Post-Election 2012: Sex, Race, Evangelicalism, and the Future


A week ago, we as a nation were set to decide several important political outcomes. A week later, those outcomes are decided, with the clearest message of all being that Evangelical Christians were repudiated convincingly at the polls. Whatever hubris existed in that voting bloc at the time of the 2000 elections has been wiped away, possibly forever, in the wake of the elections of 2012.

I wrote some initial thoughts on the 2012 election last week (“The 2012 Election Results and What They Mean for ‘Evangelical Christian America'”), but I wanted to throw out more musings and questions for those of us who are Bible-believing Christians who vote conservative.

  • Rod Dreher may have prophesied when he addressed the same-sex marriage issue. Absolutely read this: “SSM, Social Conservatives, & The Future.” The gist of Dreher’s contention is that social conservatives (Christian, in particular), have lost the battle against same-sex marriage (and other “traditional values” issues). He believes this will force the Republican Party to move center-left if it wants to compete politically. I believe Dreher is correct, which means a GOP/Evangelical divorce in the future or a weakening of Evangelicals on issues of abortion, same-sex marriage, and so on—and possibly both.
  • 2012 Electoral Vote Map Adjusted for Population

    2012 Electoral Vote Map Adjusted for Population

    While the election was close by popular vote, it was not by electoral college vote. Not only this, but it shows a country divided by the following:

Urban vs. Suburban/Rural

All Other Races vs. Whites

Women vs. Men

Younger vs. Older

Liberal vs. Conservative

In every pairing, the group on the left sided with the majority of winners.

  • The vote of women decided this election, for the most part (but see below). And with the popular vote in four states approving same-sex marriage, it raises the question of whether women, as a whole, are less negative concerning lesbianism as men are of male homosexuality. It would appear so. (Witness the election of lesbian Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin to the Senate, for instance.) In addition, this outcome begs for clarification on whether women are more likely to desire same-sex marriage for themselves than men are. If so, the only way to prevent further erosion of traditional family values is to appeal to women.
  • One “truth” we are always told is that Hispanic and Asian cultures are both strongly pro-family, largely allying with Evangelicals in rejecting the liberal social reconstruction agenda. The results from Election 2012 violate that supposed bromide. The question is whether the strong support Barack Obama received is the prioritization among Hispanics and Asians of a racial minority mindset over conservative family values. Further research on this issue is necessary, because the liberal social reconstruction agenda those two groups assented to has not been adopted by the GOP—yet. If Hispanics and Asians are voting for a candidate primarily because they identify with that candidate as a fellow minority, then race is moving to the forefront of politics again, trumping any other social agenda.
  • In that same vein, if the GOP had managed to snag just 10-15 percent of the Asian and Hispanic vote that otherwise went to the Democrats, the outcome of this election may have been dramatically different.
  • For all the talk from Evangelical pastors of black congregations who were incensed at the Obama administration’s wholesale attack on values those churches hold dear , they were totally ineffective at swaying their congregations to vote to support those values and reject the current administration’s finagling. One must also look at the Roman Catholic vote, in that RC leadership leans GOP, while the congregants themselves seem devoted to the Democratic cause. This divorce only highlights an increasingly obvious truth: Leaders of “conservative” churches are far more conservative than are their congregations, and their own hubris causes them to overestimate their influence on the folks in their churches.
  • Stats show Mitt Romney pulled more votes from conservative Christians than any GOP candidate on record, nearly 80 percent of self-identified Evangelicals. In addition, few Evangelicals voted for third party candidates. Obviously, Evangelicals worried more about the policies of Barack Obama than were troubled by Romney’s Mormonism. This is a disturbing trend since it seems that Evangelicals will vote politics above theological truth. Regardless of where you stand on Last Days theology, Christians who downgrade heresy are setting themselves up to side with future leaders of questionable doctrine, all in the name of political promises. Obviously, few are reading the Book of Revelation.
  • Those of us who voted third party or for write-ins saw one of the worst showings ever for such candidates. However, if the GOP does move center-left on social issues (see above), Evangelical Christians will be stuck. Yet imagine a scenario where a new political party united by Christian belief challenged the Democrats and Republicans. It’s not hard to believe that a less Evangelical GOP could draw off some Democratic voters, while a Christian-leaning party would give the two other parties a serious run. Perhaps, though, it is impossible due to too much factionalism within Evangelicalism to create a political party favorable to its causes. Still, should the GOP move center-left as I believe it will, a competitive third party based on the beliefs the GOP is soon to repudiate might actual make some inroads and win a few elections. I mean, Maine elected an independent senator, so it’s possible.

Those are my additional thoughts. What do you think about the above or about other issues pertaining to the future we conservative Christians now face?

The 2012 Election Results and What They Mean for “Evangelical Christian America”


Four more years.

Whether that phrase elicits joy or sorrow in you in the wake of the 2012 presidential election results says a great deal about you as a person and your future influence in America.

If you are an Evangelical Christian who votes Republican, today seems a far cry from just 12 years ago, when magazine covers and stories trumpeted that Evangelicals were hot and in control of America’s future.

No more.

woman voterThe demographics of America continue to flex, and this is what the election results tell us about who is really in charge:

  • Women
  • 18-45 years of age
  • Nonwhite
  • Urban (or college town)
  • Non-Evangelical

That demographic pwned all others and gave Barack Obama four more years. Today, we understand that the conservative white male has been consigned to the dust bin of American history. Any idea that such people run this country is now passé. Given trends in overall demographics within the United States, this will not reverse itself—ever.

Yesterday’s election showed three other trends:

  • Same-sex marriage restrictions that passed in two states less than four years ago went down to defeat
  • Legalization of marijuana passed in two more states
  • Prolife candidates who were cornered late with the question “What do you think about abortion in the case of rape?” went down to staggeringly bad defeats despite having led their opponents for much of the race

Abortion and opposition to same-sex marriage are hallmark positions for the majority of Evangelicals, with opposition to illegal drugs another definable (though less broadcast) position.

What is worrying for anyone who holds a prolife position is that despite the overwhelming opposition to abortion as a procedure, pro-abortion forces have a new weapon for derailing prolife candidates that is perhaps the most effective ever: the rape question. Until prolife candidates can answer that question without seemingly inserting foot in mouth, expect withering losses to continue.

And why is that question so effective? Because the new vote-deciding demographic is women of childbearing age who live in urban areas (or college towns). And they will mercilessly punish anyone who answers that question poorly. Worse, that question may even sway women who are not in that demographic simply because all women have a visceral reaction to anything dealing with rape. When it seems that male politicians condone certain aspects of a post-rape experience—well, the resulting backlash cannot be unexpected.

So where do Evangelical Christians stand as of November 2012?

The trends of the last few years are telling. Any political power that Evangelicals thought they wielded was always illusory, and the conceit of holding power only goes to show how low Evangelicalism has sunk with regard to genuine godly humility. What it will take for Evangelicals to wake up is anyone’s guess, though, as no amount of political pain seems to break through the arrogance.

Evangelicals don’t seem to understand the lives of non-Evangelicals, which is why Evangelicals continue to fail to connect with people who are different from them. Blame this on a bunker mentality. Honestly, how many liberal friends do most Evangelicals have? Why expect any influence at all then?

That lack of influence illustrates how Evangelicals have forgotten the root of their label: evangelism (though not to lead people to convert to a political party but to convert to Jesus). Evangelicals simply do not evangelize non-Christians anymore. And you especially will not find them evangelizing women 18-45 who are not born again and who live in cities and college towns. If Evangelicals were to stop plowing so much of their time and energy into political causes and start leading people to Jesus, that trio of causes so near and dear to them (upholding traditional heterosexual marriage, the sanctity of human life, and religious freedom) will take care of itself. How this reality continues to elude Evangelicals is damning.

Conservative Evangelicals failed miserably to help nominate a viable presidential candidate, with most of the supposedly workable alternatives proving to be ridiculously repellent to the average non-Evangelical voter. What must be avoided is a sense of persecution at being rejected. Instead, Evangelicals need to look at themselves and genuinely question whether it is Jesus who is turning off others or the personality of major Evangelical politicians. That distinction is critical, yet most Evangelicals don’t get it. Winsome Evangelicals exist, but a failure to place them on any national stage is a major failing of Evangelicalism as a whole. Instead, Evangelicals ended up stuck with a non-Evangelical presidential candidate who thinks God is an ascended man enthroned on the planet Kobol. One must ask what exactly was in that Kool-Aid they were drinking. One must also ask how much of their souls Evangelicals will sell to achieve by politics what they should be achieving through converting others to Jesus (see above).

Evangelicals must come to grips with their own diminishing demographic. Simply put, the Church is not growing in America. Having now slid into minority status, Evangelicals must pursue much soul-searching and honest reflection to find that humility they so need to rediscover. This loss of power is what it means to be a minority. It doesn’t feel good, does it? Still, if this second class position does not result in a refocusing on the main and the plain in Evangelicalism, if being a minority within a larger culture does not clean out the dross that is holding Evangelicalism back, then Evangelicalism is finished as a movement not just within American politics but within American culture, society, and religious affiliation. Period.

Evangelicals must learn that no political party is their friend. Selling out to the GOP has hurt Evangelicalism more than it can imagine, and Evangelicals must stop believing that any one political party represents them. Strange bedfellows have hurt the cause of Christ in America, and it is high-time the reflex to vote Republican stops. Evangelicals must support political candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who more accurately reflect the nature of God’s character and who perfectly answer how God can be known. Evangelicals must also realize that values voting is a major failure because it does not take into account all aspects of who God is. Picking and choosing values only further muddies Evangelicalism’s larger stance on what it means to be in Christ. All of who God is must be considered, and that means looking at aspects of God’s character Evangelicals have neglected. If Evangelicals were as well-known for championing the causes of the poor in America as they were for championing the cause of traditional marriage, perhaps those single, urban mothers who went en masse for “the other guy” might have voted differently.

I believe it is possible for America to return to greatness if born-again Christians stopped running around like headless chickens and instead focused on what is really important to the cause of Christ. If this latest election failing in the eyes of Evangelicals does not teach them anything, then we can forget ever seeing the American Church influencing our nation anytime soon.

Further Thoughts on Why Christians Cannot Be “Values Voters”


Last week, I talked about why Christians cannot be “values voters.” In the wake of a few conversations and some comments on that post, I wanted to add further thoughts beyond those contained in the first post.

You hear the term values voters used to group those people who use a fixed set of specific issues as a basis for their voting patterns. This term is often applied by conservative Christians to describe the (usually limited) number of ideas they use to clarify for whom they should vote in elections or to note which political issues are most important to them.

Five further reasons why I believe values voting is a grave mistake:

Values alone say nothing about their source and their reason for existing.

Why does a value exist? And what is its source?

Christians must be concerned for sources. Our source is God. A.W. Tozer has said that because we are created by God, all of our answers are found in Him. The wisdom of that understanding of God as our Source cannot be lost when Christians consider their belief and praxis.

Where voting values becomes problematic is that trumpeting a particular value doesn’t necessarily say anything about the source for that value or why that value is important.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Pharisees who opposed Him were extremely concerned that Jesus’ activities would eventually bring further oppression from the Romans. In the end, to their eyes, Jesus represented a threat to all that was good, historic, and essential to the Hebrew faith, nationality, and practice. Preserving that heritage, on the surface, appeared to be a noble value, but we know where it ultimately led. Because the Pharisees did not understand the Kingdom of God, did not grasp what God the Source was doing, in fact, did not know God properly, their values were off, no matter how righteous they seemed. In the end, their values voting led to the crucifixion of Jesus.

The decisions we make in life cannot start at an ends and work backwards. They must start at the source. If we do not understand the source for what we believe, then our values will always drift. What is often the case is that the values then become entities in and of themselves, with little reference back to the source. More often than not, this leads to catastrophes (which we will examine later). We end up with values divorced from sources, and the sources always suffer for this split.

Voting values tends to focus too narrowly on a small set of values, while ignoring the wider set of all values and their essential interplay.

When values tend to exist in and of themselves apart from full knowledge of sources, some values end up ignored. Sadly, that ignoring is often purposeful and inexplicable, given our Source

Again, this is a problem of working backward from a values idea to its supposed source. In doing this, a person selects a line of progression and traces it back to its source. But this is the problem of the blind men and the elephant. Each of the blind men focused on one characteristic of the elephant (its thick legs, its long trunk, etc.) and believed that the value told him all he needed to know about the source. We know the result. That each blind man failed to take the values of others into account when trying to comprehend the whole only furthered the confusion.

In the case of the blind men, knowing what an elephant looked like first would have allowed them an almost infinite set of values that could have been traced from the source. By working from the source in its entirety, only then could the men appreciate the values that proceeded from that source, values that they may never have explored if they worked back to the source from one or two values alone. Seeing the source would have greatly expanded their entire set of possible values.

This is critical for Christians. Because we know God, the set of values from which we operate is vastly larger than the small set from which values voters operate. This wider set that proceeds from who God is necessarily requires that any end values not only mirror their source but interplay with each other. And this interplay is not something that a few values here ans there account for. It’s why values voting tends to create massive blindspots—and that leads into the next issue.

Voting values without understanding who God is (or by ignoring  the full revelation of who He is) leads to catastrophic errors.

A values voting statement from Protestant Christian leaders :

“A state that once again rules in God’s name can count not only on our applause but also on enthusiastic and active cooperation from the church.

“With joy and thanks we see how this new state rejects blasphemy, attacks immorality, promotes discipline and order with a firm hand, demands awe before God, works to keep marriage sacred and our youth spiritually instructed, brings honor back to fathers of families, ensures that love of people and nation is no longer mocked, but burns in a thousand hearts. …

“We can only plead with our fellow worshipers to do what they can to help these new productive forces in our land reach a complete and unimpeded victory.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

I changed one telling word in that quote from the Lutheran bishopric: nation. The original was fatherland. The quote is part of a 1933 Easter statement in support of the values of the new ruling party within Germany.

Yes, it’s a cheap shot. But it’s also a telling one. When Christians get too caught up in pick-and-choose values preservation and restoration, while at the same time losing touch with the wider set of values found in God the Source, catastrophes happen. When we let values grow greater than sources, disaster is near. When we let a small set of values overrule other values, especially if those overruled are in truth the most important values of all, then we open the door for unimaginable error.

It seems clear to us today that the Christians of 1930s Germany should have seen all the warnings signs. However, they choose to ignore them because those values that should have signaled a warning were ignored in favor of other values. Many in the German Church did not go back to God the Source, which should have led them to reject the politics and ideals of a party that looked good on the surface but which was evil underneath. We simply cannot forget how easy it is to follow in those same mistaken footsteps.

Values voting leads to strange—and usually undesirable—bedfellows.

Too many Christians in 1930s Germany espoused values that led to their support of  the Nazi Party. Today, limiting our values to a choice set throws Christians into an equally distressing company of bedfellows that are then used to define who we are. When we pick and choose our primary values, when we forget about sources and limit ourselves to values-based ends, we get lumped into all manner of fringe and hate groups. This only furthers the media bias against Christians and fuels opposition. And that opposition is not because of who Jesus is but because we have focused on too small a set of values that allowed us to be labeled by them.

What fellowship has Christ with Belial? Yet persisting in keeping values at the forefront will often lead us into bed with devils if we are not careful, and the wider world will notice without fail.

Values voting closes lost people to the Gospel.

Because we tend to define ourselves by a  limited set of values that do not reflect the wideness of God the Source, the media can more easily label Christians and use those labels to undermine our ability to reach others for Christ. The entirety of the Culture War is nothing but an extension of values voting, and it is a war that we not only lost, but which continues to define us negatively and hurt our ability to reach others for Jesus.

There is a difference between suffering for the sake of a source and losing out because of a limiting value. We confuse the two, though, and perceived losses in values cause those focused on values to bunker deeper in values, which inevitably leads away from resting in the Source. As a result, what truly matters to the Source gets demoted in our belief and practice.  Because we trust values more than the source, we no longer trust the source for outcomes.The journey down the spiral gains further momentum.

It bothers me when Christians sell out some values for the sake of others. By not going back to the two big question of Who is God? and How can He be known?, we force ourselves to compromise some values to promote others. That confused response only further confuses lost people who look to us to maintain truth amid all the lies swirling around us today.

Values voting is an error we cannot commit. It is an ends without a source—or the result of a source easily forgotten or ignored when a limited set of values is made an idol. That the Christian’s source is God alone should ever be before us, and the breadth of Him as Source never forgotten.