A Poem for My Wife on Her Birthday

Written by: Thabiti Anyabwile

Every flower that dares bloom
Should hide in shame
Compared to your beauty.

Or if it dared to speak
Should asked to be named
"Kristie." Truly.

Every ray sparkling from the sun
Ought seek cover of night
Next to your radiance.

Or if it could indeed run
Should immediately take flight
To avoid embarrassment.

Birds that sing
Might wish to be silent
For fear of losing tune.

Or suffer the sting
Of singing beside one
Whose voice makes angels swoon.

If a muse could have a muse
I'm sure it would choose
Inspiration from you.

Just as if I could choose
27 years later to again use
My choice of spouse, I'd choose you.

A Poem for My Wife on Her Birthday is a post from: Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

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4 Problems Associated with White Evangelical Support of Donald Trump

Written by: Thabiti Anyabwile

Donald Trump's race to the White House defied every prediction and expectation. From his controversial speech announcing his candidacy, to the large crowds filling stadiums, through scandalous comments of one variety or another, down to last night's election returns, Mr. Trump repeatedly did what everyone said he couldn't or shouldn't do. His campaign energized sections of the country who were either fed up with or checked out of the usual political cycle. Along the way, Mr. Trump defeated two political dynasties--the Bush and Clinton families--and broke nearly every "rule" on presidential elections. As a result, Mr. Trump will become our 45th President in about three months.

The next several days will certainly be filled with punditry, analysis, and reflection. All kinds of viewpoints will fill our airwaves, some celebratory and some dismayed. We'll learn more about campaign strategies, demographic trends, and exit polls. An overarching story will take shape, and perhaps a new conventional wisdom will develop.

But as a Christian and leader of some sort, I'm most interested in what took place with evangelicals during this election. Exit polls tell us that white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump, coming in at 81 percent. For historical perspective, that surpasses the 78 percent of evangelicals who voted for fellow evangelical candidate George W. Bush in 2004.

Pulling the lever at 8 out of 10 times for Trump, however, should not be confused with unqualified, widespread support. Many "held their noses" as they did so, if we are to believe the "unfavorable" numbers for Mr. Trump. Many simply believed Trump was "less bad" than Mrs. Clinton. Still others, keeping an eye on Supreme Court nominations, sided with Mr. Trump with the hopes of a more conservative court and possibly putting a dent in Roe v. Wade. It's been said all along that "evangelical" is difficult to define.

But that's what makes the turnout in favor of Mr. Trump so interesting to me. If there is one way to define evangelical, it's by voting behavior, the very metric that journalists and sociologists have been using for years. I know many who would prefer a theological definition and find the journalistic approach troublesome. But with 80 percent of professing evangelicals selecting the GOP nominee, we can no longer act as if all the journalists misunderstand the movement. In the polling booth, "evangelical" does amount to very nearly one thing, or at least one voting behavior.

Now, it should also be said that there were a number of #NeverTrump evangelicals. Twenty percent did not vote for him. But what's fairly clear by that percentage is those white evangelicals are the minority in this election and quite possibly in the movement itself. All election I heard #NeverTrump evangelicals saying they didn't know of any evangelicals who were voting for Trump. As it turns out, they did. Eight out of ten persons in their churches, small groups, and conference gatherings voted for Trump, even if they said they weren't. Either their friends were swayed at the last minute or downright dishonest. But in either case, the number of evangelicals who put gospel and character before politics and party are small.

I'm pondering this today. Admittedly, my thoughts are not very developed, and in a week or two I may have learned more and changed positions. But at this point, I think the evangelical turnout for Mr. Trump signals several fatal weaknesses in the movement.

First, the movement has surrendered any claims to the moral high ground in electoral politics. Even though many evangelicals chose Trump while having significant reservations about his character, they nevertheless chose Trump. They did not choose character. To be clear, Mrs. Clinton was not an objectively better moral option. But not voting, voting third party, or writing in, as many said they would, were also options. The lion's share of evangelicals put character concerns aside and pulled the lever for a man whose character is every bit as "flawed" as President Clinton’s, whose impeachment evangelicals supported. For that choice, as many have already observed, the moral high ground is lost.

Second, the movement has abandoned public solidarity with groups who considered Mr. Trump an existential threat to them. I'm speaking here of the many groups who expressed reservation regarding Mr. Trump's racism, religious bigotry, misogyny, isolationism, and nativism. People with those concerns came from a lot of groups in the country, including African-American Christians, many themselves evangelicals. At 80 percent, white evangelicalism en masse sided with Mr. Trump over and against the concerns of fellow evangelicals weary of his alienating and divisive rhetoric and campaign promises. Based on correspondence during the campaign and following the election, it seems clear to me that that voting decision will likely put a deep chill on efforts at reconciliation and co-belligerence in the culture. For many, evangelicals expressed solidarity (again) with some of the worst aspects of American history and culture while abandoning brothers and sisters of like precious faith. Coming back from that may be difficult.

Third, the movement failed to escape its partisan bias in favor of more principled and biblical stands. A good number of evangelicals took #NeverTrump positions because they did not recognize Mr. Trump as a bona fide conservative. They felt conservative principles had been abandoned by party leadership. They felt a charlatan had hijacked their political home. But not enough of them sought out a new home, one of their own making based on more sure biblical grounds. Instead, some evangelicals offered "biblical" justification for voting Trump and minimized his character flaws. Others endorsed and vigorously campaigned for him. With last night's election result, the GOP stranglehold on evangelical conscience and voting may have tightened to unbreakable strength. It may be we've reached the point that the only thing that would move evangelicals in more constructive directions would be outright persecution from the GOP itself. Short of that, it's difficult to imagine evangelicals going elsewhere. This, for me, is all the more discouraging because I've long endured evangelicals questioning African-American allegiance to the Democratic Party. "Why do nearly all African Americans vote for Democrats?" they ask. "Isn't it better if African Americans refuse allegiance to that party?" I resonate with the sentiment; but I wonder if it's not born in some sense of hypocrisy. If the movement doesn't escape its partisan pull, its usefulness will be seriously compromised.

Finally, the movement has made its evangelistic mission more difficult with many it wants to reach. A good number of people outside the faith look at the exit polls aghast and angry. Aghast because they themselves cannot imagine supporting a candidate with the personal moral flaws of Mr. Trump. Angry because they've watched evangelicals moralize in public for a long time, often shaming people for their sins and moral weaknesses. The vote for Trump creates or amplifies a credibility problem for evangelicals. Why should the unrepentant listen to their gospel when it seems so evident they've not applied that gospel to their political choices? "Shouldn't we view evangelicals as basically concerned with politics over all things?" they ask. Convincing answers will be difficult to find. For many, Christ and the gospel are now bound up--rightly or wrongly--with evangelicals choosing a man with little resemblance to either.

And all of this was wrought by the bulk of evangelicalism itself. No one forced this on the movement. An 81 percent return will not allow us to discard these voters as “not truly evangelical.” At the moment, that’s exactly who evangelicalism is.

This is why I tweeted, to the confusion or chagrin of a few, "Congratulations white evangelicalism on your candidate's win. I don't understand you and I think you just sealed some awful fate." A few took offense. But a couple hundred retweeted it without comment. Not all retweets are endorsements. And perhaps those retweets came from the 20 percent who did not support Trump. But in either case, I'm not alone in seeing serious problems with evangelicalism's witness at the moment. I fear the fate of the movement may have been in some measure sealed with this vote.

4 Problems Associated with White Evangelical Support of Donald Trump is a post from: Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in Christianity and politics, Donald Trump, Election 2016, Evangelicals | Comments Off

In Praise of Gaye Clark (and Others Like Her)

Written by: Thabiti Anyabwile

NoteThe views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent TGC or any of its council members, staff or supporters. They are the views of the author alone. This is a personal blog that happens to be hosted at TGC. Such hosting should not be construed as an endorsement from TGC for anything written here.

My sister-in-Christ, Gaye Clark, offered a reflection on what it was like for her to be surprised when her daughter courted and later married a Black man. Clark's piece is not the first of its kind, even at The Gospel Coalition. Trip Lee wrote about his marriage to a white sister in the Lord. And it's no secretive conversation among African Americans, as this piece by Phillip Holmes indicates. The promise and peril of inter-ethnic dating and marriage has been a long-standing conversation in African-American communities, once because it was dangerous and illegal, then because it was socially frowned upon, and now because we're slowly crawling toward some vision of ethnic conciliation.

But many people felt that Clark's piece gave evidence to a massive blind spot--her failing to fully confess what appears to be deeper racial prejudice and her depiction of her son-in-law in a way that suggested he became "less Black" to her as she grew to love and accept him. Add to that the rather "teach-y" tone of the piece and many felt it was condescending as well as blind. The requisite internet furor resulted. Clark received the withering criticism so easily thrown at people online, but proved herself better than most of her detractors by listening, replying kindly, and eventually removing the piece.

When I learned she'd decided to remove the piece (a move I respect but wish hadn't happened), I decided someone should say something in praise of this woman and what happened. Having never met or spoken with her, here's my feeble attempt. I hope it encourages her, her family, and the Church as we work through these things.

Taking the Risk

First, I want to express appreciation for Mrs. Clark for even writing the post. Let's all be honest. There's not much upside to writing something like this and there's a whole lot of pitfalls along the way. Mrs. Clark stepped into one of those pitfalls, but her effort was commendable. In an age when so many African Americans rightly call on white brothers and sisters to enter the fray, Clark took the risk. She should be appreciated for doing so.

Being Redemptive

The other thing to note is her spirit in the post. Yes, it was "teach-y" in a problematic way. But that's only at one or two points in the piece. The overwhelming bulk of the post sought to be God-centered, redemptive, and even helpful to those who might face the same challenge. Now, we could ask, "But why should it be a challenge in the first place?" In God's kingdom it won't be. But on earth, in the Church, among the fallen, it is. And Clark sought to be redemptive amidst all the ugliness we know still exists on this issue. I praise God for her.

Opening Up

Third, Clark didn't have to write a post that excavated her own life. She could have written a post that took the detached, "objective," professorial approach. She could have simply exegeted a few texts and "remained above the fray." So I think it's important to note that she actually laid bare a part of her own soul and life that no one is likely to give her any credit for. Who gets points for describing their latent or active prejudice? We tend to act as if no one should ever have believed those things ever, as if we're not all works in progress. So when someone unearths the ugly of their lives for public consumption, it is not only courageous; it's deeply honest. And while some of us would have loved a deeper reflection and confession, we all have to start somewhere. Clark started with her heart and in the process modeled for us why we should start with ours too. I thank her for that.

Taking the Heat

I truly admire Mrs. Clark for weathering the blowback she received. She set out to do good but pretty quickly folks began to speak evil of it. More often than not, social media types then double down. Rather than listen, we try to explain our intentions or offer hasty apologetics. Rarely do folks listen. And rarer still are apologies that communicate genuine understanding of the hurt caused. Ms. Clark did both. That'll never satisfy the never-satisfied crowd, but it ought to be appreciated by all of us who know we too have flopped with our tongues. Mrs. Clark did all of this with Christ-like poise, grace and charity--thus proving the spirit behind the original post.

Advancing the Conversation

The reason I'd hoped TGC would not remove the post is the post actually triggered much-needed conversation. It wasn't the conversation the author anticipated. But it was a meaningful one about how we describe our experiences and how we see each other. It was a much-needed conversation about affirming people as made in God's image, and not having that image shrouded by either our own prejudices, ignorance, or expectations. The post, with its flaws, was probably doing more for the conversation than if it would have simply affirmed everyone in their presuppositions and left our weaknesses unchecked. I'm genuinely happy for any way anybody advances these conversations with the kind of grace Mrs. Clark did.

Appreciating the Church

Very few people are likely to have known much about Mrs. Clark's Christian witness and discipleship. Many of us would have rushed to assumptions based upon this one post. We would have been tempted to place her in the box we have for "such people," slapped the lid on, and slid her in the attic with all those "others" we don't want to hear from. While I don't know Gaye Clark personally, I do know her pastor and her church. And I know the kind of courageous leadership her pastor shows on these very issues on the regular in his church. He has African-American pastors and preachers in regularly--exposing his congregation to the gifts and perspectives these leaders bring. Leaders like K. Edward Copeland, who works on justice issues on the ground in partnership with local law enforcement, the community, his church and many others, and who speaks prophetically and unapologetically on the "platforms" the Lord gives. In other words, Mrs. Clark's willingness to speak to these issues must surely come in part because she's being discipled by white gospel leaders who willingly have the conversation as a matter of pro-active care for their members and for people affected by injustice. When we throw Mrs. Clark away, we risk throwing away a good church and good men trying to do good work in the name of our good Lord. I'm learning to speak a little less critically at first and more carefully at length.

CONCLUSION

There's more that could be said about the various strengths and weaknesses of the post. But it's perhaps best to simply say not one of us has "arrived" on these issues such that we speak without flaws. If that were true, we'd be the perfect persons that bridle our tongues that James seems to think doesn’t exist. I don’t want my sister to be vilified for doing what we’ve all done and what we’ll all likely do in the future. I hope we can remember her for making an honest attempt and giving a humble response when challenged.

A final thing for those who see the reaction to Mrs. Clark's post and think, If that's how I'm likely to be treated, why bother? Well, you bother not because you anticipate good treatment. You bother because it's the right thing to do and it honors your Lord. And you bother because you know that if that's how they treated Jesus for doing good, then that's how they'll treat you. And you bother out of love for your fellow human beings and your brethren in Christ. Let love constrain you even when there's no praise to maintain you. After all, your ethnic brethren who dare speak of these things are quite accustomed to receiving a lot of vitriol, "push back," condemnation, accusation and the like when we speak. And there was a time we even would have been killed for speaking. We've made progress, but for further progress you've got to put some skin in the game and not quit. Man up. We trust in Christ that it's worth it.

In Praise of Gaye Clark (and Others Like Her) is a post from: Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in bigotry, ethnic conciliation, Gaye Clark, interracial dating, interracial marriage, prejudice, race, racism, sanctification | Comments Off

Apologies, Clarifications, and Slavery

Written by: Thabiti Anyabwile

NoteThe views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent TGC or any of its council members, staff or supporters. They are the views of the author alone. This is a personal blog that happens to be hosted at TGC. Such hosting should not be construed as an endorsement from TGC for anything written here.

Doug Wilson and I seem to manage having good conversations about difficult things. In all my online interactions, Wilson has consistently done two things: fairly represent me and graciously challenge me. I know he takes a lot of hits from a lot of people. And, frankly, I think some of them may be deserved. But I can’t say he’s unwilling to engage. In fact, with me at least, he’s been willing to engage in a way that brings light along with the occasional sparks.

And, there’s a side of me that likes talking to Doug because he stands flat-footed on what he thinks. Now, I find him incorrigible at points, but I can’t ever say he’s written to me with anything other than honesty and an owning of his position, even (especially!) the positions he knows most others find reprehensible. Say what you like, he’s been an honest discussion partner thus far and I have no reason to expect anything different in any future exchanges we may have.

So, let me start with something that given our history of exchanges is easy to do. I want to apologize for misunderstanding Doug’s reference to “Chicago” in his last post. I’ve heard “Chicago” mentioned as an indictment of Black people from so many white professing Christian evangelicals that my instinct is to assume the worst whenever someone fitting that profile uses it. The Black citizens of Chicago’s toughest, hurting neighborhoods are now, it seems to me, the favorite trope and retort of some conservatives wishing to “prove” Black pathology, dysfunction, irresponsibility, and to absolve themselves of any complicity or Christian charity in the struggles of Black communities. I confess. When I read Doug’s mention I filled in all those things in my reaction. In doing so I assigned motives and thoughts that weren’t warranted. Doug, for that, I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.

Wayne, Doug, and Me

Now, in the last week quite a number of people have mentioned Wayne Grudem, Doug Wilson, and myself in the same breath. It’s a long breath because I have a long polysyllabic name. But it’s understandable. Dr. Grudem and I fell off opposite sides of the horse on the whole Clinton-Trump contest. Many people have said he and I are “doing essentially the same thing” in choosing “the lesser of two evils.”

Now, I reject the notion that we are doing the same thing at every point. And Doug’s post responding to Grudem tells you why. I have consistently expressed my disdain for both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump as candidates and for their positions on various things. If you even skim my posts, you’ll find me repeatedly saying, “I think they’re both representing evil positions, and am not using the term ‘evil’ as hyperbole.” I am not calling evil good or calling black white. And that is what I think my brother Wayne Grudem has done in calling Mr. Trump “a good candidate with flaws.” For me, that’s a fundamental difference in our starting points, and I want to make that clear.

Ending Odds

Doug’s recent post also clarifies another point where I misunderstood him. He writes:

I believe that this state of affairs is very much the judgment of God upon us. I do not believe that we have the luxury of trying to "manage" a judgment. Our response to judgment ought to be the kind of response that God calls for in Scripture. Preachers ought to stop apologizing for the Bible, and take the law of God the way we take our whiskey, which is straight, and having done so, we need to preach a hot gospel. There is no other way out for us. There is no Savior but Jesus. There will be no cultural restoration without a massive reformation.

I answer a hearty “Amen!” to all of that. So Doug and I are not at adds about what has befallen the country in this election or the urgent need for true gospel preaching in this time. Again, amen!

Returning the Favor

Now at this point, I should also clarify my position lest I continue to be misunderstood. Judging from the comment section of my last post and Doug’s last reply, some people think I’m saying:

Vote for Mrs. Clinton if you want to slow the progress of evil.

Taken that way, I understand why people might think I’m a special multi-flavored variety of insane. If you oppose abortion, for example, who could believe that Mrs. Clinton would be a friend to protecting unborn children or that she might flip flop mid-term to call for an end to Roe?

I certainly don’t believe that. So let me state what I am saying in what I hope is greater clarity. I’ll offer it in staggered phrases because each phrase matters.

In an election with two evil choices and destructive outcomes likely to follow . . .

. . . where one candidate is conventional and rather predictable . . .

. . . and the other candidate is, to put it mildly, nuts and shows no signs of being influenced by reason or law . . .

. . . and your side is better and practiced at defending against the conventional candidate . . .

. . . it makes sense to me to vote for the conventional candidate you can effectively limit or oppose so that you at least slow the progress of evil.

Now, in this way of thinking, I’m most certainly not trusting Clinton. I am, rather, putting a modicum of trust in the governing process itself and in “our side” to build road blocks, tear down trees across the path, and generally sabotage things along the way. Frankly, I think such stonewalling, sabotaging, and subversion is the one thing conservatives/Republicans/Evangelicals and the like are still good at.

Now, if any of those points proves untrue, then the whole chain of reasoning falls down. I get that. I hear people when they say that. I do indeed consider those opposing views and push back. But that’s my estimate right now.

What I’d say to those who lean Trump is merely this: What if I’m right about Trump? If the good guys line up with a bad guy like Trump, where will the credibility, power, or even will exist among the co-opted to halt his evil? I think it would be gone, and a fair amount of it already is. And this is why I better understand the third party voters and the abstainers more than I do the Trump supporters. But that’s just me.

Finally, I am only talking about the act of voting with all of this. I don’t take any of us to be addressing all the other actions more substantive than voting that should be taken to discourage and finally end abortion, racism, and the like. Some seem to think a guy who hasn’t voted in the last few elections has come out of hiding to put all his hopes in voting or a president. I assure you that is not the case. A vote is a rather precious privilege with rather little promise for bringing the eschaton.

What Wilson Gets Right about Slavery

I wish Doug would understand a number of things about slavery better than I think he does. I’ll mention one in a moment. But first, it needs to be said that he does get one thing correct that everyone else should admit with greater frequency. The infallible, inerrant, sufficient and authoritative Bible we Christians all claim to love does have some rather awkward texts addressed to slaves and masters. If we take our Bibles seriously, then we have to address those texts seriously. And since quite a number of those texts are in New Testament epistles, we can’t hide under Old Testament covers. We gotta face the light. On that Wilson is correct.

And, for the record, I regularly have email and phone correspondence on the subject with well-meaning people--Black and White. People are wrestling with the texts in a proper context.

So let me pick my nit. Doug sees how these texts have been brought into the service of people wanting to jettison biblical morality at certain points in our culture. They say “what about slavery” as a way of undermining the Bible so they can go on unimpeded in their rebellion. He’s right about that tendency among some. What I wish he saw or perhaps sees and would be more careful about are the legions of African Americans for whom the topic of slavery is a stumbling block to even considering the claims of Christ. Slavery is an everyday apologetic issue we face in our community. It’s not merely a hermeneutic slope on which some people slip. It’s painful family history, a living legacy, an exploitation with lasting consequence. There are no shortage of people who read American policy toward African Americans as first exploit through enslavement, then export back to Africa, failing that exclude from Civil Rights, and now exterminate with guns, drugs, and incarceration. That’s American history read in tooth and claw by people who know the lacerations of teeth and claws.

So I wish Doug wrote in a way that attempted to disarm that audience so that those of us serving in those fields would have a slightly easier time offering an apologetic against slavery’s historical abuses without having a co-belligerent in the gospel seemingly giving contemporary credence to the evil.

As I said before, I take Doug at his word when he says he is no fan of slavery and is glad for its abolition. I just wish he didn’t wrestle with that issue with African Americans when we are wrestling with other issues--like voting. I wish he wouldn’t insert it where it doesn’t belong, and would more often allow us to decide where it doesn’t belong. For unless we put slavery in the title of the event, you can be sure that most of us aren’t looking to talk about it and will be offended when someone seems to be justifying it on any level. It’s hard to give a hearing when shackles rattle in your ears.

Apologies, Clarifications, and Slavery is a post from: Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in abortion, Christianity and politics, Donald Trump, Doug Wilson, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Slavery, Wayne Grudem | Comments Off

Always Get More Than One Estimate

Written by: Thabiti Anyabwile

NoteThe views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent TGC or any of its council members, staff or supporters. They are the views of the author alone. This is a personal blog that happens to be hosted at TGC. Such hosting should not be construed as an endorsement from TGC for anything written here.

Doug Wilson has paid me a double kindness. First, he's taken the time to interact substantively with this post where I posit a vote for Clinton appears to me to be the only way I can incrementally restrain the progress of evil in this election. Second, he's taken the time to state fairly that I am not in any way "endorsing" or "supporting" Clinton in that post, as some have consistently and erroneously repeated. I'm grateful, Doug, on both counts.

But I must confess I'm not persuaded by your post, as thoughtful as it was. I think I was most helpfully challenged when you contended that having not voted for several elections it would have been wiser for me to continue that course. That's something I've gone back and forth on and it was good to have someone push me in that direction once again. Thank you.

But as I said earlier, I wasn't persuaded by Doug's post. Here's why:

In My Estimation . . . 

Central to Doug's critique of my post is the notion that making estimates about probable outcomes is a faulty way to engage the political process.

Huh . . .

But estimating outcomes is what we all do all the time in voting behavior. Take a candidate who shares our deepest values and acts on them. We effectively estimate their future actions. We think past behavior indicates future performance, all those mutual fund warnings to the contrary be damned.

This stubborn, intractable habit of making estimates takes place even when we abstain from voting for candidates with undeniably bad character and deeds to match. In those cases, too, our abstention relies on estimating the likelihood that they will keep up their bad behavior and continue in bad character. So even when we abstain, we’re not solely considering character. We cast an eye toward an imagined future. We conclude, "I cannot comply with this evil person or position because," well, "...'estimated future evil.'"

So everyone makes estimates. But wait . . . there’s more.

When Doug injects slavery into the discussion with an odd paragraph or two--and to borrow from Mrs. Clinton, "they were odd"--guess what he does? He argues that gradual manumission of slaves would have been better than a violent Civil War claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. (I presume he means white lives matter because apparently black lives could continue being slaughtered in the evil of slavery until white folks decided slaves were obsolete farm equipment.) But on what basis does Mr. Wilson think this? Surprise, surprise: His estimate that the grand ol' South was gonna get 'round to freeing the slaves anyway . . . good Christian slaveholders they were and all. Mr. Wilson's reasoning rests on fantastically shoddy estimates more rosy about slavery than I am about Mrs. Clinton!

So you see, there’s a whole lot of lumber and sawdust clouding eyes in this entire line of reasoning.

Since Doug has his estimates, I’ll go on rejecting gradual anti-slavery proposals bizarrely offered 150 years after the War. And I’ll reject those proposals in part because I estimate that such curious ideas put us back on the path of saying "slavery was okay" when every Christian ought to be praising God for providentially ending this nation's original birth defect. The Lord not only ended the institution, He also banished a host of social ills and fallen thoughts that undergirded it. Christians should shout aloud with gladness that these things have ceased, not trot them out for reconsideration. If I can't beg off of debates about the election, Doug surely can't silence dissent to his ideas about slavery's end by pointing to my estimations while ignoring his own.

Now Back to the Election at Hand

We live--and always have--in a house with a busted roof and rotten flooring. We are taking on water from daily torrential rains and trying to keep our favorite fuzzy slippers dry while walking on mud floors. Doug wants us to pretend we can live in this condemned building unstained and inactive while the mold grows up on everything sitting still. He suggests we ready ourselves for bigger battles--which he's correct, surely will come--and sit this current skirmish out, enjoying the rain reflected in the moonlight through that gaping roof and the mud squishing between our earthen toes. Well, in the south Doug loves so much, we commend folks "with sense enough to come in out of the rain." To all others we offer our rather southern, "God bless your heart."

 

Collapsing Old House

You see, in the south, we know something about common sense, horse trading and all. And we know that if you live in a house with a busted roof, you can’t sit out enough pots and buckets to catch all the rain while you wait it out for a few years. You gotta hire a contractor and fix the roof, honey. Now, we also know that it’s better not to hire the fast talking, fancy dressed, over-promising, never licensed or bonded, pay me with cash before you see my work "contractor." That fella is from New York City and it doesn’t matter if he claims, "Only I can fix it." We know to keep our hands and our money in our pockets while we spit a rather sticky brown glob of tobacco juice on those pretty Gucci wing tips. We will fix our decaying house with a pinch of homespun wisdom and grit, thank you.

Now to be sure, this rotten electoral house of ours includes the stench of death. It’s a wonder we can live in this odor. Buried in our cellars and locked in our attics are the slaughtered-while-still-developing bodies of our babies. They were killed in the womb, before light could ever warm their wondrous faces. Their blood cries out against our house and our land--and the Lord God Almighty hears them!

But if we genuinely care about all of that, and I take it that every genuine Christian and person of awakened conscience does, then there are some hard questions us pro-lifers and those single-issue voters must face. There are some estimates to make in addition to the estimated number of children likely to be aborted.

First, we must ask, "Is there a meaningful difference between the candidates on abortion?" From where I sit, there’s none. Trump, who financially supported the murderous Clinton in her earlier campaigns, is no pro-life champion. Ending abortion is not even a meaningful part of his campaign, and, consequently, as head of the party, it’s no longer a meaningful part of the GOP platform.

So we move on to ask ourselves a second question: "But what about SCOTUS appointments? Won't that help?" I get why some people hold a flicker of hope that he just might appoint some judges that just might do something to reverse Roe. And I'm not in the habit of blowing out a man's candle when it's his desperate cling to light in a dark world. But, shoot. I just don't see it. You'd have to estimate that Trump would keep his word and stay the course. Okay. That's not really an estimate, is it? That's more like blind wishful thinking when the man changes his mind more times than Beyonce changes concert outfits. And like Beyonce, this emperor isn't wearing any clothes! But let's say you did estimate some constancy from the man on SCOTUS appointments. Then you'd have to assume Trump would appoint judges who respect the Constitution. But why would we assume that when he doesn't appear to even have read the dang on document or to respect it himself, when he doesn't respect competent sitting judges if they have Mexican heritage, and doesn't respect former POWs like John McCain or fallen soldiers like Mr. Khan who risk and give their lives protecting the U.S. and the Constitution? Friends, don't buy your picante sauce from New York City!

Then there's a third question: "So what is a pro-lifer or single-issue voter to do when they have no candidate and they take the present evil seriously?" Mr. Wilson thinks I should have remained in the quiet, detached position of abstaining as I did in previous elections. But I can't help making estimates, otherwise known as calculated judgments, or to use a biblical phrase, "counting the costs." Now it seems to me a great many of those who say #NeverTrumpNeverHillary are, in a sense, making worried estimates about preserving their own "innocence" in all of this. And it seems to me that they're not only estimating the evil consequences that may come from voting, but also estimating their own righteousness for not voting. It's that latter estimation that I find particularly problematic in this election--if we take seriously the notion that either vote ends in a set of evil outcomes. For we can't wash our hands of the election and decree our own righteousness while standing by doing nothing as admitted evil makes its progress. I don't think Jesus will be very impressed with any of the ways His people stand by while identifiable wrong advances. It wasn't praised in the Pharisees and scribes, and I highly doubt it'll be praised among evanjellyfish either. Doug mentioned "other strategies" we have. I think he'd better serve the church writing about those strategies, because they seem preciously few nowadays.

But if this is "a battle enjoined" as Wilson put it, then there aren't going to be any "innocents," beloved. Who can lift up clean hands if they see murder practiced apace and don't at least try to slow it? You see, the estimates of this war include the lives of babies unborn--nearly 3 million in the next four years. But it also includes other costs we're bound to face: further erosion of constitutional authority, deeper divisions along ethnic lines, a return to Neanderthal attitudes toward women, restrictions of religious liberties, curtailing of civil rights, and a host of others. Count all the costs. You'll likely conclude you're warring against a king's army several times larger than your own. Offensive strikes will look silly and ill-conceived. You're down to defense. So put out your best defenses. Do what you must to hold the line as best you can. Clearly we aren't going to win the war with either candidate in the next four years. But can we limit or slow the damage? Is there a candidate against whom we have a stronger defense? I know that's gradualist thinking, but Doug is a gradualist with slavery so he ought to be one with abortion, too.

It's all really very simple. The oft cited "All that's needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" is spot on. Doing nothing is not an option. So estimating becomes necessary. We must read the prospectus and decide, despite the fine print, whether we think past performance tells us anything about future results. And for my part, I've taken the rather pedestrian position that we know how to play defense with a conventional politician (Clinton), but we've never seen the likes of candidate Trump who blows hard where he wills and changes directions before his breath has stilled.

I think we can at least restrain evil in this election, even if we can't positively foster the good. Those who would rather not dirty their hands and feign a position of innocence have to give an account for how they are trying to do at least that much--restraining what should be restrained even if they can't altogether defeat it. If a person can't do that, then they should probably ask the Lord to search their heart for ethical sinkholes.

As I've written elsewhere (see here, skip to the bottom if you like), knowing GOP and evangelical antipathy toward all things Clinton, and considering her utterly unoriginal, predictable, and conventional career, I estimate we can better oppose a "President Clinton" than a "President Trump," who is impervious to counsel or correction, has the emotional stability of a 2-year-old, and eviscerates any claims to moral high ground for anyone who actively supports or endorses him.

And Then There’s Chicago

Now I really should end this post here, but there's so much in Wilson's critique that needs answering. And I shouldn't end before making a brief comment on his use of Chicago and all the troubles there.

Doug, you really should consider going to Chicago and working on issues there. You seem to love evoking the carnage and suffering there, but I can't find a place where you demonstrate much compassion and investment. The shame game you seem to be running is tired. The more you talk about it the more you seem to politicize it rather than offer anything. I know good people there who live and work in the community you so easily use as the poster community for Black dysfunction. Like the woman who just picked me up from the airport. Her family moved to Chicago when she was 10, probably on the tail end of the Great Migration. They’ve been in Christian ministry in that city for 30 years. They live, work, worship, and serve there with great concern for the community. I don’t think your comments help people like this sister and her husband one bit.

Of course, do as you wish. But my counsel would be leave it alone until you get over some tone deafness and can communicate some Christian empathy in the proper conversations.

Now I'll Hush Up

So to conclude, we can no more live without making estimates than a fish can live without water. Indeed we swim in estimates--from how long our morning commute is likely to be, to how faithful a potential spouse is apt to behave, to whether it’s worth anyone's time to read a blog. Indeed, walking by faith may just be the biggest estimate of all, and yet the Lord requires we do so, contra the assertion that lacking crystal balls means we should have none at all.

Always Get More Than One Estimate is a post from: Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in abortion, Christian living, Christianity and politics, Donald Trump, Doug Wilson, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Slavery | Comments Off