I have an issue

Forgive me.  I have to get political.

There’s this phrase, “single-issue voter”.  There are people who decide who to vote for based on a candidate’s position on one particular topic.  Sometimes they’re simply deciding who to vote against, without considering who and what they’re actually voting for.  That’s true to a historic degree in this presidential election, when we have the two most disliked major party candidates ever.

I’m not naming names- yet.  My problem with this approach is more general.  People who call themselves single-issue voters are one of two things:

They’re lazy.

If there is anyone out there who really looks only at a candidate’s position on one particular issue, then they’re just being lazy.  More than that, they’re being foolish.

God put this brain in our heads that’s capable of doing computations far more complex than any computers we have built, and He means for us to use it.  We ought to weigh all sides, take many variables into consideration, and judge wisely.  If we try to avoid the work of exercising sound judgment by redefining the problem to a single issue, preferably one that’s most convenient or interesting or beneficial to ourselves, we are being inexcusably lazy.

The only other explanation is

They’re not single-issue.

If you reduce the problem of choice to one criterion, you are taking a position about every other issue: namely, that they don’t matter.  You’ve taken a glance at a candidate’s stance on other issues and decided they’re not wrong enough to make you a two-or-more-issue voter.

But it’s possible to prioritize an issue more than it deserves.   If you can listen to a candidate promise genocide or nuclear winter and still make, say, NAFTA your single issue, you have some really messed up priorities.  If you care more about defending a particular tax break than about children dying, you should seriously consider the condition of your soul.

Of course the choices are more complicated than that.  But if you know that there would be a line somewhere where you would no longer be a single-issue voter, then you never were a single-issue voter.  You were simply saying that the other issues were not as important to you.

Our priorities are not neutral.

The issues we prioritize are not morally neutral.  Some things really are more important than others.  I’m just going to boil this down to the elementary Sunday school level.  This is the order:




First, you obey God.  Then, you care for your neighbor.  Last, you look out for your own welfare.  You can argue about the relative importance of issues within a category, and you can even see an issue as falling on more than one level.  But if you’re ambivalent about religious liberty or racial discrimination and make the estate tax your single issue?  I seriously doubt Jesus is cool with that set of priorities.

Disagree wisely

I have seen some truly awful justifications, by professing Christians, for their voting choices.  I obviously have some opinions.  You do, too.  Christian liberty means that we might disagree.

But for heaven’s sake, family, let’s be honest and not be lazy.  Let’s do our duty as dual citizens of this world as well as the one to come.  Do your research.  Be honest about how you’re weighing your options.  Reason faithfully about what you make your priorities.  Have good reasons.