Improving on Christ’s Methods?
Posted on December 15, 2010 at 1.07 pm
Q. Out of curiosity… How do you reconcile your Christian beliefs with some “sensitive” issues likes LGBT rights, freedom to chose this over that when it comes to moral questions, etc. ?
Most of the time, I try to explain to people that there’s a difference between my own personal beliefs. Am I against abortion ? Sure I am. Do I wanna live in a society that makes it illegal ? No I don’t. I’m probably way more conservative in my every day life that I am in my political/philosophical views.
How about you ? — thai-madness, from tumblr.
A. It sounds as if we take similar positions on this issue. I’d say it comes down to the distinction between vice and crime, as well as the model of morality with which the Bible actually provides us. First, vice vs. crime. As Lysander Spooner put it,
Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another… Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.
As a libertarian, I find this distinction to be pretty important, and especially applicable to many moral/social issues which some would prefer to subject to legislation.* Not liking something isn’t enough to make it illegal — it has to actually be criminal.
As a Christian, I find this position fits far better with what Jesus models and the Bible promotes than any attempts to legislate morality ever could. This is because “the Kingdom is not about how we vote. It’s about the sacrificial way we’re willing to live.”
Indeed, Christians are “not called to pretend we have more wisdom or righteousness than others when it comes to political problems. We are rather called to imitate Jesus in manifesting God’s love for all people at all times.”
The New Testament, it’s interesting to note, is very clearly against many of the vices that are or have been illegal in this country. But it never advocates that we rid our society of these sins through legislation.
Rather, we are asked to model Christ’s love for all, even the worst of sinners — which are, perhaps, ourselves? Were He incarnate today, I am convinced that Jesus would befriend, pray for, and minister to the most marginalized and hated elements of our society — just as He did in His own time. Then it was tax collectors and prostitutes; it’s perhaps noteworthy that these two groups were the ones the average Jew who came in contact with Jesus would have condemned over politics and sexual immorality. Now it would probably be terrorists and the LGBTQ community…politics and sex once again.
When applying this principle to politics, the conclusion seems to me to be clear: If we are spending our time trying to make vices illegal, we are not spending our time sharing the love of Christ. The best part is that, for the more practical among us, laws won’t stop vices anyway. The experience of alcohol prohibition alone ought to demonstrate this. Love, however, has a real chance:
If anyone could fix the world with his or her superior wisdom and moral sensitivity, the world would be fixed by now. As it is, nothing has broken the world more than people trying to fix it, doing whatever they must to defeat those they assumed had inferior insights and morality. Most of the slaughtering that’s been done throughout history has been done in the name of someone’s intellectual and moral superiority!
The hope of the world certainly doesn’t lie here. It rather lies in that small tribe of people who trust God enough to simply love others like Jesus loved them, obediently placing themselves under others while confessing that they are the worst of sinners (I Tim.1:15-16).
In short, as I’ve written before, Jesus doesn’t make the unsaved better people before He saves them, and it’s not our job to do so either (Mark 2:16-17). Surely we are not so vain as to attempt to improve upon His methods.
* Though I’d contend that abortion is a crime, not a vice, and thus should be illegal. Nonetheless, I really like Greg Boyd’s argument on the subject (he’s also pro-life, by the way): “The unique Kingdom approach to abortion doesn’t focus on figuring out the ‘right’ political solution, getting ‘the right’ candidates into office or getting the ‘right’ bills passed. As with everything else about the Kingdom, it rather focuses on manifesting the self-sacrificial love of God towards women with unwanted pregnancies and towards their unborn children.” [emphasis mine] I like this perspective because I think that too often those of us who are pro-life forget the needs of the women who want abortions. Too often as we become (correctly) concerned with placing value on the life of the child, we forget that the woman, too, is infinitely valuable before God.