A Separate Peace: The Wisdom of Separating Church and State

 
By Lindsay Brown
Contributor to Richmond.com
Published: May 11, 2009
romecross
Rome Cross/Photo by Ian Paul

The Bible and the US Constitution are the central texts that advocate the establishment of boundaries that protect and preserve the function and freedom of both the Church and of the State. The words within the US Constitution and within the Bible reinforce the necessary distinction between Christianity and secular government.

The exact phrase “Separation of Church and State” is not in the US Constitution. When Thomas Jefferson referred to a “wall of separation between the church and the state,” he was reassuring the Danbury Connecticut Baptists that the government would not infringe on their affairs. iThe actual First Amendment to the US Constitution states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition.

The two clauses that pertain specifically to religion are the free exercise clause and the establishment clause, which restrict the government from passing laws that interfere with religion, and prohibit the government from establishing a national religion. ii

These principles outlined in the US Constitution harmonize beautifully with the Bible’s account of the tension between God’s people and societies.

“Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.” (Genesis 10:8)

The name “Nimrod” means “The Rebel,” as Nimrod served idol Gods.

“The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” (Gen 10:10)

Shinar was the region which was also referred to as Southern Babylonia.

“Babel” means “confusion.”

The word meanings in these verses demonstrate God’s lack of esteem for the societies established by mankind. The trend of God separating His people from societies begins in Numbers.

“As I see him from the top of the rocks, And I look at him from the hills; Behold, a people who dwells apart, And will not be reckoned among the nations.” (Numbers 23:9) iii

This trend continues throughout the Bible into the New Testament. Jesus addresses the relationship between Himself and secular matters in the following verses: “So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (John 6:15)

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’” (John 18:36)

“Christ said of His followers, ‘Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.’” (John 15:19) “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16) “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Rom 13:1) iv

The Bible covers all topics in creation, and therefore references secular governments, but the US Constitution does not actually reference the word “God.”

For example, “So help me God” is not actually written in the Presidential Oath, which is described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution. It has simply been tradition for the President to place his hand on the Bible during the oath and say “So help me God.”

Christians who, contrary to the advice of the Bible, attempt to officially integrate manmade politics with the realm of Christ are often left with anger and frustration.

Referring to “Socialists throughout our government,” Vic Bilson of the Jeremiah Project writes “Make no mistake about it… these hate filled anti-American enemies of your family will not give up their evil schemes until your children are destroyed.”

Hateful in his own wording, Bilson sounds slightly more credible in his advocacy for the merging of Christianity into the US Government when he quotes Jesus. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other…” Mr. Bilson used an ellipsis to omit the completion of the verse, which is “You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24) v

Jesus offers advice to those Christians who cannot distinguish the identity of their Master.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him.” (Mark 12:17)

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