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Listen to the 10-min. audio
Read the transcript:
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you today to a story that has been making the headlines the last several days. It’s taking place in your backyard, the state of Alabama and it actually involves some people that you have some relationships with.
It’s the story of Judge Roy Moore, who’s running for the U.S. Senate and it’s also the story of these women who have come forward, saying that, when Roy Moore was 32 and they were teenagers, he approached them and had relationships with them that were improper.
Harry, for many evangelical Christians, it puts them in somewhat of a quandary, that is, “Do I vote for a man who espouses a Christian world and life view, who espouses Christian values, but yet there’s this question mark next to his moral past? Or do I vote for someone who does not espouse Christian values in their political ideology, but yet seems to have a moral lifestyle?”
DR. REEDER: Tom, I have been inundated with people asking me about this. When I first came to Briarwood, a young man, 34-years-old, on a Sunday afternoon, his heart exploded and he died.
The resulting funeral, the sanctuary’s filled with about 3,000 people from all over the world because of his reputation as a businessman.
His partner stood up at the eulogy and said, “There’s two things you need to know. All of you are here because you esteem him as a businessman. What you don’t know is why you esteemed him, perhaps – at least some of you don’t. You esteem him because of his personal relationship with Christ, which leads me to No. 2.
Whenever we had business decisions, it was never a discussion ultimately and finally about what would make the most money. He always looked at me and said, ‘Let’s do the next right thing.’”
So, to my evangelical friends and others who are looking on, “What do I do now? How do I handle this?” Well, you got to do the next right thing.
“Pastor, wasn’t this a hit piece?” Answer: Yes, this was a hit piece and the person that wrote it has said, “I was paid to come and find dirt on Roy Moore.” And, yes, that paper has endorsed his opponent.
It is undoubtedly a hit piece but, for us as believers, it can’t simply be dismissed. We have to deal with the truthfulness of what is being said or not said. It can be a hit piece, but still make a difference if the hit piece is presenting something that is true.
Statute of limitations would render it not a legal issue, so this is a moral and now political issue that faces us.
“Pastor, what about you’re innocent until proven guilty?” Absolutely. Now, of course, that’s in the courtroom that is to be established, but it is fair, also, in the court of public opinion.
We are called, Biblically, to give the judgment of charity, that is, we want to believe the best, but we have to deal with the issue. That doesn’t mean, to believe the best, you dismiss the allegations. It does mean that you want the best and you want to believe the best, but the issues have to be either adjudicated if it’s legal or, in this case, have to be aired out since it is political.
Well, then, what are the choices? Well, I would say, first of all, the choices are with Judge Roy Moore and his team and I have prayed not only for these women, but also for Judge Roy Moore and his team and I’ve prayed for the voters of Alabama and will continue to do so.
But the filters that I would use is Judge Roy Moore has got three choices before him. If these things are true, while as a believer you can be forgiven of that – because, as a believer, you can actually be changed and what would have been a vice in your life before Christ can actually become a strength in your life after Christ – but that does not mean that the consequences of previous behavior might mitigate against future decisions in your life.
For instance, if you go and get drunk and you have a car wreck and you cut your arm off and, the next day, you ask God to forgive you, yes, you’re forgiven of your sin. Yes, you can be transformed and never drink again but, also, you don’t have an arm.
And, if sexual predatory behavior is there and with a minor, then that, I would say, would cause a candidate for the Senate to recuse himself. That would be the next right thing to do.
Well, what if it’s not true? Then you have to fight it and you have to fight it in a way that makes it clear. And, if it is not true, then that will usually be manifested in both the confidence and the passion with which you fight it.
That would bring me to the interview that was done on “The Sean Hannity Show.” With most everybody else, I believe it was less than satisfying on the denials. They were much more Clintonian and much more parsed than it was passionate and clear and categorical.
But, on the other hand, he does deny that it ever happened so what should he do? Well, then you’ve got to mount a defense that gives your voters confidence.
If you can’t, that leads you to a third decision. If they’re not true and you cannot mount a defense, for the sake of the state, for the sake of the Senate, for the sake of the future of the country, I would suggest that you have to withdraw and help the party and the state find a solution.
There are a number of solutions being proposed and I am not a political expert so I am not advising. I’ve been told that the governor could just maintain the appointment of Luther Strange because the special election was not mandated and it was done out of response to the questions about the appointment from Governor Bentley of Luther Strange.
However, this present governor, I understand, could maintain the appointment and, I understand, could change the date of the election. All of that would be politically fraught with controversy, but that could be done.
Or, thirdly, the Republican Party could disavow the candidate and that would disavow the election and nullify it and/or bring forth a write-in candidate for the State of Alabama.
My decision as an Evangelical, it is not framed simply by the political considerations – “What’s my political way out of this?” That’s a second decision. My first decision is, “What is the next right thing to do?”
The next right thing for me to do is to work through it and come to a personal conviction. “Are these allegations true and where does this lead me?”
I may come to the conclusion that the allegations are not true. Well, then, you’re in the position of a Clarence Thomas, who fought back, and fought clearly and was able to mount a defense that disproved the claims of Anita Hill. And the result was we have had a wonderful Supreme Court justice because the allegations were untrue.
So, I have to make that decision and, if they’re true and they have been denied as untrue, then that would further my inability to vote for the candidate because I want my candidate to be transparent and honest.
Now, if they’re untrue and I believe they’re untrue, then I’ve got another whole decision to make and that comes down to two, “They’re untrue and I’m going to vote for him,” or, “They are untrue but I believe that I would encourage my candidate to step aside so that we can bring clarity to the race and the race will not be about your past behavior, but about the positions and the platform of the candidates.
And, therefore, your viability as a candidate and as a future senator has been compromised. Until these allegations can be dismissed, then I would encourage you to step aside and my vote will reflect what I would encourage you to do.”
Finally, as a believer, I am going to pray diligently – diligently – for God’s intervention, providentially, to protect the voters of Alabama in the senatorial context.
As a believer, I am not going to become a pragmatist. “Pastor, don’t you see the Democrats? They surround their candidate and they defend them to the end.”
Well, my issue is not, “Am I a Democrat or a Republican?” I’m a believer and I have to do the next right thing.
And I know, whenever you have a candidate who embraces an ethical platform, then that candidate is going to come under ethical scrutiny. I can’t simply be governed by, quote/unquote, “party loyalty,” even though that’s not applicable to me, personally.
I would say to my friends, “You have, first of all, an allegiance that governs every allegiance and that’s your allegiance with Christ.”
So, in the Word of God and with thoughtfulness and prayer, do the next right thing.
And, Judge Moore, do the next right thing.
And, to the citizens of Alabama, I pray that God will do a glorious thing in our lives and in this wonderful state.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.