Lemme warn you at the outset, this is gonna be long and rambling. I’m on night shift, and at a post where there’s nothing to do but write, so yeah — be forewarned 😉
Follow my posts long enough, and you’ll get a sense for my worldview. I’m first and foremost a disciple of Christ, and something of an amateur Christian apologist. I’m also a devoted husband and father, a passable author of speculative fiction (aka “the weird stuff”), and a bullheaded small government conservative.
Personally, I find all of these things vital parts of what I consider an internally consistent worldview. I mean, I don’t compartmentalize this spiritual view away from that political stance, or this role away from that aspiration. Each portion of my worldview informs all other parts, and all parts are interconnected and, for the most part, interchangeable.
Of course, I’m used to liberals accusing me of being inconsistent, a la “How can you call yourself pro-life when you’re a supporter of gun rights and capital punishment?” I try my best to explain it to them, but they’re generally more interested in leveling accusations of hypocrisy than trying to understand how I logically reconcile one view with the other. So I’m generally left with shrugging it off and going my way, letting them think of me what they will.
It’s a little harder to do, though, when I get the same accusations from my conservative friends. I sometimes get accused of being a closet liberal, or someone who’s play-acting at being a Christian, all because my views don’t jibe with theirs. Ultimately, it comes down to the same problem that I have with the typical liberal — they’re not interested in the logic; they just know that the end result of that logic doesn’t align with theirs, and so they let fly the slings and arrows.
Never is this more true than when I’m discussing my views on vices — gambling, prostitution, recreational drug use and the like. For context, let me say this at the outset — I’m completely AGAINST the illegalization of vices, regardless of what that vice might be.
See there? Closet liberal. Play-acting at being a Christian. It would seem so, wouldn’t it? 😉
Thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. As a Christian, and as a small government conservative, I find it an absolutely APPALLING MISUSE of government to try and dictate somebody’s life to them — particularly, the stupidity that the individual might want to partake in.
As a Christian, I understand how stupid sin really is. Sin is a momentary indulgence that carries with it long lasting consequences — strife with our neighbors and strangers, pain and suffering for our loved ones, a broken relationship with our Creator, death, eternal separation from everything we hold dear. Pick your poison, and sin will deliver. But for as stupid as sin is, God loves us enough to call us to REJECT sin… and then allow us the choice to obey to our benefit, or disobey to our detriment. As much as God loves us, He could MANDATE that we obey, program us so that disobedience would not be possible, and yet He DOESN’T.
So as a Christian, I am tee-totally against sin… and yet, my politics do not and WILL not reflect a mandate against it. Many of my Christian friends can’t wrap their heads around this. Why wouldn’t I support Godly laws, making it a crime to sell sex or to consume hurtful drugs? I mean, it’s for their own GOOD, for Pete’s sake! How can I be against that?!?
But how can I presume to mandate something that God Himself allows? Yes, absolutely, He will PUNISH those who reject His commandments and partake in sin… but He allows them that option. How can I then DISallow that option?
The same goes for prostitution. Selling is legal. Screwing around is legal. So why isn’t selling screwing around legal? Quite simply, it’s because moral people in government have good intentions, but manifest those intentions in totalitarian ways. Rather than exemplifying good sexual character, fidelity, respect for marriage, and respect for one’s self and others — and ENCOURAGING these values in their constituency — these well-meaning politicians seek to MAKE their constituency comply with these values, citing the families that prostitution destroys, and other moral tragedies.
I have JUST as much compassion for these broken families, but if I can’t stop a man from cheating on his wife for free, how can I justify outlawing that man cheating on his wife for a fee?
Recently, I was asked about outlawing Muslim practices — the burka, the institution of Sharia courts, and so on. While I am categorically AGAINST Islam, I don’t feel it’s my place to outlaw the manifestations of that religion, except in places where it might cause harm to an UNWILLING participant. The wearing of a burka, in my opinion, is no more inherently dangerous than the wearing of a ski mask or a scarf around your neck… until you consider security, like in a store or a bank, or when being questioned by law enforcement, same as with a ski mask or a scarf. And Sharia courts? As long as it can be proven that both participants WANT the rule of Sharia over a court case, and as long as the right to OPT OUT of the Sharia ruling is protected (i.e. as long as the Constitution remains predominant to Sharia), this again becomes a case of consent between two individuals of equal rights. For me — also an individual of rights equal to theirs — to misuse government to outlaw the practice of their religion would be to negate equal representation under the law, making them and their religious views inferior to my own.
On and on it goes. Pick your politics, and you’ll find my reasoning to be along similar lines. God commands righteousness of us, absolutely, but He allows us the option to NOT be righteous — to indulge ourselves, to destroy our relationships with others, to cause hurt and hatred and even death. He allows these things NOT because He doesn’t love our victims, but because He loves us as much as He does our victims — enough to give us the opportunity to CHOOSE to renounce our victimization, rather than force that renunciation upon us.
If God allows us this leeway, I find it entirely inconsistent to try and use politics to do what He Himself will not. So I encourage fidelity to God and to our neighbor, and exemplify it as consistently as I can… and then log my vote, my legal mandates, in a way that I think is reflective of God’s mandates.
Make no mistake about it. I believe there is a place in the law for ALL of these things — Sharia versus Constitutional law, recreational drug use, gambling, prostitution, what have you — but that place, in my opinion, IS NOT in the outlawing of what I might consider stupidity. Rather, it’s in how someone’s stupidity might affect somebody who did not choose to be part of it. Just like you can be an idiot drunk on your own property but get arrested when you’re an idiot drunk on PUBLIC property, so the line is with these things.
But… what about God’s law? What about punishing those who sin against Him?
Short answer — it’s not our job. Interestingly enough, the violation of God’s law never resulted in earthly punishment, unless that violation was also a violation of Mosaic law. God’s law is all about our relationship with God, and as God is the one who is offended, God is the one who sits in judgment. Mosaic law, on the other hand, is about our relationship with others. As such, Mosaic law DOES detail earthly punishments.
But note: Mosaic law only applied to the children of Israel, people who claimed to be God’s people. Mosaic law never applied to Gentiles who didn’t care to follow God’s laws, and they were never punished by men for not following God’s laws. You never saw God giving the Israelites the go-ahead to hunt down pagans for worshiping other gods, unless God specifically called them to hunt them down. You never saw God giving the Israelites the go-ahead to pass judgment on the prostitutes of a neighboring country. Mosaic law was all about those who claimed to be God’s people — those who were ultimately the REPRESENTATIVES of God, who had the responsibility of not dragging God’s name through the mud. Violate Mosaic law, and you were making God look bad. That’s why Gentiles in general COULDN’T violate Mosaic law, because they didn’t honor God in the first place, so they weren’t bearing His name while they were tramping around in the mud!
*SIGH* All that to say this. As a Christian, and as a conservative, I find government to be a buffer zone established between myself and my neighbor, equally representing BOTH of us and equally PROTECTING both of us. That means, my neighbor cannot mandate that I abstain from what he considers stupid (a good thing, as most atheists consider the Christian faith itself to be stupid). Similarly, and somewhat inconveniently, I cannot mandate that my neighbor abstain from that which I consider stupid. All that EITHER of us can legitimately do is make sure that our stupidity does not violate the rights of the other.