Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Religion and Politics?

In 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul writes:
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? ... God will judge those outside [the church].
from 1 Corinthians 5.12-13
Here is one difference between Paul and any number of "Moral Majority" types, who want to reform society according to their religious preferences, whether Calvin in Geneva or the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Wait, Calvin? Yes, the author of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, made it a crime in Geneva for a while to dance "wildly". I wonder what he would have thought about King David's dancing in 2 Samuel 6:16 ...when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
Or, if you prefer, the difference between Jesus Christ and the theocratic (or despotic) impulses of fallen man.

Jesus himself said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18.36), which stands in stark contrast to Muslim theology -- as shown not only by recent history (the aforementioned Taliban) and also some friends who have worked in the Muslim world for some decades.

Here's the thing. As it was explained to me, Islam teaches that perfection is possible in this world. All you have to do is remove all sources of temptation from before the eyes of man (and woman), and poof! No more sin!

It apparently makes no difference that this idea has never worked; there is no limit to man's stubbornness. Just ask the Pharoah who opposed Moses in Exodus.

Yet we pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." How do we reconcile that with "My kingdom is not of this world"?

Here's my take on it, which you've probably guessed by now.

As an American, I have opinions about what's good for the country long-term. Divorce tends to have disastrous impacts on the children. They tend to drop out from high school more than their peers do, their job choices are more limited, they have a higher incarceration rate, and so on -- all of which is bad for the long-term future of our country.

And the negative economic effects of divorce fall disproportionately on women, and since I have two sisters and two daughters I'm sensitive about that, too.

So as an American, I have big problems with a high divorce rate in our country, and hence with things I believe promote divorce.

So what do we do? Should we outlaw "Murphy Brown" or make divorce a crime? I don't think that's wise.

Instead, we work to strengthen marriages in our churches, we reach out to those in the community (you know they're hurting). And we pray that the Lord would bring his kingdom to earth, and show us how to be part of that.


posted 8/14

No comments: