And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
It is understandable that people believe that any tie they have to a perceived immoral action is equivalent to doing the action, condoning the action, or enabling the action be done. So, tax money being used to fund an abortion is seen negatively.
This really is not such a stretch, because — from a nationalistic perspective — when the US Govt (including the Courts) does something internationally (or even nationally, but observed by the international community), I can feel proud or ashamed, elated or appalled. In the same vein, I’m not happy that the money I have contributed as a citizen has been used to used to start & conduct wars in the name of supposed safety, spreading democracy, or pushing other national “interests” that negatively impact other peoples.
It is also understandable that people want to change, structure, or institute laws and policies that minimize or remove immoral connections. There is a push from religious or other moral perspectives to do that under the banner of re-establishing the US as a Christian Nation (Dominion), taking back the country from Godless forces, and turning back progressive (ever changing and evolving) agendas that foist upon them both immorality and connection to it.
For individuals with this perspective, when it comes to voting or participating in national issues (such as by voting or debating), decisions & viewpoints need to be “biblically informed.” For instance, “From God’s ethical command not to murder, flows, in the minds of many people, the obligation to protect the lives of unborn children. Therefore we campaign—sometimes very aggressively—for laws that protect the lives of unborn infants.”
There exists an underlying pressure to “be Christian,” and to be Christian, you have to do and think Christian things, in every context. If you help to enact a law that is Christian-based (presumably), then you are both being Christian and … that’s the question here. You are obviously attempting more than just “being Christian” because your actions result in larger things that affect more than just you.
Grace vs. Politics
When you legislate or attempt legislation of your beliefs, I posit that you are doing more than distancing your self from the “appearance of evil” by not directly or indirectly participating in non-Christian, sinful acts & larger-community (city, state, national) policies. You are also both insulating yourself from temptation and tribulation, and — when proclaiming to “take back” the US as a Christian Nation (Dominion) — you are trying to establish a righteous nation, God’s Kingdom on earth (something I thought Christ’s second coming was supposed to do).
The distancing part I get, but I think minimizing trials is like paving the Path to make it easier to walk (more on that later); and legislating holiness is not just un-Christian, it is anti-Christian.
~Buddy Hanson, of Exodus Mandate (a dominionist organization)
It becomes anti-Christian when you break and annul the concept of Grace. Legislating holiness & engineering a Christian society is far from being a beacon of light and, most importantly, Grace to the souls who need it. In fact, it is not grace because Grace is God’s alone to give; and the moment you apply a rule to it, it is not present. It can’t be because your rule and God’s freely given gift of unmerited mercy or favor are absolutely mutually exclusive. Instead, you have supplanted Grace in favor of legislation (rules & dogmas) and homogenizing orthodoxy.
So what is happening, and what are we to make of the modern-day Christian church’s take on government and its corresponding political walk with Christ? Is it Christian (as in Christ-like) or Christian (following some interpretation of the Bible)? What are non-Christians supposed to make of Christ & Christianity as exemplified by the body of Christ?
Romans 13 says:
13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 13:2 So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment 13:3 (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, 13:4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. 13:5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. 13:6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. 13:7 Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
Did Romans 13 and a few Psalms say that a nation of various faiths and creeds needs to be Christianized and, thus, homogenized so that diversity only exists within a Christian government framework (like Islam’s Sharia) in order for believers to be Christians?
Nope. It didn’t say that. Romans 13 goes on to say that you maintain your walk by sticking to Biblical laws and pursuing spiritual development toward God independent of “nations,” or governments.
Did Romans 13 and a few Psalms define what government should be? It alluded to selected, not exhaustive, aspects.
One Christian thinker says,
…governments ought to perform a limited function and ought to perform that well. They should be strong in their limited function, but in the big picture their strength should be very limited. In other words, they should be weak not strong on the broad scale of things. Paul says in Romans 13 that government does have a legitimate function and the Scriptures largely define this function, but it’s very limited.” [Bold added]
(The full article whence this quote is pulled argues against healthcare for all. See here for an excellent counterpoint.)
Really? This is to say that Romans 13, like the US Constitution, supposedly exhaustively enumerated the rights and scope of the govt., just as the Bible also did on other topics of great importance, such as exhaustively prescribing how to get married (in a church with a civil license), who could get married (not blacks & whites together), everything that should happen in a marriage (division of labor and all sexual practices), when to kill and not to kill (capital punishment vs. military action vs. abortion), etc.? Not.
Let’s assume that “ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,” protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are, somehow, uniquely Biblical tenets. Generally Christians have no Biblical problem with the things on this list, and, in fact, assert that they are Bible-based.
Does specifically listing some things categorically exclude providing for the common welfare, regulating commerce, ensuring religion & govt don’t mix (avoiding “establishment” of a religion [Christian] by institutionalizing its precepts, thus showing “preference”), and establishing a framework to which all states must abide to be part of a republic of federated-though-independent States?
How things are accomplished in both the Bible and the Constitution are very rarely specified, but rather we see guidelines for conducting, recognizing and regulating activity to establish a path.
The point is, the Bible is not often exhaustive in any matter. What the cited Christian thinker is arguing is that the absence of mentioning other things means they are deliberately excluded. Yet nowhere is the sex-life of married couples discussed or even how marriage ceremonies are to be conducted or other reasons why besides being horny that you should get married.
Using this ‘it is excluded by omission’ logic, if marriage is for procreation and controlling sexual urges, then sex should only be engaged for procreative purposes. And since procreation involves the direct involvement of both sets of complementary sexual organs in procreative conjunction, no other sexual activity to satisfy sexual urges is allowed — because they are not mentioned. That leaves only intercourse. That’s it.
I don’t know a single soul who believes that. (And I’m not trying to make an Argumentum ad populum here.)
So how can one say that govt. is Biblically limited as “largely defined” by the Bible? I suspect that is a political view coloring Bible interpretation to suit its own ends. I know God by knowing myself (via my prejudices, biases, revulsions, etc.) Assuming the Bible is a spiritual guide for a personal walk toward God, why should we expect that it would also specifically address non-spiritual matters, such as what a government should and shouldn’t do?
What we see here is a type of rationalization with a different motive, and it ain’t Christian. To alleviate the disharmony (dissonance), the political perspective is Christianized; and politics (and economics) becomes the focus for the path to God via activism and legislation. Onward Christian Soldiers.
We Can Guess What it Will Be by Their Fruits
For the sake of argument, what might we expect from a Christian government and from the people instituting the Government?
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21 ).
For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20).
First off, I would expect a Christian government to simply evolve via the fruit that results from the collective actions of its citizenry. The Kingdom of God is established in the hearts as a spiritual kingdom that naturally results in a physical (or legal) manifestation.
Second, I would expect that those who want a Christian Dominion would inspire those around them with Christ-likeness, to be a beacon of Grace and justice — and more immediately — demonstrate blameless attitudes and behaviors. In that way non-Christians might preview what a Christian-run nation would look like.
With such inspiration and demonstration, why wouldn’t we all want to live in a Christian Dominion, where the Grace of God reigns supreme.
Unfortunately, what we actually see (the fruits) is an effort to construe the current Govt to be Christian (as in following the precepts of Christ) and then attempt to achieve the Christian Govt with slander, false witness, lies, and misleading arguments (among other dishonesty- & ignoble-based sins) with the attitude that the ends justifies the means. We see a poisonous tree — what should we expect of the fruit?
What we see coming from politicians, the proponents of California’s Proposition 8, NOM, the Tea Party, Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Bachmann to name a few is astounding in the distortion, mischaracterization, constituent manipulation, and outright falsehoods, whether sincerely believed or politically expedient. We see people willing to change or throw out the Constitution when it conflicts with their agendas while at the same time praising the Constitution as being inspired by Christian Founding Fathers.
What we see begs a few questions:
- Did Christ do these things to further his message and characterize God?
- Do noble and sanctifying motivations need to be achieved by sinful & evil actions?
- Are injustices tolerable to arrive at sanctity – can sanctity spring from evil?
- Is it mandated that Christians re-form a country in their own likeness with the expectation that it corresponds to God’s Kingdom on earth?
Supplanting Grace with Kingdom-building
The whole point of being a Christian is to become Christ-like (following the Way of Christ), which is the human manifestation of Divinity & Grace.
One of many aspects of Christ-likeness is that Grace shine through the believers. If Christians are the “body” of Christ, then what we see of the “grace” coming through Christians compels us to believe that what Christians do (as a body) is what Christ would do — or, by extension, is what Christ is doing.
Based on what we see, Christ, for instance, would claim a land as his own; and he would mislead, lie & bear false witness in order to legislate his views. He would get heavily involved in politics, and he would sanction the use of Government to force-feed his Father’s Grace to non-believers in him and his ways. He would utterly ignore free will to come to him, and instead create holy cattle chutes by which to both herd the non-believers and insulate the believers from growth-providing trials.
For Grace and Salvation to work, it has to be freely accepted by the receiver. It has to be wanted; and the value to the soul recognized. We have to recognize our own sinful state and that we need to be redeemed from it. But if mostly all we see from the Body of Christ is sin and sinfulness, the light that’s supposed to shine from Christians is not illuminating our states. We see hypocrisy and demagoguery and deceit. We see political agenda clothed in Sunday clothes pandering to the gullible.
We see these things in the Christian effort to “reduce government” by increasing its religious intrusion into our lives with laws, the very instrument they supposedly abhor and not the instruments supplied by the Spirit and knowledge of God. In this way, they establish a theocracy — Old Testament-style structures to simulate Grace and holiness. Old Testament Leviticus, or Christian Sharia And these structures are to be forced onto the nation.
Since grace is God’s only and can only be reflected by or transmitted through Him or a believer, for man to do anything at all in order to establish God’s grace to mankind by rule is to nullify Grace.
Attempting a Christian Dominion Is Sin
Legislating Christian precepts is like cocooning and building fences at the same time. It is cocooning in the sense that it attempts to insulate the Christian from non-Christian influences. It is building fences in that it clearly establishes an “Us vs. the Gentiles” mentality, one that Christ explicitly taught to destroy.
The Christian Dominion attempts to create by law social structures to help ensure they, the “Faithful”, don’t stray — in addition to separating themselves from government-enacted sinfulness.
In other words, they have supplanted Grace with more Pharisaical laws & rules. They try to limit the trials they are exposed to by making it illegal to do otherwise in the guise of pre-establishing God’s Kingdom on earth. (Christ’s second coming notwithstanding.)
For instance, the “lax” conception of marriage (easy divorce for other than Biblical reasons) does not provide sufficient penalty or restriction to cause re-evaluation of one’s Christ-directed motives or to force reconciliation. On the contrary, lax conception of marriage encourages consideration of non-Biblical separation or divorce — it is an evil temptation sponsored by the Government and the godless.
Legislating God’s Kingdom on earth sets up walls within which you think yourself worthy of heaven and re-establish the Us vs. Gentiles mentality. Within these walls, looking out, Scripture is reinterpreted:
“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire”
‘if someone else’s eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better to attempt to create the kingdom of God in your own eyes, than serving God by loving your fellow man in His eyes within His grace.’