Saturday, August 11, 2012

Of Bodyguards, Bullies, and the Glory of God

I think when people say the term "Christian nation," we should at least define our terms...
at which point I find that I have serious differences of opinion with big names of the Religious Right
(a group, by the way, that I have strongly identified with in the past--but am finding it harder to do, the more Biblically I think and the more I try to reform my life around the Scriptures. Odd? Yes.)

Christian: Literally meaning little Christ. One who accepts Jesus as Savior and obeys Him as Lord. One whose worldview is defined as loving what God loves and hating what God hates.
Nation: a collection of people united under one ruler.
Christian Nation (therefore): a collection of those who accept Jesus as Savior, obey Him as Lord, and unite in covenant with Him under his government as King.

Now...I ask you...why, oh why, do we keep calling the United States a Christian nation??? Does this--or has this ever--accurately described this country we live in?
When was this country ever a body of believers? Hmm?
Thomas Jefferson (who denied the divinity of Jesus).
Ben Franklin (who was sexually immoral).
George Washington (who was a freemason).
Political geniuses? Yes.
Brilliant thinkers, speakers, writers? A thousand times, yes.
Christians? Uh, no.

Examine our founding documents and tell me where we, as this nation called the United States,  entered into covenant with the Almighty.
You can't.
Because we didn't.
Know covenant. Know Peace.

No covenant. No Peace.

It's not that I don't think we're a Christian nation because my definition is so permissive.
It's that I don't think we're a Christian nation because my definition is so precise.

Did the Judeo-Christian view of government and law have an impact on the founders and the Constitution they gave us? Of course it did.
Does that make us a Christian nation?
Our republic and our justice system is lifted from the ancient Romans.
Does that make us a Roman nation?

The Church.
The gospel's glory isn't that the Prince marries the beautiful but endangered princess, but that He marries, and beautifies, the evil hag. (RC Sproul, Jr.)
Sproul is right. The Church is the former evil hag.
And she is still, at times, fickle and fearful.
She is also the Missus. So it would make sense that she relies solely on her Mister.
I wish.
Nope. When the American Church gets threatened, She relies on the State.

The State was never intended to do the Church's bidding.
The State was charged with punishing the evil-doer and rewarding good.
The State bears a sword. It's supposed to. That's how it metes out justice.
But is the State supposed to be the morality police?
I'll appeal to the logic of the Ten Commandments for my position.
Every breach of the Ten Commandments came with a prescribed punishment...
except commandment ten: coveting.  I'll bet it was because policing coveting was an impossibility. It was a matter of the heart. It also had no victim.
Was coveting punished? Yes. By God. Not by the State.

Was there some Israelite out there roaming among the tents with his boxers in a bunch because someone somewhere was coveting? and he couldn't do a blessed thing about it?
Well, if the heart of man is the same...
and if I take my cue from today's Church...
I'm going to assume there were as many bunched boxers then as there are now.
And there are Christians out there roaming among their fellow Americans, in a positive tizzy over the fact that someone somewhere is smoking pot or fornicating or acting homosexually or...

Do let's be honest. The indignation is not because we care about these fornicating, homosexual druggies. Make me laugh. I've seen it in your eyes. It's because it annoys you.

So we march our angry little wadded-up panties over to the State and demand that It do something--the sooner the better--about all those dirty little sinners out there. And, by golly, use guns and jails if you need to, Darlin'.
The Church has turned the State into Her personal bodyguard.
That bodyguard is big.
That bodyguard is strong.
That bodyguard is well-funded and well-oiled.
And we should admit we like having the Bodyguard State at our backs.
We like zoning laws that keep out the riff-raff.
We like having marriage licenses and pastors with 'State-vested' power.
We like tax laws that incentivize the married relationship.

Yet in the blink of an eye, that bodyguard turns into a bully.
That bully is still big.
That bully is still strong.
That bully is still well-funded and well-oiled.
And suddenly those zoning laws (which are evil, as they infringe on Constitutionally guaranteed property rights--pursuit of happiness and whatnot) are keeping Christians from having church in their homes.
We would love to prevent a mosque at Ground Zero.
But don't tell me where I can and can't put a church!!!
Ahem. Uh, what did you expect would happen?
And suddenly those tax incentives for being married (which are evil as they are the result of the State regulating covenants. Covenants!)...well, other people would like those civil rights, too. People of a homosexual persuasion.
Ahem. What did you expect would happen?
We made the very bad, very unwise move of letting the State--rather than the Church--regulate the covenant of marriage...and now everyone wants a piece of that action.

Well, duh.

This is not the Old Testament. The United States is not a covenantal Christian nation; it never was. We are a pluralistic nation; we always were. And the law of this land must provide for the liberty of all of its citizens, not just its Christian citizens. American Christians should be (they're not, but they should be) fighting for a limited government whose job is restricted to protecting the Constitution, guarding our rights to life, liberty, and property, punishing the evil-doer, and rewarding good.

The Church is the only Christian nation there ever was.
She is a nation which spans geopolitical boundaries and has members of every nation, tribe, and tongue.
The Church should jealously protect Her mandate to preach the Gospel of salvation and to make disciples of all nations.
And the Church should stop demanding that the State preach a false gospel of moralism by punishing sin without preaching a Savior.

A false gospel.
That's one result of the Church using the State for its own ends.
Citizens begin to believe they are 'good' if they will just refrain from smoking pot or having homosexual sex...because that's what the State--at the Church's behest--tells us.
But surely we all understand that no one is going to be able to stand at the Judgment Seat and declare, "But, Lord, you have to let me into Heaven. I was a law-abiding citizen."

Could it be that God's law is for God's covenant people? that it was never intended for people without the mind of the Spirit?

See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)

Could it possibly be that God's law was given...for God's glory? that the peoples of the earth would look at God's people, marvel at their wisdom and understanding...and glorify God in Heaven? Could it possibly be that holding non-covenantal people accountable to God's law distracts from God's glory?


We've turned the State into a para-church organization.
And we've muddied the glory of God in the sight of the peoples.
Shame on us.

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