Tuesday, December 7

On Christianity and Government
Getting Closer to My Goal

Over the past few weeks I have made a number of attempts to ferret out some principles which could guide Christians in their approach to legislation. In this, I have taken the approach of assuming that Christians had complete control of governmental processes and procedures while assuming that the people were however not all believers.

My essays have engendered a few comments from the secular crowd, who didn't understand the goals of my programme, largely I think because I haven't gotten close to any conclusions and they "fear the worst". I'm going to try to address this before continuing on with the main points of this essay.

In the main, the secular citizens claim to harbor fears of theocracy and point to modern historical examples of theocracies which are not shining beacons of freedom and "tolerance". Tolerance it seems is one of the primary virtues of the post-modern man (if not in fact his only constant virtue). While they claim that their primary fear is theocracy, I think this is in fact a misleading. For in fact, their primary concern with regards to Christian influences on government lies in fearing intolerance and not theocracy. To restate that, I don't believe any secular citizen truly thinks that the goal of any (liberal or fundamentalist) Christian is to revoke the separation clause and establish a state religion. As for toleration, I will only say that in Christ's message, the only place for a lack of toleration is between believers. And furthermore even there the lack of toleration is mostly regards doctrinal disagreements, i.e., combating heresy. However, I think those that fear intolerance should read this which is a far better treatment of the Christian position on these issues than I could write. Perhaps that will help allay their fears, or not? :)

Now, the goal in this series of posts has been an attempt an answer to the following question.
If Christians did take complete control of the legislative process, what sorts of legislation might they propose to further a Christian agenda?
This I feel, is best done not by requiring its people (by force or otherwise) to be Christian for I feel this cannot be done by fiat, that is requiring by force, propaganda, or other means. True faith cannot be compelled (by man), so there is no use trying. But, I do claim that the answer is the following:
A Christian nation should foster legislation and social programs that inculcate Christian virtues. To whit, those that might engender faith, hope, and love in its citizens.
That much should have been clear from the outset, and I'm sorry it took me so long. So the question then, becomes, how to do that? I'll try to get a running start at this question, but I will almost be certainly leaving unanswered questions to be chewed on in future essays.


This is the "easy" one, because I've found the answer in my recent reading of Romans. St. Paul tells us we should rejoice in our suffering, as suffering yields perseverance. Perseverance yields character. And Character gives rise to hope. Now, I would certainly not feel means that a government start up gulags or re-education camps to "assist" its people in "discovering hope", and I hope nobody thinks that would be the path. Equally bad would be to encourage poverty and hunger in our nation to "build character". But I do think that we should reflect on the extremely "comfortable" lifestyle here in the states. We should consider our children and their education. Is the practice of allaying all their discomforts immediately truly in their best interest? Perhaps we should seek out and make available venues and programs where people (especially our children) can undergo trial and ordeal to find and test their mettle could be made more available (or perhaps required for our youth)? Perhaps encouraging times of fasting, reflection, prayer (?), and retreating from the rush of the wide world could be made part of our canonical education? As for arguments that we don't have time for this in our mad rush to cram everyone's favorite curriculum into our kids, I counter that this is time well spent and time lost in these efforts will be made up by the gains in character.

Faith & Love

As for the last two Christian virtues, alas I offer only one poor answer tonight. I don't know how social engineering or governmental law and program can actively inculcate these virtues. I don't know how to teach them to my children except by example. Thus my only suggestion. Perhaps our government could seek out and (reward?) or make particular examples of citizens who by their life demonstrate the ideals of Faith and Love. I don't really know how such a program could be implemented. But it is my first suggesion. I hope to return to this with a more active program. Perhaps St. Paul has answers in his other Epistles, for I have only read one closely (and skimmed over one more) in my adulthood and am currently engaged in reading the rest. One last comment on this, I do hope that these suggestions I have so far in this project might partially allay the fears my secular readers might have concerning where this project will eventual alight.

I do believe that having completed this project, we may have a better vision of where a Christian government might correctly aim. Furthermore, I do believe that as Christ told us to "render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar's", in a democracy we owe not only taxes, but our guidance. Thus it is our Christian duty to honestly and earnestly engage in the public debate.

Finally, I entreat your comments and input in this project. Please share your thoughts with me, thank you.