World Magazine is addressing the issues head on.
It’s two weeks since the Supreme Court rocked American evangelicals by nationalizing same-sex marriage. It’s also 150 years since the greatest inaugural address ever given. Abraham Lincoln at his second inaugural culminated his attempt to find meaning in the Civil War by finally trusting God—and we can learn from his conclusions.
Here’s a key section:
“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’”
Lincoln’s comment goes deeper than Thomas Jefferson’s famous statement that “One man with courage makes a majority.” Jefferson’s dictum works only if that man is on God’s side. Sometimes we fear that five Supreme Court justices will determine our future. Christians know that the real election is God’s. Many campaigners for universal suffrage have spoken of “One man, one vote.” But elections only decide who will rule us if God votes the same way. He raises up presidents. He drives them out of office. One God, one vote.
If we believe what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, the way we look at politics changes. Secular Republicans often say that strong pro-life or pro-family positions aren’t pragmatic. But Lincoln came to understand that he had to pay attention to voters, yes, but the real decider was one Supreme Voter: “The Almighty has His own purposes.”
If we believe that God is the crucial actor in history, then His vote is decisive. Pragmatism, if it ignores God’s vote, can sometimes be pandering to a temporary majority. Only when we follow biblical principle—discerning which is God’s side and joining it—are we truly pragmatic.