As Christians, we of the Orthosphere desire to live in a society that honors Christianity and whose public order (laws, rules, customs and such) reflects Christian truth to some extent. But how exactly should this be manifest?
Individual members of Orthosphere.org will, of course, speak for themselves. But here is a heavily edited version of a previously unpublished essay of mine addressing the issue. Its purpose is not to enumerate specific ways that Christianity should be made manifest in the public order. Instead, it aims to paint a broad outline of the minimum that a Western society requires in order properly to be Christian.
Christianity’s Public Role in a Properly-Ordered America
Christianity must again become what it was for most of our history: the publicly-acknowledged religio-philosophical system underlying American society. Since liberalism currently plays this role, liberalism must be demoted to a private opinion. This does not mean that all Americans must be Christians, or that all Christians must be of one particular denomination. It means exactly and only what it says: Every nation must have a philosophical and spiritual system that is acknowledged publicly to be authoritative for the ordering of the nation. A nation, after all, is not just a group of people inhabiting the same geographic region. To be a nation, rather than an empire or an anarchy, a people need a common way of life and a common way of thinking about the most basic things, and these require a common religion.
And since Christianity is both the truest worldview and the historic center of American and Western society, it must form the philosophical and spiritual basis for the ordering of American society. Individual Americans will be free to disbelieve in Christianity, but they will not be free to try to make America itself either secular or of another religion. Of course, the unique peoples, history and customs of America also play a role in forming her society, so Christianity will not be the totality of America’s ordering principles. It will be the authoritative religious system.
This Christianity which undergirds the social order is not the totality of Christian belief and practice. It might be called the general Christian worldview, consisting of Christian views of the basic natures of God, the natural world, man and society. Exactly how these views are to inform the laws and customs of society is a practical question that will have to be worked out at length. In this, we can look to societies of the past, especially America past, because past societies were not dragged down by the false worldview and wicked morality of today’s Left.
How exactly, then, will the social order take Christianity into account? In the Bible, God clearly brands certain activities as sinful, but the Bible does not specify God’s instructions for exactly how civil (as opposed to church) government should respond to these sins. We therefore can only affirm general rules rather than their specific applications, which cannot be specified in advance of actual conditions: The government of a properly-ordered society must not, as America’s government does now, actively support many practices and ideas that are clearly opposed in the Bible. And it must also support a proper moral system and punish those who by their lawbreaking become a threat to public order or safety.
The Christian understanding of man and society agrees with what is commonly called natural law, that is, a law that is recognized at least intuitively by all men who do not have a vested interested in denying it. A large part of a proper public order will consist of various official and unofficial sanctions that support what is commonly called “traditional morality.”
Christian doctrines concerning proper religious practice, the exact nature of the spiritual world and the salvation of individuals are not directly relevant for the ordering of society, except that these doctrines must not be subjected to inordinate public disrespect. To disrespect these doctrines publicly disrespects Christianity as a whole, and conspicuous public disrespect for the foundations of a society is always destructive. [Private disrespect is acceptable; it is not a threat to the ordering of society.]
Asserting that America’s social order must be based on Christianity naturally raises (in the mind of the liberal) the specter of “dominionism” or “theocracy.” While these words have various referents (and for the liberal, they invoke lurid images of a “Christian fascist” government baptizing non-Christians at gunpoint and punishing Sabbath-breakers), the actual meaning of “theocracy,” for the liberal, is any society where law and custom take Christianity into account.
Liberals will, of course, say that a Christian society is a violation of the “wall of separation between church and state,” an extra-constitutional principle that the Left has managed to establish formally. But they are being naïve at best, hypocritical at worst. Every nation always has a state religion, even if it is not acknowledged. Liberals, for example, believe in the religion of liberalism, and they worship its gods of diversity, tolerance, freedom and Nature. And, of course, the Liberal fights valiantly to ensure that worship of his gods is reflected in law and custom.
No, there is always a religion that rules. And it was the tradition in America for Christianity to rule with a relatively light hand. Unlike the nations of Europe, America never has had an official state church. And Americans have always tolerated non-Christians and non-Christian thought far more than other Christian peoples have. It was understood that Christianity was publicly to be honored, even as individuals were legally free to disbelieve privately.
When we traditionalists are arguing for traditionalist conservatism we generally will not lead with Christianity. We will be arguing for a properly ordered society rather than a specific view of God and therefore non-Christians of common sense and good will can agree with us. But we must be prepared to refute the hard-core atheists and other anti-Christians who attempt to falsify Christianity in order to invalidate traditionalist conservatism, and therefore we must be able to present arguments for theism and Christianity.
Since conservatism is concerned with the proper order of society, and since Islam is not just a theology but rather a comprehensive religio-socio-political system which includes its own view of the order of society, Islam is radically incompatible with proper American conservatism, and indeed with American society itself.
Finally, we must note with sadness that much of organized Christianity in the Western World is either indifferent or actively hostile to many of the correct principles of social order she once upheld. Liberalism, despite its anti-Christian basis, is almost as strong in the church as in the rest of society. Christian leaders frequently support the legitimization of homosexuality, mass immigration leading to Balkanization, and socialism, among other ills. But this is an aberration, not an authentic expression of Christianity, and so we may look to true biblical Christianity for proper principles of society. And although the church’s primary duty is proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she has a subsidiary duty to promote other God-ordained principles that man and society need in order to live well. To that end, we must also work toward returning the church to expressing and supporting God-ordained principles of social order.