Posts Tagged ‘law’

What was the purpose of the Law which God gave to Moses? What role did it serve for the Israelites? What role does it play for Christians today? (Please excuse the static towards the end. We’re not sure what caused that, and it could not be edited out without creating even worse audio problems.)
This audio is from the Wednesday evening class taught by pastor Marc Lambert at Liberty Hill Baptist Church. (www.LHBCMoody.org)
The Bible Fast Forward material is produced by Stand to Reason (www.STR.org)

I generally try to avoid political posts on social media, but there was one that was just too funny to pass up. My comments in sharing the post involved my low opinion of policies based on taxing wealthy people in order to pay for programs that are of questionable effectiveness to begin with. Now, regardless of how you feel about that issue, that’s not really the point. A friend brought to my attention what at first glance looks like a contradiction in my thinking.

She asked, “If as a christian you feel compelled to bind others to christian standards using laws and policies that police things like abortion and gay marriage, why is it suddenly a crime to do the same to rich people? There’s more in the bible, specifically the gospel about charity and giving and paying your taxes.”

Was I being inconsistent? I certainly don’t want that. As I pondered, I saw several issues here, and ultimately, no, I do not think there is a contradiction.

First, while I honestly don’t think she was being tricky with it, her language is a bit loaded to throw me on the defensive, as if I have something to answer for. Emotionally charged terminology already paints the question so there could be no “good” answer. Like I said, I don’t think she did this for that purpose, but it does have that effect.

As a Christian I am not “compelled to bind others to Christian standards using laws and policies.” In fact history has shown that while a government might impose religious behavior it cannot produce genuine faith. Some of darkest parts of church history is when it got tied up with the government. Beginning with Constantine around 300 AD, the church got intertwined with the Roman Empire in such a way that eventually, to be Roman was to be Christian. Disagreement with or failure to follow church doctrine (whether biblically sound or not) was punishable by the state. How many “Christians” were actually repentant followers of Jesus Christ, and how many were simply Roman citizens jumping through the hoops the church set for them? I think it is safe to say that is not what is revealed in the Bible as Christ’s intentions for the church, and neither should it be the desire of Christians today.

However, as an American, living in this representative society where government policy should reflect the will of the people, I am obligated to make my voice heard and try to persuade my fellow citizens and elected officials that a particular position is the better choice for our society. The same as everyone else. It just so happens that my views are colored by my religious & philosophical beliefs. Which is also the same as everyone else, some just like to pick on Christians as if we’re the only ones. The fact is, everyone has a worldview that answers certain foundational questions about life that are generally thought of as “religious” issues. That worldview (“religious views”) shapes everything else.

Second, it seems that the question is about this supposed inconsistency in thinking where there are certain parts of my religious beliefs that I want to see the government enforce but not others. The first step in clearing this up would be to make sure that the supposedly contradicting views in question actually are accurate Christian teaching on those issues. Not wanting to get off in the weeds on the specific issues used as examples, I’m going to assume they are accurate and try to just explain how they are not contradictory.

There is a difference in a moral framework informed and shaped by my religious beliefs and my opinion on how that framework gets effectively applied to society. Not everything is best applied as a direct enforcement by government.

For example, murder, is a sin and is something we can and should effectively enforce through society. Most non-Christians would likely agree, though I doubt their reasons are based on man being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and His commandment to not murder (Exodus 20:13). Given that it destabilizes society to have murderers running around killing people, it is proper for government to enforce this commandment, and given that we can arrest, try, convict and incarcerate/execute murderers effectively without creating other overly burdensome problems, then it is something that we can/should do.

But Jesus also said to be unjustly angry is a sin (Matthew 5:22). I don’t want thought-police though. That’s unenforceable and would be a horrible opportunity for oppression and abuse even if it could be done. Usually, people being angry only hurts themselves, so that’s not really a societal concern. Also, we have no means to effectively judge and enforce an ordinance against anger. Even if we could, by giving government that sort of authority and power, we create all sorts of societal problems worse than the one we sought to fix.

Third, the opinions on what is a proper application of a moral belief can vary from one society to another based on culture and government system. Christians can even disagree on the proper application within their own communities. Some Christians are all for taxing the rich to give to the poor. And they cite verses on charity, giving and helping the poor. However, while I share their moral position that those who have should help those who don’t, I greatly disagree on the propriety and effectiveness of this method of forced charity. <– (an example of loaded language to solicit emotional response producing a built in bias against any critical response)

Fourth, not all sins are created equal. Some Biblical “commands” are prohibitions and some are obligations. Some are societal, some are personal. Some involve our actions, and some our attitudes. Some deal with our relationship to God, others our relationship to people. Some sin causes damage to others, some only hurt ourselves.

The issues that we face are as unique and complex as the individuals they involve. Not all commandments are an explicit “though shalt not”. Not all people have the same struggles, temptations, and proclivities. The shape and specifics of how these things get obeyed and lived out in our individual lives will look different from person to person. How much more would it create a convoluted mess in society if every law was a direct reflection of a specific divine command? However, from God’s Word and His commandments we get general principles that can be applied in how we determine effective and appropriate uses of government policies and laws.