Thursday, May 04, 2017

The New Constantine or Why You Already Had All the Freedom in the World

Trump's executive order is a giant crock of shit. I know that word will be offensive to some -
might even make you stop reading - but I've been thinking on it three hours now and I can't come up with an appropriate alternative. Sometimes otherwise inappropriate words find themselves a context and just beg to be used. More of this hogwash in the name of "religious freedom" is downright offensive to Christian theology and practice, yet it seems Christians are the ones trumpeting this move.

At the core of Jesus' gospel message was the idea that acting rightly negates the effects of consequences. Jesus promised an eternal life of peace and justice, but that comes because we stop caring about what others think or do in response to us. Freedom is being able to do anything, regardless of the consequence, which is why freedom comes with such terrible responsibility.

In the US, we've become immune to sacrifice. We've come to define freedom as acting with no repercussions whatsoever. This is ultimately slavery of the highest order - slavery to comfort and selfishness. Pastors and congregations want the right to speak for or against any political candidate they so choose. What they seem to miss is that this right has always existed in the US - it's the freedom of religion that's built into the Constitution. What these pastors and congregations are really looking for, though, is the ability to play politics and also not pay taxes. As if the 501c3 exemption is some divine right, like air or water.

This is not Christian freedom; it is slavery. We've asked our "benevolent" overlord for such slavery and he's gladly granted it. Who wouldn't.
This is precisely the deal with the devil made in 313. The Edict of Milan was Roman Emperor Constantine's executive order decriminalizing Christianity. The "benevolent" Constantine set about being the Church's number one patron, enshrining bishops in grand palaces and giving them positions of power and authority, not just over their spiritual flock, but the Roman citizens all around them.

What Trump has done today is given free reign for Christians to dive headfirst into a temptation we've been flirting with for thousands of years.
We've continued to buy into the lie that power is the key to the Kingdom and sought long and hard to get a seat at the table. This last barrier breaks down any hindrances for a full fledged merger of Church and State. When that has happened in history, the Church has always been corrupted and lots of people have died.

There is no "influencing the wheels of power for good." Your Bible tells you that "good" doesn't work that way. It is the poor, the weak, the forgotten, the left out, the powerless who truly bring the world to its knees. There is no winning this cosmic game of chicken, in which we play along with the powerful right up until the moment God's Kingdom breaks through and we slip seamlessly onto the other side. For a people who claim strong allegiance to an unchanging universal truth, actions of US Christians seems awfully confident that present truth is somehow different from truth to come.

There is no scriptural, theological, ethical, or, frankly, practical justification for participating in the halls of power. This executive order gives Christian organizations every possible avenue to demand their own rights and assert their own agendas - two things in direct contradiction to the God they claim to serve.

In the end, this is a power play by those who love power to exercise more power over those who possess the single most effective motivational tool in the history of humankind - the whip of God's will. Those who embrace this idea are walking headlong into a cage of their own making.
In the end, this executive order means nothing, because no faithful congregation would take advantage of it and no faithful congregation needs permission to exercise freedom.

Our new Emperor has come to power claiming, "I am on your side; no one will hurt you anymore," all the while enslaving your people and calling it freedom. This isn't even an analogy; it's a literal explanation of what's going on.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.

No comments: