Sunday, November 14

On Christian and Government (redux)

I have criticized others comments concerning Christianity and its relationship with the Government, without being able to provide any constructive advice. John Adams was said (here) to have pointed out that Mr Paine was good at pulling things down, for example our relationship with England. But Mr Paine was not a builder. After the Revolutionary War was over, he did not do much to help the establishment of the new union, but instead criticized it without providing much constructive advice. This irked Mr Adams.

I would like to rectify my inability to provide constructive advice. Over the last few weeks I have pondered (publicly via blogging) about government,ethics, and Christianity (here and here) . I had concluded that
  • Law and a societies morals/ethics are intertwined. One cannot put laws in place which are too far out of step with society. And at the same time, law can influence and help mold the morals of a society so situation is not as simple as it first appeared.
  • It would be of interest for Christians to try to support or advocate laws and practices by our government which could enhance the moral tenor and in truth Christianity in our nation.
But alas, I had no constructive suggestions. Why not? Well it isn't as easy as one might think.

For example, we are taught that charity is a Christian virtue. How might on pen laws to promote Charity. If one writes a law making Charity required, then we don't teach Charity motivated by love or any Christian virtue, but instead motivated by fear of consequence. In fact, one might argue this doesn't teach real charity at all. If we write laws rewarding charitable acts, we run the risk of charitable acts motivated by tax incentives and causing the charitable causes themselves to prostitute themselves in order to entice a bigger slice of the "pie" consisting of those seeking the rewards for their charitable acts.

However, I do have a positive suggestion, although not specific to charity. I am given to understand (via TV programs) Japan has laws (or practices) in place which designate people as "living memorials". And I'm sure I have the terminology wrong. These are individuals whose profession or skill embody some heritage they don't want to lose. Perhaps churches could designate individuals as "heroes of the faith" while still alive. However, perhaps we could institute a lesser sainthood for people who live the heroic Christian ideal but are not Roman Catholic and perhaps have not met the stringent requirements to be cannonized but yet far exceed the ordinary. Perhaps, even the government could as part of "faith based initiatives" be persuaded to support such a program. Of course sticky details like setting up the selection process and insuring that it is not politicized are left as an exercise for the reader.