June 25th, 2013


Our Christian nation

In church last week we got to a story in the book of Acts that starts at the end of chapter 4:

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Then it goes on to tell the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, believers who sold all they had but didn't give quite all of it to the church, they lied about the price and held a little back. So God killed them.

It's not a story I'm terribly familiar with or one that gets quoted too often... about how members of the early church held all their possessions in common. But in our circles it was immediately brought up as a WTF because you basically have to totally ignore this fact if you want to think America is a "Christian Nation", especially if you're of a certain political persuasion who believes that 1) "I worked hard for what I have and I'd better not have it taken by some authority" and 2) we shouldn't really have separation of church and state, the Bible tells us JUST how to live our lives.

I'm no communist, trust me, I don't think there's any possible implementation that would make that system run smoothly. Even in this Bible story, things didn't work out, two believers couldn't resist the temptation to lie, and see what happened. But at least I advocate for a little more of a social safety net than the average fundamentalist Christian. They would look at this story and say it's purely a lesson about how you're not supposed to lie, ignoring the part about "no needy among them".

Likewise, when I read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, I don't see it as a condemnation of homosexuality since there are no simple consensual homosexual acts mentioned in the story, and there's even a part that spells out "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." It seems very clear to me what that story is about.

But others somehow find another interpretation.

Which is why in general I get sick of people wanting to make America a Christian nation, because there is no way we will ever be able to agree with what that means. Anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-tax, pro-gun, pro-war, pro-death penalty... how can anyone say that's the image that the Bible paints for us, in 100% of the pages?