Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rendering Unto Caesar

This here is probably going to lose me some points with some of my fundamentalist buddies, non-associated culture warriors, and those Conservatives who just know that if only we could pass such and such a law, or revoke such and such a law, then everything in the world would be just right.  I offer the following balm:

Try not to measure expectations against reality.  Doing so limits one's options.*
Also, this involves some of that Bible stuff.  I'll take it easy on the chapter and verse.  Look that up as homework.

Consider, reading it literally, Adam and Eve had one rule and a couple of jobs.  Life doesn't get easier than that.  The rule was to stay away from that one tree.  That God-given rule did not draw them closer to God.  They couldn't keep it and were kicked out of the garden.

Now consider free will:  in the Bible, can you find a single instance of God forcing someone to do something?  The only person I can think of is Jonah, and even then, it was Jonah who came back at the last minute.  Or, can you find a single instance of Jesus forcing anyone to do something?  I mean, Saul/Paul was thrown from the horse and blinded for a time.  But even then, Paul followed.  No one tied a chain around his neck and dragged him to Damascus.
Speaking of Paul, he wrote the letter to the Romans.  Paul was a Roman citizen.  He could have written that letter to a Roman politician.  He could have petitioned Rome to pass stricter, more God-pleasing laws.  And if a culture could have used that, Rome could have.  They had everything we're working so hard to have.  But Paul did not.  But who did he write the letter of Romans to?  If memory serves, he wrote his letters to churches.  All his letters, stressing behavior modifications, were to people who already believed.  To those who did not believe, Paul spoke about salvation and not behavior modification.
Now go back to the Old Testament.  Not always, but quite often, the Levites (the Priest/leadership tribe) were either lazy, corrupt, or busy trying to integrate other religions into what Israel was supposed to be.  In the New Testament, the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees (Libertarians, Democrats, and Republicans - that's a joke, k??) were in religious control, under the civic and military umbrella of the Romans.  We know what they were like.  Even in scripture, politics and faith do not walk well together.  And never mind a little thing called the Inquisition, nor the fact that every other Protestant denomination conducted persecutions.

What I'm saying is that controlling a government is not going to draw people closer to God.  How much sense does it make to expect people who do not believe in Christ to understand why one law is better than another law or why one set of standards is better than another?  There is a time-tested reason why horses pull carts.
It's kind of a human thing that we LOVE telling other people what to do.  Ths can be observed in playgrounds and in nursing homes.  Things are the way they are today in our socio-political landscape (always wanted to use that phrase in an essay) as a direct result of the politification (I just made that up) of faith.  Believers are more worried about controlling the masses than they are about reaching out to the masses with the primary message of the New Testament.  They have been for some while, and now we're here.  In some ways, I suppose, it is easier to be politically minded than it is to be gospel minded.  It's somehow more secure to work in the framework that we've built than the framework that we read of in the Bible.
How to turn things around?  Stop being like the believers at Ephesus while John was stationed at Patmos.

For my last trick - I will now run the risk of contradicting everything I just said.  Believers have the right and duty to speak their minds and be involved and write letters and petition and protest and attend meetings and vote and run for office and so on and so forth.  Just don't expect those who do not believe to agree, change their minds, or draw closer to God because a particular law was passed or thwarted. 
*Original Andy Decker proverb.

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