You’re sitting at home with your feet kicked up, your favorite theologian’s book in your lap. Your wife is doing something in the kitchen, but you pay no mind. It’s the sabbath, a day of rest. Everyone knows it’s a time of rest, no work allowed.
Suddenly you hear the screeching of tires on the street. You look out to see black SUVs stopped in front of your house. Your heart sinks. It’s the FSE!
“Honey”, you cry in exasperation, “what did you do?!?!”
“I don’t know!” she exclaims.
You look towards the counter. “Sweety, did you… turn the dishwasher on?”
“FSE, OPEN UP!!!!!” Bang bang bang.
The federal agent pounds away at your door. Unfortunately you and your sweet wife are too stunned with shock to answer. You stay frozen in fear as the pounding becomes more manic. All of a sudden the door gets kicked in. With guns drawn men in black fatigues storm past the splintered remains of the front door and order you on your belly. You put your hands behind your head in compliance as a Federal Sabbath Enforcement agent reads you your Miranda rights.
Is this what a modern nation would look like under Christian Nationalism? If the above sounds ridiculous, good! That’s what I was going for. But my use of satire here is not to poke fun at Christian Nationalism critics who are rightly concerned about the role of government, specifically the federal government, in a Christian Nation. Rather my intent is to show how Christian Nationalists share your concern about the role of the federal government in a Christian nation as well.
There is not a single serious Christian Nationalist that I am aware of who wants a top down federally enforced Christianity. There will be no forced conversions. We do not want federal agencies designed to enforce different facets of the Mosaic Law. No Mixed Fabric Inspectors. No AI robot police dogs monitoring our neighborhoods looking for underground mormons or muslims meeting in secret.
The Establishment Clause, which folks like to argue means we can’t have a Christian Nation (it doesn’t), is a very important ordinance that we’ve inherited from our western Christian heritage. We cannot be enforcing a specific brand of Christianity, be it Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox, on a national or federal level. A Christian Nation would be very much in line with the Libertarian’s dream of a small, limited government which abdicates as much responsibility as it can to state and local authorities. The federal government would be much, much smaller in a Christian Nation.
I would argue a limited government is very biblical, deeply rooted in Scripture. If you’ll humor me, I’d like to take a passage from the Law that I believe illustrates this point.
1“If in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess someone is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities. 3 And the elders of the city that is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer that has never been worked and that has not pulled in a yoke. 4 And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled. 6 And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, 7 and they shall testify, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it shed. 8 Accept atonement, O LORD, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’ 9 So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.
We do not believe that this means whenever we find a dead body we have to kill a cow. I am arguing there are underlying principles in this law that demonstrate local communities are responsible to adhere to God’s law.
Read that last verse again. In order to purge the guilt of innocent blood in their midst, the Israelites had to make atonement, even though they themselves did not commit the murder. Did all of the Israelites bear this responsibility? No, go back to verse 2. The elders and judges had to measure which city was closest to the scene of the crime, maybe use a surveyor. Whichever city was the closest to the dead body, that city bore the responsibility. They had to go to the Lord in order to purge the guilt of the innocent blood from their midst. The idea being that failure to do so would incur God’ judgment on that local town or city
God holds local communities responsible for their neighbors. It’s every citizen’s job to seek justice on behalf of themselves and their neighbors. In our society today, this is inverted. If we have a problem with our neighbor, we call the cops. They’re too loud? Call the cops. Someone looks like they’re living in their car at the public library parking lot? Call the cops. The police are called to solve an incredible amount of problems, problems that local community members could undertake to solve. But we prefer the more sterile option of calling the cops. That way we don’t have to face our neighbor. We can stay anonymous and chastise our neighbors for bad behavior through badge-wearing intermediaries. This is not, and was never God’s design. This is an abomination of justice.
Under a Christian Nation, local problems are solved at the local level. We do not want to federally enforce the tenants of the Christian faith. Does God expect America-the-nation to undertake certain responsibilities? I will argue in future letters that yes, he does. But a good rule of thumb is to handle things at the lowest level possible. That sounds like some modern glib management advice, but we see this wisdom pronounced by Moses’ father in law in Exodus 18 (Which is why we have lower courts in the English common law system).
So rest assured, fellow believer, that your Christian Nationalist brothers and sisters do not want Federal Sabbath Enforcers. What does a Christian Nation look like then? I’ll tell you in my next letter.
Your Local Christian Nationalist