Two thousand years of existence, two thousand years of heresies and reforms, abuses and revivals have bred a Christianity diverse and confusing, alive — and yet smothered by itself. Whatever passes for Christendom these days, we may be certain that the overwhelming majority misunderstand Christ in some way or another, misquote Him; crusades marching under banners which infuriate angels and drive men of orthodoxy to weeping, choirs belching forth obscenities which cause dead Fathers’ bones to creak and wail within their lost and forgotten graves. When a thousand mutually exclusive claims coexist, and a thousand sects profess them fanatically, we must accept that confusion on particular points is nearly universal. This is the curse of age. In the present state of affairs, it cannot be avoided.
Should a man be surprised, then, when Christian youth magazines suggest that Christ commanded us to ban guns; when popular Christian bloggers proclaim that “love” means tolerating and legally sanctioning vice; that charity means robbing neighbors to feed welfare queens? After all, love — what is it? Is it not weeping for those who suffer? Giving at cost for another’s well-being? Enduring all horrors with indomitable kindness? Persuading not with force, but with charity and reason and patience?
Yes — love is difficult, a condition only proven by expense; never by comfort, never by laziness, rarely in total safety. But love for children, for elderly, for woman and the proletarian can easily become a tyrant’s creed — the rationalization behind any effort to enslave others for a worthy cause. Every political goal has some beneficiary in mind; some benefit wide circles, some benefit small; we cannot say that some purposely benefit nobody (concerning the Second Amendment, using the same mentality of the Christian leftist, we may counter that people permit weaponry because they love their neighbors enough to suppress tyranny). But if we argue according to charitable concern — “love” — alone, making it the primary criterion of political morality, we leave leftists (and practically every absurd political creed) with their teeth, and make law itself an emotional whim — a ship blown about upon the tempestuous seas of faction and propaganda, never objective, always partial to excessively-represented clans and tribes and classes and colors, stripping equality of all meaning, making liberty a matter of decree and the varying fortunes of identity. But there is another way to argue which, if properly applied, leaves the Christian leftist entirely disarmed, and “love” becomes personal instead of statist — active, personal, and powerful, instead of being mired in unmanly pacifism, partiality, and the gray offices of bureaucratic machinery.
Let us pretend for a moment that Jesus Christ was a political theorist, and that we, dedicated to spreading his political gospel throughout the world, were to craft a system of government specifically tailored to His sermons. Should the law require that every man turn the other cheek when struck; should the law require us to give property to anyone desirous of it; should a lustful glance be prosecutable as adultery, and hateful words considered murder; should all lenders never expect their funds returned, nor any man possess himself enough to refuse an extra mile’s travel; and should every man under threat of penalty give his life for his friend, the government would not only be absurd, but would so justly be overthrown, not a sane man alive would lament its passing. Should the teachings of Jesus Christ be put into legal statute, Jesus would not be known as the Prince of Peace, but the Teacher of Tyranny — a madman worthy of disrepute and a straitjacket, His children the objects not of scorn unjust, but of hatred entirely deserved. “Love” would become the curse-word of ages, marred so badly beyond recognition, it would soon come to resemble insanity and turmoil.
Perhaps purposely failing to recognize that God had already delivered a system of rights, duties, and standards set forth for the legal application of justice, a legal system “mysteriously” recognized as The Law, these “Christian” political theories drive the civilizations which contain them to the brink of destruction, cancers masked in piety, and driven by unholy emotions. They suggest, by saying that we must love others by transferring welfare money to them, that God’s Law which transferred only food, released debts, and reformed land, was unjust. When they claim to want to end all violence and capital punishment in the name of mercy, they should first ask themselves why physical assault was never prohibited in the Old Testament (excepting cases resulting in disfigurement and death), and why God was so unmerciful as to kill the rapist, the kidnapper, and the bloodthirsty psychopath. When they believe that flat taxation rates are unfair to the poor, they should first ask themselves why God didn’t Himself prefer progressive taxation. In short, if they claim that any principle of The Law is unloving, they must ask themselves why Jesus Himself said that to love one’s neighbor — to do justice to the widow and the orphan — is to keep the Law (Matthew 22:34-40).
But even should the Christian hold sway in any political entity, and even should the voting Christian citizen — himself, in part, taking the role of king — become responsible for the recognition and defense of unalienable rights, as a loving political entity only could, though it be his duty to establish Biblical justice according to Biblical standards, his mission is still not primarily political. Christianity is a religion which shepherds the individual soul; not an international and inquisitional Papist regime, not a nationalized church, not a government program for relieving the poor or ending violence by disarming good men. Christianity calls upon believers to live for another life, to triumph over their selfish desires and hold fast the Eternal Kingdom — to carry their crosses, to serve their masters (just or unjust) with a Godly endurance, and throw themselves into the faces of lions. It calls believers to live collectively — but as a voluntary church, not by coercion. It calls upon true Christians to love their neighbors as Christ loves them — not to force non-Christians to carry a cross which doesn’t belong to them. It requires men to subject themselves to their temporal leaders, leaders whose divine and primary purpose comprises the punishment of objective and Biblically-defined evil (Romans 13:3-4, 1 Peter 2:13-14) — not ending the moral ownership of weaponry or curbing “excessive” legitimate wealth-building. Christianity makes mortal men live an almost transcendent recklessness like immortals, and turns sinners into saints. It does not prescribe any new legal measures.
If Christians believe that Christianity is something other than this — a justice which is unjust, a heretical political theory, a new law by which to wield the sword (for what is law, but backed by the implicit threat of violence?) — then I would say Christendom, at least for the present moment, will be deservedly subject to the tyrannies and miseries of any other politicized religion. But let the cry of the faithful, in whatever government they find themselves, tyrannical or free, just or unjust, be Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s — and to God what is God’s; the state ordained by the Almighty to protect the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness according to the Laws of nature and of nature’s God, and the church to save and defend souls!