There is raging debate within American Christendom about what to do with Mitt Romney. Three schools of thought have emerged.
The first group is trying to put lipstick on a pig by pretending that Romney didn’t deliver the kill-shot to marriage in Massachusetts, didn’t beat Obama to the punch with government-mandated healthcare that included taxpayer-funded child killing, hasn’t at some point taken a liberal position on every issue, isn’t a self-proclaimed champion of gay rights, and hasn’t been caught lying and flip-flopping more times than you can say John Kerry. These are the Republican-firsters. They have no king but the chairman of the RNC, whom they’re almost as grateful to for the food on their dinner table each night as they are to God. Heck, they think God can only work through the RNC. These are the people that put the Bush-Cheney bumper sticker on the back of their car before the Jesus fish. This group believes any Republican that will kill one less baby, steal one less dollar, and tell one less lie than the Democrats is credited unto him righteousness. What they call being practical or pragmatic is really prostitution.
The second group is primarily driven by theology and the ministry of the Gospel. They may or may not vote, but see the political system as at best a means to an end, if not an outright diversion from the church’s true calling of calling sinners to repentance and offering the grace found through faith in Christ alone. This group will barely glance at Romney’s RINO record because they can’t get past the fact he’s bishop in the Mormon Church, which to them means he’s a polytheistic Bible and Christ-denier following a false prophet named Joseph Smith. The more folks like Joel Osteen blur the lines between Sola Scriptura and Mormonism, and the more evangelical institutions like Liberty University provide Romney a platform, the louder these folk will become in order to maintain the integrity and centrality of the Gospel. Knowing that Mormonism has sought from its inception to replace Biblical orthodoxy, they will push back against Romney being culturally portrayed as a “Jackie Robinson” for the Mormon Church.
The third group sees no conflict between their political activism and their personal Christian witness, but that rather their activism is just a natural result of their witness. Their Christian witness is what drives them into the political arena. They see the Word of God as the antidote to a culture in disarray and decline, and by introducing these Biblical principles into the mainstream culture they can both preserve freedom and liberty for future generations while also introducing the sick to the Great Physician. Within this camp there are (at-times) competing factions. One is driven by the lesser of two evils, while the other is growing increasingly hostile to compromise (some to the point of abandoning the Republican Party altogether).
Obviously with human beings nothing is ever quite this cut and dried, and at times all of us who consider ourselves Christians may find ourselves in and out of these various camps (sometimes simultaneously). But in general you get the picture.
Romney’s candidacy is a challenge to each of these paradigms, but for different reasons.
To the Republican-firsters, trying to intellectually atone for all of Romney’s unrepentant sins is a bridge too far and impossible to do without annihilating their own integrity. They want Jeremiah Wright vetted, but any vetting of Mormonism’s historical and theological claims is then labeled religious bigotry. They want Obamacare repealed, but are willing to overlook its predecessor Romneycare. They oppose Obama for many things we have a video record of Romney in his own words also supporting at some point in time.
To those focused on their ministry and would prefer a laissez faire approach to the culture war, Romney’s religion and all the questions and attention it will generate in the media will make it impossible for them to abstain. They will be dragged, willing or unwillingly, into the City of Man for a discussion that will make them appear as either partisans or obstructionists—depending on your political perspective.
In the third and final camp there is the risk of an all-out civil war between those who believe we can’t afford four more years of Obama no matter who the GOP nominates (“the lesser of two evils”), and those who after evaluating Romney’s record and rhetoric just can’t bring themselves to vote for “Obama-light”—as Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association once described Romney on my radio program.
It’s the divide within this third and final group that could have the most lasting impact on the American political landscape in the next generation, because it’s the group most consistently engaged on the issues. The Republican-firsters will always walk the green mile for the GOP, no matter how many planks in its platforms it throws under the bus. And those focused primarily on repentance and salvation will always be the first line of defense in the culture war even if they’d prefer not to fight it, for you cannot win the culture war as long as there are legions more unrepentant sinners than redeemed saints. There would be no Declaration of Independence without the Great Awakening, for the only people capable of self-governance are a moral people.
It’s way past time for Christians to come now and reason together on what our integrity and witness cannot allow us to do. As I recently told pastor and theologian Doug Wilson on my radio program, as a Christian I’m very uncomfortable with the idea that when it comes to politics no one ever tells me what I can’t do. How can I be a person who believes in absolute truth yet not be accountable to moral absolutes? Does God define the sanctity of life by declaring “do not murder,” or does the GOP define the sanctity of life by declaring “we’ll killer fewer than the Democrats?” As Christians, our moral standard is to be God’s and not man’s.
Yet as an alternative to the inexcusables on Romney’s record is the Obama Regime, which is so openly hostile to any form of righteousness they will even attack Ann Romney simply for being a mom. No moral foundation and no American tradition are sacred to the Social Reconstructionism that drives the Obama Regime. As someone on my Facebook wall recently put it, “I think Romney might destroy the country we love the next four years if given the chance, but I know Obama will.”
On one hand, I could make the case we’re better off if Romney loses because we saw McCain’s loss four years ago gave rise to the Tea Party, and galvanized a level of activism that would’ve never occurred if not confronted with the specter of Obama. On the other hand, if this is how far left Obama takes us when he still has to face the scrutiny of the voters for re-election, what will he try to do in a second term when he no longer does?
All this to say that the same moral conscience that won’t allow me to vote for Romney is the same moral conscience that won’t allow me to condemn my fellow patriots who do, given the cliff the nation finds itself dangling from. As Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council recently put it, we’re “in a real pickle.”
That’s why I think we should stop fighting amongst ourselves. We’re not on the ballot. Mitt Romney is. If Romney wants our vote, it’s his responsibility to make the case for it, not our responsibility to sell ourselves to him. He’s the prospective employee, and we’re the employers. Besides, there are plenty of other good candidates and causes out there worth fighting for this fall beyond Romney, and we cannot afford to allow our disappointment in Romney to trickle down to them.
I think the Republican Party establishment Romney represents wants us to fight amongst ourselves like this, because divide and conquer is the oldest strategy there is. The Republican Party establishment wants to prove it can win without us, so that they can banish us to the kids’ table forevermore. Let’s not play into their hands, but instead play out the hand we’ve been dealt to do the most good that we can, and then if Romney (like all his other establishment predecessors) loses this fall, that Mitt-Stake will solely be the responsibility of the same Republicrats who always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
In the meantime, remember Benjamin Franklin once observed that God does still “govern in the affairs of men.” If that’s true, then what is He trying to tell us about ourselves that we are left with such deeply flawed choices?
When we answer that question correctly, then we won’t get fooled again.
Steve Deace's nationally-syndicated radio show airs coast-to-coast each weeknight from 9-Midnight eastern, including many of the Salem Radio Network's top conservative talk stations in markets like New York City, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Minneapolis. His radio program has been featured in major media such as Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, The Weekly Standard, and National Review among others. In 2013 he wrote the second-most shared column of the year for USA Today, defending "Duck Dynasty" and traditional American values. In addition to being a contributor for Town Hall.com, Deace is also a columnist for The Washington Times. He is also the author of the new book Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again, which includes a foreword by David Limbaugh and is endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.