Saturday, February 20, 2016

An Examination of Generalities

If you will allow me to generalize for a moment, I want to look at some common general themes found within the two main party platforms.

Many Republican Christians push for the legislation of Christian morality. Believing that domestic tranquility, justice, and welfare can be best achieved through legislating morally correct laws that make sin punishable under those laws. These laws ostensibly protect those within society who theoretically live in a way that benefits the society as a whole, while moving those within society who are destructive to the society into institutions where they theoretically can receive help while repaying their debt to society.

Many Democrat Christians push for a broader net of secular social services to catch those within society who need help. Believing that the general welfare, domestic tranquility, justice, and liberty can be best achieved by creating a government that can be trusted to assist those who need help and support and creating legislation to protect those within society regardless of whether or not immorality or just poor choices led to that need.

So in response the Republican generality, I would suggest that the emphasis on law removing sin from society is an admirable but ultimately futile goal. As demonstrated by Old Testament Law, this rigid society structure merely codifies punishment and acts as a stall tactic until true reconciliation is achieved. As far as I can see from human psychology and historical president, only through faith in Christ, and living according the Holy Spirit, can remove sin from within society. 

In response the Democratic generality, we must understand while the idea of a social safety net is certainly fits within the context of Christ's message, it is the Church's role within society to aid those who are in need so that they might also hear the good news of the gospel as their physical needs are met. Furthermore, the establishment of a stronger democratic base could have a restrictive influence on the ways that the church may fulfill this vital function.

The people who argue for the legislation of Christian morality are missing two fundamental truths about our government. All government is inherently self interested, and the American government is secular by nature. The establishment of Christian morality within a free society is and should be through the reliance on Christ and the Church. The idea that by legislating we can remove sin from within society is heretical, and gives the government way more power and control than it should have. Considering government's self interested nature these excesses allows for government to expand beyond its function of worldly authority and to pursue a strongly paternalistic relationship with its citizens. However, the fundamental misunderstanding is that legislating morality will not remove sin, only Jesus can do that. Criminalizing sin will not prevent sin, only living in accordance with the Holy Spirit can. When Romans 13:4 is talking about earthly authority crushing the evildoer, this is not a blanket statement about all sin, this is about creating a stable society in which right Christian action can lead to salvation for the people of that society.

The people who argue for the legislation of expanded social platforms are often missing the fundamental truth that it is the Church's job to be a fundamental part of the social safety network within society. Over and over throughout Jesus ministry, He talks about the poor. Do a word study on orphan (and for contemporary context as you study replace that word with foster child) or widow. One of the greatest dangers in this type of belief is the elevation of the government welfare state above the Church. The emphasis and reliance on a self interested secular government invariably becomes at best a hindrance to the populace's ability to grow beyond that reliance or at worst becomes a system of institutionalized idolatry. Earthly power is given by God to governments to provide justice for a society, but only if what belongs to God is given to God.

The bottom line is the Church should be the first-responders when assistance to the poor is needed. Not just in the institutional sense, but in the personal practical sense as well. Furthermore, we are well served to remember that the only requirement in giving aid to the poor throughout the new testament was placed on the givers, to share the message of salvation with them. We can get lost in the idea of punishing the evil of society instead of promoting the collaboration in a practical secular safety net as a complimentary part of the Church's initial response. By placing the responsibility for the punishment and safety of the needy and sinful of a society on the shoulders of secular institutions instead of making it a foundational, practical tenant of daily Christian life and weekly church participation, we are profoundly missing the larger opportunity of sharing the message of Christ with others.

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