It has been a remarkable phenomenon taking place in the last few years, and the tide only seems to be getting stronger. Since the halcyon days of the Moral Majority, the Republican Party has been the proud defender of “traditional family values.” We knew that much of this support was tepid at best, but it was there nonetheless. The party platform opposed abortion, an unspeakable evil that must be opposed by anyone with basic moral sense. It stood for the “traditional family” against many initiatives pushed by the social progressives on the other side of the aisle.
But the struggle was most noticeable in the battle for a biblical definition of marriage. It is no easy thing to look into your Bible and come up with the idea that God approves of the marriage of two men or two women, requiring hermeneutical gymnastics that would amaze Gabby Douglas. Until 2012, the masses in America stood with us on the issue. Every time homosexual marriage was put on the ballot, “one man and one woman” prevailed. Even the socially liberal president Obama, the most aggressively pro-abortion president we’ve had, refused to announce his support for gay marriage until a year or so ago.
But, with a few RINO exceptions, Republicans stood foursquare and unyielding behind our convictions – that marriage was intended to be a union of one man and woman that lasted a lifetime.
Many years ago, Ed Dobson and Cal Thomas wrote a powerful book, “Blinded by Might,” which warned Christians about the fundamental difference between the church and political parties. It is nice when a political party shares our values, but we must understand that political parties have core principles that stand at odds with our mission even when some of our positions overlap. According to Dobson and Thomas, politics is about power – gaining it and maintaining it. Politicians will tend to do what they need to do to get elected and stay in office. The church is (supposed to be) about truth – proclaiming it regardless of whether it is popular or not.
That distinction has been demonstrated as truth in a startling way in the last couple of years. The media has engaged in a relentless campaign to paint those who hold to traditional marriage as bigoted, backward, hateful dolts. Slowly, the tide seemed to turn. The process got a huge shot in the arm when Obama changed his stance (to no one’s surprise) and became a supporter of gay marriage. The floodgates opened and public opinion shifted. For the first time, in the 2012 election, states voted for homosexual marriage and polls began to show that the majority in our land were in favor of, or at least accepting of, gay marriage.
Since the 2012 election in which Obama won reelection, Republicans have begun to abandon the sinking ship of “traditional marriage” demonstrating that their support was not so much rooted in principle or conviction, but in pragmatism. They supported our view largely because it was popular and would help them gain and maintain power. As soon as public opinion shifted, so did they.
Which leads me to the conclusion I stated in the title. We were used. Of course, there are Republicans of conviction and principle who will hold on to their beliefs even if it costs them at the ballot box. I’m guessing they are as rare and probably as endangered a species as pro-life Democrats. Some of the trusted luminaries of the conservative movement have already announced that they want to and want the Republican party to “get on the right side of history.”
Conservative Christians and our values were used by the Republican party as a voting bloc to win elections. We were a useful tool in their goal to wrest power from the liberal democrats and to hold it themselves. As public opinion shifts, more and more of them will “see the light” and announce that they are aboard the gay marriage train!
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to us.
1) Republicans have never made social issues a priority when they had power. Some of the most liberal and activist members of the Supreme Court are Republican appointees. Even when Republicans held power, little more than lip service was given to abortion issues. We were a voting bloc, not a conviction, for the party most of us have supported.
2) Political opportunism is anything but new. George Bush (the elder) switched his views on abortion soon after becoming Reagan’s VP candidate. Mitt Romney was a pro-choice governor of Massachusetts but at about the same time his aspirations turned toward national office, he had a moment of enlightenment at which he became pro-life. Since I think pro-life is the only moral choice, I do not deny the possibility that someone could come to his senses and see the evil of killing babies in their mother’s wombs. But the timing of that is convenient at best and craven at worst.
3) The news over the last 20 years is full of stories of “family values” hypocrites, who while proclaiming conservative values lived secret lives of dishonesty, immorality and perversion – more evidence that these values were anything but heart-passions.
A legitimate argument can be held as to just how Christian America ever was. Even Christian historians divide on the subject. Certainly, there were some biblical values built into our governing documents and we see the hand of a sovereign God guiding us. On the other hand, racism has been deeply imbued into our national existence since almost the beginning, even defended by many in “Christian America.” Hypocrisy and hidden sin have always been present.
But “Christian America” is gone (or at least mortally wounded and in the throes of death). We are no longer a nation that sees ourselves as responsible or answerable to God. Our highest value is personal happiness and comfort. Following God’s law has been replaced as a goal by a “follow your heart” ethic.
I do not know what I will do in the future. I am blessed that my congressman (Steve King) is one of the few convictional conservatives among Republicans. I vote for him with enthusiasm. But by 2016, I would be willing to wager (if I were a betting man) that the GOP will have nominated its last “traditional marriage” candidate for national office. Abortion? Not sure. Right now, the mood in America is more split concerning the unthinkable brutality of abortion. But if the mood switches so will GOP support! We were never a passion for the GOP. We were used for their purposes, to be cast away when we get in the way.
All of this is to make this point. For years, some Christians have said that we should not put our faith in political parties. Back in the heady days of the Reagan era, a lot of Christians believed that the GOP would help to restore “truth, justice and the American Way” in this land. That hope is now gone. Not only should we not trust political parties, we CANNOT! We MUST not!
We have been used for our votes. As soon as public opinion shifted, we are being cast aside for the sake of political expedience.
The only question left is whether the church is a place of conviction or not. Will we hold to what the Bible says even when we are hated for it? Will we compromise as the Democrats and Republicans have? Are we committed to the truth even if it brings cultural rejection, ostracism and even persecution, or are we another political entity seeking power and influence, willing to shift our views to maintain it?
Time will tell.