Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Parking lot politics

As I walked back to my car outside the Wal of Marts the other day I saw this bumper sticker:

Do you want Politicians legislating morality?

And I thought "Hell no. I don't want ANYONE legislating morality"

The history of morality legislation stinks. The biggest example, and likewise the biggest failure, was the Volstead Act otherwise known as the National Prohibition Act of 1919. Prohibition was a complete flop as is virtually all morality legislation. You can make all the laws you want and man will still act immorally. In fact there's one school of thought that says banning something out right makes it more attractive.

Curiously, Jesus seems to have known this. But his church manages to forget it.

Which leads me to another thought that has wandered across my mind recently. I remember distinctly being taught that Emperor Constantine's conversion and adoption of Christianity as the state religion of Rome was a great thing. A pivotal, important moment in western history.

As the years have passed I've come to completely disagree with that teaching. The connection of the church with the state is important but in a completely negative way. It was and is a catastrophe for the church.

First of all because it gave the church pretensions. It made us believe that we are entitled to rule in this world, that it is right for the church to rule in this world. Clearly this is what many of Jesus' followers expected and what Jesus himself rejected. Again that amazing ability to not listen to what the Savior taught.

Second, it has weakened the church's belief that it can change the world on its own. Instead of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, fighting for justice and peace and living out a Christ-like life we try to make the law in our own image. Why do we need the law when we have Christ? Because we've stopped believing in the power of Christ in the world.

This is not to say that people of faith shouldn't be involved in politics. But we should be involved in politics to achieve the ends of faith, not power. We should live out our political lives doing everything we can to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and fighting for justice and peace.

THAT would result in a more moral world.
THAT would result in our Lord being held in honor and praise.
THAT would result in people seeing Christianity as wise and loving and respected.

Constantine screwed up.

But it's not too late to fix it.



Doorman-Priest said...

If I had £1 for every time I have argued against the notion that religion and politics shouldn't mix, I'd be rich as well as hoarse.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree 100% with this post. Why in the world would God want a Theocracy? Chriatians are the worst when it comes to rulling things.