There is a principle in Moral Theology — the principle of double effect — which, under certain clearly defined conditions, permits us to perform an act that has both a good and an evil effect. In order for that act to be a moral choice, it must meet all four of the following conditions:
1. The act itself must be good or indifferent.
2. The good effect must not be caused by the evil effect.
3. The good effect and not the evil effect must be directly intended by the agent.
4. The good must outweigh the evil.
The Founding Fathers, by drafting, ratifying and implementing the Constitution of the United States, engaged in the most monumental example in American history of deliberately choosing what is commonly called “the lesser of two evils.”
These courageous and devout Christian statesmen consciously, deliberately, purposefully chose to accommodate slavery – in fact, to constitutionally protect it for the next two decades – in the newly independent United States of America.
Slavery is evil. The founders knew this. They could have proclaimed with righteous indignation, “Slavery is evil, and we refuse to enshrine it in our new Constitution.”
That, of course, would have been the end of the convention as the Southern states would have bolted immediately, and the young nation’s slide into chaos would have continued unabated.
Next Tuesday, some feel they face a similar dilemma. They see flaws in the Romney/Ryan ticket and wonder if they can, in good conscience, vote for flawed candidates.
Moral theology says yes. I think Scripture says yes, too. God picked David to be King of Israel, right? He was hardly perfect. Look how that whole Bathsheba thing turned out.
Every citizen has only one of four choices:
A. Vote for Obama/Biden;
B. Vote for Romney/Ryan;
C. Vote for somebody else who hasn’t got a chance;
D. Not vote.
Each person has to check these against the list above. And don’t try to kid yourself that somehow C and/or D are superior choices simply because they let you stick your nose in the air whenever the next president screws up and sniff about how YOU didn’t vote for him.
Plus, you better be very sure that is NOT why you are tempted to choose C and/or D. Because if it is, your choice fails the moral stink test big time.
There is a famous saying, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
It’s not the evil people who are examining their consciences and scouring Scripture for guidance about God’s will concerning this election. It’s the good ones! Therefore, C and/or D are choices for “good men to do nothing” which, by elimination, is a choice to allow evil where you have the power to prevent it.
Personally, I think Moral Theology allows only one choice, which is to get your butt to the polls and vote for Romney/Ryan, lest the light of liberty be extinguished by four more years of a president so awful that he makes the paranoia of Nixon, the appeasement of Carter and the moral degradation of Clinton all rolled up together look kinda not so bad.
But that’s just me.