Random thoughts - part VII
Here are some responses to an old acquaintance, asking about my views as a Christian and a pastor. Some of it might not make sense, as it's just my side of the conversation...
Secular and religious
I, too, know how I would like things to be, but am aware that it's hard to get there without having buy-in from a vast majority. Steve Forbes took a lot of flak when he ran for president for refusing to commit to changing abortion laws (to outlaw more) when he got into office. His defense was that we need to change the culture before changing the laws, and I agree with him. The public square and the religious life are both outward expressions of the convictions of the heart. In an ideal world there wouldn't be any discontinuity between the two, but in a world where many are conciously rejecting morality, it's hard to do that. The only practical option that's working seems to be the Golden Rule, Natural Law route - defending a moral law on the books like stealing on practical grounds, rather than as being wrong inherently. This is insufficient in my book. There was no legislature in the Old Testament government of Israel, because God had given all the laws already. Romans 13:1-7 refers to the government as "God's minister to you for good." Their job is to enforce moral law: "If you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." Again, this makes sense when it's murder or stealing or perjury/slander. But what about Sabbath, profanity, worshiping only Yahweh, adultery, coveting - the rest of the 10 commandments? And in Jamestown, Virginia recently, touring the settlement of 1607, the guide said that if you skipped church the government flogged you, so we can't say that America is all about the separation of church and state in an absolute way. But each of these does have their spheres of influence. The church shouldn't be telling the government what to do; the government shouldn't be interfering with its citizens' expressions of their faith.