If President Obama’s recent political support of same-sex marriage has done nothing else, it’s ignited discussion about the relationship between church and government.
It annoys me to no end that so many in the Christian community want to equate American freedom with biblical doctrine. It’s so common to hear “America is a Christian Nation,” and that “if we don’t go back to following God, we’re gonna receive his judgment,” and other such, frankly, frustrating epithets that make for great sound bytes, but have little to no real substance. Do we really think about what we say before we say it. It’s no wonder a generation of free-thinkers and activists reject the ” talking loud, saying nothing” nature of the Christian American church.
So let this be a call to all of us Holy-Ghost-having, cross-bearing, Lord’s-Prayer quoting, little-Jesuses. Politics has asked for a divorce. And we should acquiesce its request. Quickly.
Entitlement and the Church
It doesn’t matter the subject — prayer in schools, legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage, capital punishment — the Christian church, in large part, has come to expect its rules for life should to be America’s rules for life. Maybe not down to every detail (after all, we haven’t made fornication illegal yet. And we certainly don’t expect American government to take care of the poor the way Jesus asks his followers to), but for the most part, we expect the Bible to carry some weight in American legislation. For some unsubstantiated reason, we feel we deserve it. We don’t.
Newsflash: America did not accept Jesus as its personal Lord and Savior.
America’s view on Jesus matches its view for Allah, Buddha, even Satan. As long as your religion is peaceful, who”God” is referring to on our money is up to you. Jesus’s name is no where to be found in our Constitution. Thus, it is not America’s job to go out to the ends of the world preaching and baptizing in the name of Jesus, which happens to be what being a Christian is really all about. It is not the job of the American Congress to teach, or even exemplify, a life of “loving our neighbor as we do ourselves.” We are not entitled to have our religion trump the others just because a few of the values in the Constitution happen to be in the Bible. It’s time we got over it.
America’s job is to nurture freewill and freedom, to protect the innocent from the powerful, and to create an environment of opportunity for all its members in a fair, equal way. If freedom is America’s currency, then the government is merely an employer dolling out freedom checks. As recipients, the church has to cash their own checks and pay their own bills. America’s not going to pay our bills for us.
The Church and Responsibility
This is the problem with putting too many eggs in one basket. When the bottom breaks, then we have an eggy mess all over the floor and we don’t know what to do. It’s time we took our eggs out of the political basket and got more creative with our mission. Not once, ever, do we see Jesus using any political system to spread his message. Ever. And when he did have to stand before Pilate, he spoke in riddles. And yet, we, his imitators, are so dependent on American government to back our stance that when it doesn’t, we’re ready to say the country’s on the way down, as if religious politics is the only way to fight.
I’m convinced that, when God considers America, he’s not gonna ask why the right laws weren’t passed. He’s not going to “bring wrath” on America because it’s leadership has turned their backs on Him (especially since they never pledged allegiance to Jesus in the first place). Instead, he’s gonna like at you and me. He’s going to look at Christians and the thousands (maybe millions) of Christian churches across this nation, and he’s going to ask, “How can a nation with so much Jesus be so far from me?” He’s going to want to know why those who claim to love Jesus are so ineffective in their witness, when the one real Jesus has been shaking up the world for over two millenniums.
Here’s the real deal, so don’t miss it. If America is immoral, it’s because we have put our efforts in the wrong places. It’s because we have not been the unified force, the slice of God’s kingdom pie to society that we are meant to be. Instead of depending on Congress and becoming frustrated with politicking, we should be concerned with the politicking happening in our neighborhood churches. We should be asking what’s in the way of Christians working together. We should be lighting the fires so that they can shine more brightly in an increasingly dark society. While men are marrying men, we can’t seem to get two churches a stone’s throw apart from each other to present a lasting, impactful united front to its local community.
The spiritual battle in this country is not for politicians to fight. That’s the job of the Christian church. And it’s time we came together as one body and empowered each function to engage. Let’s quit crying over a marriage that should never have been, get up off the bench, and fight our own battles. That’s what one man did 2000 or so years ago.Funny, he didn’t over depend on government or religious people. I’m starting to see why.