Three ways to live

Which is your way?

When Church and state conflict

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 6:40 pm on Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A recent post on Stand to Reason blog raised an issue of what Christians should do when there is an ethics conflict between church and state. While the example provided is rather misguided, it made me think about a better one. Here is the summary of my thoughts:

  1. The law of the church applies only to church members just as the government law applies to all citizens
  2. The church cannot require those who are not its members to obey church ethics. That should resolve all issues for politicians – they are free to acknowledge that abortion is bad (and, of course, prohibit it in their own families) and yet do not impose it on those outside the church in the form of a government law
  3. OK, here is the most interesting point. What should church members do when they are under two law systems?
    1. Understand it only applies to their personal life, not to that of other people
    2. In most cases, there is no conflict. The government may say it’s OK to have an abortion, but that also means it’s OK not to. Since the church prohibits it, Christians should stay away from abortions. If the government says you should pay taxes and church has no say, then Christians should pay taxes. “Give Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s”
    3. The most difficult situation is when there is a conflict. What if church says you must spread the good news and state prohibits you from doing so? What if church says we are equal, yet state tries to segregate people into black and white (US racism)? Typical answer – state has first hand. But should it? I believe that was the real point raised in the blog post.

Christian leaders in Britain went against state on the issue of slavery and eventually won. Martin Luther King Jr. went against the government on the racism issue (and paid for it with some jail time), but his ministry has eventually led to major changes. Jesus has clearly disobeyed the Sabbath law imposed by Israel’s religious leadership. I think this provides a clear enough pattern for Christians.

1 Comment


Comment by Kay Douglas

May 3, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

At the time of this writing there is a conflict between Church and State taking place in Gangjeong, South Korea, on Jeju the Peace Island. The conflict is over construction of the joint ROK/US naval base that will be the largest naval base (read: war base)in the world if allowed to be built to completion. It will consume an entire traditional village if it is not stopped. It has already displaced, and put at more serious risk, already endangered marine life and habitat.

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