Friday, November 7, 2008

Does the Bible envision anything like Faithful Citizenship?

That's the name of the pallid document produced by the US bishops to attempt to walk the tight-rope of defending the teaching of the Church without antagonizing the vast majority of Catholics who want to be good Americans and vote for their favorites without moral qualms. The current document succeeds minimally.

I've been thinking whether or not this is the proper approach. In the New Testament, there is no provision made for how one should act as a member of a democracy. There weren't any democracies then. No commandment is given "Ye shall vote!" Indeed, there isn't any real impetus for Christians to assimilate into their communities. We are not to be just like the Romans, or just like the Greeks, but a holy nation, a people set apart. That's what the texts say.

I recently gave a little talk on 1 Cor 4-6, and what struck me particularly was that Christians in Corinth were condemned by St. Paul for participating in the political realm, or at least for participating in the courts. They should have been dealing with their problems in the Church, not in the State.

I don't have time to work out all these thoughts, but here's the executive summary: The Church should not worry about influencing politics. It should not worry quibbling about what proportionate reasons could allow someone to vote for the Democrats. It should drop all that and simply proclaim the truth of the Faith. Witness to the dignity of the human person, in whom we are to see Christ always, and if the politicians take it as a condemnation, respond with a genial "If the shoe fits, wear it." But don't wiggle around and try to be all things to all parties.

Perhaps I will expand on this later.

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