The Primal Creation — reblogged

The garden of Eden with the fall of man (from here) *74.3 × 114.7 cm *signed b.l.: PETRI PAVLI RVBENS FIGR. *signed b.r.: IBRUEGHEL FEC *circa 1615
The garden of Eden with the fall of man
(from here)

madblog has a thoughtful post on marriage, The Primal Creation. Here she discusses what defines marriage.

Oddly, given that Christians supposedly do not discuss sex, ‘s post is fundamentally about the definition of sex. Yet there is nothing obscene in what she has written. It something we should all know about, but many don’t.

What makes a marriage a marriage? We need to define it before we re-define it.  What is distinct about it?  What makes marriage…marriage?

I think we misunderstand it, and that is pure tragedy.

Man and woman were made in the image of God. They were created beings who were able to relate to God; sentient and self-aware; in His image because they possessed spirits. Out of all that God created, man is the only being who is able to commune with God.

God called this creation something special. Together they were His joy, His most cherished creation. We were created for this relationship with God, and cultivating this relationship with God is man’s responsibility and his privilege.

God created man. Then woman was made from man. Note that she was not created a separate being or species.  They are two manifestations of the same created being.  She was made from him. So intrinsically was she created to be the one who completed him. They are inseparable.

Genesis 2: 23-25:

The man said,

         “This is now bone of my bones,

         And flesh of my flesh;

         She shall be called Woman,

         Because she was taken out of Man.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

(continued here)

What is the problem that results from a meaningless definition of marriage? We call the family the building block of society. What if that building block disappeared? What if an all-powerful state became THE FAMILY? What if women just served as breeders.  What if all children, especially those with “potential,” were raised by a true nanny state? What if Big Brother becomes our children’s and grandchildren’s reality?

WE ARE ALL PILGRIMS

William Blake: Christian Reading in His Book (Plate 2, 1824–27) (from here)
William Blake: Christian Reading in His Book (Plate 2, 1824–27) (from here)
pilgrim (n.)
c. 1200, pilegrim, from Old French pelerin, peregrin “pilgrim, crusader; foreigner, stranger” (11c., Modern French pèlerin), from Late Latin pelegrinus, dissimilated from Latin peregrinus “foreigner” (source of Italian pellegrino, Spanish peregrino), from peregre (adv.) “from abroad,” from per- “beyond” + agri, locative case of ager “country” (see acre).

Change of first -r- to -l- in most Romance languages by dissimilation; the -m appears to be a Germanic modification. Pilgrim Fathers “English Puritans who founded Plymouth colony” is first found 1799 (they called themselves Pilgrims from c. 1630, in reference to Hebrew xi:13).

I have a difficult and stubborn commenter,Arkenaten, who is perfectly willing to allow his comments to go into moderation. I guess he knows I will read them.

Since I used his “name” on the THE GIFT OF LOVE, I posted one of his comments (from here) with my reply.

Arkenaten

(Arkenaten) likes to amuse him by trying to torment Christian bloggers with questions to which we have no answers. (author’s note: Here Arkenaten quotes a portion of what I said in my post.)

I believe this sentence tells the reader everything they might wish to know about Christianity.
A real gem, this. A keeper in fact.

Citizen Tom

Since I mentioned your name, one comment.

Here is my reply.

We all have questions.

Why am I here?
What is right and wrong?
What brings me meaning
What happens to a human being when I die?

Can we learn the answer to those questions? Yes.

Check out => http://josephelonlillie.com/2016/01/25/road-through-romans-seek-and-find/

Here is how he replied.

Arkenaten

We know what happens to humans when they die. They decompose.
Why do you have a problem with this?

Why did I bother? That’s a topic in the comment thread that follows WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY. For example, this comment.

Necessary and Proper

@Tom and Keith,

Tom’s question to Keith (“That is, how do we persuade people to properly amend the Constitution?”) brought me full circle back to the first interchange I ever had with Keith. It was when you reblogged my first Due Process of Law article on May 25th last year, called “Can a Law Be Unlawful.” I was trying to start a train of thought that would illuminate the fact that, no matter how all the detailed x’s and o’s tactics play out in the daily political arena, the BIGGER picture is that the whole legislative and executive world is now operating in an “extra-Constitutional” manner. An alarming percentage of the federal statutes on the books, and many of the federal government’s overt actions are simply devoid of any Constitutional basis — which I asserted makes them philosophically/morally unlawful. As we’ve gotten to know each other, Keith and I have found we’re both enthusiastic advocates for an Article V Convention to amend our Constitution back towards its original intent.

I would like to reprint a comment I made back then:

[[Keith, I would also observe that it’s clear your (and Citizen Tom’s) greater interest is in “What do we do about it?”, and you’re not necessarily as interested in hearing the case for why it’s morally wrong for the government to pass bad, unconstitutional, improper, wrong, inappropriate, laws. But there are a LOT of people who would never stop to question the behavior of lawmakers like I am doing here. It’s them I am primarily addressing, not you. Why? Because I believe that educating them to question their government’s actions is THE BEST thing within my control to help “do something about it.” Clearly, the impeachment avenue that was provided by the Constitution will never seriously be used, because there’s too much political posturing and media subterfuge in the modern political arena for impeachment to be practical. So influencing moderates, independents, and new voters in their teens and twenties that they should be careful and effective with their voting power is what I’m all about….especially in this series. I’m trying to fight against the spread of moral relativism.]]

– Jeff

Jeff wrote a very thoughtful comment. Nevertheless, he is addressing Keith and myself.

When I started blogging, I focused more on politics than religion. Then I realized that our political system is collapsing because our people no longer uphold an ethical system capable of supporting a constitutional republic. So now I focus far more on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

When I blog, like Jeff I hope that I will reach some people who have not given either Christianity or politics much thought. However, I don’t seriously expect many of those people to stop by and read my blog. Yet that is most of the electorate.

What has happened? Why is a nation that once seemed so interested in Christianity now so ignorant of it? I think the answer is our education system. We have allowed the public school system to indoctrinate successive generations of children, and that school system has left a void in the hearts of our people. Think of the idiocy. Almost no one trusts politicians, but we have put them in charge of so much that we value, including the indoctrination of our children.

With respect to Christianity, our education system has left the impression that these questions have no serious answers.

Why am I here?
What is right and wrong?
What brings me meaning
What happens to a human being when I die?

Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics) says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.

Our schools avoid the Bible. When they speak of religion, they speak of religion as a source of controversy and war. Seriously, does anyone truly believe American politicians think of Islam as the religion of peace. Don’t we know that what politicians who call Islam the religion of peace think is that all religions are worthless except their own idols, power and money.

With respect to our duty to be good citizens, our education system has left the impression that all we have to do is listen to the evening news and then vote for the best man.  In fact, for the most part people do nothing. Because they never learn what to do — how they can make a difference — they do what seems easiest and leave it to “the experts.” That is exactly what most corrupt politicians would prefer they do.

So why do I blog? It is my pilgrimage. Putting my thoughts on paper and reading what others have written helps me to better understand the Bible and politics. That’s the primary reason.

For the time being, blogging also seems to be my calling. There are new Conservatives with a poor understanding of Conservatism and new Christians who need to be encouraged to read the Bible. With the help of other Christians and Conservative bloggers, those are the people I hope to reach, and those are the people I hope will talk to their friends and neighbors. If God answers our prayers, those are the people God will call upon to revive His Spirit within our nation. These people will bring the Gospel of Christ to those with ears to hear, and the Holy Spirit — if God so wills — will soften our hearts so that we can each perceive the message of Jesus Christ.

OBSERVATIONS ON A LIBERAL CHRISTIAN

bibleIntroducing The Topic

Here of late Invisible Mikey visited my blog. Curious, I visited his blog.  He had this reblog as his latest post, President Obama’s Tenure Has Been More “Christian” Than His Critics Will Ever Admit. The original post is byjohndpav (John Pavlovitz), and it features a picture of a crying President Barack Obama.

This week President Obama gave a passionate, vulnerable, teary eyed press conference to announce new guidelines for gun ownership. It provided some of the rawest, most authentic expressions of compassion and grief ever shared by a sitting American President.

It was also another example of a man’s religion speaking loudly without needing to be referenced at all. (continued here)

Pavlovitz went on to list Obama’s “accomplishments”.

He’s vigorously defended the civil rights of all human beings, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or faith tradition.
He’s engineered a national system of healthcare for all citizens.
He’s made the working poor and the elderly a priority.
He has spoken out loudly against the death penalty.
He’s continually challenged us to be hospitable to refugees and immigrants.

He’s called out the corporate lobbyists and big business special interests that have crippled the middle class and widened the income gap between the richest and poorest of our people.
He’s been a champion for equality in the workplace for women and minorities and the gay community.
He’s worked to eliminate the bullying and marginalizing of the LGBTQ community.
He’s pushed back against the NRA and the gun lobby to reduce the violence in our streets. (from here)

Who is Pavlovitz? Apparently, he is a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet I wonder how a minister could be so gun-ho about President Barack Obama. So I went looking for a statement of faith.  Did not find anything called that. So I searched Pavlovitz’s blog to see what he thinks about the Bible. Pavlovitz’s latest post on the Bible is 10 Things This Christian Doesn’t Believe About The Bible. That post is the subject of this one. However, if you are curious as to what Pavlovitz about what thinks about the Bible, I suggest you do the same search I did on “Bible“.

The Topic

So what are the 10 things John Pavlovitz doesn’t believe about the Bible? If you want to know in detail, I suggest you read his post: 10 Things This Christian Doesn’t Believe About The Bible. What I will do here is comment on each of Pavlovitz’s ten things. My comments will be in italics and in purple.

1) I don’t believe the Bible was dictated by God. The sixty-six books comprising the Bible were composed by flawed, imperfect, emotional, very human beings who never claim to have been fully possessed by God or robbed of their faculties as they wrote. This means that however virtuous or well-meaning or inspired they might have been, they can’t help but have brought some of themselves into the writing.

With this statement Pavlovitz begins his offer of a curious compromise.  He wants to believe the Bible is divine in origin, but he doesn’t want to believe all of what the Bible says is true.  What is the problem with not believing the Bible? The Bible claims to be the Word of God.  For an explanation of what that means, see Is the Bible inspired? and Question: “What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?”

2) I don’t believe the Bible explains the time and manner of earth’s creation and population accurately. The Creation accounts in Genesis are not scientific writings designed to instruct, as much as they are poetry and song meant to inspire. They should not be read as a literal explanation of the fashion or timetable of what Science clearly tells us were the far older and more gradual evolutions of life than a literal Biblical translation contends. Genesis 1 and 2 are a who story, not a how story.

Some people think of The Theory Of Evolution and the Creation story in Genesis as contrary to each other. Maybe, but I think a little humility is required here. None of us were there to watch when God created the universe. None of us were there when God created Adam and then Eve. So all we have are theories, theories we still do not have the means to test. Moreover, Genesis was not written to us. Moses wrote Genesis to Hebrews now long dead, Hebrews who knew nothing of modern science. So it is silly to argue about this.

Genesis just says that God created everything, including Adam and Eve. Then Adam and Eve sinned, and now they and all their progeny (you and me) all need to be redeemed.

Isn’t our need for redemption self-evident?

3) I don’t believe the Bible accurately represents women for the times we in which we live. The Old and New Testaments were written predominantly, if not exclusively by men during a time when women were essentially marital property, with their status and moral worth often linked to marriage and to childbearing. These stories by the very nature of the context of their creation, carry cultural biases that need to be considered and challenged today, especially regarding the role of women in ministry leadership and gender roles in general, where the Bible has too often been an impediment to progress.

The Bible may not be a science text, but much of it is a history book. When the Bible is telling us what happened in the past, why should we expect it to portray how we expect women to behave to today?

In addition to history, the Bible also contains much wisdom, guidance on how we should behave. One of the reasons the Christian men and women of our era do treat each other as equals is because of the wisdom previous generations gained from the Bible. They studied it, and not enough of us do. What those previous generations learned is that the Bible teaches men not to treat women as chattel. That is something done primarily by men who do not believe the Bible is the Word of God.

4) I don’t believe the Bible has much of consequence to say about gender identity and sexual orientation. I don’t advocate consulting the Scriptures for an accurate understanding of matters of sexuality for the same reason I wouldn’t want a medical text from the same time period guiding a surgeon taking a scalpel to me. What we now know is simply far more than we knew then about how the body works, and to ignore that would be foolish. The advances and discoveries over time that increase our understanding of our brains and bodies (which God enables) need to be respected and acknowledged by people of faith.

Here Pavlovitz leaves no doubt that he is willing to cherry-pick the Bible, but he is straightforward about it. He tells us to ignore the scriptures he wants us to ignore.  Science, supposedly overrides the Bible. Yet if that is the case, then what is the point of consulting the Bible? What does science have to say about the resurrection of the dead? 

5) I don’t believe the Bible provides a unified, consistent message regarding marriage, war, violence, or sex. The Bible’s many authors have a great deal to say on these and other matters, but there can hardly be a single harmonious Biblical ethic found regarding any of them, no matter how much we would like this. For example, sometimes in Scripture violence is strictly prohibited, sometimes it is tolerated, and other times explicitly commanded and aided by God. So cleanly summarizing the Scriptures on this and many topics is all but impossible.

Here we have that history thing again. The Bible provides a unified, consistent message regarding marriage, war, violence, and sex; but it is silly to expect that history of human beings across a 1500 year period will present a unified, consistent message regarding much of anything.

Think about how the story the Bible tells begins. First we have Creation. Then we have the sin of Adam and Eve. Those two had children, and their children sinned too. In fact, because they sinned, God flooded the earth and destroyed almost all of those children. Those who believe the Bible can only drop their jaws in wonder. He drowned them all! Then why do we remain?

God does not explain very much, but He makes it clear that He hates sin. If we love God, we must strive to avoid sin. If we want to know how God defines sin, then we just have to read Bible.

6) I don’t believe the Bible is without error. The very nature of its verbal origins, its decidedly human authors, the wide time expanse of its writing, as wells as its long and convoluted collation process, all mean that while The Bible can contain great truth, it cannot be as pure and pristine as it would need to be to be called perfect or without inconsistencies or inner conflicts.

The funny thing about this complaint is the difficulty of finding any errors. Most of the things we call errors usually turn out to be misunderstandings or translation errors. Others turn out to be things like what the Bible says about fornication, hell, or some other such thing that sinful people just don’t want to believe.

7) I don’t believe the Bible is the only source through which we hear or experience God. Rather than a Sola Scriptura perspective, which makes the Bible the ultimate, singular resource for encountering and understanding God, I believe as the ancestors of the faith believed: that all areas of life speak the language of the Divine; nature, prayer, community, reason, and the Holy Spirit’s direct voice to each of us. The Bible is one of the many facets of God’s likeness.

Here Pavlovitz explicitly rejects the authority of scripture. What would he substitute? That’s not exactly clear.  What do we do when someone chooses to derive a “teaching” from nature, prayer, community, reason, or what they call the Holy Spirit’s direct voice that does not conform to the Bible? Because it feels good we go along to get along?

In an earlier post, THE GIFT OF LOVE, I wrote of different sources of inspiration. That post does not discuss the meaning of Sola Scriptura, but it does provide a perspective on different sources of inspiration.

What is Sola Scriptura? That is one of the five solas popularized during the Protestant Reformation.  Here are the five:

  1. Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone”
  2. Sola fide: “faith alone”
  3. Sola gratia: “grace alone”
  4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone”
  5. Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”

What For a more detailed explanation, see What are the five solas?, What are the five solas?, and/or Five Points from the Past that Should Matter to You.

8) I don’t believe the Bible should guide our government. Because it is as vast and complicated and cloudy as it is, it is irresponsible to try and superimpose the Bible on our civil system, as our government (like all governments) does not represent or serve people of a single faith tradition. The Bible is properly used as a guide to nurture a Christian’s individual spiritual journey and life within their chosen faith community. It should not be a mandated measuring stick for any nation’s people.

I discussed this issue in my last post: WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY. When Pavlovitz issues this dictum, please keep in mind where he stands on political issues. Consider his support for President Barack Obama.

9) I don’t believe the Bible can be objectively interpreted or evaluated. Not only did the Bible’s numerous authors bring some of themselves to its passages, we too bring ourselves to them as we read, study, and interpret them. All of our biases and desires and histories and personalities shape the lens by which we view them, and they shape those who write and preach and teach us as well. Any objective truth they contain is therefore all but impossible to claim sole ownership of and practically speaking, beyond grasping.

Objectively interpreted or evaluated? Given the issue is our eternal souls, I don’t think any of us can be objective about the Bible. Yet why should we be objective?

Have you ever wondered whether a scientist is objective about the subject of his research? Believe me. If a scientist loves what he is doing, he will not be objective. He will be passionately dedicated. So how does a scientist prove his theories? He tests them. If his theories do not work, they do not model the truth.

Similarly, if our understanding of the Bible does not work in practice, then our understanding must be wrong. Then we need to go back to the Bible, read it and pray.

10) I don’t believe the Bible is worthy of worship. The Scriptures are a tool for approaching God and for trying to put into words ideas that are far beyond words. They are a way of orienting ourselves in the world, of helping us to grow spiritually and to engage our faith. They are not Divinity, and cannot and should not be made into an idol to be blindly worshiped, especially when that worship reinforces or justifies discrimination, bigotry, or injustice based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, birthplace, or income level.

Curiously, this last bullet does more to explain Pavlovitz’s own prejudices than anyone else’s. Where does scripture actually reinforce or justify discrimination, bigotry, or injustice based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, birthplace, or income level?  Have there been people who have tried to use the Bible justify their bigotry? Yes. We fought a civil war over slavery. Yet without the Bible, it is likely some of us would still be enslaved.

At the same time Pavlovitz wants the Bible to be a tool for approaching God, he will not fully accept its wisdom. He does not believe he can rely upon the Bible to help him discern between good and evil.

Curious as to how he could be so self-contradictory, I read a related post on Pavlovitz’s blog, Why The Bible Shouldn’t Be Worshiped. He begins thus:

The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.

You’ve heard that phrase before.

You’ve read it on bumper stickers.

You may have even said it a time or two. (from here)

Then he goes he to explain how some people have turned the Bible into some kind of a crutch, a crutch that we don’t bother to read.

What I found especially ironic is this paragraph.

So many of us casually throw around the phrase “God’s Word”, as if we all agree on what the Bible actually says or is. I’m here to tell you, we don’t all agree on what it says or what it is and that’s okay. When a Christian accuses another believer of misusing Scripture, they’re essentially claiming sole ownership of its only interpretation, conveniently setting-up the dissenting opinion as the enemy of God.

At the same time Pavlovitz claims we cannot agree on whats scripture says, he demands we concede to his interpretation of scripture.

Anyway, very few people confuse the Bible with God, especially people who take the time to read it and study it. And those who are ignorant of the Bible? How can they say the Bible says anything if they don’t know what it says?

Conclusion

Am I trying to pick on Invisible Mikey? No. Do I think Pavlovitz is a fool? No. I just believe he risks apostasy. As near as I can tell, Pavlovitz does not deny the deity of Jesus. Nevertheless, Pavlovitz has Jesus’ message so confused he is worst than useless as a Bible expositor.

Consider his bonus, his 11th thing this Christian doesn’t believe about the Bible.

BONUS: 11) I don’t believe the Bible should be used to defend the Bible. Many readers will note that I do not quote Scripture in this piece, which is intentional and largely the point of the piece. So often Christians respond to questions or challenges regarding the Bible by quoting the Bible, which is often received by the listener as someone saying, “I’m completely trustworthy and honest—just ask me!” I believe the statements made above can be respectfully, thoughtfully, and intelligently engaged without needing to begin throwing isolated verses at one another like stones, or at least I hope they can.

The Bible doesn’t need to be defended. The Bible is our defense. I just wish more people would study and read the Bible. Then more people would have the Bible as their defense.

Psalm 119 is the longest of the psalms, an acrostic of twenty-two stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  It is a meditation on the Word of God. Here is how it begins.

Psalm 119 New King James Version (NKJV)

Meditations on the Excellencies of the Word of God

א Aleph

119 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.
You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.
Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.
I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

 

WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY

Marie Antoinette's execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)
Marie Antoinette‘s execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)

There is a saying that is unwise.

Love rules without rules. — Anonymous (from here)

Not even for the sake of love should we set aside all the rules. Yet many use that excuse when they vote. Instead of voting for the most competent and honorable candidate, the one who promises to support and defend the Constitution and keep our country safe and secure, they vote for the most charming and charismatic fellow.

Does this sound silly? What is the point of associating romance with politics? We expect lovers to be a bit nutty, right? Yet there is very little these days that is rational about our politics. That is a subjectinsanitybytes22 amusingly explores in this post, Running the Gauntlet.

When we love without rules, what is the problem? Do we let our passions dominate our reason? No. What we set aside is wisdom, not reason. We still know what is going on. We still know what we are doing. What we do not do is care about whether our choices are right our wrong.

The ability to reason simply allows us to logically work our way through cause and effect relationships.  Consider.

  • If a woman gives in to the ardor of a passionate suitor, don’t both of them know what is going to happen?
  • If we vote for a politician who makes extravagant promises to care for the poor, the old, the children, the sick and so forth, don’t we know he is not serious about balancing the budget?

When we consider the rules, which alternatives are right and which are wrong,  wisdom takes us a step or two further than reason.

  • Before a woman gives into a passionate suitor, she wisely considers the character of her suitor. Out of self-respect and for the sake of any children she might have, she demands a good marriage before sex.
  • Before a voter chooses a candidate, he considers that candidate’s record. Does that candidate have a good record? Will he honor the Constitution? Will he try to balance the budget?

Thus, reason often fails to look beyond the desires of the moment, whereas wisdom — because the wise strive to discern good from evil — carefully evaluates the consequences.

Logic and science provide the basis for reason. From where do we derive wisdom? In our society, we have traditionally used the Bible. Yet many in our day insist we cannot mix religion with politics. Instead, they say we must keep church and state separate, that politics is just about keeping the peace. Out of “respect” for religion, secularists may even say that only God can judge another person’s sins, that what defines sin is too personal for politics.

Doesn’t the Constitution say we have a secular state? No. Those who demand the separation of church and state often argue that the word “God” is not in the Constitution, but they neglect to mention the word “secular” is also not in the Constitution. The word “religion,” however, is in the Constitution. It is in the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note that the First Amendment protects our religious rights. It prohibits the government from interfering with the people’s religious rights, not the other way around. Therefore, the Constitution does not discourage us from trying to make certain our government upholds our moral and religious beliefs.

In fact, as Christians we should expect our government to uphold our moral and religious values. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote. Remember that the Roman Empire executed Jesus and persecuted Christians, that Roman authorities also executed Paul by cutting off his head with a sword.

Romans 13:1-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But 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. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

There are worse things than a bad government. That is no government at all. Since those who lived around the Mediterranean Sea recognized the rule of the Roman Empire, Paul did not advocate its overthrow. Instead, he preached the Gospel to Roman officials, and he urged Christians to pray for them.

When the founders of this nation spoke of a secular government, what were they getting at? We know they believed God blessed their efforts, but they did not claim divine guidance. In so far as they knew, the American government functioned purely as a man-made organization with three tiers (federal, state, and local). Hence, they did not believe Federal Government could rightfully impose or establish a national religion. Nevertheless, We the People must work to make certain that what our government  conforms to our moral and religious beliefs. Good government depends upon a moral people, not moral leaders.

Consider the gravity of our task. Government exists to exercise force. When our leaders make laws, spend our money, and tax us, they use military and police forces to enforce their will. Therefore, when any of us attempt to thwart the will of our leaders, we risk arrest, trial, conviction, and punishment. While it is true that judges and juries render a secular judgement (They do not judge people’s souls.), if we do not believe someone has committed a sin against another person, what is point in arresting them, trying them, convicting them, and punishing them? If We the People do not view what one of our fellow citizens is doing as evil, why would we want our government to punish them?

Consider the alternative. When we allow our government to punish our fellow citizens for arbitrary reasons, we empower difficult people (especially harmful sinners) with the ability to severely trouble both ourselves and our neighbors and for no good reason.

Given then that we have a Christian duty to influence our government for the better, what should we to do? What kind of government does the Bible encourage? To that question there is no simple answer.

The Bible speaks a great deal about government. The Old Testament provides the Mosaic Code. The Jews referred to this as the Law. The New Testament does not ignore government or the Law.  For example, the New Testament tells us when we should obey the legitimate governing authorities. We render to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Nevertheless, Jesus never told us what kind of government we should have.

What we can guess, however, is our government should allow each of us to answer to our own conscience. We each should allow our neighbors to live as they think proper.

Romans 14:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

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