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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Christians and Politics

There is a debate going on over at God's Politics regarding whether or not Christians should be involved in politics as they are. Well, the real question that is being asked is "Why do you both want to impose your moral views on the USA?"

The question comes up repeatedly. Should Christians attempt to pass laws based on their morality? Or should Christian morality be left out of the laws of the land? The arguments on both sides are many and sometimes heated.

Is it true that Christians should not be attempting to pass laws based on their morality? One side will argue that Jesus didn't attempt to pass laws based on His perfect morality. The other side will argue, "But Jesus didn't live in a democracy." True, Jesus was more concerned with hearts, with making disciples. Does that mean that we shouldn't be interested in the laws of our land?

One side will say, "Separation of Church and State means that you can't base our laws on religious morals." The other side will argue "Separation of Church and State is a myth" (which, by the way, entirely misses the point in this case). The fact is, all of law is based fundamentally on morality. It may be religious morality, or it may be non-religious morality, but the fundamental basis of law is morality. Societies all make laws based on what they think is right and wrong. So when one side argues for the removal of religious morals from law-making, they are simply requiring the substitute of other morals which may or may not be fundamentally sound. Law and morals cannot be separated. So this argument is problematic.

But lots of Christians will argue that Jesus's primary concern was not morality, but changed hearts, and, therefore, we Christians should be concerned only with changed hearts, not moral lives. This argument bears some weight. Some have argued (erroneously) that Jesus's intent was to remove all laws. That one doesn't work except, perhaps, in the mind of the hyper-extreme Pauline Dispensationalist. But the truth is that a moral sinner who dies without Christ is still going to Hell in Christian theology. Should we, then, be concerned with morality?

I suspect that the reason for the question is a failure to comprehend the basic concept of morality. Why did God give rules? If Jesus's (and, therefore, God's) only concern was the hearts of men, what was the purpose of rules?

Very few will admit it, not because they're liars, but because they're unaware of it, but in the back of many minds there is the belief that God's laws are arbitrary, simply put into place "because I said so". There is no real reason for the rules; God just decided to say, "This is good" and "This is bad" and we are just expected to do what He says because He's God. Of course, this isn't an accurate reflection of the truth.

The truth is that God, as the Manufacturer of the human being product, so to speak, knows how it works and, therefore, how best to operate it. In other words, the reason God puts rules in place is to tell us how best to live for our best interest.

If this is true, then when we step back to the original question, we likely find a different answer. Should Christians be concerned about the morality of our society? If we believe that God's morality is based on what's best for human beings, then we would need to answer with a resounding "Yes!" When we seek to make a more moral society, we enhance the lives of those in it. True, a more moral society doesn't make a more Christian society, but given the choice between a more moral society that doesn't know Christ and a less moral society that doesn't know Christ, society as a whole and individuals in it are better off with the former than the latter. Thus, we would be remiss in stepping back from engaging our society with our moral views. That would be the unloving thing.

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