Against 'Christian Anarchy'

Against 'Christian Anarchy'

In reply to Bonnie Kristian
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In a recent piece at The Week, Bonnie Kristian argues that 2016 America’s political absurdness has an important lesson for Christians. On the way to her core argument, Kristian gets several points right: Hillary Clinton’s views on both foreign and domestic policy align poorly with America’s Christian left. Religious Right support for Donald Trump totally betrays conventional religious-conservative arguments about the importance of moral character in public office. Since neither of the major-party candidates is commendable in any existing Christian political theology, Kristian argues, it’s clearer than ever that mixing Christian hope with politics is in fact a form of idolatry.

More specifically: Christians must realize “that following Jesus means our sole, overwhelming allegiance is due to God, not the state. It means that the business of the kingdom of heaven must be our occupation, not the affairs of any earthly country.” In other words: either we can love God or be loyal to government; either we can pursue the kingdom of God or get involved in our world’s political affairs.

To my Catholic ears, this ‘Christian anarchy’ sounds awfully ignorant of both-and: there’s no recognition that aligning ourselves with a state’s work might be a way of aligning ourselves with God’s purposes. There’s no acknowledgement of how the Kingdom of God’s earthly implications overlap with the societal realities that concern politics, and how a government might help to bring about God’s justice. There’s no evident consideration that among the ten-thousand places Christ plays might be the hands of public office.

Of course, Christians must refuse both absolute idolatry of the state (wherein the state, like God, can only act rightly) and total apathy about the quality of public life (which betrays the command to “love your neighbor as yourself”). Kristian is quick to clarify that ‘Christian anarchy’ does not entail apathy about public life: she quotes Greg Boyd’s commendations that Christians embody a “unique way of living” that involves “bringing about God’s will ‘on Earth as it is in heaven’ by imitating [Jesus].”

Boyd’s insight only calls for ‘Christian anarchy’ if one presumes that such small-scale imitation of Jesus is the only legitimate form of Christian social action and social vision. But it doesn’t require that presumption, and one needn’t embrace that presumption to support such localized civic action: Church teaching has long used the term “subsidiarity” in appreciation of localized forms of solidarity. And with that appreciation comes an understanding that, to paraphrase Marilynne Robinson, Jesus did not limit the scope of possible means to aid the needy, with whom he identified himself. We should discern where local levels of service are the best choices, but we should not feel restricted to them.

So ultimately I take ‘Christian anarchy’ to be mistaken. ‘Christian anarchists’ are of course right to critique governmental corruption and to rebuke Christians who lionize immoral figures just so they’ll be aligned with political power. But turning totally against government will blind us to fresh efforts toward more genuinely Christian forms of politics. No, we must not put our whole hope in politics - but nor should we despair.

Cover Image Credit: First Presbyterian Church of Flint

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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I Could Brag, But Why Should I?

Being humble instead of a handful.

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When it comes to the opportunities that have been presented to me, I have always been someone who prefers to remain levelheaded and grateful. I have never been the type of person to take things for granted, because I always knew that nothing is guaranteed to me, or to anyone, and nothing is permanent. This can, in part, be attributed to growing up part of a family that had been affected by cancer.

I have been able to remain humble, and I am, quite frankly, really proud of myself for that.

I have crossed paths with many people throughout my life who grew up in a manner that one might refer to as privileged or spoiled. Some of these people really showed it. I cannot speak for all of them, and it would be wrong to do so, because this generalization is one that feeds into negativity. However, I can fairly say that I have spent time with people who grew up in a world where all they knew was getting what they wanted, and honestly, I don't envy this.

When I was young, I dreamed of having a life where everything goes right. I think all of us have dreams like this at some point.

But as time went on, I began to realize, just like anyone, that life just simply doesn't work this way. Or at least, not for most of us. And you know what? That's okay. Actually, that's great. I think it's better that way.

The struggles and strife are what keep us appreciative of the other end of the spectrum. Without the bad, how do we learn to appreciate the good?

I could sit here and tell you I've been through a lot.

I could sit here and write all of the sob stories, the heartbreaks, the grief, the losses, the undeserved backstabs. I could ask for your pity, or your sympathy. But I won't, because that's not the point.

All of us have been through some sh*t, when it comes down to it. But what is telling is how we come out on the other side. Whether we allow those experiences to harden us and turn us into stone, or whether we take those experiences, let them shape our outlook, and use them as tools to grow into softer, wiser, more humble human beings, especially when we find ourselves in a time where things begin to go right for us.

I like to think I am the latter.

Right now, I find myself living the best life that I have thus far, and to be painfully honest here, I could brag. If I wanted to, I could brag about my wonderful friends and the incredible people I have in my life, whether they have been around for a while or only just joined the crew. I could brag about being able to follow my heart in New York City, which is home to my college campus and my dream summer internship. I could go on about the people I get to meet, the things I do, the places I go.

But what's the point? Why should I brag? To establish some bizarre feeling of superiority? To put myself on a pedestal? To use what the universe has brought me as a means of making others feel worse or inferior?

Why the hell would I want to do that? Why would anyone?

In times where we find our hearts happy and our lives fulfilled, sure, it can be easy to fall into a mindset that leads you to believe you are "better than". The real test is fighting this.

I can't say I have never given in and allowed myself to adopt that feeling. I don't really think any of us can sit here and pretend we have never ever acted superior, or felt it. We are human, after all.

But I don't think it is right to allow that feeling to take over, and I don't ever want to let that happen.

When that feeling takes over, we lose our graciousness. Our gratefulness. Our humbleness and humanity. We lose the things that make us, down to our cores, human.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound so good to me.

So, I will continue my daily commute thanking the universe for allowing me to have that. Even when the train is delayed, or the PATH train is crowded, or the tour groups take over the city sidewalks. I will continue to sit at my desk on days when work is slow and I will thank the universe for even giving me that desk, or that work.

I will continue to thank the universe for everything it brings me, because why shouldn't I?

Why shouldn't we all?

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