Saturday, October 19, 2013

You Can’t Have it Both Ways

Lately, I have been seeing a string of comments chastising Christians for not being in favor of certain government programs which, according to those posting criticism, promote and endorse Christian morals. One such comment recently was attributed to Former President Jimmy Carter. I’m not sure he actually said, as with so many “attributed” quotes on the internet. He supposedly said, “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying that you want a country based on Christian values, because you don’t.” I saw another recent post accusing a “senior fellow” with the Family Research Council of saying that there “is nothing more Christian” than kicking 4 million people off food stamps. I wish to say a couple things about these quotes AND the implied purpose of posting them.

First, I have often said I don’t believe that any Christian should depend upon the government to fulfill his/her Christian obligations to humanity. As a society, our government tends to support policies that reflect the general morals of a society, whether Christian or not. I have often said that the pursuit of wealth and greed that has been woven into the fabric of America is not Christian, but a fallen state of our passions. I have also often said that the greatest Christian value is freedom and forcing another human being to help the poor is not Christian.

Second, it may be coincidence, but those who cited both of these quotes also have posted many quotes about the need for the government to support same-sex marriage, a bold departure from Christian values. Whether these quotes are accurate or not is not my purpose for this post. Rather, I am intrigued by how when it comes to same-sex marriage Christianity is supposed to be absent from the law, but when it comes to feeding the poor, Christianity should be invoked to guilt the Christian into supporting government programs feeding the poor.

The intrigue works in both directions by the way, as I know many Christians who attempt Christian policies in one sector while eliminating them in others. One such example is the so-called “pro-life” movement which opposes abortion but supports capital punishment. Neither killing is Christian.

A civil society can only remain civil with a system of laws and accepted common values that “keep the peace” among citizens. This depends upon each citizen to AGREE to abide by these laws. Where I fear we are rapidly departing from this premise, is that our system of laws no longer is focused on maintaining peace, but rather a place where individual agendas can be promoted and imposed upon others by forcing compliance in otherwise unrelated ways. When you force a member of society to actively engage in a behavior that he/she opposes, you can hardly expect a society of peace.

As an Orthodox Priest, I am fully aware that we live in a post-Christian society, but I am willing to peacefully live among those without similar Orthodox Christian values of my Church. My willingness to live peacefully however does NOT include betraying my Orthodox Christian way of life. I do not plan to tell anyone who they can/cannot/must love. I WILL continue to share with anyone willing to listen/read what our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ and His Church has to say about who we should marry. I will continue to encourage those who love the Lord to feed the poor in a personal way. I will NOT force others to do the same.

I already know government isn’t based upon Christian values, but my life is. I will live my life, and you will live your life. Occasionally our paths will cross. I won’t force you, please don’t force me. You can't have it both ways.

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