Prior to the 2008 elections, Catholic Answers published an outstanding voting guide entitled Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics. This brief aid for Catholics who want to use the teachings of the Catholic Church to guide their political decisions was excellent the day it was released and remains among the best resources for anyone who is casting a vote in a few weeks.
Inspired by this booklet, American Life League posted a similar, but shorter, voting guide, and we continue to encourage people of every faith to become familiar with the principles that help us serve the Lord by responsibly voting according to truth and justice.
Getting back to basics means understanding that there are certain life or death questions that are not fungible—even in an election. Regardless of how we might favor a given candidate on any number of less serious and life-endangering questions, we must be sure that the individual is solid when it comes to how he or she frames a position on abortion, euthanasia, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, or same sex marriage. In each of these cases there is a clear biblical teaching that provides a framework for decision-making. In no case is there room for negotiating.
So why is this happening even in these crucial cases? In part, it is due to an improper understanding of the meaning of evil and the consequences of pursuing it. Ordained deacons and priests in the Catholic Church have not consistently taught the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine. It is the rare Catholic, for example, who graduates from high school with the ability to explain that “conscience signifies the perceptible and demanding presence of the voice of truth.”
Further, were a high school senior able to explain this, chances are he or she would not take it one step further and explain that this is why God guides us, through what He has already written on the heart of every one of us [Hebrews 8:10], namely to obey His commandments and avoid any personal temptation to act in a way that is not pleasing to God.
Such principles seem so simple, but in today’s complex world they are anything but that. As a consequence, Catholics have joined the rest of the general population in setting aside what God is saying while opting instead for what is exemplary of the gospels of tolerance and disobedience. This is how it has come to pass that so many in our midst talk about the aborting of a child in terms of a political issue.
By choosing not to accept reality and comprehend the truth that abortion kills a fellow human being, such individuals are free to “vote their conscience”—which often means voting for supporters of not only abortion, but also euthanasia and any or all of the remaining five non-negotiables.
Some wise commentators have written about the upcoming election in terms of the HHS mandate, which is said to be designed to rob us of our religious freedom. Others have warned against becoming “single issue voters,” which is nothing more than a political red herring designed to confuse and obliterate the idea of voting according to God’s laws instead of man’s desires.
But is it not the case that there is only one question we need to confront when we cast a vote? Isn’t it as simple as recognizing that a vote is a reflection of a man’s integrity and love of truth? Of course it is.
Finally, let’s be frank. Nobody really wants to negotiate his way to hell, does he?