A great deal of the tension that exists in our society today – be it a cultural anomaly or a political argument – can be resolved by simply considering how you would answer one fundamental question.
Who makes the rules?
We’re not talking about the person who occupies the Oval Office nor are we looking to the Justices on the Supreme Court.
Rather, we’re talking about something even more foundational and to arrive at that bottom line, we’re going to look at a sequence of definitions and realities that begin with what serves as the basis for all governments and then building on that in a way that reveals the source of all the angst that characterizes the discourse pertaining to politics and morals.
The goal is to do this in a manner that’s irrefutable, regardless of your political persuastion or spiritual convictions in that it’s not so much about a perspective as much as it’s a common sense treatment of what otherwise is a volatile exchange of ideas and opinions that’s based more so on passion than principle.
Here we go…
What is “Religion?”
From a purely philosophical standpoint, every religion answers four basic questions:
- Where do I come from (orgin)?
- What happens when I die (destiny)?
- How am I supposed to behave (morals)?
- What’s the point of my existence (purpose)?
Regardless of creed or deity, every religion proposes an answer to those four questions. And it’s how you answer those four questions that defines your religious framework and dictates the way you define yourself and the way you process the world around you.
Bear in mind as well that using this approach, Atheism can be appropriately categorized as a “religion” in that it too proposes answers to these questions, the only difference being that the name of the Atheist’s god matches the name on their birth certificate.
There Are Only Two Options
While there are many religions, there are only two options.
Every religion on the planet empowers the individual with the ability to faciliate their own salvation. Either by doing something or making some kind of sacrifice – you’re able to put enough spiritual points on the board to merit the favor of your preferred deity.
Christianity, on the other hand, says that the the only thing you contribute to your salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.
So, while other religions place you in a position where you are “god-like” in that you can accomplish what needs to be done in order to rate an enhanced supernatural status, the gospel of Jesus Christ defines you as utterly destitute apart from the life God offers as a gift and not as something you can earn.
Either God is God or you are.
Every Government is Based on a Church
Every government that has ever existed is ultimately based on the way you define a human being which is an extension of one’s religious framework. From that standpoint, you are no longer talking mere policy as much as you are now entering the realm of theology.
A Monarchy, for example, is looking at a person’s bloodline to determine their rank and title. A Socialist will categorize an individual under one of two headings: Either the Bourgeoisie or the Proletarians – the Bourgeoisie being those who own the means of production, and the Proletariat – the worker who suffers beneath the weight of an oppressive Capitalist system.
However you craft your approach to the way in which human beings are to be governed, your starting point will always be the way in which you characterize the individual.
You’re either created or you’re merely sorted.
This is part of what makes the Declaration of Independence so significant because of the way it bases its content on the fact that all men are created equal. But this is also why any effort to suggest that the “separation of church and state” translates to a scenario where there is neither a need nor a desire for a “religious” premise to be included in the way a country’s government is to be defined is revealed as being logically flawed. It’s there by default because of the manner in which the essence of the individual is being evaluated.
It’s Not About the Freedom of Religion
Because government is a fundamental extension of the way a human being is defined, you have a religious dynamic in place because you’re either seeing humanity from a purely secular standpoint or you’re seeing him as someone who is made in the image of his Creator. Again, this goes back to the fact that while there are any one of a number of “religions,” there are only two options: Either God is God or the individual is his own deity.
When you hear someone launch a verbal assault on the presence of the Christian doctrine in our nation’s founding and its continued influence in our legislative landscape today, it’s usually spearheaded by a passionate appeal to their interpretation of the “separation of church and state.”
While much of their content can be refuted by demonstrating the lack of context that characterizes their platform, the structural flaw of their argument is the way in which they want to position their viewpoint as one that replaces Christianity with a spiritual vacuum where no “religious” statement is being made or acknowledged.
But that is a philosophical impossibility because of the way every governmental system is founded on the way in which a human being is to be defined.
What they want to present as “freedom of religion” is actually an attempt to asssert a different religious hierarchy where the individual is his own absolute. They’re wanting to either ignore or qualify every reference to Christianity in a way where it is stripped of any significance and in so doing promote the idea that there is no Authority save the one that is consistent with their preferences.
That’s Your Opinion
At this point, we have…
- Revealed how religion, from a purely philosophical standpoint, answers four basic questions and it’s how you respond to those questions that dictates the way you see yourself and they way your process the world around you.
- Demonstrated how there are many religions but only two options: Either God is God or you are based on the way every religious school of thought empowers the individual with the ability to facilitate their own salvation with the exception of Christianity.
- Shown how every form of government is based on a “church” in that every legislative framework is built on the way that particular approach defines a human being. Given that philosophical starting point, the contemporary usage of the phrase, “separation of church and state” is revealed not as a noble effort to foster the freedom of religion as much as it’s an attempt to replace Christianity with a spiritual paradigm that says the individual is his own Absolute.
Confronted with a platform that’s difficult to refute without conceding the selfish character of their argument, it’s here where the most vocal advocates of the separation of church and state will say, “That’s your opinion.”
While it’s not always the case, more often than not, when you’re involved in a debate and someone says, “Well, that’s your opinion,” you’re hearing that person attempt to avoid the line of questioning that has the potential to reveal their platform as being fundamentally flawed. So, rather than stay engaged, they retreat behind the premise that suggests everyone is right all the time which is by default accompanied by the idea that to disagree with whatever they believe represents a form of oppression.
On the surface, it has the appearance of cooperation and compassion. But in the hands of those who have something to hide more than they have something to say, responding to an argument by saying, “That’s your opinion,” is a tactic designed to make their platform appear logically and morally comparable to whatever other options may exist, regardless of how nonsensical or unsustainable their perspective may be.
And that’s the problem…
What Actually Happens
The fact that a person has the “right to be happy,” or the “right to choose” or, “is entitled to their opinion” doesn’t mean that every option that’s available to them translates to the same outcome.
At some point you have to evaluate the mindsets being considered according to what actually happens when those viewpoints are deployed.
We’re not talking about your feelings, my beliefs or the rules you want to dismiss as corrupt simply because they prevent you from being your own bottom line. Rather, we’re talking about those things that result from the perspective you subscribe to.
If someone is driving on the wrong side of the road it’s hard to imagine that person defending their being in the wrong lane by saying, “You accusing me of driving on the wrong side of the road is a manifestion of an oppressive society and you’re making me feel uncomfortable.”
Yet that is the approach taken by someone who wants to ignore the practical results of their perspective and instead focus only on the way they feel. To their way of thinking, anything that’s wise, healthy or beneficial is secondary to whatever it is that best promotes the idea that they are in charge.
Who Makes the Rules?
Every argument and school of thought has a starting point – a collection of assumptions that dictate the direction and the strength of the line of logic that proceeds from that philosophical baseline.
If your perspective on a particular issue begins with the belief that there is no God, then you’re inevitably basing your mindset on a human agency – be it a court, a legal document or a cultural trend. All of these things can be altered to accommodate a shifting consensus and are therefore fluid.
This can be a very handy tool in the hands of someone who’s looking to promote a specific agenda that requires a noble sounding justification in that you can sound compassionate, yet be morally bankrupt because of the way you guage the difference between right and wrong according to an adjustable scale.
But if, on the other hand, you believe that the Bible represents the Authoritative bottom line on the human experience, your perspective will be based on Something that does not and can not change, thus providing a dependable approach that isn’t compromised by dynamics that can be corrupted.
Who Makes the Rules?
Whatever polls, soundbytes, headlines or subject matter experts you compile, at the root of your argument will be either a Divine Absolute that gives it weight and substance or it will be a human preference that can be challenged and overruled.
The reason the Declaration of Independence resonated as a cause and not just as a complaint is because we referenced the Creator as being the Standard that showed how the monarchy of King George violated the rights that were not his to dispense but were God’s to guarantee.
It’s because God makes the rules that we can embrace them as tools that strengthen the barriers that prevent the deterioration which causes us to stumble and fail both on a personal and national level.
They’re free and they work.
But to the individual who chooses to engage his existence believing himself to be his own bottom line, he will condemn anything that challenges his authority as cruel and antiquated. Determined to process safeguards as limitations, he blames the pain and problems caused by his personal regime on either the God Who supposedly doesn’t exist or the people who aren’t willing to certify his calamities as accomplishments.
This is why it can be a difficult conversation to navigate. Those who dismiss the Reality of God’s Influence in the universe and in their lives will insulate themselves from any correction or criticism by insisting any system or opinion that doesn’t reinforce their mindset constitutes an attack that qualifies them as wounded and oppressed.
But the fact of the matter is, they’re simply trying to create new standards of behavior in order to avoid being held accountable for both their actions and their chosen perspective.
As long as the dialogue is defined as a noble activist fighting against an oppressive and opinionated system, the odds will swing in their favor when it comes to determining what’s a fair and appropriate approach to politics, morals, medicine and religion.
But let the conversation be steered according to who it is that’s making the rules to begin with and you’ve got a much more revealing exchange. Once it becomes apparent that their concept of justice and morality are founded on an entirely different foundation than the one upon which our nation is built, their topics are rightly perceived as tactics to replace rabbis, priests and pastors with lawyers, judges and magistrates.
Before you can make the right decision, you first have to establish what is True.
And in order to figure out what is True, you first have to identify the One Who defines the Truth.
Who makes the rules?
Let that be where you begin and sensation will give way to substance, the real problems can now be discerned and the answers you seek can now be discovered.