“Of two evils, choose neither.”
That seems to be one of the favorite arguments for those advocating either avoidance of voting, or third-party voting (many Christians in that category at least). Spurgeon said it, and we like him. *Certain candidates* are running, and we don’t like them. So naturally, “Of two evils, choose neither.” I would like to point out two things in my attempt to challenge that thinking. One, it’s severely misused. Two, it’s not your liberty to choose what application the original thinker or speaker had in mind.
It’s severely misused. Out of all people in the world, it should be Christians who care the most about context. If you don’t understand the foundation, you won’t understand the exploration of that foundation.
If you were to read The Salt and the Cellars- Proverbs and quaint Sayings you would find that Spurgeon includes this quote in a simple collection of practical advice for making prudent daily choices. It should be understood as a simple reminder that in every situation, even if for some reason lying or cheating seems justifiable (or any other combination of sin choices), to avoid both. The evils Spurgeon is referring to are quite a bit simpler to categorize and condemn than a presidential candidate (especially since it’s neither our right or responsibility to condemn).
If you think that you’re not condemning a candidate, and you are using the “two evils” reasoning, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. If one candidate is too evil, and the other is not, you’re assuming one of them is righteous enough for you. Interesting, since that’s the thinking of an individual who is just as reliant on Another’s righteousness as that candidate. The “two evils” reasoning makes you the judge of who’s too evil. Who decides at what point a man or woman is too evil to be president, us? Apparently not, because within the sovereignty of God in this year’s election, examine our choices. God has a habit of using broken people in His perfect plan. Look in a mirror.
It’s not your liberty to choose what application the original thinker or speaker had in mind. You may say, “well, the principle remains the same!” Does it? Only if you actually understand the principle. If we are being fair to Spurgeon, we start with two obviously evil activities. The saying is not ours to construe and apply to this year’s election. Again, the original meaning was cut-and-dry, specifically referring to what is clearly right and clearly evil in our lifestyle. If we were to truly never choose the evil candidate, we should be consistent and never vote for anyone at all. This reasoning is fundamentally flawed because everyone who’s ever run for office has had something clearly wrong with them, you know, human depravity.
This isn’t intended to be a political post. It’s an attempt to challenge us to be careful in our thought. And, we should be fair to Spurgeon by not putting words in his mouth. If we really want to know what Spurgeon thought of voting, he did address it:
“I would not, however, say to any persons here present, despise the privilege which you have as citizens. Far be it from me to do it. When we become Christians we do not leave off being Englishmen; when we become professors of religion we do not cease to have the rights and privileges which citizenship has bestowed on us. Let us, whenever we shall have the opportunity of using the right of voting, use it as in the sight of Almighty God, knowing that for everything we shall be brought into account, and for that amongst the rest, seeing that we are entrusted with it. And let us remember that we are our own governors, to a great degree, and that if at the next election we should choose wrong governors we shall have nobody to blame but ourselves, however wrongly they may afterwards act, unless we exercise all prudence and prayer to Almighty God to direct our hearts to a right choice in this matter. May God so help us, and may the result be for his glory, however unexpected that result may be to any of us!” –
Spurgeon, from the sermon Particular Election.
And truly, “May God so help us, and may the result be for his glory, however unexpected that result may be to any of us!”