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Posts Tagged ‘Church and State’

Less is More

In Church and State on November 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Thursday night, Kim and I were invited to be the guests of an online radio program called Table Talk with host and friend, Bob Soroky. Neither Kim nor I had ever been in such a situation before so we were a bit nervous about how the conversation would flow. When Bob asked us to talk about why we’re collaborating on a blog together, I told him that our intention is to look for peaceable ground upon which to rest our opposing views, but at the same time, we do not claim to be diplomatic experts or spiritual gurus who have figured out exactly how to go about doing that. We’re learning as we go.

It wasn’t too long into the conversation that I was able to prove my own inexperience.

About 10 minutes into the discussion, we had a caller weigh in after I had put forth a suggestion that we, as citizens, should reconsider the meaning behind ‘separation of church and state’ as being an assignment of different responsibilities that work to benefit one another rather than a literal segregation of the two systems. I then said something like “As a conservative Christian, I get frustrated because the church is not fulfilling their duty to the poor in this country. If we were truly committed to serving the poor, we could probably put the government out of business.”

That’s not an exact quote except for the last part about the government. I realized too late that I had spouted a poor grouping of words. Once I had said it, Bob announced we had a caller on the line and I knew the person on hold was probably going to speak against what I had said. I quickly tried to explain that in no way was I suggesting Christians should overtake the government and form a theocracy. However, looking back on the conversation, I don’t feel like I explained myself well enough beyond that simple clarification. So, I decided I would expound upon my thoughts within the sphere of this blog and perhaps garner some thoughtful feedback as a result.

Let the expounding begin!

Our country is composed of complex mechanisms, but if we had to boil it down into its simplest form, I would say we basically have two societal systems in operation: a political system and a religious system that exist for the same overall purpose: societal stabilization. However, although they share this same function, the mandate to separate them indicates that they each possess different responsibilities in order to accomplish that end. I believe the political system is there to provide the entire populous with laws, infrastructure, and protection while the religious system is stationed to offer moral constructs and when needed, tangible aid. Both establishments are vulnerable to faulty execution at best and corruption at worst. Therefore, when these systems fail us, and they often do, the only place for us to turn is to one another.

When I spoke of “the church” last night, I was actually attempting to identify the individual believer rather than the religious system itself. That’s a very important distinction. Without a doubt, no one can argue that our religious system is quite good at collecting money. And I also have to say, that although abuses do take place, statistics show that when it comes to doling out funds for poverty programs, our religious system does a fairly decent job of creating and managing them without going into debt. However, my point last night was to say that relying on our church organizations to combat all of society’s woes is not enough. It’s not enough for us Christians to throw money into the collection plate and call it a day. We, as individual members of the Body, must do more to reach out into our community, find a need and meet it directly. That’s what I meant to say last night. Reportedly, there are 200 million Christians in this country. If that number made a targeted effort to alleviate the burdens within their own communities, I truly believe we wouldn’t need a welfare system, abortion clinics, drug recovery programs or a myriad of other government run programs out there. The reason those programs exist is because we are failing at our task as individuals to take care of those who are struggling around us.

I do not write this to dump shame on anybody’s head. I too live a life where my resources of time, money and energy seem to be stressed to the max. This is not meant to be a finger-wagging opinion piece but rather it is a call for both conservatives and liberals to rely less on their man-made-systems and more on one another.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of amazing transformations we would witness firsthand, not only in the lives of others but also within ourselves.