Thoughts on a Biblical Government?

by Calulu

(Disclaimer: We’re big Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center supporters in this household. We’ve met former President Carter more than a few times and been struck by how he and his dear wife Roslyn do a good job living out the words of Jesus every day. Just precious dear people to everyone. I am most definitely biased but it’s okay if you’re not. My calling him ‘Mr. Jimmy’ here isn’t meant as disrespect, this is what we’ve been told is his preferred moniker by the locals of Plains, Georgia.)

This weekend The Carter Center held a conference on women and religion hosted by former president Jimmy Carter and prominent women in all sorts of different religions from around the world. I really wanted to go to this very badly since this is where my interests lie, but I wasn’t able to fit it into my budget this summer.

The Huffington Post did an article on Mr. Jimmy’s opening remarks - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/28/jimmy-carter-women_n_3516823.html but I think this first sentence sort of sums it all up. Is there anything else that needs to be said on the subject?  -

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says religious leaders, including those in Christianity and Islam, share the blame for mistreatment of women across the world.

One of the things to come out of his remarks also was that the fundagelical crowd in this country does not really want a ‘Christian’ government in place. Someone made a nice meme of his statement and I posted it on my Facebook account like I do many of Mr. Jimmy’s common sense statements.

He was speaking in regard to the federal food stamps cuts and the Religious Right. Shortly after posting this meme one of my family members who is deeply Religious Right started trying to link Jimmy Carter’s statements about ‘Christian’ government and food stamps to socialism and the ways of the former Soviet Union.

So I’m leaving it to you to sound off about a Biblical-based government and responsibility for the poor. What are your thought on this? It’s all too easy to see what the Fundagelicals think about it.

Comments open below

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Seeking The Light

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • Theo Darling

    I don’t want a “biblical” government either, but that’s because I don’t believe an Iron Age text is appropriate for dealing with 21st-century life, and I prefer an ethic more progressive than one that allows for capital punishment, the buying and selling of humans, holy warfare, and so on. Unfortunately, as much as we /have/ progressed, all of those things still exist, and I’m convinced that instating any kind of “biblical” government would only serve to regress us further.

    Obviously, the teachings of Jesus fall under the “biblical” umbrella as well. The Bible’s a big book and contains some seriously clashing messages, and I honestly don’t see any way to implement a system of biblical governance without addressing and striking some of those competing claims. (Which is what we do anyway, but Real Christians ™ would rather die than admit it.) So how do you choose which precepts to base your government on? Do you focus on the earliest law? Then you ignore later revisions and improvements. Do you discard the Old Testament for the New? But the New Testament also contains some horrible advice and inhumane proscriptions. Do you accept only the purported words of Jesus? But what about the examples of Jesus himself being less than fair or kind or wise, and what about the purported words of Jesus that didn’t make it into the canon? It’s too complicated and leaves room for too much error and disagreement and too many human rights violations. Why not discard the idea entirely and consciously seek to base government on universal human rights and a system of sound ethics?

  • Kristen Rosser

    The only problem I see with Carter’s specific remark there is that I dislike all forms of “believe what I do about X, or you’re not really following Christ.” Most Christians who oppose tax dollars for the poor are not opposing helping the poor, but disagreeing as to how to best help the poor. Personally, I think the idea that private charity alone can take care of everyone who needs a safety net is impracticable and indicates too great a willingness to sacrifice the individual to a principle– but that doesn’t mean people who believe tax-funded programs are the wrong way to help the poor, are unwilling to help the poor.

    But I myself can’t see that Christianity or the Bible are in any sense incompatible with government-funded social safety nets (gleaning laws, anyone?) or redistribution of wealth (Year of Jubilee?)

  • Baby_Raptor

    No, it tends to mean that they buy into the idea of the “deserving poor–With them doing the deciding as to who “deserves” the help.

    And this isn’t the only danger. There’s also the danger of church “charities” who will only help congregants, or only help you if they can some way leash you into listening to their appeal and converting.

  • Kristen Rosser

    I agree that these are dangers of private charities of any kind– that they will only help certain kinds of people or those who meet certain criteria.

  • Nightshade

    Same here, pretty much. Seems that ‘is anyone being harmed?’ would be a more sensible basis for law than ‘is someone’s sense of morality/religion offended?’

  • gimpi1

    I think the best way to describe people who argue against governmental aid and for private charity almost exclusively is unrealistic. The fact is that there has never been a state that has had a privately-financed decent safety-net. It simply doesn’t work. The problem I see is those people arguing for a private solution won’t look at the world around them, examine the evidence, and revise their views when they are mistaken. I see this attitude in the standard conservative Christian response to biology, geology and astronomy.

    There’s a name for people who can’t accept the real world, deluded. Part of our current disfunction is we have quite a few deluded people in power.

  • Kristen Rosser

    Agreed. They take a particular interpretation of the Bible, proclaim it as reality/truth, and ignore all evidence to the contrary. In every area of life, and no matter who gets hurt. What they don’t realize is that this doctrine-over-person mentality is exactly what Jesus found fault with in the Pharisees.


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