I rarely comment on politics, especially on blogs. The only exception is when the political and religious spheres intersect — and with a Mormon securing the Republican nomination, the two have rarely (in my lifetime) overlapped more. I’m frequently asked if I would vote for a Mormon, as recently as last week in my Bible study class. I thought I’d make my answer public, mostly because I think we need some clear thinking on this issue.
My first real exposure to Mormonism was in the ninth grade, when I was living in South Korea (my father was stationed there in civil service). My neighbor, Dan, was in the same class as I was, and we quickly became good friends (we remain close friends to this day). The more time we spent together, including time with his parents and three brothers, the more apparent it became — even at that young age — that we believed different things. My curiosity was piqued, and I started studying the differences, fascinated by them. My study of Mormonism has continued for over 25 years now, and I credit that experience with being the catalyst that eventually resulted in my current pursuit of a doctoral degree in apologetics, counter-cult ministry, and comparative theology.
So, back to the question at hand. Would I vote for a Mormon for President? Absolutely, and I’ll tell you why. First, make no mistake — the theologies of Mormonism and historic, evangelical Christianity are vastly different, even contradictory. If pressed, I’ll concede that I do not believe Mormons to be Christians (perhaps I’ll go into detail in a future blog). It’s not that there aren’t critical differences, there certainly are — it’s just that they don’t matter when presented with this question.
When faced with making a selection between two candidates for the Presidency, theology just isn’t that important. I’m electing a President, not a pastor. I know some of you may be shocked to hear me say this, so let me add some context. What matters is values, not theology. This is where clear thinking becomes so important. In assessing candidates, I will examine their values very, very closely — especially on key areas my Christian convictions intersect the political sphere. This primarily includes bioethical issues (e.g. abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, assisted suicide), but also touches on other areas like normalizing unBiblical behaviors (homosexuality), parental autonomy (educating and disciplining our children), and so forth. I sincerely hope these issues, which are simultaneously political and theological, are of great importance to all clear-thinking Christians (my convictions on these issues are important, but not to this particular blog). So, here’s where the rubber meets the road — on all of these issues, the convictions of historic, evangelical Christians and Mormons are precisely the same. I cannot think of a single relevant difference between Mormons and Christians on any significant issue where politics and religion intersect.
Let’s put it another way — if you are an pro-life evangelical Christian, and you are faced with voting for either a pro-choice Catholic (yes, they exist, many of them) or a pro-life Mormon, what would you choose? In the case of a Presidential election, I believe a clear-thinking Christian should see that in a political contest, pro-life versus pro-choice is more relevant than Catholic versus Mormon. If you’re a Calvinist, would you vote for an Arminian? If you’re a dispensationalist, would you vote for a preterist? These issues, along with nearly all other purely theological distinctions, simply aren’t relevant. What matters is values — convictions on key issues — not theology. Would I vote for a Mormon? Sure. Without hesitation.