I have shocked some of my fellow Christians by not supporting legislation that would require prayer in schools or Bible classes in schools. I have shocked others by not voting solely based upon the potential for certain judges to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
To be clear, this is not because I don’t care about prayer, or the Bible, or biblical morality. I oppose these because I think that such laws and strategies are flawed, short sided, and even a bit dangerous. I’ll give your three quick reasons.
1) Laws restrict behavior; they don’t resurrect the dead.
Nothing saves a soul except Jesus. Yes, we can forbid certain soul-killing activities, but we cannot bring a soul back to life through legislation. Banning gay marriage, abortion, and every other sin that the conservative Christian media sphere obsesses over—don’t hear much about gluttony, do we?—won’t do anything to abate the habits, desires, and mental frameworks that produce these things.
I understand why conservative Christians are obsessed with trying to end abortion: it’s the state-sanctioned murder of unborn babies. I get that, and I agree. And yet, I sometimes wonder if we work so hard to win the courts, the laws, the political positions because it is easier than trying to “win souls,” as the old revivalists used to say it. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the pro-life brigade are actively lobbying the government while also actively loving their neighbors with the love of Christ, proclaiming the gospel with their words and actions.
That’s our real mission. Ending abortion would be a miracle, but it’s a temporal miracle. Aborted babies are physically murdered, but their souls live on. Ending the physical murder of these babies would be a good and godly thing, and yet, those babies, as they grew, would still need to be introduced to Jesus. Saving their lives is not the same—nor as eternally valuable—as saving their souls. The real, eternal miracle is that of someone coming to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That should be our mission, that should be our goal.
2) Laws safeguard the vulnerable: my faith isn’t vulnerable.
Generally speaking, laws are created to safeguard and protect the vulnerable. We have a law against murder to offer some protection for those who are mortal, and therefore, vulnerable for murder. Granted, that’s all of us, but the point is that laws are designed with the vulnerable in mind. There are laws against shoplifting that don’t directly protect me because I don’t own or run a shop. I’m not vulnerable to that crime, so I don’t need that law. But if I opened a bookstore, as is one of my dream careers that will likely never happen, I would need that law against shoplifting to help me.
Christianity is not vulnerable. Jesus is not vulnerable. We don’t need laws to protect them. We don’t need Bible classes to promulgate our faith. We don’t need compulsory prayer in school. We can survive in a country that features a variety of religious traditions. How? Because we have the truth. Is that a bold and seemingly arrogant statement? Yeah, but also, it’s intellectually consistent. If I didn’t believe the claims that Christianity made about life, the universe, and everything, then, why would I be here? Why I would I hold to a faith that I only partially believe in?
I’m not claiming the absolute truth of Jesus’ claim to divinity as a way to put other faiths down, anymore than I believe that the Earth is round as way to insult Flat-Earthers. If I insult Flat-Earthers—and I have—it’s because of what they believe, not what I believe. I believe in Jesus because I have been convinced of the truth of His claims. I am convinced that He is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God of all the Universe, and therefore, not in need of protection by the federal government.
3) Democracy is a two-edged sword: who will wield it next?
Our nation is changing. It’s quickly becoming a majority non-white nation, which I have zero problem with. (If you do have a problem with that, you might want to ask yourself about the ethnic make-up of all those biblical figures that you want school kids to learn about.) But not only are we becoming a non-white nation, but we’re also quickly becoming a nation of no religious majority, as more and more adherents to Eastern religions are immigrating to the US while, at the same time, many US citizens have begun to claim “no religious affiliation” on census and survey forms, reducing the number of people who claim Christianity as their faith.
We are a members of a shrinking demographic category, so we should be careful of how we use our majority power while we still have it. Anything we do to support our faith or to oppress another can always be undone or even reversed when members of other religions or no religion eventually gain majority power.
I’ve often heard Christians sing the praises of our First Amendment right to the freedom of religion and speech and rightfully so. We have some tremendous freedoms in this nation, and those freedoms should applies to every citizen! Every attempt to weaken or limit these rights for those who don’t agree with us will backfire and result in the limiting and/or weakening of our rights.
Do to others as you would have them do to you—the Golden Rule is the heart of good citizenship.
Friends, I am a committed Christian with conservative social views, and yet, even I can see how we cannot impose our faith upon others. Do I want to see our society become more Christ-like? Sure. Do I think the best what to achieve that is through political means? Absolutely not.
Jesus called upon us to bring His message, His love, His power to the lost. We must take up that mission. Let’s live our lives as a public proclamation of the power of Jesus to save lives. Maybe if we took up that mission with the same passion that we campaign for presidential candidates, we wouldn’t have to worry about legislating morality because we’d see a significant influx of our fellow US citizens becoming citizens of Jesus’ kingdom.