Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

Archive for the ‘false witness’ Category

Graveyard walk and Christian witness

The other day I took a walk through the graveyard. I have often done this at times in my life. It sobers one up; it tends to cause one to think about what matters. I have taken but few such since becoming an anarchist a few years ago.

what I noticed this time was the number of military graves. With crosses. An extraordinary proportion of the graves on the rows I walked were military ones with crosses or other religious indicators.

Now, one cannot tell whether whether one was an actual Christian on the basis of symbols or comments appearing on their grave. Loved ones, who commission headstones tend to want to remember the deceased in the most positive light. There is an instant quasi-“beautification” that happens, a free passing-out of halos. And so, of course G. I. Joe went to heaven when he died.

Measured against John the Baptist’s admonition to soldiers to “do violence to no man” and the Ten Commandments command that “Thou shalt not kill,” there is a certain hollowness to these claims to Christianity. Of course, options in years past were fewer. And the state was not nearly so unmasked as learing murderer as it now is. So yes, it was a different age in which these men lived and fought and “served” and sometimes killed. But I do find myself preferring that the non-violent witness of Christ had been better represented.

Now, with the rapid approach of the dissolution of the empire, one can anticipate a last spasm of more military adventuring, more graves, and claims that the one who died while killing others was a copying the life of Jesus. Unfortunately, this is a misrepresentation of Christ. Christianity is not so malleable that God’s law can be pretzelled into its opposite (not killing to killing).

May God have mercy on the damage to Christian witness that is the result of murdering for the state.

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You lie!

Don’t say it. The guvmnt—lie? During president Obama’s recent speech, representative Joe Wilson shouted out “You lie!” He has since apologized. But let’s be clear. Coercer Obama lied, undoubtedly, concerning a number of things, and coercer Wilson, on this occasion, to make political hay, told the truth, but then apologized for telling the truth, at least in the manner that he did it. Politics is not hard to figure out. It is the main gang of coercers versus the other main gang of coercers. The presently dominant coercers get to coerce just somewhat more than the gang of out-of-power coercers. And year after year more than 300 million people not only put up with it, but they call this the American way, and their eyes tear up when the state idol, the star-spangled banner, is put on parade.

Most citizens are voluntarily party to the farce of the state. We participate in it, and so we justify it as being good. It must be good, for we are involved, eh? When elections are presented before them, most dutifully go and pull the lever for one party or the other. Because they voted for the present coercers, they think they have the right to complain about the coercion. If they hear that you did not vote, you did not participate in the circus, they say that you have no right to complain about the coercing. They lie. (And they have a poor understanding of logic!)

We should determine whether we wish to be party to all this. If the answer is no, then we should withdraw our fealty from the state. We can reduce its footprint in our lives a great deal without directly confronting it. We can choose to be free men and women. We can refuse to grant the state its sheen of legitimacy. But after a lifetime of being surrounded by the all-powerful state, after years of education in state schools where we learned how good the USA is and how it carries the torch of freedom from coercion on behalf of the world, we have somewhat of a project in reeducating ourselves.

But if we do not reeducate ourselves, we will soon find that we lie too. We will join the liar-in-chief. We will begin to voluntarily strip our own children and grandchildren of their wealth and their freedoms. We will subject them to state schools and all the juicy “the state is good” programming. We’ll mess with their heads. We will perpetuate the myths.

The president is the leader of the national gang, 300 million liars. As far as the state goes, once we have seen its fallacies, it would be well, that is to say, moral, for us to exit the lemming horde. Hauerwas nailed it: we need to learn how to tell a counter story to the commonly accepted story of the United State and all the presumptions that underwrite the supposed necessity for what we call the nation-state system (See Stanley Hauerwas, After Chistendom, p. 150).

Ten Commandments and the Christian anarchist 9

The ninth commandment states

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour (Exodus 20:16).

In the “errata” for the Ten Commandments, this is expanded upon:

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit” (Exodus 23:1-3 ESV).

Bearing false witness has a very broad application, but here we see it particularly connected to judicial and social matters. To bear false witness is to pervert justice. Those who pervert justice are automatically on the wrong side of justice—and God. (He is always on the side of justice. He always combines justice and mercy.)

A false witness may prejudice the decision reached and cause an unfair sentence to be handed down. In Bible times, most decisions were rendered by single judges, but in our day, sentence rendered often via jury. Unfortunately, people in groups do not necessarily render impartial decisions. This very command indicates that a lying witness can bend the facts and sway the outcome.

The commandment reminds us that others—all others—are our neighbors. When we recall the command “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12), we again see that other people are our neighbors. There is a brotherhood. To put one’s hand against another for personal gain is a form of aggression. Since punitive action may be undertaken in a judicial process, to render false witness in support of such action is a violation of the well-known non-aggression axiom: That no one has the right to initiate the use of force against another person or his property.

To bear false witness is to deny this fundamental connection of all humans with all humans. It is not to seek peace with all men, but to seek to exploit judicial processes in a mercenary manner for the benefit of oneself. Some anarchists leave the impression that they see life as an arena in which it is every man for himself and survival of the fittest; the Christian anarchist cannot see himself alone in the world. He sees himself neither as apart from God nor from man. His eyes are wide open to the mischief and injustice so often wrought through collectives, but at the same time he is not blind to the inadequacy of unbridled individualism.

God’s law is seen here, as in many other of the Ten Commandments, to facilitate community. Remember that God’s law is a thumbnail sketch of His character. We are made in His image. The divine character is opposite the satanic character. The very essence of what Satan is, is a liar. He was a liar from the beginning of his apostasy, and made himself an accuser of the brethren. He is the paradigmatic image of one who bears false witness. The contrast is complete; God bears a true witness of others. In Him is only truth, only light; there is no shadow of turning in Him, no hidden dark spots.

To prevail in secular politics, one must be a skillful operator. That circle is a stagnant pool of institutionalized misrepresentation, a school is bearing false witness. Is it any wonder that the outcomes of the state are almost universally corrupting?

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