Compromise is a necessity in the relation of men to one another in the left-hand kingdom. For the sake of brevity, we’ll call this politics – the working out of how to live together peacefully and cooperatively for the benefit of all. In politics, then, compromise is necessary. Everyone has their own self-interests, but to live together self-interest must sometimes be set aside for the sake of the neighbor.
Therefore, compromise happens. Politics consists of compromise, from one group in regards to certain issues, from another group when considering other matters. Even a brief review of the history of the politics of the United States reveals this. For example, in Federalist No. 37, James Madison writes of the necessity for some sort of compromise between the larger states who wanted proportional representation, and the smaller states who sought it based on equality. The compromise was a two house system, each one using one of the two methods to determine its makeup. About 30 years later, tremendous tension between slave and free states over the issue of new slave states entering the Union (or not) was averted, albeit temporarily, by the Missouri Compromise. Many other examples of politics playing itself out through compromise abound. Only review the last week’s congressional minutes to see the art of politics-through-compromise in action.
When someone has a self-interest, it behooves them to find others who share a selfsame interest and join together with them, forming an interest group or political party. Because of this, it is all too easy for any and every concern to be transformed into a political issue. Yet sometimes, because the very self-interest being lobbied for is inherently wrong (perhaps even evil), no compromise concerning it is possible. It cannot become a political issue, precisely because of its nature.
What is an example of this? Human slavery certainly is one which plagued the United States in the early to middle 19th century. Treated as a political issue, the “compromise” which was achieved only delayed the inevitable conflict that a decisively evil practice would bring. There were plenty who had a self-interest in slavery, but that alone did not allow for it to be a “political” issue.
Today, perhaps the most obvious issue is abortion. There are certain groups in this country who have a self-interest in abortion being legal and available. The reasons for their self-interest might vary, but the self-interest of legal and available abortion remains the uniting factor. Yet the fact remains that abortion cannot be anything except murder. Murder cannot be tolerated for many reasons; certainly from a spiritual perspective, but even from a societal one. A society that seeks a compromise on an uncompromisable issue is one which has lost a grasp on objective truth, and is in grave danger.
We need to keep clearly in mind the reality that compromise is only possible when there are two or more morally appropriate choices for consideration. In the case of slavery, there were not two options. The same is true with abortion. One choice involves upholding the right to life that our country is founded upon (and, frankly, all of creation). The other choice is founded on death and selfishness.
Don’t be fooled by the labeling of such things as abortion or homosexual marriage as “political” issues. Someone may have seized them and carried them off into the realm of politics and compromise, but they do not belong there. They belong to the Law (Natural or Revealed), in which they are clearly and obviously forbidden and uncompromisable. And they also belong to the realm of Christian care, where those who suffer through them, or from their effects, need to hear God’s Word spoken to them – Law and Gospel.
The lie of compromise will not help those who need to hear God’s thoughts on these matters. But the truth of His Word will. Let us cling firmly to that Word, though devils all the world should fill.