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Philosophy Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

Taking and Giving – Christianity and Politics

There is a subject—a rather broad one to be sure—to which I find myself being drawn back on a regular basis. As with most such things, I see something—a comment, a “status post,” an essay, a video clip or some other such thing—that serves to act as impetus or catalyst (or both) to my chosen topic.

In this particular case, one of my friends (and I do consider him to be a friend) who is considered—in the “modern or post-modern” definition used in the United States at least—a Liberal (a person leaning to the left of center politically) and a Christian, made the statement about a “major political figure” that essentially, “Either I’m confused about what Christianity is and says, or he is not a Christian.”

My immediate response to that individual’s statements (I by intent, did not reply directly to the individual) was, “You are indeed confused about Christianity in some quite major and significant regards.” Part of the point saying this, is that many left-leaning Christians fail to recognize the more important reasons that many of us who are more to the center, or even to the right politically are in the place in which we find ourselves.

One of the most important things that “draws me” as a Christian, to a more “right leaning” perspective, is the tendency for true right wing folks to want less government. You may question why that would be such an important thing to me; let me help you to understand.

There are a great many people who appear to be confused into believing that it is a reasonable thing for government to be used as a mechanism to take from anybody else in order to supposedly give to others. Entirely aside from the consideration that government tends to be most inefficient in doing this (often spending far too much on “administration”), most left-leaning Christians seem to think this an appropriate and proper thing. I have an ongoing challenge for such folks. What I would ask them to do, is to give me any reason to assume that Jesus called Christ, would accept or agree with such  thing as either reasonable or acceptable.

The funny thing is, pretty much all of Jesus’ “interaction” with government cast Him as an “outlaw.” Further, to hear Him talk about government, little to no good thing was ever said by Him concerning it.

The reality is, Christianity is at its heart about free will. That’s not to say that we can and should do anything we wish. Rather the intent is that we should be allowed to at least attempt do anything we wish. By this, I mean that constraints on Christians (and according to Christianity as I understand it, unbelievers as well) should be minimal. 

To be clear, that’s not to say that government has no ability to constrain Christians in unreasonable or unacceptable fashions. On the other hand, it does not seem to me reasonable for Christians to support government that seeks to constrain Christians (or, again unbelievers) in any but the basest ways, for in so doing, we are “transferring our authority and responsibility” to constrain our fellow Christians and unbelievers to government.

The essence of what I’m saying here, is that if you even think it reasonable to vote in the first place, you probably—if you claim Christ—ought to be voting for folks that are not intending or attempting to place any but the most basic limitations on their “fellows.” Doing otherwise can, as a rule, result in little to nothing good in the long term.

This is particularly true when one considers that heavy handed governments can start out being seemingly “in line with” one’s beliefs, only to be “taken over by” folks who are not.

By the way, an interesting “side-effect” of a government that reaches into much of one’s life, is that if they prove “good at” what they do (a relative idea, to be sure), you can count on a decrease in believers in the place they govern. It turns out that, put another way, people in adverse conditions become Christians in greater numbers. 

As if that were not enough, it also appears, that folks who live in countries where oppressive conditions prevail (not where the government seeks to “take care of everything” in a benevolent fashion, mind you), end up being stronger believers as well.

One need only look to places like, China, North Korea, Rwanda and Uganda to see the apparent truth in both of the following assertions. Amazingly, harsh conditions—whether or not as a result of government action(s)—appear to result in not just more believers, but in stronger believers as well.

Where you can trust that I am by no means saying that I desire to live in harsher conditions, I am assuredly saying that, considering the options, I would rather have government be less involved in the daily lives of the citizens of a given entity, than deal with a harsh or oppressive government. And this is consistent with my belief that Christians ought not “abdicate” their privilege of helping others, handing those actions one can perform in the service of others off to government (or generally anybody else).

I can understand that benevolent entities like churches and associations can help to deal with the needs of others in need and can even sometimes be more effective or do so more properly than can individuals. Even so, you must be ever vigilant, since—just as with government—such entities can become “tainted” in various ways, making them questionably effective in such causes and activities. Even so, such are preferable on the basis—if no other—that they tend to be voluntary. This means you can lend your support to them when you feel it appropriate, and cease doing so when you do not. Like it or not, this is typically not the case for government. Most of the time, the best you can hope for, is that those holding those in government up, will recognize the need to change those in that place.

In this consideration, we must more or less entirely ignore those parts of government in which reside appointees, hoping that elected individuals will deal with them appropriately; all the while, knowing it is likely they will not.

Okay, here we are at my “self-imposed word limit” yet again. Let me make my final words that which these words follow.

If you spend your time worrying about who in government is Christian, you’re probably worried about things that are not particularly significant, but if you choose to “call out” folks as not being Christian, allow me to make two observations.

  1. I recall a certain One saying (essentially), “Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” I hope that is not me (and for your sake, not you either)
  2. There was a man called Saul of Tarsus. Saul was not a particularly pleasant man—particularly before a specific event transformed him, and least of all, to the followers of Jesus. You likely know that man as Paul the Apostle. A person with problems in his past, and even in his present—faults aside—can not only be a Christian, but be considered great in so doing.

As usual, thanks for reading, and here’s hoping your time is pleasant.

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