Paige Patterson is the president at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has been a pastor, evangelist, professor, and denominational leader for over 50 years.
He penned the following article, full of reflection about the 2016 election and the pending decision all American citizens — including Christians—have to make before going into the voting booth.
I asked for and received from Dr. Patterson his permission to print the column here in its entirety.
What do April 30, 1945, and Nov. 8, 2016, have in common?
The first date was the culmination of World War II. On that fateful day, Adolf Hitler apparently shot himself in the mouth as Russian soldiers moved in on his compound. But in the midst of all that tragedy, an interesting saga played itself out in Germany. Before Hitler realized that he had lost the war, almost all other Germans knew it well. The Russians were closing from the East, and the Americans came from the West. The dilemma of many German troops was relatively simple: “Shall we surrender to the Russians or shall we head west and surrender to the Americans?” Apparently no small number made every effort to fall into the hands of the Americans.
No one knew for sure what would happen to them if they opted for the American option. But the German army knew well what would happen if they were overtaken by Russian generals. In the end, it was what they knew, not what they did not know, that forced their choice. Having heard and often experienced the kindness of American soldiers, many decided that this was the best hope for the future.
And what about Nov. 8, 2016 — election day in America? Apparently, there has never been an election quite like it. The two presidential candidates both sport disapproval ratings among the highest of any candidates in history. What on earth shall Christians do? Some have said that they will stay home that November morning and stoke the fire in the fireplace. Others will write in a preferred name—some have even said that this name will be “Jesus.”
There is another interesting aspect to this dilemma. There are actually three different ways to vote for Hillary Clinton. The first is the one that she prefers. Pull the lever for her to be the next president of the United States. But if you cannot bear to do that, then write in the name of a candidate who has no chance of winning or pour another cup of coffee and watch a vacuous TV show at home. Mrs. Clinton will be pleased, because she is confident that the vast majority of Democrats and other liberals WILL vote for her even if they intensely dislike her and do not trust her. “The sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
We know what will happen if the win goes to Mrs. Clinton. Judges throughout the judiciary will be appointed from among those who support the execution of preborns under the dubious rhetoric of caring for the health of women (those who managed to be born, that is). These same judges will continue to attack the religious liberty of evangelical Christians, and the preaching of much that the Bible teaches will be interpreted as “hate crimes,” especially if proclaimed in a public setting.
On the other hand, we have no idea what Donald Trump will do. His record is anything but stellar. But we do know what he has promised, and we are already aware of the docket of judges from which he promises to name those charged with the protection of constitutional rights. Should he keep his promises on only half of these issues, Americans will have a chance to save the lives of infants still protected in the wombs of their mothers and the sanctity of religious liberty. The first freedom that alone gives meaning to all of the others will be maintained in a world that desperately needs this witness.
A presidential election is not about whether you like someone. Neither is it about whether you agree with him on everything. When was the last time you voted for a president with whom you agreed at every point? Like the Germans and their surrender, the question is simple: Do you cast a ballot, in any one of three ways, that you know for sure will be devastating to preborn infants and to religious liberty, or do you cast a vote for a candidate who offers some hope?
We must hear the warning of Christ and see to it that the children of this world will not be wiser than the children of light. Every infant must be the recipient of a voting parent or grandparent who wishes to give that child a chance to live. And our religious liberty must be preserved!
Choose the candidate who offers hope, not the candidate who guarantees disaster. And you will make that decisive choice!