Saturday, November 27, 2004

Symptoms of Christianity

This is one of the major problems that I have with the current
blurring of the division of church and state:
Even if you were to
legislate all of the "symptoms" of Christianity, you haven't created
any Christians (read: you haven't "saved" anyone).

You can pass laws that forbid people to get abortions, marry their
same-sex partners, work on Sunday, obtain birth control, publish music
with explicit lyrics, and so on. But even assuming that the people
living under these rules actually live chaste, monogamous, straight,
and "proper" lives, there are two problems with trying to legislate
Christianity in this way. The first is that they haven't chosen to
live that way in thanks or reverence to or in fear of God.

The second problem is much bigger: You can't legislate people to
accept Jesus into their hearts. Forcing people to live lives that look
more like the Christian lives we imagine might help the congregants of
some churches sleep better at night, but we must remember that the
only way anyone becomes a Christian is by actually choosing to do so!
Christians recognize that they cannot overcome sin on their own and
that they need the forgiveness of Christ to be saved. Forcing people
to live the way you or I might live after having made that choice
doesn't help them at all spiritually.

Furthermore, when we Christians act this way, it only further
alienates us from the people we claim we're trying to save. It is one
thing to humbly approach a brother or sister in Christ and point out
what we see as contradictions in the life he or she has chosen to
live. It is something else entirely to approach folks outside the
church about the good news of God's redeeming love and start off with
how much God abhors them.