With political season kicking off again, so is the season where folks begin to use the term “Christian nation.” Some claim we were one, some claim we are one, and some say we need to become one. Yet, each time I hear that phrase I have an inner Princess Bride moment where I say to myself, “you keep using that word, but it doesn’t mean what you think it means.”
Because truth be told, if America actually were to become a Christian nation, I don’t think the people who advocated for it would be too happy with the end product. Since Christian is supposed to mean “little Christ” or “Christ follower,” we actually have a way to offer some clear cut examples of what a Christian nation would look like– because all we have to do is look at what Jesus taught, and how Jesus lived, as a model to pattern national behavior.
So, what if we became a Christian nation? Well, a few things would have to change… drastically. Here’s a few quick examples:
We’d Have To Abolish the 2nd Amendment.
The 2nd Amendment is so beloved by American Christians that this alone would likely be the sticking point preventing us from ever becoming a Christian nation. Jesus taught his disciples that they were to never use violence to respond to evil (Matthew 5:39) and that they were to actively love their enemies. He also lived a life of nonviolent enemy love as a model for us to follow– and living our lives patterned after how he lived his is the ultimate proof that we belong to God (1John 2:6). A Christian nation would have no room for the 2nd Amendment.
We’d Have to Replace the Department of Defense with the Department of Enemy Love.
Refraining from killing one’s enemies is just part of the package with Jesus- he also taught that enemy love was to be an active love. He taught his disciples that they were to bless their enemies, serve their enemies, and actively do good things for them. In this regard, disbanding our military would be the first thing a Christian nation would do, but the second thing would be that they would begin actively loving enemies. Converting the Department of Defense into the Department of Enemy Love and using those billions of dollars to bless the world- particularly the Muslim world- would be a good start towards having a nation that looked like Jesus.
We’d Have to End Capital Punishment.
Of course, there would be no capital punishment in a Christian Nation because Christ is the one who disrupted a public execution and told the executioners that only a perfect person was qualified to serve in the role of executioner (John 8:7). This means the role of legitimate executioners has been vacant ever since, and would not exist in a Christian nation.
Eradicating Poverty Would Be One of Our Most Pressing Concerns.
In Matthew 25 Jesus gives us a picture of the final judgement day, and describes the scene as he gathers “all nations” before him. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending which side you end up on) Jesus doesn’t give the nations a theology exam. However, he does judge them based upon whether or not they took care of the poor and vulnerable– and those who did not (professing Christians) are told to “depart.” A Christian nation would remember that feeding hungry people is one of the boxes on Jesus’s judgement day score card.
We’d Freely Care for the Sick.
Healing people of illnesses was one of the central aspects of Jesus’s earthly ministry. Any nation worthy of calling itself a Christian nation would also be a nation who freely and indiscriminately provided healthcare for the sick and lame, just as Jesus. Jesus even freely healed a man who was paralyzed because of his own stupid life choices (John 5:14), so any Christian nation would be extremely generous in the provision of healthcare.
We’d Become The Most Loving Nation Toward Immigrants.
That passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus judges the nations? Welp, one of the other items on the score sheet is “welcoming immigrants” (Matthew 25:35). A Christian nation would be seen as the most pro-immigrant nation on earth.
We’d Do Away with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Kids all across the country begin their days by standing, facing a piece of fabric, and taking a pledge to give their allegiance to it. In a Christian nation however, we would recognize that it is impossible to serve two masters and would be repulsed at the idea of pledging our allegiance to anyone but Jesus himself. Furthermore, we wouldn’t take oaths in a Christian nation (Matthew 5:34), so the entire practice of pledging allegiance to the flag would seem creepy to us.
We’d Pay Our Taxes Without Complaining About It.
It seems many of those who *think* they want America to be a Christian nation see taxation as a form of thievery, but when Jesus weighed in on the issue (speaking within a culture that had a high taxation rate) he simply noted that we should pay to Caesar whatever belongs to him. Jesus had his big moment to expose the evils of taxation and missed it- essentially telling his followers to pay it and move on. In a Christian nation, we’d all be like Jesus: telling people to pay their taxes.
As over-the-top as some of these seem, they’re all things that Jesus directly taught and modeled for us to emulate. Any Christian nation, by definition, would have to be a nation that lived out the teachings and example of Jesus, and would be a radical anomaly on the world scene.
So, politicians can use the term “Christian nation” all they want, but I don’t think any of them understand what the term actually means– nor do I think any of them would find a Christian nation appealing.
A Christian nation doesn’t exist, nor will one ever exist. However, the Kingdom of God does exist, right here, right now– and you’re invited to live within it, where all of those above things are lived and practiced already.
America would NOT look like this. Theocracies are oppressive because they demand conformity and they always make war against those who disagree with them. It would be ugly, not nice.
google Christian reconstructionism
I don’t read anything there that I would disagree with, so I don’t know if you are agreeing or disagreeing with my statement. If you google Dominionism you will find a whole other breed of Theocracy and I wonder if these two are really just brothers of the same mother. If the one believes the government has authority over moral law, then I see people like me being thrown off buildings and beaten in the town square. Then we are back in the Dark Ages like much of the Middle East. Maybe that is what some religious people want. We really don’t know until it is too late. I like freedom just the way our founding fathers established it in the Constitution. From my knowledge of the Bible, at least half of the Constitution would be burned, along with a good number of us unbelievers.
There are very few if any denominations that define Christianity as the content of The Sermon On The Mount.
We are not and never were a Christian nation! Our forefathers were Deists. They did not want a state religion, they were fleeing a state religion in England.
“…he simply noted that we should pay to Caesar whatever belongs to him.” Pay Caesar what belongs to him? So can you tell me what exactly belongs to him? Is it anything with his image on it? I assume you are referring to the “Render unto Caesar…” passage. That being the case then every dollar in our pockets should be rendered to “Caesar” because it bears the likeness of “Caesar”. As Dorothy Day so aptly put it – “If we rendered unto God all the things that belong to God, there would be nothing left for Caesar.” And I’ll add to it by saying that Jesus admonished US to help the poor, not arm Caesar to do it.
If America were a Christian nation, there would be no health care problem because we would all be Samaritans taking care of our neighbors.
If America were a Christian nation, there would be no poverty because justice would reign throughout the land.
Alas, we are a nation that worships Almighty Dollar.
Substitute “Christian” with “moral” and you would see these problems you mention go away. Christians don’t always seem to do the right thing by humanity.
A most thoughtful proposition indeed.