it is with politics. You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It's simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those…

…These reflections have confirmed my conviction never to vote for a person who endorses such an evil—even if he could balance the budget tomorrow and end all taxation.”

We ALL have our issue(s) that would automatically disqualify someone in our minds. If abortion is not one of them, then it would seem that we rank child murder (i.e. abortion) as less important than other issues. Granted, I know that other things matter, but we’re becoming aware that the weariness of hearing the abortion debate (that is, “I’m so tired of hearing about abortion”) is no reason to push it to the side. “Do not grow weary in doing good…” (Galatians 6:9)

For a lot of helpful information on the issue, check out:

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