Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

When Church and State Collide

Posted by Adam Graham on February 24, 2005

Brian Hines of Church of the Churchless expressed the opinion of many strong advocates of the Separation of Church and State when he wrote, “Politics deals with observable physical reality where people bodily live, breathe, and die. Religion deals with an unobservable immaterial realm where, maybe, the souls of people go after they die.”

Indeed, if such a distinction exists, it cuts a logical dividing line between the church and the state to such a degree that one shouldn’t need to touch the other.

Bad Citizens Can’t be Good Christians
Of course, it’s not that simple. To conclude that Christianity or any other religion is merely concerned about the afterlife is missing the boat. A small portion of scripture is dedicated to salvation, but much of the Bible is dedicated to morality, finances, and how society should conduct itself, very earthly affairs.

More to the point, the interests of the church and state collide in many ways. Citizens with a sense of responsibility and understanding of their duties are in the best interest of society while citizens who are moochers and leaches with no sense of moral character are not. On the same hand, the former can be more easily convicted of sins and in many cases can be more easily led to Christ.

Thus, the interests of church and state collide on that ever important issue of the character of the citizenry. It’s no coincidence that we’ve not had a sustained national revival in decades. Through public education, government has pushed relativistic morality, victim and entitlement mentalities, and secular humanism.

This has produced a more selfish, morally weak, financially clueless citizenry with more people believing their personally responsible for nothing that’s come upon them.

Government education, programs, and agendas have not only produced lousy citizens, they’ve produced people who are seriously disinclined to the core ideas of Christianity. To confess that you are a sinner is to admit that your problem is caused by your own sins and failures, something that’s very hard to do if you refuse to ever take responsibility for your actions.

Of course, most in the church who see problems look only at what’s going on in the church and thus miss how the government is damaging the capacity of people to both be good Christians and good citizens.

Justice for Everyone

The scripture is full of admonitions to do justice. Micah 6:8 declares, “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Thus, the business of the church is justice and when it has had sufficient voice to effect change it has taken action for centuries on the behalf of the unborn, women, children, and the aged.

The church is called to the business of justice and the ability to insure justice (outside of vigilante action) lies with the government. So, once again, the interests of church and state collide.

Real Mercy

The liberal philosophy of compassion that has come to dominate our government is entirely different from the Christian idea . Traditional Christian charity seeks to help individuals up towards independence and freedom, getting to the heart of people’s problems.

In many cases, government programs still throw money at people’s problems, never addressing the core underlying issues in people’s lives. Government welfare programs don’t’ really address people’s core needs. They’re continually feeding people fish for a day.

The Public Interest

Does this mean the church should run the state? Certainly not. The church should not run the state anymore than big labor, big business, environmentalists, loggers, gun owners, gun grabbers, or the ACLU should.

Our government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people. However, that means government of all the people and of all the interests in the country, including that of Christian Conservatives.

When the voice of people of faith is silenced or muted, the society loses a key element that keeps the country’s politics in balance. Martin Luther King said the church should be “the conscience of the state”. The State needs to be reminded that it is not a god unto itself. There has to be a standard higher than the majority opinion of the Supreme Court. Without this balance, the State will decline into totalitarianism, nihilism, and tyranny.

This is the third part in a series on the role of Christians in Government.

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