No Partial Theocrats Please

“Daniel-san, must talk. Walk on road, hmm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later [makes squish gesture] get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do ‘yes’ or karate do ‘no.’ You karate do ‘guess so,’ [makes squish gesture]…just like grape. Understand?” – Pat Morita as Miyagi in the Karate Kid

Sage wisdom from sensei Miyagi. Of course this blog is not interested so much in karate or, necessarily, the struggles of a young “kid” from Jersey who finds himself in a California beach town and must fight for love and respect. (I say “kid” because Ralph Macchio must’ve been about 25 when he played the part – not quite as bad as Olivia Newton John as a high-schooler in Grease of course.)

Our interests are in the world of politics and government and the role of our Christian beliefs in informing the proper roles of those spheres of our lives. It seems that there are quite a few partial theocrats in our world. Folks who want to pick pieces of the Bible and Christian thought and use it as justification for certain policy preferences.

On the right we have folks who want to enforce moral behaviors in regards to sexuality (no fornication, no movies or TV shows that depict fornication, and sure as heck no paying money to fornicate … and NO homosexuality!). I’m sure there are those on the right who also want more blue laws on alcohol consumption and various Sunday behaviors. On the left we have folks who want to enforce moral behaviors in regards to caring for the poor and needy, with equality and justice for all.

When we see this “pick-and-choose” political theologians we are reminded of St. Augustine’s famous dictum: “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” Or James 2:10: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

Now, the point of the Biblical references in political discussion is fairly clear. These guys may or may not know the Lord or care one bit about Biblical morality; but they sure as heck care about getting votes. There are a lot Christians in this country and if you can convince them to vote for you, you can win quite a few elections.

Be that as it may, if you’re going to use the Bible as your policy justification on the basis of morality then you have an obligation to use the whole of morality. Those who want the government to “help the poor” (debatable whether they have actually “helped”) ought to start opposing fornication, adultery, drunkenness, and a myriad of other issues. They ought to promote that children honor their father and mother (instead of telling kids that their parents don’t understand certain issues and they ought to ignore them … but that’s another post).

As for this blog, we go the other direction. We believe the proper role of government, in regards to anything like morality, is to defend basic human rights such as life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and personal property rights – and not much else. When the government goes beyond this into enforcing moral behaviors, be they sexual or charitable, then the government has overstepped its bounds. If we’re going to allow government-enforced moral behavior, then we’re going to have to live with morality as defined by the masses (50% plus one vote). This should frighten the Christian as the tendency of the majority to rebel against God is well known.

As for those who want some moral behaviors enforced by the government, we say “no partial theocrats please”. The Bible has a lot of things to say about moral behavior – you can’t just pick the parts you like. And we don’t appreciate one bit your attempts to sow confusion amongst the Christians just to get more votes.

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