The Nov. 8 midterm elections demonstrated that the American electorate continues to be closely divided between conservatives and liberals, with razor-thin margins determining control of Congress.
Since 2020, Democrats had held a slim majority in the House, while the Senate was split at 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaking vote. In the midterms, Republicans regained a small majority in the House, while Democrats retained control of the Senate.
“Some people may be sad, some may be glad and some may be mad about the election results,” wrote Franklin Graham on Facebook. “One thing’s for sure—our success as a nation depends on God. Our country can’t turn its back on Him and expect His hand of blessing to continue. We need His help, protection and favor. Whether or not you agree with the candidates who just won, we are to pray for them. The only hope for America is God.”
Throughout 2022, polls fluctuated in predicting which party might have the upper hand in the midterms, and the elections showed that neither Democrats nor Republicans seem able to claim a clear mandate for their agenda.
“America is a very divided country,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council. “And this makes each of us, in terms of our participation, so important. Because if part of the body is missing, then the rest of us are going to pay a price for it. … Elections really are not about personalities, and they are not about political parties. They are about which worldview will shape the policies that our children grow up with.”
Many Christians had hoped the elections would lead to a shift in legislative priorities, away from proposals such as those that would codify abortion rights nationwide or erode freedom of religion and free speech in favor of LGBTQ priorities. But that seems unlikely at this point.
One bill in particular, the Respect for Marriage Act, passed the House in July but had stalled in the Senate prior to the elections. The bill would repeal the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act and would redefine marriage in federal law.
Another bill still in play is the Equality Act, which would include sexual orientation and gender identity as part of civil rights law, require public facilities to be open to people based on gender identity rather than biological sex, and prohibit use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense against prosecution.
Because any bills not enacted during a given congressional term need to be reintroduced in order to be considered by the next Congress, it is unlikely that the newly configured House would pass either of these bills.
The real risk, Perkins said, is that during the remainder of the congressional term, between now and January, liberals will push hard to pass them in the Senate, where only a handful of votes stand in the way of their passage.
The elections gave pro-life advocates hope for holding ground gained as a result of the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling that did away with the federal right to abortion.
“The U.S. House can now be a backstop against radical abortion extremism,” said Kristen Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action.
But threats remain here, too. This past spring, anticipating the Dobbs ruling, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would create a federal right to abortion, give special protections to the abortion industry and nullify virtually every state law that places limits on abortion.
This is another measure that Democrats may seek to push through the Senate before the end of this term.
Challenge for the Church
In a nation so clearly divided, is there a clear path forward for Bible-believing Christians?
It’s doing what Jesus instructed us to do, Perkins said.
“Jesus said, ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.’ That’s what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
“It’s not about us. It’s not about our comfort, it’s not about what we want. It’s rather about denying ourselves, meaning we live for something greater than ourselves, and that is to know Jesus and to make Him known. We live to glorify God. And the only way we can do that is by taking up the cross; literally dying to self and following Him. And to follow Him means you walk in His way. I think that’s the call to the church now.”
But this does not mean avoiding the world of politics. “If we step back and say we’ll let somebody else deal with that, we’re going to increasingly see a culture that is hostile to faith, that is poisonous to our children, and we will lose our freedom,” Perkins said.
“It doesn’t have to be the only thing we do, but we do have to be involved in it. … Wherever we are, we need to boldly live out our faith, not fearful of what others would say or do, because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to be like Paul: ‘I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’” ©2022 BGEA