Church and State

Please forgive my tone in the next few paragraphs. I’ve been reading Puritan preachers lately, and I think it’s garbled up my syntax a bit. Nevertheless:

It is always the business of the true Church to order the secular government around. It is never the business of the governor to order around the church. Both church and state are concerned with government, and their spheres overlap, but it’s the authority of the church that necessarily presides over the power of government, provided that the church is truly the church established by God according to the gospel (with Christ as it’s chief cornerstone, and apostles and prophets as its pillars).

The church has as her weapons (1) the truth, authenticated by the scriptures and by the Spirit of God who confirms truth by conviction in the hearts of men, and (2) the power of the church’s members, given by the Holy Spirit, to humble themselves in obedience to the truth even to the point of death. The government’s only weapon is the sword, which can coerce only those who fear death but do not fear “the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Men who fear God are not afraid of guns and prisons, and in a fight between church and state, the church will always win, unless that church has lost its faith in the truth of the gospel. The church that has lost its faith in the gospel is of course no true church at all, but a bad forgery.

The framers of the US Constitution were wise to ban Congress from attempting to establish a church. Only God can establish the true church, and the government that attempts to establish a false church may in fact disestablish itself when the true church begins to rise. But this is a very different thing from attempting to separate church and state, which is as much nonsense as trying to separate light and air.

It’s a sad indicator of how weak we are as Christians that the above might seem to be a new idea, and that it’s necessary to take the next step toward application and point out that the churches in the West today have almost no authority over the government. Politicians ignore pastors almost completely, and preachers abstain from pointing out which candidate is more Christian than another on pain of taxation. This could only be possible if the church’s understanding of the gospel were so thin as to be almost negligible, like non-alcoholic beer or tobacco-free cigarettes. Or else, we are all false churches, and there is no true church in the West at all.

Has God taken away our lampstand, or is it merely guttering?

“It’s wrong to vote on rights”

As you may know, Valerie and I live in the only state in the USA in which a party of seven, by a majority of one, has elected to modify the human condition by changing the definition of a single word. Massachusetts has, for several years now, by court edict, granted to homosexual couples the right to “marry.” It doesn’t bother them at all that this is ontologically impossible, on the level of granting fish the right to breathe by changing the definition of the word “lung.” A homosexual union cannot be a marriage because marriage entails a commitment to become a family by raising together the children that come from the union. Nevertheless, Massachusetts now hands out marriage certificates to couples of the same sex and has been forced to remove the words “father” and “mother” from birth certificates, replacing them with the words “Parent A” and “Parent B.”

How long this kind of nonsense will continue is a anyone’s guess. But organizations like VoteOnMarriage.org have been steadily working on the only legal recourse available: to change the Massachusetts constitution to make explicit what was originally assumed: that a marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. The effort has been surprisingly difficult. The amendment process in Massachusetts is particularly complicated – it requires a referendum and two separate votes in congress. In addition, many people in the MA congress are unwilling to even consider putting the issue on the ballot, and are willing to violate their own constitutional procedures to avoid it.

In addition, I’m finding, there are a large number of people who are very interested in insulting both their creator and human intelligence with a single word. So there has begun a campaign to bring the amendment process to a halt. One such organization is MassEquality, which I’ve just discovered. Apparently they believe the best arguments should be self-contradictory. Continue reading ““It’s wrong to vote on rights””

Ten Complaints about Feminism

Todd Seavey is a writer of apparently some standing in New York City. He calls himself a libertarian, which is a philosophical tradition I can only moderately agree with, but he has written a critique of Feminism (as opposed to something like “traditional conservatism”) that I think is well worth reading. An excerpt:

far from feminism being the opposite of chivalry, it should by this late juncture in history be obvious that both chivalry and feminism are just systems for getting men to treat women more gently than they treat other men. The difference is that under chivalry, both sexes admitted this was the arrangement and under feminism, we are supposed to pretend women are being held to the same standard even when they aren’t.

A caution though: he makes some arguments based on sexuality which, though apparently accurate, are pretty unseemly.

democracy fails because it does what voters want.

Greg Mankiw points us toward a new book now available on amazon.com: The Myth of the Rational Voter. There is also an excerpt available at the Princeton University Press.

The book is a critique of democracy on the basis that people are fallen and sinful. Of course, being written by economists for a secular audience, it doesn’t quite put it in those terms, but it makes essentially the same point:

Across-the-board irrationality is not a strike against democracy alone, but all human institutions. A critical premise of this book is that irrationality, like ignorance, is selective. We habitually tune out unwanted information on subjects we don’t care about. In the same vein, I claim that we turn off our rational faculties on subjects where we don’t care about the truth. Economists have long argued that voter ignorance is a predictable response to the fact that one vote doesn’t matter. Why study the issues if you can’t change the outcome? I generalize this insight: Why control your knee-jerk emotional and ideological reactions if you can’t change the outcome?

Of course, being a book by economists written for a secular audience, they go on to look into ways of forming a government that can compensate for fallen human nature. After all, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” I think this is consistent with a Christian understanding of government, regardless of the form it takes. One of those purposes is to at least put a cap on human evil until such time as the Governor comes who can eliminate all sinfulness.

I’m afraid I haven’t time to read the book myself, but it looks a very worthwhile read. I’d love to hear from anybody else who gets a chance to look at it.

I should have thought as much

Great, hurried political commentary from a theology student too busy to read the news. And Cox & Forkum is hardly the premier news outlet. But they’ve got a point in the commentary on this comic.

Part of what’s keeping “the insurgency” going is an unending supply of free weapons from outside sources. There is now proof that Iran is engaging in its own Iran-Contra affair by manufacturing weapons directly for the use of Shiite militias in Iraq. Honestly, I should have suspected as much. How can you keep a guerrilla war on when you run out of ammo? Somebody has to supply. And if that supply is gone, the warfare has to cease. Or at least descend to a more manageable level. Continue reading “I should have thought as much”

Intimate Violence

In 1998, the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control released a report on the prevalence of violence against women within the US. According to a survey taken between November 1995 and May 1996, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men had “experienced an attempted or completed rape as a child and/or an adult.”

>0.3 percent of surveyed women and 0.1 percent of surveyed men said they experienced a completed or attempted rape in the previous 12 months. These estimates equate to approximately 302,100 women and 92,700 men who are forcibly raped each year in the United States.

The vast majority of violent encounters for women occurs within intimate relationships:

> 76 percent of the women who were raped and/or physically assaulted since the age of 18 were assaulted by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, or date; 17 percent were victimized by an acquaintance, such as a friend, neighbor, or coworker; 14 percent were victimized by a stranger; and 9 percent were victimized by a relative other than a husband.

There is no indication that these numbers are any different within the church. Continue reading “Intimate Violence”