This might seem like a slight tangent from the topic of politics, but I assure you it is not. I’m kind of hoping someone else can lend some insight into this.
After reading the gospel and finding no way to reconcile “love your enemies” with going to war, I started looking for some theological insight that would make sense of how we as a religion had come to this point. Someone suggested a fascinating book called, The Powers That Be, by Walter Wink, which contained this brilliant quote:
Christianity’s weaponless victory over the Roman Empire resulted in the weaponless victory of the empire over the gospel. A fundamental transformation occurred when the church ceased being persecuted and became instead a persecutor. Once a religion attains sufficient power in a society that the state looks to it for support, that religion must also, of necessity, join the repression of the state’s enemies. For a faith that lived from its critique of domination and its vision of a nonviolent social order, this shift was catastrophic, for it could only mean embracing and rationalizing oppression.
It was this “victory of the empire over the gospel” that had been nagging at me so much. It seems that we’d been given an opportunity at power, military power through our voting, that we chose to embrace rather than relinquish.
Where this plays out today is the constant talk you here about “protecting our freedom” not just on news and from politicians, but from pulpits and pastors. Another terribly theologically incorrect statement. As Christians, we believe true freedom comes through Christ, and that freedom is not furthered nor protected by military might.
And yet, as much as I insist on the above statement, it is only ‘lip service’ to an idea, because whether I ask for it or not, the military is ‘protecting my freedom’ by violent domination over it’s enemies, which runs completely counter to the gospel I insist to believe in.