Recently, I wrote a post calling on Christians to step up to their own obligations and not delegate them to others, in particular to the government. A couple of months ago I wrote a post drawing the connection between taxation and freedom. The first post and today’s are directed ONLY to Christians and should be read in that context. I submit that the two posts above be read in conjunction with this one in order to better grasp my points.
For Christians who take the Bible as the authority, one must accept that the government has a certain, God-ordained, role. This is explicitly affirmed in Romans 13. Written during the time of Nero, the first Roman oppressor of Christians, the passage makes clear that submission to even the harshest governments is called for. But not absolute submission. Christians must still follow their moral conscience as that conscience has been informed by the Scriptures.
In the United States we have a democracy of sorts which creates problems in interpreting Romans 13 since at least in theory submission to the United State’s gov means submitting to ourselves. In theory, power and authority is delegated to the government and it rules ‘by the consent of the governed.’ This puts Christians in a unique position that I don’t believe is fully envisioned by Romans 13.
In short, since we are permitted to attempt to shape the policies of the government and even the form of it, the Christian church in America will be held accountable for how it has fulfilled the duties and obligations specifically described in the Bible as belonging to it… and it will also be held accountable for the actions of the government wherever it could be said that Christians had enough influence on it so as to be responsible for its decisions.
The Scriptures are clear: governments too will be judged. So, to the extent that the Christian Church is part of the government (‘consent of the governed’) or actually in control of it, we will be judged for that, too.
With the weight of this responsibility on our shoulders, we Christians must seek to fulfill the duties given to us as Christians and also think carefully about how we will influence the government’s conduct.
I am perfectly willing to allow that given the above, clear and straightforward answers are not always possible and good people can disagree. In the course of writing my Birth Pangs series, a series that describes the rebuilding of America after it has been reduced to anarchy, I have reflected on various aspects of these problems and know from deep introspection how difficult the issues are.
And yet I believe what I am about to say is more or less right in most circumstances.
I believe strongly that when the Christian Church has disproportionate influence on the affairs of a government it should desire the increasing of freedom for as many people as possible.
I believe that this should be a guiding principle for a religion that revels in the freedom that Christ won for us. I see little room for taking the position that so long as we have spiritual freedom we can allow or justify other kinds of enslavement, even for the ‘noblest’ of reasons.
It is true that no government can set souls free. But governments can create the conditions that make it difficult to set souls free (Shariah Law, etc) and governments can create conditions that diminish or remove other freedoms that are more within their reach. There are other ways in which enslavement can be enacted in the physical realm that impacts the relational and spiritual state of things. Christians should care about these, as well.
For example, consider a family with children that would prefer to have the mother stay home to care for those children. Unfortunately, the income isn’t there to support it, and so the mother has to get a full or part time job. Thus, this family becomes enslaved to a societal structure that makes it difficult to act on the principles and priorities they believe. Ah- but upon further examination, the income is there to support it. When we look at the pay stub, thousands of dollars, every month, are being automatically withdrawn by the state and federal government for taxes and social security.
Put this money back into the hands of this family and suddenly it is possible, even easy, to have one of the spouses stay home.
This example is meant to illustrate the principle that taxation has a direct impact on freedom. As Christians, we should not be indifferent to the effect that governmental policies have on individual groups. For example, just because someone is wealthy it doesn’t follow that we can morally diminish their freedom for the ‘common good.’
The current administration seems hellbent on providing ample illustrations of how governmental programs and taxation correlate with a loss of freedom. I could list the legislation we’ve already seen… the ‘stimulus’ bill, Cap and Tax, etc, but we see it vividly in attempts to ‘fix’ health care.
First of all, on the level of taxation, there will be the automatic relationship between money withdrawn from a family’s supply and the resulting effect on their freedom to act on their own principles and priorities. But government subsidized health care illustrates another level of enslavement that is present but less obvious in pretty much every other governmental program: a diminishing of free choice.
Possibly, a family will end up paying the same amount in taxes for the government sponsored health care as they did with private insurance. However, since the public health care is ‘free’ of course ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ must rule the day. How fair would it be to invest in costly medical procedures for an elderly person not long for this world, anyway? Some decisions have to be made for the ‘good’ of everyone, right? And someone has to decide… and that someone won’t be you.
A secularist might be willing to think in these terms but a Christian certainly should not.
We are on the verge- if we aren’t there already- of the most monumental mass enslavement of a population in the history of mankind. If the one occupying the white house has his way, in September 300 million people will have their freedoms stripped away at every level by health care reform. Taxes will go up. Freedoms will be diminished. Health care decisions will be put into the hands of people who do not reflect Christian values (free abortions, anyone? Hey old person. You’re no good to society anymore. Cya, wouldn’t want to beeya) and there won’t be any recourse to speak of since its for the ‘public good’ and you can’t complain about ‘free’ healthcare anyway, right?
The tragedy is that Christians are to blame for a great deal of this. I don’t just mean presently. It goes back generations. Simple principles have been violated and we’ve done little to complain. Indeed, the Church has often been complicit. It is wrong to steal from the rich on the sinister rationalization that it is for the ‘public good.’ It is wrong to diminish the freedoms millions of people for the ‘public good.’ And on it goes.
Perhaps worst of all is to do all these things and then act surprised when the economy collapses and the people end up enslaved. This has happened. It is happening. It is going to happen more. And we helped bring it upon ourselves.