Keyes Calls Out Dobson

For today’s edition of WorldNetDaily, Alan Keyes penned an 11,000+ word essay dedicated to laying out the religious, moral, and philosophical grounds upon which James Dobson has succumbed to moral relativism in suggesting a few weeks ago that he might consider supporting John McCain after earlier saying that he would never do so “as a matter of conscience.”   

In typical Keyesian fashion, he spends the first 1500 words comparing his essay to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and explaining that its crushing length is necessary to wake the American public out of their intellectual stupor.  But when he finally gets down to business, he peppers his tome with the sorts of quasi-philosophic ramblings for which he is known, such as this explanation of the dangers of gay couples getting married and how “disregarding the natural basis of family leads to tyrannical government:  

By nature the child has the right to a kind of natural dominion over its progenitors, including the opportunity at least to try out the appeal that its helpless condition makes to their natural sensibility. Moreover, a child systematically deprived of any knowledge of at least one of its biological parents cannot fulfill the filial obligations that arise from the natural connection, or avoid the oedipal risks connected with such ignorance.

In this respect, just as abortion suppresses the child’s right to life, homosexual marriage suppresses the child’s natural belongings, the first rights of property in the primordial sense of the term. But once we abandon respect for the authority of nature as it establishes the rights of the child, we have in principle abandoned that respect when it comes to any human beings whose situation makes them as helpless or vulnerable as children with regard to their superiors in power. Thus the issue of homosexual marriage actually poses the question of our allegiance to the principle of natural human equality, the principle from which we derive the form of government meant to secure our liberty.

In light of the fact that we are “in the midst of the feverish crisis that marks either the recovery of the Republic, or its dissolution,” Keyes declares that both John McCain and Barack Obama are unqualified to fight the “insidious war [that] is being waged against the moral pillars of our freedom”

In light of such grim possibilities, can the issues involved in the assault on the natural family be treated as matters of political convenience or emotional whim, as John McCain and others like him do? McCain’s statements on the issue of homosexual marriage, civil unions and the need to protect traditional marriage by constitutional means show no regard for the profound destruction of moral principle that will result from overthrowing the claims of the natural family. Like Barack Obama, he takes positions exclusively calculated to win votes from the constituencies he needs for political victory, no matter if they risk the soul and moral foundations of the republic. At the very least, he wants to harvest votes from people deeply concerned about the besieged moral foundations of our liberty even though he obviously lacks the understanding needed to defend them. He cannot see, or perhaps even conceive of, the connections between our moral ideas and practices and the survival of our institutions of self-government. Such a leader might be barely adequate in the “weak, piping time of peace.” But when, on every front insidious war is being waged against the moral pillars of our freedom, his inadequacy is not just lamentable, it will be deadly.

Which brings Keyes to his key point – which is that James Dobson is a hypocrite and a failure as a Christian:

No one can or should deny another the right to change his or her mind in light of new information or a better understanding of the facts. Dr. Dobson may be correct when he cites a “constantly changing political context.” However, he presented his opposition to McCain as a matter of conscience, not political calculation. As Dr. Dobson wrote in an essay defending his position of conscience, “Polls don’t measure right and wrong; voting according to the possibility of winning or losing can lead directly to the compromise of one’s principles. In the present political climate, it could result in the abandonment of cherished beliefs that conservative Christians have promoted and defended for decades. Winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear.” (“The Values Test,” the New York Times, Oct. 4, 2007) From this perspective, the question is not whether the political facts have changed, but whether there has been a change in the moral truth that should govern conscientious choice. In this respect, the moral facts about both Obama and McCain were clear when Dr. Dobson first declared his position of conscience. Nothing has changed.

Dr. Dobson declared that “in good conscience” he could not vote for John McCain. Respect for his integrity requires us to assume that a man of his professed faith and commitment to Christ spoke with sincere respect for the Christian standard of conscience. Comparing what Christ requires with what John McCain represents, he reached the accurate conclusion that McCain fails to measure up. But now, it seems, he is preoccupied by Barack Obama. Comparing McCain with Obama, he now entertains the possibility of voting for McCain. In this comparison, what has become of the standard, which is Jesus Christ? From Dr. Dobson’s words, both Obama and McCain depart from that standard, though McCain not as much as Obama. What does this mean? Is the difference a matter of degree, or a matter of principle? Given Christ’s instruction, the difference in principle must be decisive, for God is the first principle, and our relation to the will of God the first priority. Does Dr. Dobson mean to say that support for Obama’s candidacy departs from good conscience in principle, whereas support for McCain’s does not? If so, a change of heart may be justified. If not, it is sadly mistaken.

Dr. Dobson and leaders like him have many times declaimed against and rejected the moral relativism and “situational ethics” that masquerade as moral reasoning these days. If they now express support for McCain they not only promote a candidate who represents this corruption of moral conscience, by their actions they represent it themselves. The sequence of events in Dr. Dobson’s case makes this clear. He said he could not vote for McCain as a matter of principle, but may do so now because McCain is the better choice when compared to Barack Obama. Since Dobson and others denounce Obama as evil, this makes evil the standard of comparison. The true standard disappears. This is an example of moral relativism, pure and simple; a bad example offered to their fellow citizens in the context of the weightiest public responsibility most Americans ever face, their vote for president of the United States. Christians of old chose suffering and death precisely in order to make it clear that they stood with Christ when it mattered most. By their surrender to relativism in presidential politics, these leaders stand Christian witness on its head. Their message is clear: When the world is at stake, vote as if Christ isn’t part of it.

In the end, the entire essay is little more than a challenge to right-wing voters to abandon the two-party system and support a third party candidate who shares their views – presumably his own continuing independent bid for the White House.

I earnestly pray that the people who make up the moral constituency in our politics will show the faithful courage their leaders do not. To do so, they must declare their independence from a two-party system that offers no choice but for evil. They should “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” actively looking for the candidate who most effectively stands for His will. When they find such a candidate on the ballot, they should vote for him or her. When they know of such a candidate, though not on the ballot, they should write in the name.