Don’t Force Us To Obey The Bible!

Don’t Force Us To Obey The Bible! January 6, 2013

Someone made a point on Facebook that I thought was really insightful and worth turning into a brief post here.

Time and again, I have heard conservatives say that taxing the rich to care for the poor is antithetical to Biblical teaching because it is essentially forcing people “at gunpoint” to give, rather than allowing them to be charitable of their own free will.

Typically, those same people want to see other aspects of their religious values, from marriage to prayer, enforced through legislation.

Does this not fit well under the heading of yesterday's post, “Fundamentalist Cognitive Dissonance“? Isn't this inherently self-contradictory?

If we ask why this contradiction exists, the only reasons I can think of are the following: 1) They don't actually know just how much emphasis the Bible places on economic and social justice, never mind the details of what it actually says about such matters; 2) They want to be free not to give to help others. Are there other possible explanations?

Either way, this stance is not only self-contradictory, but incompatible with the claim to be someone who respects the authority of the Bible. To choose to seek to have only those elements of Biblical morality legislated which are convenient and desirable to you, is arguably worse, even from a conservative Christian perspective, because of the extreme hypocrisy involved, than openly and honestly acknowledging that one does not accept some or all of what the Bible says.


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  • ithinktoomuch

    Another good point to make is how everyone from Moses to Daniel to Jesus exhorted rulers to be charitable. Charity is not just for individuals, it is also required of GOVERNMENT. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed over this very issue!

    • Joy

      Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they knowingly chose to mock God and to curse Him with the lives they led… They chose to corrupt every good and pure thing they possibly could to spit in the face of God…

      • mikeH

        Only partially accurate. Here is what Ezekiel had to say:

        Eze. 16:49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:
        She and her daughters were arrogant,
        overfed and unconcerned;
        they did not help the poor and needy.
        Eze 16:50 They were haughty and
        did detestable things before me.
        Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
        Yeah, they did detestable things, but the main point seems to be their lack of charity. Reading further, God stated that Sodom and Gomorrah would be restored. It seems that God is charitable even to those who don’t seem to deserve it.

  • Sachabear

    How true. I’m always struck by the hypocritical way too many “Christians ” selectively take the biblical teachings. Inequality, sexual identities, civil liberties, guns etc. Truly irrational.

  • Is that a nice way of saying maybe the individual may not really be a Christian, or is it just a way of saying they are ignorant. I call someone like that a Christian of convenience.. my bad. Of course only God knows their heart,

  • Plutosdad

    I read a good point once: that when Jesus said it would be harder for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle, i.e. impossible, he was basically threatening rich people with eternal punishment. The point is, if THAT is not coercion, then nothing is.

    People may interpret that passage less strictly, but either way the government garnishing your wages or putting you in prison is nothing compared to the eternal hellfire that Jesus threatens.

  • squirrelyone

    Thomas, if you really want to go Sodom and Gomorrah on this issue, then let’s not forget that the lack of charity involved there included severe retribution for lack of charity to guests. Our illegal immigrants may not be angels in disguise, but does the same premise apply? 🙂 Can you be an actual Christian while screaming to deport the impoverished? The Bible would imply no . . .

  • Nicely stated!

  • Straw Man

    Of course it’s hypocritical! Conservatives “want to be left alone,” but are happy for government to enforce their morality in areas like heteronormativity, or banning prostitution, or (once upon a time) prohibiting alcohol (which was in many ways a New England Puritan movement). Liberals “want the government out of our bedroom,” but are happy for government to enforce their morality in other areas, like the welfare state.

    It seems as if your handling of the subject is a bit coy, though. Are you simply calling attention to another interesting example of hypocrisy? Are you conscious of the hypocrisy of both left and right wingers in this regard? Or are you really making a tu quoque argument to justify your own wish to see your will enforced on others?

    Glenn Greenwald recently made an important point, on the subject of the first amendment. He said (I paraphrase) that people who want the government to ban “hate speech” are afflicted with overweening hubris: they believe that their own views are so fundamentally and unassailably right, that it’s inconceivable that government could do anything other than forbid the speech they dislike and condone the speech they like. They cannot conceive the possibility that speech they like might end up on the prohibited list.

    In just the same way, when you ask for the government to get into the morality business, “you” being a leftie OR a rightie, “you” have no conception at all that government might enforce a morality opposite to your own. You may ask for it to enforce charity and demand toleration of every sexual orientation, but it might instead pass a “defense of marriage act” and slash the welfare state. You’re asking for an agent of force to impose its will on our lives, confidently assuming that its will is going to be congruent to your own.

    There are some, for the record, who oppose all initiation of aggression. Whether it’s to ban speech we like, or to ban speech we dislike. Whether it takes money from us, or gives money to us. Whether it imposes our own personal morality, or forbids our own personal morality. We believe, for many different reasons, that introducing a man with a gun into the room is going to defeat the purpose in every way. We shake our heads at both left and right, who equally want the strong man to be in the room–and struggle only to decide which way the strong man points his gun.

  • Bearer of TRUTH

    Why not touch on what the detestable thing was?
    Or is stating the fact that it was the rampant sin of homosexual activity That caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah not allowed?

    • The detestable things included their lack of care for the poor and probably the attempt to gang rape a stranger as described in Genesis 19. It is unfortunate that you have been misled to think that their “rampant homosexual activity” is found in the Bible.

  • ranfran

    It was said by one of our best known economist of the 20th century as the modern conservative movement under W. Bush took over,
    “Modern conservatism is the attempt to morally justify selfishness.”
    Even the secular knew this current conservative movement had no moral legs to stand on.

  • Roger Wolsey

    Indeed, this isn’t an either/or situation, it’s a both/and. As a Christian, I view paying taxes as part of my stewardship of the resources God has entrusted to me. Moreover, the problems that our society faces are far too vast for the Church to effectively deal with by itself. See:

  • Funny – I just mentioned this point to Joel Miller over on the evangelical channel. I can only think that it’s the sort of willful cluelessness which occurs when your paradigm is threatened.