An interesting essay from our stand-in editor Jeff…
I?ve been hearing a lot from both sides that America is heading towards a theocracy. More specifically, a government fully devoted to Christian ideals. Those opposed speak of a theocracy as one of the greatest assaults on freedom ever invented: references to the Taliban are common. On the other hand, those in favor claim it is necessary to revive our nation. I?ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and I?ve come to the conclusion that I am leaning towards the former. I don?t want a theocracy, or, more accurately, I don?t think that a theocracy is the answer.
Those in favor assert that this nation is lost, needs redemption, and the best way to accomplish this is by having a government that adheres to religious ideals: ?if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land? (2 Chr 7:14). They see in the Old Testament a God who is constantly blessing His nation: a nation built upon godly principles and ideals, and think that that should be our goal. Surely, a nation as great as ours full of people wholly devoted to our God can change the world and the course of history. Abortion kills thousands of children every year, and this can be stopped if only we can get some conservative judges to repeal Roe v. Wade; gay marriage is threatening to destroy the core of the family unit, and only proper legislation can stop it; and the list goes on. Almost all the founding fathers were Christians, and they founded this country on Christian principles, is another frequent refrain. I have to admit, to the Christian in me, a nation devoted to the Lord sure sounds a lot better than the current course we are on. But, is a Christian nation-state the correct course for us to take? I think the answer is no.
We can deconstruct all the main issues, but the central question is ?Why?? More pointedly, why is it the government?s responsibility? At what point did we cede the power of God to the legislative branch; or the judicial, or executive, for that matter? We have shifted our focus from people to government. Instead of trying to work in individuals? lives, we have decided that we can reach them all in one fell swoop by writing laws that align with our beliefs. Do we need the government to validate our beliefs? If the Senate decides that gay marriage is OK, so what? Does that annul God?s Word? It should inspire us: we should strive to be even brighter lights in an ever-darkening world. Instead, we pout like children who haven?t gotten their way. We see the evil of abortion, and we go crying to our Representative to give us our way and make them stop. We rally behind a so-called Christian president, go back to our lives, and then gape when he doesn?t declare Christianity the national religion. Take another look at the above passage from Second Chronicles. Does it call for a God-centered government? Does it even say that ALL people should submit to Him? No, it calls on His people to follow Him, and turn from their wicked ways. This is not a wake-up call for our legislative body, but for us: God?s people. We are the ones who need to pay attention to the plank in our own eye, not the speck in our neighbor?s (Matt 7:3-5). Does God even call us to make a Christian government? ?Go and make disciples of all nations?? (Matt 28:19) not, ?Go and make a nation of disciples.?
Look at how God himself has communicated to the world through history. He has done so in three ways. First, He manifested himself in the temple, and spoke directly to his people. Second, He sent his Son to come in bodily form to us. And now, He has sent his Spirit into his people, so that they may be his representatives on Earth. We as individuals are God?s spokesmen to the lost, and we are the ones entrusted to do this, the ones commanded to carry it out. Look, for example, at how Christ himself shifted this paradigm. When God founded the nation of Israel, there were 12 tribes. When Jesus established the new covenant, He took 12 disciples: 12 individuals.
Parenthetical paragraph: Let me take this one step further. Can you support the War on Terrorism and still desire a theocracy? The answer, it would seem, is no. Consider for a moment the purpose of the War on Terror. Despite wat political correctness tells us, this is a war on Islamic extremism. On the surface, it looks like we are fighting those that wish to kill us (or already have). To, as Woodrow Wilson put it so many years ago, ?make the world safe for democracy.? But if we examine the ideology, we can see why they want to kill us, and it is quite simple: we are ?unbelievers,? ?infidels.? Their goal is to convert the world to Islam, and failing that, to exterminate those who refuse. There no innocents. Why? To have a world governed by Islamic beliefs: a theocracy. This is exactly what happened a few centuries ago. I would put a lot of money on the bet that the majority of American (and denizens of this world) do not want that. It is why we have reacted the way we have. So, can we support a war against theocracy and in the next breath petition for one? End parentheses.
But what about the rest of the world, and evil that they desire to bring about? Let them have it, I say. ?Give them over to the lusts of their hearts? (Rom. 1:24). This world is dying, groaning from the evil present (Rom 8:21-22). It is all they have, this life. But we have hope for better things: a new heaven and Earth (Rev. 21:1). And if they pursue the emptiness of their desires, will not the Joy and satisfaction of Christ seem all the better, in contrast? And will forcing them to submit to the very One they are striving against bring them to Him? How much better is love that is freely chosen, than love that is required?
I know this may seem an extreme position, and is probably an unlikely one. I also know that I posed more questions than I answered, but I do this in hope that you will refocus on your own life, and living to the glory of God, and allowing Him to draw the world through you, and not wish that the government would do it for you. The central question is just that: is it our responsibility, or the government?s? And if it is ours, what are you doing as individuals to advance the kingdom of God? ?My kingdom is not of this world? (John 18:36). ?But Jesus looked at them and said, ?With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible? (Matt 19:25-26).