There is an election day myth that attempts to convince voters of the inferior methodology of choosing a candidate based on a single issue. The myth most often is summarized by this simple expression: “That’s just one issue.” Abortion is the usual issue in mind when the election day myth is spread, and it is typically accompanied by this popular phrase: “If you are going to be pro-life, you have to be pro-life on all the issues.” It’s a catchy “gotcha’ to demonstrate the lack of consistency in a person’s political leanings when they might strongly support an anti-abortion campaign, but in turn support a campaign that is pro-capital punishment, or a campaign that is seen as weak in other social related issues.
The election day myth is just that…a myth. Here’s why.
John Doe is a tremendous up and coming politician. He has demonstrated a remarkable ability to make meaningful connections and exert purposeful influence across party lines. His economic strategy is ground breaking. His tax plan actually makes sense. And on top of it all, he is a likable guy, fun to be around. But then, something very strange happens. Just a couple of months before the upcoming election day where he is a sure favorite for the senate (or governor, or president, or whatever), John Doe makes a dramatic change of heart on a single issue: Race. His position on race has changed but it is very specific…John Doe does not believe African Americans should enjoy the same benefits from our government as other races do. White, Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and the rest are seen by John as equal, but he has become convinced that African Americans are one step below other races.
John’s tax plan is still the best of all time. His ideas on foreign relations are brilliant. He strikes a splendid balance between economic and social issues. All looks perfect, except on this one issue. Of course, it doesn’t matter. It’s just one issue. We are more than willing to overlook John’s clear weakness on race because he can do so much good in a myriad of other areas – sure, the African American community is not going to receive those benefits as much as other races might, but we need to keep our eye on the big picture. We can’t let one issue sway our vote.
Silly, isn’t it? After John Doe made public his position on race, he would be the fastest dropped candidate in election day history, all because of one issue and despite his mastery in multiple issues.
Based on this one scenario, we can see how quickly the election day myth is debunked. All of us have the potential to let a single issue sway our vote.
Now, here’s the reason why everyone reading this article will agree that John’s one issue would kill his chances of being elected – because we have collectively as a nation rightly understood racism to be wrong. Period. It is a moral absolute and despite whatever good the candidate might be able to do in a host of other areas, something so blatantly wrong and harmful as racism clearly supersedes any brilliance John Doe might have on every other issue.
As barbaric as it might be, we have not collectively understood abortion to be wrong. Thus, for many it simply becomes another issue to toss into the mix. But for those who are convinced that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, the mandate to be a one issue voter becomes much clearer.
For evangelical Christians, the issue is raised to an even greater level. This human life is a life that is designed in God’s image. This isn’t luck, chance, or the ongoing pointlessness of an evolutionary process that exists outside of a Creator. This life inside the womb has the DNA of God stamped all over them.
For those who consider the unborn to be something other than human, abortion should simply be another issue. For those who consider the unborn to be human, abortion is the issue. There really is not, and should not be, any middle ground. Author Greg Koukl correctly writes, “If the unborn are not human, no justification for elective abortion is necessary. But if the unborn are human, no justification for elective abortion is adequate.” (Precious Unborn Human Persons, page 7). Thus, the ultimate issue is about the state of the unborn.
I will admit my personal frustration when evangelical Christians seem torn on this issue. The Scriptures repeatedly teach the unborn to be human life, even to the point of addressing how the unborn need a Savior. John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41). As an adult, David recognized he was sinful even while in the womb (Psalm 51:5). God knows every minute detail of our humanity during our time in the womb (Psalm 139:13). These are the things that must compel our thinking about the unborn as Christians, and likewise to raise the taking of innocent human life to the highest of places among the issues.
But the point of this article is to simply make a plea – do not criticize a voter who, because of their position on the unborn, escalates abortion to the top of the issue list as the first and foremost factor by which they differentiate between candidates. Hopefully one day the United States will be as repulsed by abortion as we are by racism. But until that day comes, some of us will remain one issue voters.
*you can receive an email when PhilipMeade.com is updated by clicking here.