Roy Moore & Sanctifying Ends & Means

Roy Moore (R-AL) is still gripping his GOP senatorial nomination tightly. An additional accuser has come forward and we’ve now learned Moore’s reputation for cruising for teenaged girls earned him a ban from a mall in Gadsden. Fifty Alabama pastors signed* a letter, posted on Kayla Moore’s (Roy’s wife) Facebook page, expressing their support for Moore’s candidacy. The letter states, in part:

We are ready to join the fight and send a bold message to Washington: dishonesty, fear of man, and immorality are an affront to our convictions and our Savior and we won’t put up with it any longer. We urge you to join us at the polls to cast your vote for Roy Moore.

The pastors’ rationale? Primarily, what Moore did as a Supreme Court justice in Alabama, and what he might do as a U.S. Senator. Jerry Falwell, Jr. has doubled-down in his support for Moore. Moore has been endorsed by James Dobson, Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin. So far, none of them have rescinded their endorsements, though that may change quickly.

Roy Moore’s history reveals him to be drawn to lawlessness, even before he was accused of predatory sexual behavior with teenagers. Moore was once removed from the bench in Alabama, and was later suspended from the same post. Both tangles stemmed from Moore’s refusal to abide by federal court rulings–the first time regarding the placement of a Ten Commandments monument in the judicial building, and the second for ordering state officials to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruled the opposite.

Moore’s behavior as Chief Justice in Alabama undermined the rule of law. Just to be clear, I agree with Moore’s frustration and largely agree with his understanding of the law in those two areas. I think the Supreme Court has mis-interpreted the First Amendment when deciding that most governmental displays of the Ten Commandments are unconstitutional. I also agree the Constitution says nothing about marriage, and the Court over-stepped its boundaries when forcing states to define marriage to include same-sex couples.

In his role as a state supreme court judge, Moore was NOT the person to oppose those rulings in those ways. His refusal to abide by federal decisions may have made him a hero in Alabama and to much of the Christian Right, but he sullied his robe in doing so. State courts are bound by federal decisions. To think a state judge should thumb his nose at a federal bench is to court legal chaos. I imagine those who found comfort in Moore’s histrionics would think differently if judges in California or Massachusetts determined the U.S. Supreme Court’s protection of religious free exercise just doesn’t apply within their borders.

There are times and places and people to challenge the Supreme Court. Accepting decisions and abiding by them does not imply agreement. As Justice Frankfurter noted in Cooper v. Aaron, there is a world of difference between criticism and obstruction. If Roy Moore felt unable to comply with the Court’s rulings, because they morally offended him or they were religiously intolerable, he should have resigned and set about working to change them–through constitutional amendment, the appointment of different justices, the impeachment of sitting justices, an alteration of the Court’s appellate jurisdiction, or the slow, gradual persuasion of his fellow citizens that change must happen. His unwillingness to do so, and his decision to flout the law as a sitting judge, made him unfit to hold public office.

Moore’s ascension, endorsements, and defenders remind me of the Spring and Summer of 2016, when Donald Trump’s GOP nomination became inevitable. Conservative contortions, designed to not only defend, but champion, Trump’s most outlandish comments and behavior, must have enriched a generation of chiropractors. Such intellectual torsion and dislocation appears to have had at least short-term consequences.

I have always understood the argument that 2016 provided voters with no good choice, and that voters were forced to hold their nose in support of one candidate or the other. I did not agree with that argument, but I understood it. However, I never understood how Christians could support Trump, and now Moore, by arguing the good that might get done in office would justify the decision to support an immoral candidate devoid of virtue. How many times have we heard:

“Well, we’re not electing a pastor…”

“God uses imperfect people to carry out his will…”

“The stakes are so high…”

“We can’t afford to lose the election…”

All of these rationalizations reveal a disturbing trend in my evangelical brothers and sisters. There is a latent willingness to sanctify any means so long as the end is “good.” After all, look at the stock market, Justice Gorsuch, and, by golly, illegal immigration has gone down.

It is true that God uses evil for his own purposes. The book of Habakkuk illustrates this fully. There is a difference, though, in God’s use of evil to achieve his good and our choice of evil with God’s good in mind. God may have used the Babylonians to punish the Children of Israel, but that is a far cry from holding campaign rallies in support of Nebuchadnezzar.

When given agency, we should always seek to choose what is good and right and just and true to achieve what is good and right and just and true, for goodness, and righteousness, and justice, and truthfulness are honoring to God. We should choose holy means to achieve holy ends.

I understand that politics “ain’t bean bag.” I know that political choices are always imperfect. Compromise is necessary to achieve better ends and perfect policy is the enemy of good policy. Religion speaks to our eternal ideals, while politics drags us into the murky here and now.

At the same time, there must be limits to compromise. There must be things we will not do and will not support, regardless of the “good” that might flow from them. We have to understand how our public choices, as Christians, connect us to people and policies and ideas. We must account for how others view our support of what appears to be wicked. We must always act with the knowledge that the glorification of God is the ultimate end and when our public choices could cause others to question or misunderstand God, we have to take a step back and ask, “what are we doing?” and “why are we doing it?”

In short, we must strive to make sure our means and ends are as holy and blameless as we can make them, even in an imperfect, fallen world. We must, when possible, do what is right for the right reason and then have faith that God will bless, however he chooses, our choices.

With Roy Moore, this isn’t even close. His biggest defense against the allegations seems to have been variations of “Fake News” or “I don’t remember dating her.” A righteous man with no hint of impropriety or no history of this behavior would claim, indignantly, “I am innocent of all charges. I will be bringing lawsuits against the Washington Post and other media outlets for spreading these libelous and slanderous falsehoods.” Roy Moore has said no such things.

Christians have an opportunity to make it clear some things are more important than winning an election. Roy Moore is not worth our support, much less our defense.

*It is possible this letter misrepresents the situation. Some of the pastors are claiming they were not asked to either sign the document or they supported Moore before the allegations and not after. Here is a link with more information.

96 thoughts on “Roy Moore & Sanctifying Ends & Means”

  1. I’m glad you included the asterisk there. As frustrating as it is to see evangelicals give up and fall in line, these pastors apparently had their earlier endorsements, when they supported Moore over Strange, dragged out again as if they were new. Definitely a manipulative thing on the part of the Moore campaign.

    I’ve never understood why this last election was so important that it excused basically any compromise. I’m so sick of being in the minority around other Christians, being the only one to bring up the obvious disagreements we have with this administration and its complete lack of moral grounding- an argument I never thought I would need to have with ‘the moral majority.’ Thank you so much for the posts. I can always count on them to be encouraging and insightful.

  2. “I also agree the Constitution says nothing about marriage, and the Court over-stepped its boundaries when forcing states to define marriage to include same-sex couples.”

    The Constitution says nothing about public education either. Do you feel that the Court overstepped its boundaries when forcing states to define public education as biracial, i.e. as desegregated, so black boys and girls could attend school with white boys and girls?

    Yes or no answer, please.

      1. Thank you.

        So apparently you are OK when the Supreme Court, even though the Constitution says nothing about public education, forced states to desegregate; but NOT OK when the Supreme Court, even though the Constitution says nothing about marriage, forces states to recognize same-sex marriage.

        You have a Ph.D. in Political Science (right?). Where did you learn how to think?

        Sorry–strike that. DID you learn how to think?

        No need to answer that question. With your special pleading in clear view here, the answer is obvious. Thanks again.

        I should point out that your employer was pretty much asleep when Ohio’s African-Americans were suffering from racial discrimination. Back in the early 1960’s, when some of Xenia’s restaurants and bowling allies practiced segregation in violation of Ohio law, Cedarville students and faculty did nothing and left the work of doing the right thing to Antioch, Central State, and Wilberforce students, and even to other students from Indiana, including Earlham College (wonder if JMM mentions that in Social Movements, lol). Glad to see that 2017 at least one member of the Cedarville faculty does not support racial discrimination, thereby representing progress, I guess. All the best.

      2. Jeff, seriously Theo is right.

        Dr. Smith has a logic to his beliefs and displays serious thought. There’s no reason to attack him.

        Also his position is easily defendable, if nothing else there’s a major difference between allowing one group to do something but not another, practically that’s not a real difference in this case but it’s at least a defendable position.

  3. “A righteous man with no hint of impropriety or no history of this behavior would claim, indignantly, “I am innocent of all charges. I will be bringing lawsuits against the Washington Post and other media outlets for spreading these libelous and slanderous falsehoods.” Roy Moore has said no such things.”

    Did you misstate something here because I clearly saw where he was, in fact, threatening to sue the Washington Post. http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/13/politics/roy-moore-washington-post-lawsuit/index.html

    I am not bringing that up to argue the point or say I support him. I don’t. I agree with your analysis of his “jurisprudence”. All I am doing is pointing out that he IS threatening a lawsuit over it when your wording implied he had said nothing about that.

    1. If he follows through on the suit, I would take that into account. We will see. However, he has not denied dating teenage girls and the evidence is mounting. Additionally, the thorough reporting in the Post article cannot be dismissed. They have documented evidence, in the form of testimony, from the women themselves, friends of the women, and parents. If this were fabricated, a whole group of people would have to be in on it.

      1. So I have to ask this. Is that actually how you would respond if you were in the situation?

        Clearly denying the allegations in the strongest terms and saying that you would never do such a thing regardless of the circumstances is a good idea. It’s the lawsuit I’m questioning. I don’t think I’d even threaten a lawsuit. It’s of course hard to say for sure how I’d react though.

    1. Jeff–I don’t know enough about Jones, his opponent, to say for sure. However, I would be fine either not voting or casting a vote for Jones is he is a suitable alternative–again, I just cannot say about him.

  4. I really appreciate how you added in , “we must account for how others view our support of what appears to be wicked. We must always act with the knowledge that the glorification of God is the ultimate end and when our public choices could cause others to question or misunderstand God, we have to take a step back and ask, “what are we doing?” and “why are we doing it?””.
    It is so important that we take into account how the opposing side feels. As a Christian, I believe in absolute truths, but that doesn’t discount the fact that other people are going to have their own opinions. We need to make sure that we are careful with how we explain our position and support only those who are going to well represent Truth.

    Thank you for this post and the insight. It was all very well said.

  5. I think this goes to show that we cannot vote and support someone just because of the political party with which they are affiliated. I think most Americans simply look at the party come election day and vote based on that alone. They do not bother to find out anything about the person’s policies or personal beliefs that affect them. Just because someone says they are a Republican, it does not mean that they agree with every ideal of the party. For instance, maybe a candidate agrees entirely with the Republican party, but is pro-choice when it comes to abortion, but they still are placed on the Republican ticket. If pro-life or pro-choice is not a major enough issue to change your vote, than his belief has not really affect how you would vote. But if being pro-choice is a HUGE deal for you as a voter, you would not want to throw your support behind him, no matter what his other beliefs are. If you don’t know what all your candidates stand for, you may inadvertently vote in a candidate with whom you have major disagreements. We really must put an effort in to learning more about our candidates positions.

  6. I think that this post does an excellent job at outlining the fact that there is more to a candidate than their party affiliation. I would view myself as a conservative Republican, but after reading the testimonies of what Roy Moore has done, I do not think I could support him if I lived in Alabama. This is just another example of how sinful of a world that we live in, and about how much we need Jesus in our lives.

  7. The Roy Moore case is yet another example of a seemingly good (or at least okay) public figure suddenly being forced to reckon with his sins of the past. His direct disregard for governmental orders is not biblical even though some of the evangelical right may have loved it. Taking down the Ten Commandments from a public building and recognizing the legal marriage of two people of the same gender are not directly forcing one to sin- therefore he had no right to do such things. We would like to keep God’s commands ever present in our minds while attempting to enforce justice and homosexual actions are sinful, but neither command from the White House force Mr. Moore or any other Alabaman into sin.

    That said, he had no business being a judge in the first place without at least serving time for his disgusting acts. Moore has a known history of sexually pursuing teenage girls- it is honestly surprising that he has made it to the current election he is in without some sort of significant backlash already. His acts are vile and he should be removed from public office until the entirety of what he did is brought to light and he pays the penalty for it.

    No matter what, we will always be forced to reckon between sinners in an election. We can only inform ourselves about the candidate’s positions, bathe the vote in prayer and anxiously await Christ’s return.

  8. Theophilus,

    What do I hope to gain from this?

    That is a strange question.

    I thought this was supposed to be a discussion. Who said anything about “gaining” anything?

    What strikes me here is Dr. Smith’s intellectual dishonesty. He should be honest and claim that the real reason he is against same-sex marriage is not because marriage is not in the Constitution and should therefore not even be discussed by the Supreme Court in the first place; but because he personally believes that same-sex marriage is wrong (even though that issue is not even raised in the Bible).

    I am calling him on his intellectual dishonesty. I successfully did. He is trying to hide his bigotry behind something else.

    Is intellectual dishonesty a sin? I think it is.

    Is bigotry a sin? I think it is. So does Professor Smith, to a small degree. For him it depends on which individuals are being discriminated against. He is apparently AGAINST racial discrimination but FOR discrimination.

    If he lives long enough, he will likely change his mind, just like evangelical Christians did when it came to civil rights. They were the ones MOST AGAINST civil rights for African-Americans. But now they have changed their tune. They will again.

    Does this answer your question?

    1. I think discussions are great…..as long as it goes both ways. You required a binary answer from Dr. Smith (“yes or no answer, please”), but then took the liberty of explaining for him what he “apparently” (you used that word several times) believes on the matter; even going so far as to predict his future thinking and decision making…wowza. I am no where near as smart as you say you are, but I think of discussions as kind of a back and forth, a “this is where I’m coming from; can you clarify your position”, a seeking to hear something different than my own opinion, that kind of thing…..

      You are doing a lot of things here, but having a discussion isn’t one of them.

    2. Jeff–I hope you are well.
      I don’t have the time to answer your charges fully. However, I will provide some links to previous posts I have written that touch on these issues. I think the positions are defensible, obviously, or I would not have written the posts.
      http://bereansatthegate.com/gay-marriage-where-do-we-go/
      http://bereansatthegate.com/gay-rights-religious-liberty-atlanta-fire-department/
      http://bereansatthegate.com/let-them-bake-cakes-part-1/
      http://bereansatthegate.com/let-them-bake-cakes-part-2/
      http://bereansatthegate.com/let-them-bake-cakes-part-3-the-constitution-matters-right/

      None of these hit the issue squarely, but I think they make the argument relatively clear. The biggest difference between the Brown v. Board and Obergefell decisions involve the context of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was drafted to deal with state-driven discrimination against African-Americans. The Court has had to engage in massive mental gymnastics to connect the Fourteenth Amendment to gay rights and same-sex marriage. The Court did it, of course, but it had to string together so much legal doctrine that got so far removed from the text that it amounted to an assertion of political will as opposed to constitutional reasoning.
      Beyond that, my views are not marginal or out of the mainstream of most conservative thinkers today, including at least four members of the current US Supreme Court. We can disagree on constitutional principles without being bigoted. Of course, if you are convinced that anyone who does not view the Constitution in progressive terms is bigoted and pro-discrimination, that is your prerogative.
      Before God, I am to use my mind and to honor him while doing so publicly. Even when I make mistakes using my mind, I am called to treat those I disagree with admirably. I do the best I can on those fronts, but I am admittedly fallen and flawed as I do so.

      1. Jeff, you’d do well to learn to leave well enough alone, and to adopt a more respectful and gracious tone. I get weary of reading your comments, and these most recent ones pretty much take the cake.

      2. “The biggest difference between the Brown v. Board and Obergefell decisions involve the context of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was drafted to deal with state-driven discrimination against African-Americans. The Court has had to engage in massive mental gymnastics to connect the Fourteenth Amendment to gay rights and same-sex marriage.”

        The Constitution in general and the 14th amendment in particular are color-blind. The Amendment was written to endure long after the abolition of slavery.

        May I remind you that starting less than a decade after the amendment was ratified that it was already being applied by the Supreme Court to address, among other things, the rights of corporation–which had next to nothing to do with the rights of African-Americans?

        May I also remind you that the same kind of reasoning you employed above was also employed by conservatives such as Rehnquist when it came to Brown v Board? Rehnquist actually agreed with Plessy v Ferguson’s reasoning, which explains in part why Nixon held him in such high regard.

        You have not convinced me that your viewing of Obergefell is based on deeply-held constitutional principles. I see social conservatism (and NOT biblical standards) as the foundation of your views. I admit that I may be wrong, as I often am.

        Please accept my apologies for being less than gracious earlier.

    3. Jeff, Kristi is right… what you are doing here is NOT discussion. You are looking for excuses to malign and impugn. You are not looking for a real discussion.

      I am not going to get into yet another back and forth on you two common argumentum ad nauseam subject. Suffice it to say there is no intellectual dishonesty in Dr. Smith. You…? Not so sure.

      1. Yes, Nathan, he IS being intellectually dishonest. Or at least he was.

        Did you not see how he changed what he said after he said it?

        Did you not see the special pleading? I am assuming you know what special pleading is.

        No one made him write what he wrote. If he cannot handle criticism, then he should stay off in the internet. That said, I think he CAN handle himself just fine. Despite his special pleading he is still the best writer here. He does not need you to defend him.

      2. “Did you not see how he changed what he said after he said it?”

        No – Dr. Smith’s views on this matter have been well documented in the past. He has said nothing that contradicts or changes anything he has claimed previously.

        “Did you not see the special pleading? I am assuming you know what special pleading is.”

        No, because it wasn’t special pleading and Yes I know what special pleading is. It is your OPINION that Brown and Obergefell are the same thing. It is Dr. Smith’s (and mine) that they are not. You are free to disagree with that opinion all you want, but it doesn’t give you license to attack someones intelligence or integrity.

        And yes, Dr. Smith is quite capable of defending himself and yes he can handle himself quite well. Doesn’t mean others have to just stand by and do nothing.

  9. In many ways, this is the sour side of the apple we’ve asked for. We, as Christians, want to see evil brought into the open and rightly punished, but we have a seeming aversion to it when the evil pops up on our side. Part of the difference between Moore and Trump is their statements on faith. Trump’s claim to true salvation at dubious at best, and I think Christians took that into account when they casted their vote. Moore is claiming very strongly to be a born-again believer, which should subject him to a higher degree of scrutiny for Christians.

  10. I’ve come to a point in my life where my political choices have grown increasingly separated from my moral views. In other words, I care more about a candidates professional career and qualifications than I do about their personal history. However, I am aware that may be a result of the political environment I was raised in: my first presidential decision was Hillary or Trump. All that being said, Moore has two problems in my opinion. The immoral actions he has been accused of are also crimes, and he has not performed professionally as a judge. Due to those two things, I couldn’t support him, but that is for the people of Alabama, not some distant observer, to decide.

  11. Thank you, Dr. Smith. One of your best posts here. I have been encouraged by similar responses from Russell Moore, Al Mohler, and other mainstream evangelical voices.

    Right now, I’m listening to the press conference organized by various supporters of Roy Moore, including many of the pastors who signed the original document Mrs. Moore used to misrepresent current support for Moore. Most are falling in line. And they are doing so for reasons they consider to be “Christian.” And they are characterizing Moore (and themselves) as a victim of the media, the “liberal agenda,” etc.

    What is the way forward? Is there one? Are we witnessing crossroads moment in American Christianity? Or a bump in the road?

    1. Evangelical Christianity has been going down this road for a while. They supported George Wallace pretty strongly too.

      The crossroads were passed a long time ago, I am afraid.

  12. I see the argument that Dr. Smith is making here, and I agree that his position is well-defended and logical. However, my own personal experience in watching previous elections shows me that Christians are being forced to choose the lesser of two evils more and more.

    Example: both Trump and Clinton were immoral and unethical candidates for the White House. However, at the end of the day every citizen (especially Christians, who have a higher responsibility to support Godly candidates) had to choose the candidate they saw as the least evil/immoral/unethical. The same can be said for Moore and Jones. People in Alabama will have to choose the candidate they see as the least of two evils.

    The line between Christianity and politics is becoming increasingly blurred in America. Yes, it is true that there is no authority except the one established by God. God allowed this last election to come down to Clinton v. Trump. At the end of the day though, was there really a candidate that was godly? Was there really a candidate that a Christian could look at and say without hesitation “I support and agree with this candidate?” I’d argue that the answer was no.

    1. To say that Christians were forced to choose between Trump and Clinton is to completely ignore the primaries, where Christians glommed onto Trump for whatever reason when there were plenty of choices.

      1. Vader, you make a good point, and I do agree with that sentiment to an extent. However, Christians (and by that I mean true, born-again, practicing believers, not people who simply use the title ‘Christian’) are a minority in American politics. You are correct that some practicing Christians voted for Trump in the primary, but let’s make a scenario. Let’s say that every practicing Christian voted for a single candidate. The race would have been tighter, no doubt, but I am fully confident that Trump still would have won the primary, and we’d still be forced to make the choice between Clinton and Trump.

      2. Right Andrew, but the problem you then face is whether Trump is an acceptable compromise. At some point a candidate is so different from what you believe that it is counterproductive to vote for them. By this I mean that if you were to vote for someone who didn’t even pretend to care about your view, what you are telling that political party is that they do not need to worry about your view anymore: You will vote for anyone they put on the ballot out of fear of the other side. Functionally then, no one is actually looking out for your view anymore.

      3. Theophilus, you make an excellent point. I see what Vader was getting out now that you’ve kind of rephrased it. I see the validity behind that statement and it makes good sense.

      4. “Christians,” you mean.

        Christians, no.

        For the record, Jerry Falwell, Jr, is about as close to the prototype false prophet as I can imagine. Anyone connected with Liberty University should be ashamed.

      5. Jeff, there you go again thinking you have the final say in whether someone is a true Christian. There will be many Trump voters who will make it to heaven and many who won’t. There will be many Clinton voters who get there as well, and many who will not.

        “Christians”, no.

        Christians, yes.

    2. Vader, speaking for myself, I voted in the Republican primary for a candidate besides Donald Trump (Marco Rubio) even when it was basically a done deal that he would win the nomination at that point, then voted for him in the general election because I saw it as either him or Secretary Clinton being the next President and had to pick the least bad choice from my perspective.

      1. When I vote for someone I am not blindly stamping my approval on 100% of that person’s agenda otherwise I would never be able to vote save for Jesus himself. What would Mrs Clinton have done with taxes and finance. Probably what you wanted and stuck it to the rich even more. Let’s see what the finished bill is before we discuss the details.

  13. What caught my attention in this article was the “ends justifies the means” section. I personally struggle with this in my life often. Is something that I do that I think will ultimately lead to a worthy goal worth a few less ideal actions? I am a pragmatic person and I would like to say “yes” but as this article discusses, I don’t think my natural tendency is in line with the Biblical one.

    This also connects to a question that I have wondered about often: to what extent should we consider our political duty separate from our Christian faith? If Dr. Smith is advocating for not bowing to a political system that is against our faith, then maybe he isn’t giving Mr. Moore the credit he deserves for his “rebellious’ actions. I might have missed something in the article, but this is something I was curious about. I guess Dr. Smith is just focusing on the probability that Mr. Moore’s sexual allegations are true, which would point to someone who is self-serving, bringing into question the validity of his former actions.

  14. Are you pro-abortion? It is a central political concern in this election. Seems like this isn’t an ends versus means issue at all.

    1. Did you read this comment before you posted it?

      Or are you suggesting that stopping abortion (the end) justifies voting for someone who might be otherwise a very bad choice (the means)? Seems like this is an ends versus means issue to you.

  15. While I completely agree with not compromising your values just because you want to get your party’s candidate voted in, I honestly don’t know if I feel that not voting for anyone is a correct action. Considering once you are in the general election, you are going to be stuck with one of the candidates. Because of that, I feel that you should vote for the one that represents more of your beliefs. But I also can totally see the other side of that argument.

    1. AJ you’re absolutely right. So which belief is the lesser evil? That sexual harassment and sleeping with underage girls is okay. Or that women should have access to abortion.

      That’s what it comes down to. Too often people will try to segregate personal beliefs from political beliefs, but if you elect a rapist then it’s still a vote for rape regardless of that politician’s other views, and they might even be inclined to pass laws that lessen their own crimes.

      1. Does picking one mean you condone one? Rape in one case or murder in another? What sins should disqualify candidates and which should be forgiven enough to allow a vote for that candidate? It’s not meant to be a simple question. I think one principle to guide a vote is if sin from the past still affects the person’s character in the present. With Moore I couldn’t be sure it does not still. Thankfully I do not live in Alabama to have to decide.

  16. I really like what you said above, “We should choose holy means to achieve holy ends.” That is so true, because as Christians, we are called to to holy just as our Father is holy. It is difficult to know when we shouldn’t do certain things or vote for certain people, but it seems very obvious here that we should not vote for Mr. Moore. Thank you talking about this, because I am sure that this situation will come up many more times in the future.

  17. Roy Moore has been known to achieve things in the wrong ways, seemingly following “the ends justify the means”. With the additions of these recent news, as well as a week defense against these allegations, I am not surprised that current endorsers of his campaign are considering to rescind their endorsements. As Christians, we must remember that the way things are accomplished are as important as the accomplishments themselves.

  18. While I agree that we need to be very careful about what the people that we support politically say about our values, this leaves me with the question of how do we vote? Clearly all politicians are fallen individuals. We will never find a perfect leader that will make exclusively Biblical decisions. Does this mean that we should not support them, despite certain flaws? In questioning this, I am not referring to obviously criminal acts or unauthorized behavior like Moore’s, but I do think that often times, it is necessary to choose the lesser of two evils in order to carry out our civic duty. To me, supporting a candidate is not equivalent to claiming them as ideal. Realistically, our political system forces us to choose from a very limited pool of candidates, so it is our duty to elect the BEST representative, not necessarily the PERFECT one, as difficult as that might be for us sometimes. What is important is to not support them so radically that we adopt their opinions as our own. We must continue to differentiate ourselves personally from our political choices. I find it very irritating that it is so common these days to lump groups of people together by the people that they support, labelling them disdainfully as “Trump supporters”, for example. This generalization deliberately ignores the spectrum of different perspectives within the group and throws people’s perceived credibility out the window through stereotyping.

    1. It is incorrect to assume that one must choose between the lesser of two evils.

      There are other alternatives.

      Choosing not to vote for either candidate.
      A write-in vote.

      There, that’s two.

      1. I feel that choosing not to vote would not give you the right to be upset with the outcome. If you chose to vote third party or write-in I can respect that. My personal feelings were that only Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton had a chance to win, meaning one of the two were going to be President absent some wacky scenario where Utah went third party and both fell short of 270 leaving the house to vote and them picking McMullen (I think he’s the one), but that was very, very far fetched. So I saw it as either Trump or Clinton would be President and had to pick which one I thought would leave the country in better shape. I can respect your thinking on how to vote though, I just have a different perspective in that I don’t see the point in voting for a candidate with no chance to win.

      2. “I just have a different perspective in that I don’t see the point in voting for a candidate with no chance to win.”

        In the general election anyway. The primary allows to voice without repercussions. I voted for Marco Rubio but if Ted Cruz had still had a chance to win at that stage I would have voted for him as he was the last one capable of beating Trump in the primary before it was over.

    2. Hope,

      You’re absolutely right we are forced to choose the lesser of two evils way too often. I think the most important thing is to not choose the greater evil, I know nothing about Moore’s opponent but I can guarantee that Moore is the greater of the two evils. But more importantly by making it clear that you won’t support such an immoral character you put pressure on him to drop out completely and can avoid this situation in the future.

      If evangelicals had made it clear that they would not support Trump even if that meant 4 years of Clinton, do you really think he would have stuck around for the general election? Pence might be president now, or Cruz, or who knows. Honestly Trump was the only candidate with a chance of losing to Clinton so the Republicans could have put up a rock with a smile drawn on it and that would have won.

      1. “I know nothing about Moore’s opponent but I can guarantee that Moore is the greater of the two evils.”

        This gives me problems knowing his opponent is pro-choice. Would you guarantee murder being lesser of an evil than sexual assault?

      2. That’s quite the oversimplification. Do you see Congress passing a constitutional amendment banning abortion? Do you see any changes in abortion law happening in the next six years? I do not, so the fact that his opponent is happy with the law as it stands today, practically speaking means nothing.

  19. “His refusal to abide by federal decisions may have made him a hero in Alabama and to much of the Christian Right, but he sullied his robe in doing so.”

    conservative Christian’s respect for the rule of law/fidelity to the function of government in light of their religious views will increasingly clash. To be ideologically consistent they can not contort the law/position to uphold their religion. They must recognize when they are unfit for their specific office and find a new way to carry on in a role that is conducive to their religious priorities.

    1. He knows what it is, he just sees Dr Smith’s comments not fitting that criteria and you do. You can disagree without being absolute. I doubt he is feeling much loss that he doesn’t meet your definition of the term.

    2. Yes, Jeff, I DO know what special pleading is.

      Special Pleading: “argument in which the speaker deliberately ignores aspects that are unfavorable to their point of view.” or “Appeals to give a particular interest group special treatment.”

      Just because you think something is special pleading that I do not does not mean I do not understand what it is. You would do well to rid yourself of the elitist attitude that has become far to common in liberal academic circles which is the assumption that if one does not agree with you on something, they do not understand what it is or else they would.

  20. It bothers me on both sides of this argument that we start labeling people as false Christians simply because of their voting preference. There are many reasons why Christians may have chosen to vote for either candidate and certainly many reasons why not to vote for either. It depends on what issues you give greater importance to and what role you see a person’s personal life having in their governance. The ultimate judge of a person’s faith is God, not man.

  21. Dr. Smith,

    You were asked a few days ago about Roy Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones. In particular, you were asked if you would vote for him (if you could–obviously since you do not live in Alabama, you can’t).

    You said you needed to look into him first before you could say.

    Jones, after all, was the attorney who prosecuted the Klansmen who bombed a church building and killed four African-American girls (murdered while at a place of worship, yes). He seems, at least when it comes to race and to integrity, to be the complete opposite of Moore.

    Would you vote for him, if you could?

    1. “Jones, after all, was the attorney who prosecuted the Klansmen who bombed a church building and killed four African-American girls (murdered while at a place of worship, yes).”

      This alone is supposed to be an end all to vote for someone?

      1. Did I SAY this? Of course not.

        Why you are answering a question posed to someone else?

        I asked Professor Smith, not you.

      2. Jeff, I think this is the second time you have taken a comment phrased as a question by Daniel and twisted it to make it seem like he was putting words in your mouth.

        And do you answer questions posed to others? Yes.

      3. “Did I SAY this? Of course not.
        Why you are answering a question posed to someone else?
        I asked Professor Smith, not you.”

        As Nathan said, I was asking you a question. This is a blog run by the Bereans, Jeff. Open discussion is encouraged unless the Bereans say otherwise. If you have a question that you only want Dr Smith to see and answer I’m sure you would be free to e-mail him. You need to chill out a bit.

    2. Jones is pro-abortion. Does prosecuting criminal Klansmen override your “most pro-life” claims? Would you vote for him if you could?

      BTW: Jeff Sessions prosecuted klansmen for crimes as well but you loath his existence, so why should one criminal prosecution, as Daniel asked, be the end all of deciding who to vote for?

      1. Looking into this it seems he said it jokingly over 30 years ago. Not a very sensitive or well thought comment, but also not representative of his actual beliefs. I know I joke about things that are probably not fully appropriate at times, but not in a fashion not meant to be serious at all. My true views are not being represented. To those who know me they know I am joking and it is not representative of my actual views and they are not offended or taken aback. I’m sure that is the case for all at some point and also in this instance. Sessions has clearly shown there is no place for racism.

      2. How exactly was I being uncalm? I can assure you, I am perfectly calm and was perfectly calm when I wrote what I wrote. You ask if I understand? Here is what I understand… Since you have no way of knowing my state of mind or whether I am calm or not you can just sit around and continually declare I am not calm as an excuse not to answer the question I posed. Cheap dodge.

        Here is what happened…

        Dr. Smith was unsure whether Jones was a valid alternative because he did not know much about him.

        You responded by bringing up Jones’s prosecution of klansmen and then asked Dr. Smith if he would vote for him. The obvious implication was that this piece of information made you so inclined, or that you felt it was pertinent to Dr. Smith’s decision.

        I responded with two things: one, pointing out that Jones is pro-abortion and knowing that you consistently claim to be the “most pro life person on this blog” asked you whether the klan prosecution overrode your pro-life stance.

        I then mentioned that Jeff Sessions also prosecuted clansmen and noted that you despise him, the point being that prosecuting klansmen is obviously NOT a deal maker for you.

        Nothing uncalm about this, and really quite lethargic compared to your recent comments on this very discussion threat.

      3. Jeff Adams said:

        “Jones, after all, was the attorney who prosecuted the Klansmen who bombed a church building and killed four African-American girls (murdered while at a place of worship, yes). He seems, at least when it comes to race and to integrity, to be the complete opposite of Moore”

        Just came across this article:
        http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/11/22/alabama-senate-hopeful-doug-jones-defended-man-with-ties-to-kkk-holocaust-deniers.html

        Jones has also defended at least one man with ties to the klan and holocaust deniers.

  22. I found this to be a really interesting, thought provoking article. I agree with basically all that you said in terms of being weary of who we vote for, and seeking holy means and ends and all of that. However that being said, I am unsure what I would do if I was put in a position like this, and I don’t think that not voting for either candidate would be the best option.

  23. I was frustrated during the last election that some people were so willing to totally excuse Trump’s flaws because of all the good he could do in office. I know there will never be a perfect candidate, but I don’t believe I need to or should support candidates with serious character issues just because they have the potential to accomplish good things.

  24. I think a plausible, not ideal perhaps, option for the Alabama senate race is if Roy Moore is elected, McConnell has said there will immediately be an ethics investigation. If he is guilty they can expel him and the governor can appoint a new senator. If he is not guilty then all is good. This mainly allows the time crunch between now and the special election to be less an issue.

  25. Politicians should not be able to escape the crimes they have committed. Humans are not perfect, and we need to remember not to put our faith in them.

  26. This is rather convicting. After all, so many of my friends and I supported Donald Trump in the election for the exact reasons that you stated. I claimed that I was backing him because by not doing so I felt as thought I was supporting Hillary Clinton. I also figured that maybe he could do some “good” things for our country. However, neither candidate could or would now be described as a God-fearing and God-honoring individual. And yet, I felt my actions were justified. It is difficult in this day and age where morals are skewed and political lines are held so dear to one’s identity to figure out a Christian’s place in all of this. After all even Christians were divided on which candidate, if any, evangelicals should have voted for last year. This post really gave me a lot to think about. It has made me realize that I need to remember to take my thoughts before the Lord and weigh them against His Word before I act on them or try and persuade others to behave likewise.

  27. Very well thought out article. The argument of “ends justify the means” is one that has cropped up during recent times. I agree that even though Moore may have been fighting for a good cause, he shouldn’t have gone about it in a way that undermines the law. This is just one example of this taking place. Christians must do what is right and for the right reasons. Moore seems to go directly against and I wouldn’t support him, regardless of party.

  28. These are the things that make being a Christian, and being politically educated very difficult for me; and I commend those who are. I keep thinking back to the fact that in the Bible it tells us that we are to respect the government leaders that are before us, as governments are an institution designed by God. I still, however, need to find biblical principle to guide my voting strategy in times like the 2016 presidential election that Dr. Smith eluded to. How does a Christian who desires to be biblical in his voting and political engagement, handle that situation. Dr. Smith, being as you are much more biblically knowledgable than I am, if you have any insight, please let me know.

  29. If what he did is true, Moore should not hold any office. To me, i does not matter what political views he has. If he is innocent, he should be able to run.

  30. I think one of the most intriguing parts of the post was the mentioning about Jones’ refusal to abide with a federal courts’ decision. Yes the inner Christian Right within in me does agree with his refusal, however, as the article stated there are and always will be better ways to go about handling such issues. The way the article proposed such things was well put. I also thought it interesting towards the end how the author included that it is important if Roy Moore is innocent of all such charges that he should go forth and proclaim his innocence and seek ways to negate such damages that articles have stated, however, he has done no such thing. Thus, I think it is interesting that the only card he has played is that he does not remember them. All in all, it is an unfortunate situation in which the one who was representing a majority of people has too unfortunately fallen into a sin. Yet a reminder for all of us to be of above reproach in our interactions with all and show a genuine Christ-like love, not a love of a different kind.

  31. While I agree that we should be conscientious of why we vote for who we vote for, I think that you may be exaggerating a little bit. I see what you mean with “we must strive to make sure that our ends and means are as holy and blameless as we can make them,” and I totally agree with that. However, I don’t quit agree with you when you discuss voting for someone like Moore and Trump. I also agree with you about not holding campaign rallies for Nebuchadnezzar, but there’s a pretty big difference between him and someone like Trump. While I agree with most of what you said, I do believe that you may have over exaggerated a little with this post.

  32. I believe that this goes to show that we cannot vote and support someone just because of the political party with which they are affiliated. Most people when they come to voting simply go with whose in their party and their party is who their parents party was. They do not bother to find out anything about the person’s policies or personal beliefs that affect them. Now it does not benefit us as voters to research everything about every poletician because our vote does not impact the outcome as a whole enough where we should be informed. That being said to simply stand by your party because it is the party you vote for is crazy! It also bothers me on both sides of this argument that we start labeling people as false Christians simply because of their voting preference. Now being for abortion goes against being a Christian but should we belittle Christians for being liberal because the liberals take the stance of pro choice?

  33. I believe that this goes to show that we cannot vote and support someone just because of the political party with which they are affiliated. Most people when they come to voting simply go with whose in their party and their party is who their parents party was. They do not bother to find out anything about the person’s policies or personal beliefs that affect them. Now it does not benefit us as voters to research everything about every politician because our vote does not impact the outcome as a whole enough where we should be informed. That being said to simply stand by your party because it is the party you vote for is crazy! It also bothers me on both sides of this argument that we start labeling people as false Christians simply because of their voting preference. Now being for abortion goes against being a Christian but should we belittle Christians for being liberal because the liberals take the stance of pro choice?

  34. I sincerely hope Christian leaders in Alabama walk back their endorsement of Moore. I understand his stances are right when it comes to Christian standards, but I don’t think he went about it the right way. These new allegations make it further difficult to support this man.

  35. The seemingly continual stream of misconduct allegations are just revealing that even though we hold politicians to a higher standard, perhaps we should not. We are all fallen creatures, but when someone in the public eye falls, his or her fall is harder and more public than the rest of us. Perhaps rather than just looking at the political standing of the person, voters should look at the morals and behaviors before casting a ballot.

  36. I loved the part that said, ” step back and ask, “what are we doing?” and “why are we doing it?” In short, we must strive to make sure our means and ends are as holy and blameless as we can make them, even in an imperfect, fallen world. We must, when possible, do what is right for the right reason and then have faith that God will bless, however he chooses, our choices.” No matter what party someone is in, we need to take a step back and be a good steward with the resources we have. We need to learn what the most holy and blameless decision would be, and then trust God with the ultimate choice that we as an American citizen makes.

  37. I do think God looks at our heart when we make decisions like, “why are we doing it?” I think that if I am not worshiping God in my actions and choices, I am consequently worshiping the enemy. If a Christian voted for Hillary Clinton because they thought that was the most God-glorifying choice they could make, then that is a good choice in my opinion. Same goes for voting for Donald Trump, or not voting at all. It is important, however, to make votes based off of God-glorifying facts. It is ok to vote for someone who disagrees on openhanded things but I have a hard time agreeing with someone who supports a candidate who does not hold true to their morals.

  38. I completely agree that when confronting Christians throughout the 2016 election, I’m not sure that 100% of the vote decisions they made were biblical, or at least not their rationalizations for their reasoning.
    Yes, there will always be corruption and dirty things done in politics, and everywhere for that matter. However, this does not give us reason to fully endorse the “best and only option” just because their views align somewhat with ours – regardless of what the stakes are.

  39. I agree with Smith’s stand on the election of Moore. As Christians, we need to be able to strike a balance between voting for a good Senator or for a bad person. Sometimes trades are made that we may not like, but that we have to make. Each Christian had to look at Hillary who has had a history of lying and destroying the reputations of women who slept with her husband between Trump who has had affairs and all sorts of very disturbing and sinful comments about women. It is tough to be a Christian and to be involved in politics. But when there are situation’s like Moore’s it should be a clear choice not to support him. We need to take stands wherever we can to show how our morals influence everything in our lives.

  40. This is a very informational piece, thank you for taking the time to write!

    I do find it interesting that society tends to ignore flaws and make excuses to support them, as presented above. On the other hand, I do not feel we need to focus on the flaws. We also need to see the good in the candidate and choose based on both sides.

  41. I think it is harder as Christians to vote for leaders because the morals of the candidate are tested right along side their leadership capabilities. This past election many viewed their decision as picking between the “lesser of two evils.” This article is interesting because it shows that we have to seriously evaluate our choices when choosing new leadership.

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