Thursday, September 10, 2015
Christianity, Privatization and being a “Good Citizen”
I am amazed at the recent trend among many who profess Christ. There seems to be an idea that we must be “good Americans” and follow the law even if it offends our conscience or violates our beliefs. We must (they say) obey the law no matter what. One such example would be the comments of Alabama Governor Robert Bently. Bently clearly said that he believed that marriage is “between one woman and one man” but then he added “We will always obey the law. We will follow the rule of law.”*
What Bently, and others like him are saying is “we will be good Americans.” Whatever America accepts as law “we” must obey as Americans. Bently (unconsciously perhaps) has given into the modern concept of “privatization” and pluralism. Because America is a pluralistic society (the theory goes) we must learn to live together with people who are different. In order to do this we must be willing to hold our personal beliefs separate from our public life. We must be “good Americans.”
Of course, privatization will always lead to secularization- that is it will produce a society that cannot consider anything as sacred. If anything is sacred then the social contract will be upset because inevitably there will be people who cannot agree on what is sacred. And then there will be conflict. So then we must learn to live together in peace- at any cost. One cost is conviction. Where conviction exists there cannot be peace so convictions must be set aside in the public square.
This sounds nice but it is impossible. When the Muslim or Jew goes to the grocery store he does not cease to be Muslim or Jewish. He discriminates. He rejects anything that he does not consider sacred. He will not eat pork for the sake of peace. Nor can the Hindu consume another living creature. This is essential to who he is. For the Hindu, Jew and the Muslim these are not beliefs but convictions. And when Christians go to work they do not cease to be Christian.
America is not the first society to call people to set aside their personal beliefs, conscious and world view for the sake of the greater good of society. 6 million Jews were marched to the gas chambers by many “good Germans” who were obeying the law. 1.5 million Cambodians were killed “legally” under the regime of Pol Pot by “good citizens” who were just obeying the law. Mao Zedong freed China from imperial oppression and passed new laws that resulted in 45 million people being “legally” killed for the greater good of society. In each of these cases it was not a foreign invading force, but “good” Cambodians, Chinese, Russians and Germans who were simply obeying the law. “Ah, but we are a democracy, we are not a dictatorship.” I fail to see the logic of this argument. The fact that America is a democracy actually makes the situation worst because that means we are not being forced as citizens by gun point to commit these atrocities but we have complacently volunteered to cooperate with evil.
For example, the law of the land says that it is “legal” to end the life of a child in the womb. And “good Americans” stand by and allow countless millions to die. After all, we do not want to be rebels. We are not revolutionaries but peaceful people-loving people, “just like Jesus.” And now this twisted view of Jesus is used to support sodomy and sexual perversion. Oh, that was not a loving thing to say. That was not tolerant. But that is the language the Bible uses.
Gay marriage is an oxymoron and an abomination. Abortion is murder. We can change the language to make these acts sound more pleasing to the ear but even the wicked, Fallen heart of man knows that they violate the conscious. They are sin. They are evil. And a man of conviction (Biblical convictions) cannot remain silent in these times. Nor can they remove their brains and their conscious to mindlessly follow the state and her wicked laws.
If we take the “good American” approach Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have been spared the furnace, Daniel would have escaped the lion's den, John Baptist would not have lost His head (nor Paul), the disciples would have lived, the early Christians would not have been fed to lions, the Protestant Reformation would have never occurred, England would still be Catholic, slavery would still be in place, and the Puritans would never have existed. In essence, all these people would have been “good citizens” of their respected lands and Christianity would have died off long ago.
The Christian is first and foremost a citizen of another county- one that is not made with hands. We are pilgrims passing through this land. We are not called to find our comfort in Egypt but, like the Christ we follow, to overcome this world. We obey Lawful government (Romans 13) and when government is no longer acting in the authority it has been granted by God for good upon the earth, we are no longer required to obey. When the “law of the land” is in clear violation of the Law of God then we must not – we cannot- be “good Americans” or we make man our god. The government that no longer follows the laws of God has overstepped their God-given right to rule. They are no longer a “legal” government in the eyes of Scripture (Acts 4:19).
As Nathan said to king David “ you are the man,” as Noah said to Pharaoh “let us go so we may worship YHWH,” as Daniel opened his window to look to heaven and prayed despite the new laws that forbid it, as Paul stood before government officials not to offer an defense for his case but for the case of Christ and as John Baptist stood before Herod and called him a sinner, so are we called to be a voice to a culture that has lost its conscious. We are called to be salt and light and this is never done in silence or without cost.