Last night Mike Pence and Tim Kaine went head-to-head in the cycle’s only vice presidential debate. Pence showed himself a reasonably skillful debater, and likely won the debate (a fact that reports suggest Trump did not take well). In the process, however, he did something much worse than losing.

Kaine didn’t try to win the debate, he tried to win the war. He challenged Pence with Trump’s controversial or absurd statements. Trump said that Putin was a strong leader. He said that Putin wouldn’t invade Ukraine, despite Russian troops currently occupying parts of Ukraine. Trump stated that more nations should have nuclear weapons. Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration. On and on the list went. Those statements could all be pull votes away and are difficult to defend, so Kaine’s strategy put Pence in a difficult spot.

Pence’s response shows clearly why we should never make advancing the career of an openly depraved man our primary political goal. Rather than attempting to defend Trump’s statements, he lied, and denied that Trump had ever made them. Setting aside morality, it’s easy to see why he’d choose to do this: he was on national TV, and no politician wants a video of himself arguing for nuclear proliferation floating around if he decides to run for office again (on the other hand, lying allows Clinton to do this — Kaine really put Pence in a no-win situation).

But of course we can’t set aside morality. When Pence lied, what he did was morally wrong, and yet if he intended to remain true to the cause he’d taken up, he had no choice but to lie. He made common cause with evil and once he did he was left with no choice but to reverse course and reject that evil entirely or to carry on and accept it on his own shoulders.

Sadly, he chose the latter. His choice immediately brings 1 Corinthians 15:33 to mind:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Mike Pence chose to ally himself with wickedness, and that choice only led him to more. We would be wise to learn from his example.