Voting for Pontius Pilate by James M. Kushiner + David Mills

Voting for Pontius Pilate

On a spring Good Friday morning nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ told a representative of the powerful Roman government that his kingdom was not of this world, and that he had been born to “bear witness unto the truth.” Pilate responded, “What is truth?” The skeptical and relativist Pilate earned himself a permanent place on the lips of Christians ever since: “Suffered under Pontius Pilate” reads the Apostles’ Creed; “Crucified under Pontius Pilate” reads the Nicene Creed. His politically expedient judgment resulted in the shedding of the Blood of the Innocent One. A day has not gone by in two thousand years when his name, and his dishonor, have not been publicly remembered.

Today, all those having public authority must answer the same question. If they do not, or if they answer it as Pilate did, they will, like him, conduct public affairs as if expedience were the only measure. And, like him, they will be responsible for shedding innocent blood. The blood they shed will be Jesus’ blood, for he said, “As you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”

Today we are witnessing politicians who claim to be followers of Christ acquiescing in the destruction of millions of human lives through abortion. They vote as if to say, “What is truth?” They say they are “personally opposed” but will not “impose” their “private views” upon others. At the same time, every Sunday, after remembering Pilate’s crime in the words of the Creed, they take upon their lips the Body and Blood of the One whom Pilate had crucified that Good Friday.

Pilate washed his hands after sentencing Jesus Christ to say that he had no responsibility for his death. It was all politics. It needed to be done. Sacrificing the occasional innocent man was what a governor had to do to maintain Roman rule and public order. What is truth, after all, that riots and rebellion should be risked just to save an innocent man?

But no amount of question begging, political posturing, or philosophizing can wash away the bloodstains on the hands of those who support abortion; only the tears of repentance and the waters of baptism can do that. And for those already baptized, only fresh tears of repentance.

What can be said for those who support such politicians? They vote as if to say, “What is truth?” But citizens today have choices. Just like Pilate. And their choices have consequences. Just like Pilate’s.

James M. Kushiner is the Director of Publications for The Fellowship of St. James and the former Executive Editor of Touchstone.

David Mills has been editor of Touchstone and executive editor of First Things.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

more on America from the online archives

29.2—March/April 2016

Family Phases

The History of Family Strength in America May Reveal Good News by Allan C. Carlson

29.4—July/August 2016

Deep Roots

Russell Kirk: American Conservative by Bradley J. Birzer by Hunter Baker

30.5—Sept/Oct 2017

Passions' Republic

The Christian Cure for What Ails Modern Politics by David Bradshaw

more from the online archives

30.6—Nov/Dec 2017

The Great Divorce

Christianity & the Liberal Society by James Hitchcock

19.5—June 2006

The Creed We Need

On the Picture of God We Draw with Words by David Mills

28.2—March/April 2015

Facing God

on Divine Worship & the Natural Limits of Community by David Mills

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone