For anyone following the results of the recent legislative session, the big takeaway from my perspective is that elections have consequences.

Montanans put Republicans in charge of the legislature and Democrats in charge of the governor’s office. And the result, predictably, was gridlock. There’s nothing wrong with that if that was the people’s intention, but it doesn’t leave any room for complaining that nothing gets done. Yes, the case can be made that there’s not much difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to spending. Budgets increase under both parties, they just increase faster under Democrats. But anyone who thinks that Republicans are the party of fiscal conservatism need only look at the proposed federal budget.

That said, there are true fiscal conservatives at both the state and federal level. Unfortunately, they continue to be hamstrung by liberal Republicans who join with Democrats to push for big spending. There may not be a lot of difference in spending when it comes to Republicans vs. Democrats, but when it comes to the so-called “social” issues, the differences are like night and day.

We see it in the party platforms, we see it in legislative votes, and we see it in the executive vetoes. So-called “social” issues range from abortion to euthanasia to same-sex marriage and allowing boys who think they’re girls to use the girls’ showers and locker rooms. For better or worse, it’s the social issues that drive the culture, and by extension, it’s the social issues that drive the budget.

Liberal social policy leads to weaker families; weaker families lead to higher substance abuse, lower graduation rates and higher rates of out-of-wedlock births. These, in turn, drive higher numbers of people on welfare, in government housing, on Medicaid and on food stamps, which results in higher overall spending. It’s a vicious cycle, and to make matters worse, poverty begets poverty. Children raised by a parent on welfare have a much higher chance of winding up on welfare themselves. Some of America’s inner cities are now seeing the 5th generation of a family entering into the welfare system. Why? Because values are caught, not taught, and children do what’s modeled to them.

It’s a fool’s errand to believe that we can get spending under control without addressing the social issues. As Christians, we believe God designed the families to be the perfect social safety net, and strong families lead to a strong nation. Unfortunately, America’s going in the opposite direction, and Christians share part of the blame. Statistically, those things that weaken families are as prevalent in the church as they are in the culture at large. Things like divorce, substance abuse and pornography use are running rampant in our churches from the clergy on down. We’ve also been voting the wrong set of values. In God’s economy, hunting and fishing do not trump a child’s right to life; yet, that’s how many of us vote.

Next week we’ll go to the polls to elect Montana’s next Congressman, and the choices could not be more clear. One candidate stands for life, the defunding of Planned Parenthood and fiscal conservancy. The other supports Planned Parenthood, wants firearms to be registered and has a long track record of not paying his bills. I urge you as Christians to go to the polls and vote your values because as I said before, elections have consequences.