Our Rights and Responsibilities
Christians are citizens of two realms, the earthy and the spiritual; and rights and responsibilities rule supreme in both realms.
As citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), Christians are commanded to be obedient to the Lord Jesus (Exod. 20:1-5). Our Lord’s instruction to “render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25) means giving ultimate allegiance only to God, but it also means paying our taxes, and being law abiding citizens.
The Apostle Paul instructs us that as Christians we have the responsibility to be good citizens of the state “for conscience’s sake” because God has ordained government to punish and restrict evildoers and to reward and protect moral behavior (Rom. 13:1-7). Christians are to support the civil government unless the authorities require a believer to support or to do evil in direct contradiction to their ultimate allegiance to their Heavenly Father. We are not people of blind allegiance.
Christians also are commanded by Jesus to be the “salt” of the earth and the “light” of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). This involves Christians to actively engage in the world. We are to be as preserving as salt and as illuminating as light. Thus, the responsibilities of Citizen Christians include not just obedience to the state, but involvement in society. (Check out William Wilberforce)
As Christians we are to oppose every form of greed and selfishness, and vice, and seek to bring industry and government and education, and society under the sway of Christian principles. As Christian citizens, we not only have rights we have responsibilities. Separation of Church and state does not apply here.
As I read and listen to some modern-day politicians and professors who want to take us down a road of liberty without morality it makes me tremble for my country. Europe forgot this Christian principle in the twentieth century and paid dearly for it. You cannot have liberty without morality any more than you can have a one-sided coin.
It is not the outright lie that deceives us, it’s the constant pounding of the drum, it’s the unrealistic liberal myth of the goodness and progressive trustworthiness of human nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. History is not on the side of the perennial blind optimist who sings,” Everyday in every way things are getting better and better.” You wonder if they know history or have read a newspaper recently.
All Governments Legislate Morality
If we had no police force it would not be safe to walk the streets day or night, the murder rate would soar within weeks, and cities would implode with break-ins and robberies. It is the duty of government to legislate morality; that is its God-ordained purpose. As Christian citizens we must hold the government responsible to its purpose of punishing evil and protecting the good. Either we impose our morality on the murderer and the thief, or they impose their morality on us; and thus, we become their victims.
Any society where morality is separated from politics is as doomed as Pompeii. The Constitution of the United States provides for—a balance between morality and public virtue and a separation of the institution of the church and the institution of the state. This delicate constitutional balance, solidified and anchored by the First Amendment, is endangered at present, and it will not be put right unless people of faith insist upon it.
The First Amendment is in the Constitution in large measure because our Christian forbearers insisted upon it as a prerequisite for their support of the Constitution’s ratification. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” All the restrictions are on the government, not on individual citizens.
To say the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious freedom and separation of church and state were intended to restrict the political participation of people of faith or to disqualify their religious convictions and beliefs from consideration in the public arena of ideas is to twist and to distort the First Amendment’s intent and meaning beyond all recognition.
When our forbearers declared their independence from Great Britain they wrote these words in the Declaration of Independence, which separate the founding of America from all other nations; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This bold statement was based on their belief in a “Supreme Judge of the world…” ~with a ~ “reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”
One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams said, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.” The founders made it noticeably clear that while they were declaring independence from Great Britain, they were not declaring independence from God.
In his Farewell Address George Washington declared, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” Washington’s successor, John Adams, reiterated the role of religion and morality in our nation’s life. In 1798, President Adams said, “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is inadequate for the government of any other.”
Religious conviction has profoundly influenced our nation throughout its history. There would have been no anti-slavery movement without the leadership and support of people of faith. (Check out William Wilberforce) There would have been no child labor reform movement without the impetus of religious conviction. There would have been no civil rights movement without the moral imperatives provided by people of religious conviction. Our Christian predecessors were active in all these movements. They believed their moral convictions left them no choice but to be involved. They found no contradiction between such action and their commitment to church-state separation.
As Christians, as American, as Citizens we have the right and the responsibility to be involved in the public arena of politics. We are called upon not just to preach, but also to defend liberty coupled with morality.
That’s Something Too Serious Not To Think About,
Dr. Robert Bryant