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A View from the Altar / Neutrality
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Neutrality

Jesus said taught that neutrality does not exist.  This is because there is only one true God who is establishing his kingdom, and you’re either in that kingdom or you’re not.

Many Americans would like to believe government should be indifferent to matters of religion.  This belief is based on the idea that the police shouldn’t prosecute people over, to pick an actual historical example, baptizing by immersion rather than by sprinkling or pouring.  This is a case of straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel.  Western civilization is far enough past that phase of development that even very fundy-ish Americans already accept that the government should stay out of such matters.  Let’s not get distracted about a non-issue.

Besides, picayune quibbles about ritual are very different questions from identifying a coherent and trustworthy foundation for the general corpus of law.  In America, that foundation is approximately Christian (or at least it has been).  In Saudi Arabia it is explicitly Islamic.  But there is no place which has a law and no religious foundation for it.  This is for the simple reason that the categories of “right” and “wrong” appeal to something transcendent within the heart of man, and that’s the province of religion.

The Secular Man would like to play a shell game with this and pretend that there is some set of precepts that everyone can agree on and that our common consent to that set of precepts forms the basis of a civil law.

That seems reasonable until the Moslem wants an exception for honor killings.  And then the secular people begin to clamor for their own private exceptions to sexual restrictions.  And then some guy from a company making tee-shirts in a third world country wants an exception to various laws about fair compensation.  And the exceptions multiply until we realize that there is nothing done by sinners that could fail to find its advocate somewhere.  Common consent to some small core of law is found to be a mirage.  At best it is mob rule.  More likely it will simply deliver power into the hands of the selfish and the cruel. (Lewis)

So, then, neutrality doesn’t exist, just as the Master said, and this extends to the government just as it does to individuals.  The state must operate out of somebody’s particular viewpoint, and where that viewpoint touches on transcendent issues of right and wrong, it necessarily becomes religious in nature even if it does not acknowledge it.

This being the case, I’d just as soon see that religious view be Christian.  Jesus is Lord, and that’s just a fact.  And the fact that it is a fact should weigh heavily on how his people think about the world.  On a pragmatic level, the track record of governments established upon Christian precepts, though far from perfect, is better than anything else.  Remember this next time you hear somebody feign horror at the idea of a theocracy.  Fact is, we’ve already got one growing, only its god is dead.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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