A Historic Candidacy That I Can’t Be Happy About

The Democrat primary season has finally wound up, and Senator Barack Obama has secured enough delegates to clinch the Democrat nomination for President. When the polls closed last night in South Dakota and Montana, the cable news networks made the announcement. Almost instantly, the talking heads began reflecting on the historic candidacy of Senator Obama—the first African American to be nominated by a major party for president of the United States.

We all know the history of this country. And we all know why Obama’s candidacy is momentous. Slavery and racism were America’s original sins, and it took a civil war in the 19th century and a civil rights movement in the 20th to address them. What was inconceivable even a generation ago is now a reality. A black American has a better than average chance to win the Presidency of the United States. Everyone can be thankful that the prejudices that would have prevented such a possibility only forty years ago seem to be receding.

I would argue, however, that evaluating a candidate’s qualifications for office should not be based on the color of his skin. Race has nothing to do with assessing the worth of a candidacy. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wise words apply in this particular case. Men should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

There are many issues that Christians should be concerned about as they consider who they will vote for in November. For my part, I have a whole range of items that rank high on my priority list: the war, the economy, tax policy, the definition of marriage… and the list goes on. But one issue transcends all of them for me, and it prevents me from getting excited about what would otherwise be a very historic candidacy. That issue is abortion.

In the United States, it is legal for a baby to be killed at any point during a pregnancy. As a culture and as a matter of law, many Americans have simply decided that unborn babies should not have an inalienable right to life. That is, they have decided that unborn babies should be excluded from the ranks of the wider human community for whom the right to life is a given.

The irony of Senator Obama is that the injustice that his candidacy overcomes (the slavery and racism that excluded black people from the human community) is exactly what undermines his moral credibility as a candidate (his pro-choice opinion that excludes the unborn from the human community). What is particularly troubling is Obama’s more than casual commitment to this point of view. He is doctrinaire when it comes to defending abortion rights and has said “On this fundamental issue, I will not yield.”

I wish I could be happy about this historic candidacy, but I am not. My reason has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with defending the rights of the unborn… red, yellow, black, and white. They are all precious in God’s sight. I wish they were in Obama’s as well.

39 Responses to A Historic Candidacy That I Can’t Be Happy About

  1. Mark Mason June 4, 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    Well said, and I back your comments 100%.

    However, is it true that “In the United States, it is legal for a baby to be killed at any point during a pregnancy”? I thought it was only before a certain length of time after conception. Not that it matters (human life is still human life), but that may not be a true statement.

    Thanks for your stand for the truth even though it might be against the majority.

  2. Todd Pruitt June 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    Mark,

    I believe there are some states that restrict abortions to the first two trimesters. However, Roe v. Wade does not require such restrictions. In Wichita we have a notorious late-term abortionist – George Tiller.

  3. jeremy z June 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm #

    Denny to be honest I hear you using the word “I” a lot. You state:
    “For my part, I have a whole range of items that rank high on my priority list: the war, the economy, tax policy, the definition of marriage… and the list goes on….I wish I could be happy about this historic candidacy….”

    I would encourage you to ask the question of what candidate does God want for America? Who is the best fit for America–the soo called God bless America. This is, however, assuming that God is behind the 2008 American presidential race. What does America need right now? Obviously America is in a trainwreck state because of the Republican agenda. (by the way i am a registered Republican)

    Listen it is not about you or i want, but it ultimately comes down to what God wants. We can sit here and complain and theologize and politicalize all we want, but in the end does our political and theological agenda really matter?

    What if Obama gets elected? Does this imply that God elected him to get elected?
    I would love to hear the Calvinist trying to articulate their theology on that question.
    Denny we get it. We are fully aware this is not about race. If race is not what this is about, then what the negative talk about Obama really about?

    Do you

  4. jeremy z June 4, 2008 at 1:32 pm #

    sorry….i do not know what happen to the rest of my post. i am sorry for the grammatical mistakes.

    bottom line: it will be really interesting to watch the “right” side of Christianity become furious if Obama gets elected.

  5. Brian (Another) June 4, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    Jeremy:

    Just to speak to the Calvinist comment, I Timothy and Romans very specifically address that. I know, you know that. I just thought I would chime in as one who won’t be furious or devastated, but holding a little tighter to a plan about which I’m not familiar but I know is already written (that, of course, is a much bigger discussion, just see the post from a few days ago).

    I think our theological positions do matter. We hold tightly to our theology which drives our political decisions. I think what Denny is doing is theological application. I would venture a guess that he sees what many (some, most, a few) of us see and that is a marginalization of transcendent issues. I know I get tired head when something is discussed over and over and can (all too) quickly become desensitized. I would simply offer up the idea that Denny isn’t letting folks (at least those who read this blog) dismiss something (well, marginalize) because we’re tired of hearing about it (especially as reprehensible as abortion). Then again, what do I know, I’m just a begonia.

    And no prablem ohn teh grammer.

    Brian

  6. Paul June 4, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    Jeremy makes a great point in #3. After all, if God chooses our leaders, then he chose Bill Clinton as well.

    Anyway, the two major candidates we have are both horrific this time out.

    In McCain, there is a man who claims independence, but on precious few votes is he ever anything but a tow the line republican.

    In Obama, there is a man who claims change, but offers nothing new. I would expect a man who claims to be a global citizen to attempt to build a platform based on the best of what the world has to offer. Swedish education, German health care, French vacation schedules, Japanese work ethic and the arts and culture preservation of Western Europe. Instead, we get a guy who is an empty suit, which makes him that much more pitiful during what should have been a historic campaign season.

    But, these were the people we voted for on both sides.

    The Republicans could have proven their allegiance to true right wing politics and voted for Ron Paul. But they didn’t.

    The Republicans could have proven their allegiance to true social conservatism, but they didn’t do that either.

    Instead, they picked the worst of all worlds candidate, John McCain. Congratulations.

    And the Democrats did no better. Instead of putting up an interesting candidate with tons of experience (Chris Dodd), the race came down to the two people most guaranteed to push all of the wrong buttons with a majority of Americans.

    A wise man once said that a democracy gets the candidates it deserves. America has certainly proven that man right in 2008.

  7. Michael Metts June 4, 2008 at 3:22 pm #

    Denny Burk for President ’08 🙂

  8. Ferg June 4, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    My MA for president 2008!!

  9. Ferg June 4, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    thats an Irish statement, I just realised none of you guys would get that. sorry for the racism! :o)

  10. brian l. June 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    God chooses every leader….good and bad:

    For example:
    “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding”
    (Daniel 2:20-21)

    It is silly to say otherwise…

    “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
    (Romans 13:1)

  11. Celucien Joseph June 4, 2008 at 8:10 pm #

    If we hold to and confess the doctrine of grace, (particularly divine sovereignty and predestination) assuredly most of us do here; then Barrack’s presidential nomination should not be a threat to Evangelical Christianity. It is clear in the Isaianic narrative it was God himself who appointed Cyrus King of Persia and used him for his own purpose and glory (Isa.45: 1-13; 10-13). This pagan king was interestingly called the “Lord’s anointed” (Heb. mashiyach [maw-shee’-akh]), which means he was specifically chosen and set apart for a particular task; that is to accomplish all God’s desires. Was the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar a mistake? What about other wicked kings mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles? In addition, kings Manasseh, Amon, these guys were really wicked. How about Hitler, Saddam, Stalin, and many others—were great and evildoers/ leaders. What shall we say then? Is God unwise to allow Barrack to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee? Wait and See… you might be surprised to see Barrack elected as our the next President of the United States.

    Let me close with a word from Paul, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? ( Rom 2:1-4)

  12. MatthewS June 4, 2008 at 9:05 pm #

    I don’t back Obama. But there is something to be happy about. I believe it speaks well of our nation that an African America can be nominated. Great evil has been done against black people in this nation. I hope this represents some redemption.

  13. MatthewS June 4, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    I meant “American” not “America”

  14. Ross June 4, 2008 at 9:56 pm #

    jeremy z

    Calvinist or not… how else do you read the first few verses of Romans 13?

    If Scripture does not fit my category it seems there are three options 1) say Scripture is wrong; 2) interpret it to fit my categories, or; 3) change my category. “I” think from your post you hold a very God-centered theology… it appears the apostle Paul does as well…

  15. Truth Unites... and Divides June 4, 2008 at 11:46 pm #

    “Words mean nothing to liberals. They say whatever will help advance their cause at the moment, switch talking points in a heartbeat, and then act indignant if anyone uses the exact same argument they were using five minutes ago.”

    Take two guesses as to the identity of who said this.

    Then click on this LINK to see if you were right.

  16. Paul June 5, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    Ann Coulter is…

    (a) one of the most confused people on the planet over the differences between right wing and left wing politics. Ann, here’s a clue: right wing means LESS government. Left wing means MORE government. Maybe one day she’ll get that.

    (b) one of the most obnoxious people to have ever, in the entire history of the written word, ever gotten published. For me to say this is truly something.

    (c) a man. (s)he has an adam’s apple.

    (d) a big time dead head. It’s okay if one of the resident liberals here is a deadhead, as it only gives you guys ammo. However, how can you possibly read and support the ramblings of someone who thinks anything off of Shakedown Street or Go To Heaven is better than the most epic Third Day jam? If I were you, I wouldn’t stand for that.

    (e) a pig. Her comments about 9/11 widows or the shots at John Edwards, even though he’s been a faithful and loving husband. Ann’s a classy one, that’s for sure.

    Seriously, quote George Will, Phyllis Schafly or Peggy Noonan at will. I might not agree with the sentiment, but I can’t argue with the brain power and forethought behind the articles.

    Ann Coulter on the other hand? Can you really respect yourself knowing that you’ve just quoted her/him?

  17. Ferg June 5, 2008 at 1:50 am #

    well brian, I guess God likes abortion if he wants obama to be president. he also just loves a bit of genocide and famine.

  18. Truth Unites... and Divides June 5, 2008 at 7:25 am #

    Ad hominem fallacy.

  19. D.J. Williams June 5, 2008 at 7:27 am #

    Ferg,

    I know you’re being funny, but the continual mischaracterization of our belief in divine sovereignty gets a little tiresome, especially considering the great lenghts I’ve gone to in other posts to try and explain it to you. That’s not what we believe and you know it, and making those kind of remarks just burns even more bridges between our two sides.

  20. Paul June 5, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    TUAD,

    yes, parts of what I said WERE ad hominem. However, none of it is untrue.

    a) her belief that Lawrence v. Texas should have never been struck down is in complete opposition to her claims that she believes in right wing politics. RIGHT WING MEANS LESS GOVERNMENT. Opposition to Lawrence v. Texas means that you’re all for more government controls over civil liberties, which, you know, would be a classic left wing position.

    b) said cruelly, but true. Most conservatives even distance themselves from her.

    c) okay, I can’t prove that one.

    d)http://www.jambands.com/Features/content_2006_06_23.06.phtml

    e) again, stated in not the most tactful way, but she did make an ad hominem attack on John Edwards and she did say that 9/11 widows are profiting from tragedy. Classy.

    I stand by my statement that there ARE great conservative editorialists. Ann Coulter just ain’t one of them.

  21. Brian (Another) June 5, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    Ferg:

    No, I would agree with the apostle Paul and say God causes all things to work for good.

  22. Brian (Another) June 5, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    Ferg:

    Sorry if you weren’t addressing me. I just caught that brian l also replied. D’oh.

    I still stand by the statement, but didn’t mean to interject unnecessarily.

  23. Ferg June 5, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    sorry guys. it was a bad comment. I still don’t know how i’m misrepresenting calvinism. I just read an article on desiringgod.org about dealing with cancer and it starts off with “You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.” You believe everything comes from the hand of God and that nothing can make God, in his secret will, unhappy discontent etc as all things bring him pleasure. He always, as piper puts it, has a “hidden smile”. so I do stand by my comment, that all things according to the God of calvinism, bring him pleasure.

  24. Truth Unites... and Divides June 5, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    “No, I would agree with the apostle Paul and say God causes all things to work for good.”

    Ditto. Read the Book of Job.

  25. Truth Unites... and Divides June 5, 2008 at 12:26 pm #

    “…parts of what I said WERE ad hominem. However, none of it is untrue.”

    LOL! Something that Ann Coulter herself might say!!!

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  26. Ferg June 5, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    tuad, i’m not arguing the mis translation of romans 8:28, I’m just saying if you believe that, follow it through and acknowledge that God caused the holocaust and the raping of children for his glory and that it brings a smile to his face deep in his hidden mysterious will.

  27. Paul June 5, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    “LOL! Something that Ann Coulter herself might say!!!”

    Sure, but I have an audience of tens. She has an audience of millions. Big difference.

    “Pot. Kettle. Black.”

    I won’t disagree. That said, I am the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad liberal. She’s supposed to be a beacon of conservative light. Instead, she’s just as horrible, terrible, no good and very bad as me. And you quote her.

  28. D.J. Williams June 5, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    Ferg,

    Do you believe Romans 8:28?

    BTW – Still waiting for the world-rocking response on the other thread 🙂

  29. D.J. Williams June 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    Paul said…
    “Sure, but I have an audience of tens. She has an audience of millions. Big difference.”

    So – mishandling of truth is okay as long as you don’t have a microphone?

  30. Paul June 5, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    D.J., I don’t think I was mishandling the truth (as one would probably label mishandling the truth as B.S.).

    Instead, I was clearly stating the truth in less than cuth words.

    There is no denying that she’s an attention hound for the right, yet does not believe in the very civil libertinism that the right wing should classically espouse.

    There is no denying that some conservative leaders have distanced themselves from her as she continues to make outlandish remarks.

    There is no denying that she very clearly has an adam’s apple.

    There is no denying that she likes to talk about The Grateful Dead.

    There is no denying that she said some terrible things about some undeserving targets.

    So, no mishandling of the truth. Just some anger that she would even be brought into a serious discussion about politics at this point.

  31. Truth Unites... and Divides June 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm #

    How about just looking at the veracity of her arguments in the article linked in #15?

  32. Ferg June 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    me too DJ, me too :o)

    Yeah of course I believe Romans 8:28, I just don’t read it like a reformed theologian would read it. I firmly believe that God can bring good OUT of evil, I don’t believe that he CAUSES evil for our good, I don’t think I could counsel someone and reassure them that God ordained that she be raped for her own good. However I can tell her that Gord who in his sovereignty made a world with free will and this God is infinitely wise and caring and one who can be trusted who is working good out of what happened to her.

  33. Truth Unites... and Divides June 5, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    #26 Ferg,

    It would be helpful to have a more fully-orbed, nuanced understanding of divine causation.

    Then perhaps you would not caricature God as you do.

  34. Rong June 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm #

    Ferg – it appears part of your issue is believing that God allowing something to occur is the same as him causing it to occur. In a much less detrimental analogy, I can forsee that my child taking ‘Action A’ will have a negative effect on them. Now I could stop them from ever doing it, or I could allow them to do it with the intent of allowing them to learn by their mistake.

    I know you are going to refer to things like the holocaust and ask how God allowing that to occur was for our benefit or for His own glory? I personally gave up trying to wrap it all up in terms that I can accept. Instead I have faith in His Word. And if you’re going to quote scripture you have to quote it all.

    Romans 9:22-23
    22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—

  35. Paul June 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

    TUAD in #31:

    Fine TUAD, let’s go paragraph by paragraph:

    1) Words also mean nothing to conservatives. In 2000, Bush said he’d leave marriage to the states. He said he was foursquare against empire building. He said he’d fund No Child Left Behind. He claimed that he would be a compassionate conservative. Words indeed, mean little to conservatives as well, Ann.

    2) Much like when talking about the goodness of Dead shows in the 80’s, Ann and I agree here.

    3) I will admit, I was shocked when I saw the popular vote breakdowns. Hillary had beaten Obama by about 3000 votes. And yes, the press has very obviously been rooting for Obama since Iowa.

    4) not only is Coulter wrong here, but she also attacks Gore for no reason. Gore had far more reason to quibble, as the Republicans fought a recount at every turn. If there’s even an ounce of truth to the movie Recount, then anyone equating the words Republican and moral is delusional.

    5) Her first sentence only goes to show how much Ann likes to press buttons. The middle of the paragraph talking about the goodness of the constitution is spot on. The part complaining about the demolition of anti-sodomy laws proves that she is indeed a left wing fascist pretending to be conservative. There is nothing right wing about trampling on civil liberties.

    6, 7 & 8) all fine interpretations of what we learned in civics class in high school. Except for the swipe at Dems at the end. Especially because I’d guarantee a larger number of numb-brained republicans watching American Idol than numb-brained democrats.

    9) again, except for the attempt at humor at the end of the paragraph, this is Ann copying right out of our civics book.

    10) Ann explains the electoral vs. popular vote thing, and then actually makes a funny joke!

    11 & 12) Ann stays serious for a second and makes a valid point. When she’s not talking partisan stuff, she’s not a bad writer.

    13 & 14) I can’t argue her point here. And frankly, for about 3,000 reasons, I’d rather see a Hillary nomination than an Obama one. I don’t appreciate the jab at MSNBC however…that’s my favorite news network! (and before the yammering starts, I’m quite the fan of REPUBLICAN JOE SCARBOROUGH). That said, the B.Hussein Obama comment negates the rest of this paragraph. Whenever she uses this term, it’s unwarranted fearmongering at its basest level.

    15 & 16) non-starter paragraphs. Yawn.

    17) and we’re back where we started. However much dems don’t care about words, Republicans care about them even less.

  36. Ferg June 5, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    Rong, I don’t have a probably with evil happening in the world, or God ‘allowing’ it its the calvinist interpretation that everything that happens in the world is CAUSED by God. There is a huge difference between allowing and causing.
    It’s statements like Pipers where he says in his article http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1476_Is_God_Less_Glorious_Because_He_Ordained_that_Evil_Be/ “no matter how real and terrible Satan and his demons are in this world, they remain subordinate to the ultimate will of God.”

    TUAD, thanks for not answering my post in any way whatsoever.

  37. Ferg June 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm #

    Rong, I don’t have a probably with evil happening in the world, or God ‘allowing’ it its the calvinist interpretation that everything that happens in the world is CAUSED by God. There is a huge difference between allowing and causing.
    It’s statements like Pipers where he says in an article “no matter how real and terrible Satan and his demons are in this world, they remain subordinate to the ultimate will of God.”

    TUAD, thanks for not answering my post in any way whatsoever.

  38. Truth Unites.. and Divides June 5, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    What didn’t you understand Ferg? I’m merely saying that if you had a more fully developed understanding of divine causation then you wouldn’t caricature God in the way that you have.

  39. Ferg June 5, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    That’s true and I take your point. However, I have read about ‘divine causation’ quite a bit and I still have the same questions I ask in post 36.

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