By Jack Wilkie
What will a man give in exchange for his soul? A political victory? The way many are handling the case of Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, the answer is apparently “yes.”
I’m really not going to get into whether Moore is guilty, and I’m not advocating automatically believing the accusers. I’m not getting into the election, either. But the way Moore’s supporters (a large percentage of them evangelicals/Christians) have responded to the allegations is concerning. The comments that have come out in his defense (most of which have been repeated and spread all over social media) suggest that some have no problem with selling their souls in exchange for the success of the Republican party. For many the party has won their loyalty over God’s word, and you can see that truth in their responses.
They’ve responded with a partisan confirmation bias. Confirmation bias occurs all the time in the political world, and it’s not limited to any one party. We want to believe the best about our people and the worst about our opponents. But Christians should not get mired in partisanship. Our loyalty is to the truth, not to a party.
Loyalty to the truth would dictate withholding judgment until all of the facts are out on the table rather than instantly choosing one side or the other. As mentioned, automatically believing the accusers without question isn’t fair to the accused… but automatically disbelieving the accusers isn’t fair, either. Yet when someone we don’t like gets accused, we instantly believe it, saying, “Yup, sounds about right for Hollywood/the Democrats/whoever.” When someone we support gets accused, we make excuses – “Why didn’t the accusers say anything years ago?” – but we don’t allow those same excuses for the people we want to see fall. Sure, the accusations came at a curious time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re untrue. Again, it’s our job to weigh evidence and side with truth rather than instantly jumping to defend one party or the other.
That’s not what’s happening in this case, though. 37% of Alabama evangelicals say they are now MORE likely to support Moore. I understand if people wanted to reserve judgment and wait until some of these reports are vetted. But to become even more likely to support someone in the midst of such disturbing allegations without having the certainty to say they are untrue? That speaks volumes. In the chance that this is true, it would be a grave injustice to have stood with a pedophile over those he took advantage of, only for political victory. It’s that exact kind of injustice that God furiously condemned in the days of the minor prophets.
They’ve also responded by embracing moral relativism. One of the most saddening, most revealing studies about Christianity and politics done in recent memory came out last year. Conducted by PRRI/Brookings, it showed that in the course of just 5 years, a massive chunk of the evangelical voting base completely changed their minds on morality in politics. In 2011, 30% of white evangelicals said that “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” By 2016, that number had jumped all the way to 72%. If one’s moral standards are flexible depending on the names on the ballot, they aren’t moral standards at all.
We’re supposed to be the people who are against moral relativism, but when it serves our interests it suddenly has become acceptable. For years Christians and Republicans have (rightly) decried the spread of moral relativism that has taken over our country, but the people who are using these defenses are guilty of the exact same thing. To hammer a political opponent who is accused of misconduct while saying that the same misconduct done by a political ally is excusable is fundamentally unchristian. If you ever said Bill Clinton’s actions made him unfit for office, you’d better be ready to say the same about anyone else.
Unfortunately, excuses (and not good ones) are being made to avoid that consistent standard. “It was 40 years ago, it shouldn’t matter now!” some say. One man went on CNN and claimed that in terms of the legal consequences, sexually assaulting a minor would be no different than stealing a lawnmower, and we wouldn’t hold that against anybody so we shouldn’t hold any claims against Moore, either. Another even made the ridiculous case that Moore dating women half his age would really be no different than Mary and Joseph’s situation. And, as always, there’s the classic “the other party has people who have done worse.” Does that make an immoral act moral? Are we trying to maintain a higher standard or not?
Even if Moore happens to be completely innocent and all accusations are dropped, it’s completely unacceptable for anyone to be using any of those defenses. But those are the natural result when we’re willing to trade morality for power.
Once moral relativism allows us to make that trade, it inevitably leads to hypocrisy. It’s clearly hypocritical to loudly preach one belief while doing another. If we want to have any credibility whatsoever in condemning the world’s sexual sins, we had better not tolerate them when it behooves us.
Why are evangelical conservatives willing to resort to the moral relativism they supposedly hate? Why are they willing to be blatantly hypocritical in their actions? Because politics are their god. It’s a clear case of idolatry. When you’re willing to forego all moral standards and potentially trample the marginalized for political gain, politics have become your god. It is in them, and not the Lord, that you trust.
Consider how much some are sacrificing to the god of political power. Some are literally saying that they would still want Moore in office even if the allegations are proven true.
After a long pause, Alabama Bibb County Republican chairman Jerry Pow tells me he'd vote for Roy Moore even if Moore did commit a sex crime against a girl.
"I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn't want to vote for Doug," he says. "I'm not saying I support what he did."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2017
In my view Moore is guilty as accused. But 1) it happened 30 years ago, & 2) he can't be removed from the ballot, & 3) electing a Dem strengthens a party that defends these criminals: Obama, the Clintons, Holder, Lynch, Abedin, Cheryl Mills etc. &their crimes are far far worse
— David Horowitz (@horowitz39) November 10, 2017
To recap: both a local GOP chairman and a major conservative pundit stated that they don’t care if Moore is guilty because they need him to win. One Alabama resident even said, “This is Republican town, man. (Moore) could have killed Obama, and we wouldn’t care.” All of this is undeniable idolatry. Being willing to sacrifice potential victims of sexual assault and harassment for political gain says that our faith is in a political party and not our God. If all of that doesn’t disgust and infuriate you, I honestly don’t know what will. Unfortunately, rather than being enraged, many feel the exact same way.
Whether Roy Moore is guilty or not, Christians have obligations that must be met. We are obligated to search for the truth to the best of our ability and remove any partisan biases. We’re obligated to maintain a consistent moral standard so as to not be moral relativists, and we’re supposed to follow that standard so as not to be hypocrites. And, we must put our trust in God that if we do uphold His standards, He’ll take care of everything else.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)