I have been wondering what to write. Much of what I have written lately is about the Confederate Memorials. My readers seem interested, but I think we would all agree the controversy is irksome because it seems like such a waste of time, and the debates so angry. Don’t we have more pressing issues? Oddly enough, I don’t think so. Some times our instincts work better than our ability to reason.
What led me to that conclusion? Well, I got a question on this post, Random Ramblings: August 19, 2017.
You know, Tom… there are times where it’s so obvious that you fear your “opponents” so much that you raise scripture as if raising the cross in the face of invading vampires to repel them, lest you become infected. Why does political discourse, debate, or diversity require using the Bible as a shield?
This is a fair question, but not so long ago most would have already known the answer. Our notions about the separation of church and state are relatively new. Past societies have distinguished the office of the head of state and the head of the church (high priest, pope, or whatever), but governments have always justified themselves for religious reasons, not secular. That is why our Declaration of Independence contains explicit references to God, including this one.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
What is different about today? We are too ignorant of our history. The vast majority of us, even our elites, attend secularized schools where we learn to worship human reason, not God. Any serious Christian should find this abhorrent, but the public school system was secularized slowly. So we got used to it before we realize what we had done to our children. And now, after generations of this foolishness, most of us don’t know anything better.
Why are government and religion inextricably linked? Consider what the Declaration of Independence says government exists to do.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
In 18th Century America, people believed:
- Life had value because God created it
- We are at liberty because God gives us a choice of loving and obeying Him.
- We choose what makes us happy relative to how we define God. Either we strive to be virtuous as our Father in Heaven wishes us to be, or we pursue idols of our own making.
Thus, the framers of the Constitution thought our notions of morality — and what we believe lawful — depend upon how we define God.
Still, they had a problem. Because they were predominantly Christians, they had come to accept the fact that each man had the right to make his own religious choices. Hence, they included religious protections in the First Amendment.
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.
Therefore, we have what many refer to as a secular state. Some would say that that means that when it comes to government we are supposed to keep our religious beliefs out of it. However, Declaration of Independence argues otherwise. Moreover, the very idea that we can separate our lives into religious and secular spheres is unChristian.
Romans 12:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)
Living Sacrifices to God
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Christians glorify God with their whole lives, not just part of their lives.
Look up the definition of secular. Then consider the obvious. Government makes decisions about morality. Almost nothing satisfies definition of “secular” except those decisions that do not have moral implications, but government is force. Government exists to make people do things they might otherwise choose not do, or it keeps people from doing things they might otherwise do. Therefore, what government does almost always has moral implications.
Ironically, it is that the people who most insist upon the secularization of government who are most insistent that we set up government-run social programs with profound moral implications. These even have a doctrine.
For all practical purposes, secularism is a religious doctrine based upon the worship of man instead of God. Note the 1846 date in the following etymological definition.
Coincidentally, 1846, the year someone started speaking of secularism, is also the year someone started speaking of secularizing education, social institutions, etc.
Nevertheless, some will cite this passage.
Mark 12:13-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Pharisees: Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar?
13 Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. 14 When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”
But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” 16 So they brought it.
And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
17 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
And they marveled at Him.
Some will say: “See. Jesus said we can separate our lives into secular and religious spheres.” But that is not what he said. What Jesus said is that when what the lawful government demands is not in conflict with God’s commands we must obey government. In a constitutional republic like our own, that requires each citizen — each of us — to do his best to make certain that our government remains obedient to God. If you doubt that, then read Romans 13:1-7, and keep in mind that the man who wrote that passage was beheaded by the Roman government.