Church & State
In the wake of the overturn of Roe, we once again see an uptick of people demanding there be a separation of Church and State – ignoring the fact that supporting life can be argued from a secular viewpoint as much as any ethical issue can, but I digress. But I feel the need to point out that this original concept of distinguishing between Church and State originally comes from Luther’s writings as he extrapolates them from Augustine. This perhaps is a bit shocking, as we often hear that separation idea as an argument against Christianity, or that we shouldn’t allow our morals or values to affect the way that we vote on issues, etc., but that’s not what Luther is talking about at all.
Luther recognized that God works in the world through two estates: The Church where the Gospel is preached and forgiveness is proclaimed to the repentant, and the State where the Law is enforced for the protection of the citizenry. When either side tries to do the others’ job, things get bumpy – if the Church tries to punish people for their crimes, they become afraid to confess and don’t receive the absolution they need; if the State is becoming too forgiving of transgressions, then crime runs rampant. The separation between the two, then, is merely a call for each to stay in their own lane – not the misunderstood belief that they shouldn’t interact at all. Rather, the Church should advise the State on the justness of laws, and the State should advise the Church on civil matters – such as ensuring our buildings are safe, how we might better aid the community, and so on.
The intersection, then, in our great American experiment of our constitutional republic, is the citizenry who are members of both the Church and the State and who have a voice in both to some degree. So, while we are called to “obey God rather than men” should the civil law order us to do something contrary to God’s Word, we are otherwise instructed to be upstanding citizens of both realms to the best of our abilities – and using the voice we have in each to live out our Christian calling to show God’s love to our neighbors and voting according to our Christian consciences.
So, in the wake of Roe being overturned, our calling remains the same: to be faithful witnesses of the grace that God has given us while also using our freedom to serve our neighbor and provide for their needs to the best of our ability. Now is the time for the Church to step up and offer the aid needed to show the world that abortion is unnecessary. Now is the time for us to be both Christians and Americans for the sake of all around us.
God’s blessings, Pastor Biar