Since publishing a column a couple of weeks ago about the ways I believe the church is misfiring in its attempt to shape the culture through political engagement, I’ve received lots of feedback, the vast majority of which has been positive. You never really know how many principled people exist quietly in your midst until one of you says out loud what all of you are thinking. It’s been encouraging.
The prevailing theme among the negative feedback, however, came from fellow Christians who see my resistance to voting for morally compromised candidates as a lack of commitment to the sanctity of life. Many take a pragmatic approach like Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, saying they have no reason to disbelieve the allegations against Roy Moore but feel compelled to grit their teeth and press on because of Moore’s stated position on abortion, contrasted against those of pro-choice candidate Doug Jones.
I, too, lack any reason to disbelieve these women or their heavily scrutinized and still un-refuted stories. So consider this column a conversation among those of us who can agree on this premise. If nine accusers and dozens of corroborating witnesses doesn’t give you pause, I can’t help you.
I’m also not going to preen about the pro-life organization I volunteer with every week, where I mentor and serve abortion-vulnerable women. I won’t bore you with stories about the Christian nonprofit I’ve served for years that helps families rescue waiting children from foster care or orphanages. But suffice it to say I’m at peace with my pro-life credentials, which extend far beyond a voting booth. However, this pragmatism conversation is one worth having. So let’s have it in a parlance we all understand in Alabama -- football.
For pro-life Christians in Alabama, this situation is tantamount to being 4th-and-2 on the 50-yard line. Whether you go for it or not depends on several things: the balance of your offensive game plan; what you think of your defense; and time on the clock.
If the sum total of our game plan to fix the abortion problem in this country rests in the congress and the courts, but doesn’t speak to reducing demand for abortion by meeting the needs of women and children in crisis, it’s woefully lazy and one-dimensional. And of course such a plan would cause many to feel an incredible amount of pressure to gamble on a risky play and a gimpy player to move the chains—because politics is all they’ve got. If your vote is the whole of your efforts, you simply can’t afford the luxury of a complicated election cycle. That’s a garbage game plan—and nobody’s fault but ours.
Then there’s the question of what we think of our defense. If we punt by refusing to vote for a candidate who makes us cringe either by staying home or writing in a more credible candidate, effectively giving the ball to a Democrat, can we depend on our defense to shut him down and make him go three-and-out? (Literally three. Three years.) Can the Alabama GOP get its act together enough to put forward a credible candidate for 2020 and take the seat back in one of the reddest states in the union? If not, our defense is a joke. Maybe that’s something worth looking at in the off season.
Now let’s consider the ramifications of going for it. It could look one of two ways. Let’s say you decide to put your nausea aside for the moment, and scratch and claw to get Moore elected in two yards and a cloud of dust. You’ll save one seat for the GOP in the Senate, but how many congressional seats will you lose in more moderate states in 2018 when the stink of Moore’s garbage (coupled with the president’s abysmal approval ratings) won’t go away? The optics of this political dumpster fire are so bad, it could cost the GOP a greater number of races in swing states in a matter of months. Did anyone even pay attention to what went down in Virginia last month? Or maybe you sell out for Moore and don’t get the first down. In that case you’ve set fire to your integrity for nothing at all. You just wake up feeling dirty with horrible field position.
And then there’s the matter of the clock. How much time do we have to get this right? Do we have time to take a deep breath and wait for the next series? From a purely utilitarian viewpoint, yes we do. Some are acting as if electing Roy Moore will magically cause the court to reconsider Roe v. Wade and abortion law will change overnight. We’re acting as if it’s a sure thing that the Senate will confirm another justice for the SCOTUS within the next three years. The former is most assuredly untrue, and we just don’t know on the latter.
So if we’re going to be purely pragmatic about this, pro-life friends, don’t kid yourself about where you are on the field and what you stand to lose, even if you get this man past the sticks on Dec. 12. There’s a lot of time left on the clock.
Be smart. Punt the dang ball, pro-life Alabama.
Dana Hall McCain writes and speaks about faith and culture. To get her thoughts on current events (plus a little Auburn football), follow her on Twitter at @dhmccain.