Monday, 6 April 2015

Christianity and Politics

Despite talking principally about Christian apologetics, I do sometimes talk about politics. Today, I am going to talk about both. It is alarming to me just how many Christians think it is perfectly okay to legislate Christian morality through the state. When you use the institution of the state to force your values on other people, two things happen. First, if you succeed, you can no longer identify who the people that disagree with you are any longer, since they would have to comply with your ideas, or be threatened with fines, which is ultimately backed by the threat of prison, which, in turn, is ultimately backed by violence. Second, you open the door wider to invite others to lobby the same institution (the state and their edicts, i.e. "law") to have their will enforced also. What happens when a country's will becomes unified under some crazy person's ideas? Nazi Germany comes to mind. The communist revolution in Russia is another. Believing in your heart that your belief is the right one or the correct one and that everyone else must abide by and comply with it, or be threatened by the state, is more wrong than the problem that you believe you are solving. Keep in mind that the problem would still exist. It would just be suppressed through threats of violence. All of the consequences that result from government edict enforcers getting involved in whatever issue you want them to are too unknown and too vast to ever understand. Even if 99% of the world agreed with your view. The moment institutional violence is introduced as a method to solve the issue, you become the very thing you seek to end.

People have a choice whether or not to follow Jesus, and, as Jesus Himself said, to love Jesus is to follow His commandments. In other words, to become a Christian is to choose to follow Jesus' commandments (amongst other things.) Thus, by trying to legislate such commandments via the institution of government is to remove choice, and is thus tantamount to forced conversions in all but name. We as Christians are supposed to spread Christianity through evangelism, ministry, preaching, and by being living examples to others. It is up to each and every person whether or not they choose to heed the Holy Spirit. Moreover, to legislate such commandments via the state would be to take a step backwards to the legalism of the pharisees and the Old Testament. Jesus, after all, had come to fulfil the law of the OT and to bring about a New Covenant. Ironically enough, I saw a fellow who actually argued that God favoured monarchy because He gave His support to Constantine. Now, aside from being something that is completely unfounded and not even in the Bible, he seems to ignore the part in the Old Testament where God got angry with the Israelites because they kept demanding a king. This same fellow responded by claiming, with zero justification, that their sin was in demanding kingship "too early." In reality, their sin was in demanding an earthly king because God was their King in Heaven. By demanding an earthly kingship was as insult to God's Heavenly Kingship, and the Bible is pretty clear that this was the issue.

Even the Old Covenant, however, was not a system of force. The Old Covenant was, as the name implies, a legal contract between God as King and His people, the Israelites. It was a contract they freely entered into and consistently chose to remain in. Another consideration is the fallen, corrupt nature of mankind. God is our King because He is perfect. He is a maximally great being with every great making property, and, as such, can never be fooled, tempted, or corrupted. Humans, on the other hand, are fallible beings. We can be bribed, tempted, etc. Certain Christians claim and insist that 'strong Christian leaders' in government is a step in the right direction. They ignore the fact that people can lie and lie through their teeth. We have had allegedly Christian leaders in governments in Europe for over a thousand years. American leaders have professed Christianity since the nation's inception. Yet I sincerely doubt that very many of them were actually genuine believers in Christ, maybe even none of them were/are.

However, not only is it immoral to force Christian beliefs into people, not only does such ideas contradict the Bible and the teachings of Christ, not only does such an idea give insult to God's Heavenly Kingship, but they simply don't work. You cannot achieve any meaningfully long-term good results by trying to institute them by force. Why else did prohibition fail in 1920s America? Why else is the current drug war in Europe and North American failing miserably now? Why else has almost a century of meddling and intervention in foreign nations constantly undermined peace and stability? As Christians, we are called to be like Christ, and Christ voluntarily served His people. God respects the free will of His creatures. As such, the only political viewpoint I can subscribe too that is compatible with Christian values is voluntarism. Voluntarism is simply the idea that interactions between human beings should be mutual and voluntarily. A related principle is the principle of non-aggression: initiatory violence is never permitted; violence is only ever okay when it is used reasonably in self-defence. You cannot call yourself a Christian if you support a political system or ideology that is based on institutional corruption and/or violence. It is for this reason that I reject socialism, democracy, monarchism, republicanism, etc. Well, that and the fact that none of these political systems work or have ever worked. Put simply, voluntarism is the only political viewpoint that is logically compatible with Christ's teaching.