I do have other things to say, but after I posted the two ‘What Makes Me Tick’ pieces on politics and religion, it occurred to me that it would be good to comment on how I think the two relate, especially since we see them enmeshed together so much in our world. At the risk of being misinterpreted due to brevity, I’ll just lay it out short and sweet and trust y’all to stick around for me to flesh out this outline.
A person’s religion reflects their values (yes, I do use ‘their’ for a second-person, non-specific gender pronoun. It’s ‘legal’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Look it up and deal with it! J ). Maybe some would say that it’s a person’s values that reflect their religion. Doesn’t matter here; for this discussion, they are interchangeable. As we participate in our political system, we should participate according to our own values. That should be a given. But we need to realize that our values might not be reflected by society-at-large, and also that ‘American rights’ are not the same thing as ‘Christian rights’. (And I’m not talking about the Christian Right here!)
Another thing to keep in mind is that while America certainly has a Christian heritage, it is not, and never has been a ‘Christian nation’. What’s the difference?
Having a ‘Christian heritage’ means that those who have gone before us in building this country have largely been Christians. There have been certain Christian values that have been reflected in the general morals and ideals of society. These morals and ideals have been generally accepted as the basis for our society for most of our existence. How well we have actually lived out those morals and ideals is open to debate, but they have basically been the standard. This is demonstrable and true.
A ‘Christian nation’ would be one that has a special favored status with God. It would be a national entity that enjoys a special relationship with God. An actual, physical nation on earth has not had this status for thousands of years. Whether it is explicitly stated or not, it seems to me that this is what is meant when people at large talk about our ‘Christian nation’. It is reflected when people use 2 Chronicles 7:14 “(if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”) during prayer marches for our nation without realizing that those words are actually directed towards a nation that really was God’s chosen. (I will definitely be following this up later.)
About the difference between ‘American rights’ and ‘Christian rights’…
As an American, I believe that I have the right to bear arms, or own a gun. I think this right, as intended by the framers of the Constitution, is a pretty wide right…at least wider than it currently is. (I’ll certainly talk more about guns later.) I will vote to preserve my Second Amendment rights every time.
However…my ‘Christian rights’ do not involve gun ownership. If the Second Amendment is whittled down and the government insists that I surrender those guns, Romans 13 tells me:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Is gun ownership a ‘salvational issue’? No. Christians have survived for centuries in nations in which they have had no right to bear arms. In fact, the quickest spread of Christianity in history was in the Roman Empire, where they were slaves, fed to the lions, and used as human torches. I would not like to give up my guns, and I believe there would be unpleasant consequences for an unarmed populace, but this is not a hill to die on for Christians. I believe there would be far more dire consequences to Christians for making this such an issue.
We Christians get into too much trouble when we confuse the two spheres of God and King.
More later. Maybe not tomorrow…