My post yesterday reminded me of the tension that exists between conflicting worldviews and the institutions of Church and State. Chuck Colson in his book God & Government reminds us about the clear and distinct roles that each play.
In God’s provision the state is not to seize authority over ecclesiastical or spiritual matters, nor is the church to seek authority over political matters. Yet the constant temptation of each is to encroach upon the other.
Governments, with rare exceptions, seek to expand their power beyond the mandate to restrain evil, preserve order, and promote justice. Most often they do this by venturing into religious or moral areas. The reason is two-fold: the state needs religious legitimization for its policies and an independent church is the one structure that rivals the state’s claim for ultimate allegiance, (pg. 127-128)…
…On the other side of the coin, the church, whose principle function is to proclaim the Good News and witness the values of the Kingdom of God, must resist the tempting illusion that it can usher in that Kingdom through political means, (pg. 131).
State overreached when the Iowa Supreme Court tried to expand its power into the realm of defining marriage in Iowa. Another example would be with the state of Massachusetts ordering Catholic Charities to make adoptions to homosexual couples. Instead of complying they stopped arranging adoptions.
Where you can see the Church’s overreach? I believe in the case of the gay marriage ruling. There was a slide in that direction for quite some time. It is a problem when we engage a group of people (GLBT community), as evangelicals have been perceived as doing, on only the political front we’ve missed the mark. I would submit that we are here largely because the Church has lost its saltiness. If there was a vote on a marriage amendment and if (a big if) the measure lost instead of just fighting this battle politically – we need to recognize that the ultimate problem is that we are not winning hearts and minds.
We haven’t been effective in swaying people to our worldview. That isn’t done via the ballot box, but through the Gospel. I’m not saying evangelicals should not be engaged politically, but if that is what we rely on we’ve missed the mark.