We must not sacrifice consistent morality for political pragmatism
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Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:
WORTHY IS THE (CONOR) LAMB? COLUMNIST THINKS SO
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry will recognize the Scripture, “Worthy is the lamb who was slain.” That is also the title of a New York Times column by David Brooks that was published back on March the 15th, “Worthy is the Lamb.”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t looking at Easter; he was looking at a political event, particularly, Conor Lamb’s victory in Pennsylvania. Our listeners will likely remember that Conor Lamb beat Rick Saccone in that special election for Congress outside of Pittsburgh.
David Brooks looks at Conor Lamb’s victory and says, “This is a glimmer of home that the Democrats may go the way of morals and character.” He points out that Lamb was a military veteran; that Lamb was careful to put the problems of his district first — the opioid crisis, retirement, security, labor issues; he emerges from a serious moral tradition — he’s a Catholic and attended parochial school run by Christian brothers; he campaigned in a way designed to bridge divisions, not exacerbate them; and he opposed both Nancy Pelosi in Congressional leadership races.
Moral character, Brooks said, is always the same essential things: putting a higher love like nation over a lower love like party.
WHY USE SCRIPTURE TO SUPPORT POLITICS?
DR. REEDER: Whenever someone takes a statement assigned in Scripture in singular glory to the God of glory, specifically to my Savior, as the phrase, “Worthy is the lamb,” which is declared in Heaven … The apostle, John, is on the isle of Patmos and he is overwhelmed with the question, “Who can open the seals of the redeeming work of Christ?” — the seven seals — and then he hears a voice saying, “Look, there is one who is worthy.” And then he says, “I looked and, behold, the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah.” And so, the lion has become the lamb to redeem us from our sins and the lion who has become the lamb is worthy to open the seals.
I am immediately and pointedly adverse to any use of a statement attributed to God to be attributed anywhere else and about anything else, so I have to admit that the statement had me on the wrong foot to begin with because of its blasphemy.
FURTHERMORE, CONOR LAMB IS NOT MORALLY SERIOUS
David Brooks normally makes statements that have some weightiness to it and he has a number of insights that I have found helpful from time to time, but I have to say that this article evacuated almost all of that, at least momentarily.
Where he assigns all of this moral turpitude to Conor Lamb, well, the fact is, yes, he is a military veteran and I’m thankful for that. And, yes, he did say, “I’m concerned about the opioid epidemic and retirement and workers and all of those things.” He sounded the right notes and he said, “I’m just concerned about my people, not about the Democratic Party.”
Therefore, David Brooks says, “Here’s the Democratic wave of the future. Run to the center with moral seriousness, with moral sobriety.” In fact, he’ll end up his article with the interesting statement, “Conor Lamb may be wrong on a bunch of stuff, but he’s a breath of fresh air for the country because he is restoring character and shared moral norms that matter most. Policy is secondary.”
MORALITY DOES MATTER MOST, BUT ONLY CONSISTENT MORALITY
That’s right, morality matters most, policy is secondary and I agree with that, but Conor Lamb is not the poster child for this. He is said to be morally serious because of what he has said — well, the fact is he may say, “I’m running against Pelosi,” but the reality is he upholds every policy in the Democratic party, even the policy of putting to death the unborn, even the murder of the unborn.
Here is what he says — and, interesting, David Brooks applauds this meaningless statement of supposed character principle — “I am personally opposed to abortion, but I will not oppose political or legislative affirmations of the right of a woman to ‘human reproductive health’.”
That is not human reproductive health — that is human reproductive murder. And that statement tells you that Conor Lamb is not morally serious. It also tells you that David Brooks must not be morally serious if he declares such a candidate as a morally serious candidate.
If you are personally opposed to abortion, then you have to oppose it in policy. If you have the character to say abortion is the murder of unborn child, then you have the responsibility of character to oppose it politically and legislatively.
The reality is Conor Lamb marches in lock-step to the horrendous policies of the Democratic platform to kill babies in the womb. That is not moral seriousness — that is a vacuous moral posturing.
NOT JUST A WARNING FOR DEMOCRATS
And, by the way, let me go to the other side to Republicans. You’ve got to be able to see this same thing. For instance, as we’re working through this issue of the “Stormy Daniels,” alleged accusations that she’s been involved with President Trump — let me emphasize alleged — I understand of all that. I listened to portions of the interview with her and there’s nothing overwhelmingly convincing about evidence there and everybody has to have the evidence.
And people say to me, “Well, he paid the $130,000.00. Isn’t that an admission of guilt?” It may be. We need to find that out. It may also be, “Hey, the election’s two weeks around the corner. Let’s get rid of this and try to get through the election.” I don’t know, but I do know this: it matters to me whether or not my president is engaged in such activities. That is a character issue for me.
KEEP THIS MORALITY STANDARD IN MIND FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP
And it’s not enough for me that my president makes the right decisions politically. I am glad for that, I am glad that we have a Supreme Court justice that he nominated, I am glad that he is publicly opposed to Planned Parenthood, I am glad for many of the appointments that he has made that are of sound moral character and that are functioning evangelical Christians with a Christian world and life view — I am glad for all of that, but it still matters to me what the president does concerning his marriage vows. That matters to me.
I agree with David Brooks’ statement. Policy and pragmatic competency in a politician does not — pardon the pun — trump character for me. Character is crucial. It is the most essential thing in any leader.
I would say to all of the conservatives out there: you can’t say to Democrats who would excuse Bill Clinton’s sexual promiscuity and perversion on the basis that his policies were working and he’s a good and effective politician and then you turn around and excuse the behavior of your effective politician. You just can’t do that.
Mr. Brooks, I’m with you. Let’s have some moral seriousness but, Mr. Brooks, you’re dead wrong: the notion that I can be personally opposed to the murder of unborn children in the womb and not doing anything about it politically or legislatively and, on the contrary, I will embrace a platform that has a genocidal assault on the unborn, that foundational issue is what is leading to a culture of death, both at the beginning of life and at the end of life and now on the schoolyards and in the church buildings around the entire life of our culture. That’s not morally serious.
KEEP GOD IN POLITICAL STANDARDS, BUT DON’T PROFANE HIM BY PICKING AND CHOOSING
May I finally conclude by bringing, hopefully, reverence to the profane use of the headline “Worthy is the Lamb.” The Lamb is worthy. The Lamb who is worthy is the One who we celebrate who took our place on the cross — not the lambs of this world that cannot redeem us, but the Lamb of God Who has redeemed us and I want to bring His message.
To conservatives and my Republican friends, it is important that you do not sacrifice “Do not commit adultery” for political pragmatism and policy engagement. I love effective politics and I hate false allegations, but we must never become unserious about the ethical absolutes of God’s Law — “You shall not murder;” “You shall not commit adultery.” And if you’re willing to embrace that for political expediency whether you’re on the right or the left, that leads to nothing but the destruction of a society.
We need leaders who set the thermostat, not of perfection — we only get our perfection from the Lamb of God — “Worthy is the Lamb”. We also get His atoning death for our sins, but when you come to that Lamb, then you begin to desire a life that will honor Him. Even as the apostle Paul said, “I beseech you, walk in a manner worthy of your calling.”
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.