Many moons ago, I wrote that I would blog through Wayne Grudem’s Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture. I blogged about the Introduction and haven’t mentioned it again. I want to try to return to it each week, but I’m unsure of the best way to go about it.
The chapters are rather lengthy. Chapter 1, one of the short chapters, is 31 pages. That may not seem like much, but the font is small; Grudem packs a lot in one page. The good thing is that, like his other books, it is very well-organized. However, simply providing an outline for each chapter will be rather lengthy.
Moving forward, I’ll write a very brief summary of each chapter, followed by the points that made me think the most.
Chapter 1: Five Wrong Views about Christians and Government
1. GOVERNMENT SHOULD COMPEL RELIGION
2. GOVERNMENT SHOULD EXCLUDE RELIGION
3. ALL GOVERNMENT IS EVIL AND DEMONIC
4. DO EVANGELISM, NOT POLITICS
5. DO POLITICS, NOT EVANGELISM
Wrong view #2 is most thought-provoking to me. His first point is that the “exclude religion from government” is wrong because “it fails to distinguish the reasons for the law from the content of the law.” He uses same-sex marriage as an example. “When the Iowa Supreme Court decided to impose same-sex ‘marriage’ on the state of Iowa…it notes that only 28.1% of Iowans supported it. The court then observed that ‘much of society rejects same-sex marriage due to sincere, deeply ingrained — even fundamental — religious belief.’ But such views should not be taken into account, said the court, because the Iowa constitution says, ‘The general assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’ In other words, limiting marriage to one man and one woman would be equivalent to ‘establishing’ a religion.”
He goes on: “When voters define marriage, they are not establishing a religion…These arguments try to make the word ‘religion’ in the Constitution mean something different from what it has always meant.”
This is one of those slippery slopes. If arguments like this one succeed in courts, they can be applied to any voting issue. Grudem writes, “[A]ll the votes of religious citizens for almost any issue could be found invalid by court decree!”
Second, it overrides the will of the people.
Third, it changes freedom of religion into freedom from religion.
Fourth, it wrongly restricts freedom of religion and freedom of speech. He cites a few examples of a high school valedictorian who was cut off in the middle of a speech because he/she mentioned Jesus, citizens who are excluded from juries, and religious people being forbidden to argue for amendments on their state constitutions. All of this because a court decided that basing decisions on religious reasons is not rational. He sums it up with this,
The nature of a free society requires that people should be able to base their political convictions on whatever reasoning process and whatever authority they prefer, and they should be free to attempt to persuade others that their reasoning is correct. We should protect people’s freedom to base their moral and political convictions on the dialogues of Plato if they want, or the teachings of Confucius or the Bible or the Jewish Talmud — or, I suppose, even a song by Bob Dylan if that is what they find persuasive. And if other voters choose to accept the reasoning put forth by the followers of Plato or Confucius or the Bible (or Bob Dylan!), then the Supreme Court should not take it upon itself to say that the reasons that voters used are not ‘rational’ reasons. It is not up to the Supreme Court to decide that some people’s votes are legitimate and some people’s votes are illegitimate.
After reading that section, I sat, like a deer stuck in the headlights, and tried to think of precedent, of ways courts can attempt to discern motives and intentions of voters in the ballot box. Election 2000 is certainly a precedent. Men and women in Florida were given the responsibility of determining a voters intent based on dimples and the hanging chad. In my mind, that’s just a side-step away from trying to determine a voter’s motive for voting a certain way. Nowadays, it wouldn’t take much research to figure out, based on my digital fingerprint and census information, how I might vote on a particular issue and the rationale behind my vote. It’d be easy for a court to throw out the votes in a whole county based on our demographics, internet history, buying history, church attendance, etc.
Fifth, this view was never adopted by the American people.
Sixth, this view removes from government God’s teaching about good and evil.
Seventh, the Bible itself does not offer support for this view in that there are many biblical examples of God’s people giving counsel to rulers.
Finally, the spiritual basis for the ‘exclude religion’ view is that its “ultimate goal…is not only the destruction of all belief in God, but also the complete moral disintegration of a society.” I think we are well on our way.
In chapter 2, Grudem offers a better solution to these five wrong views about Christians in government. He believes that Christians ought to have significant influence in government. I’m sure it’s a great chapter, but, because of our impending default, I’m going to skip to the chapter on economics for next week’s post. The subheadings for that chapter include: private property, economic development, the money supply, free markets and regulation, the rich and the poor, government and business, taxes, Social Security, health care, and the cure for recessions. We’ll see if Scripture has anything to say about those issues.