We all hear talk about how America is a Christian nation. Let’s get one thing straight, Christian government looks like Jesus. Thus, it does not kill. It is never right to support the death penalty as a Christian. America was not built on Christian principles but Enlightenment Deism. Deism is the hijacking of Christianity to serve the ends of humanity’s progress, not the kingdom of God. There never was a Christian America. Ever.
It doesn’t matter how many buildings have or do not have the ten commandments out in front or how hallowed the texts of this nation are and how much they borrow from the bible. This country never took those commandments seriously. They’re more like pats on the back to ourselves and a glorification of our own innocence than an actual symbol of what this country stands for. Having the decalogue in front of an american building is like having a cross outside a burlesque house. It’s pointless, and in many cases not only misleading, but downright demonic.
The state is a terror to everyone, especially Christians seeking to properly honor the lordship of Jesus Christ. Many critics might ask about honoring the emperor and all that jazz, well the only honor the emperor deserves is the call to repentance. This is the honor due to our kings, we respect the government by calling it into line with the lordship of Jesus Christ as Christians. This does not mean forcibly Christianizing government as much as showing the nation that the Church is the only way society can function rightly, and providing the prophetic voice that should guide our public life, but we offer that voice primarily as the Church. We don’t really care about the legislation as much because governments change, and ideas too, but we must offer the ever-present witness that is the loving rule of Jesus Christ in His Churches. Scripture may run throughout the works of the American Founders, but not for the sake of revelation and Christian Truth, as in Jesus. The scriptures are quoted removing all the main Characters from the Christian story, and made to serve the unholy triumvirate that is Global Capitalism, Universal Reason (a failed project), and Private individual piety.
Scripture can guide the way government works, but largely it doesn’t. So the point is moot. If scripture guided the way this country works, there would not be an indefinite war on terror going on. It would not be an issue. George Bush would not cry out for the blood of Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts, but lead the nation to seek diplomatic talks and a further sheltering of Bin Laden from those who would seek his life. This is what it means to love your enemies.
It’s funny that the conservatives are so gung-ho about scripture supporting their claims, until the scriptures disagree with their interpretation of sensible Christian responsibility, and ask them to become uncomfortable for the sake of the poor, or their enemies. Then they fall back on arguments about idealism against reality and government vs. church. They fall back on the picture of an angry judgmental God, so that they can legitimate their lack of compassion. Many Americans are theists, but they are not Christians.
If you want a Christian government, this bloodsucking monster we call America will not do. I still hold that our nation is the largest conglomerate of terrorists in the world. Naming an enemy arbitrarily and destroying their morale as well as civilian common life is what we know as terrorism. Hello America, you terrorist nation you.
The war on terror is an endless war, it has no defined end or enemy, and we’re now hearing talks about invading Yemen. America gets to decide who the terrorists are, while not recognizing itself as a terrorist:
As for the ‘clash of civilizations’, let us recall the letter form the seven-year-old American girl whose father was a pilot fighting in Afghanistan: she wrote that — although she loved her father very much, she was ready to let him die, to sacrifice him for her country. When President Bush quoted these lines, they were perceived as a ‘normal’ outburst of American patriotism; let us conduct a simple mental experiment and imagine an Arab Muslim girl pathetically reciting into the camera the same words about her father fighting for the Taliban — we do not have to think for long about what our reaction would have been: morbid Muslim fundamentalism which does not stop even at the cruel manipulation and exploitation of children . . . . Every feature attributed to the Other is already present at the very heart of the USA. Murderous fanaticism? There are in the USA today more than two million Rightist populist ‘fundamentalists’ who also practise a terror of their own, legitimized by (their understanding of) Christianity. Since America is, in a way, ‘harbouring’ them, should the US Army have punished Americans themselves after the Oklahoma bombing?
–Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (London: Verso Press, 2002), 43-4.
There is no correct government, that’s the whole point. All government is corrupt, and all national powers are an affront to the Lordship of Jesus. Reducing Christianity to principles is the heart of atheism, “we appreciate the Christian story, but we just want the principles. We don’t want any of those miracles or the specifics about this God, just his ideas, more or less. So that we can put those ideas under a new god, global capitalism.” That’s not Christian government, that’s called plagiarism.
Call it what it is. It’s plagiarism, with only half the intent if not less of acknowledging the rightful rule of Jesus Christ. Thus, it’s demoralizing, not facilitating. You have no scriptural basis for supporting the death penalty, because there isn’t one. No amount of eisegesis can make right the taking of a life as a Christian. Soothing your conscience by explaining away the rigors of the Christian calling is never justifiable.
America built itself on certain ideals that the founding fathers thought were self-evident, but Christians do not believe in self-evident truth, we believe in Jesus as Truth. It’s revealed truth. And the Truth of Jesus reveals a community that does not kill, and in turn never desires the death of another human being, ever. No matter what. If you want a government to do that, so be it, but the first place this has to happen is in the Church. The Church cannot be a body that ever support’s the state’s arbitrary use of power in killing a human life, no matter what. So Christians that are pro death penalty is an oxymoron.
I don’t care how the legislation goes I think the church needs to be fighting to free people from the death penalty and take responsibility for them as the church and create some mediated life for those who want to reform and the government should make provisions for churches wanting to do this. If that makes me a liberal. So be it. I think the Church could do more against the death penalty, but that takes time, imagination and creativity, a sacrifice we should all be willing to make.
I think conservatives are largely missing the point when they promote an anti-abortion agenda, and then support a pro-death penalty agenda. Either we care about the sanctity of all life, or we do not care for life at all.
I think that the command to love my enemies encumbers me to be anti-death penalty. No matter the crime, no matter if it affects me, no matter if this person slay my entire family, being a disciple of Jesus encumbers me to pray for that person and their redemption is the justice that I can do to them.
The redemption of my enemy to life is the Justice that God demands, and any idea of justice apart from conceptions of redemption, reconciliation and reestablishing life together are going to be failures because only Christian theology can properly conceive of justice in theological terms as it should be thought of. We don’t conceive of justice apart from the life of Christ. To do so is to acknowledge we don’t care about Jesus and what He means for all of life. To support the death penalty is ultimately atheism.