26 June 2006

A Rambling Rant on Christian Social Action

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

In a comment on my last post, marshwiggle wrote:
I tend to believe that man is essentially the same as he was two thousand years ago. Then again, I only think that because history simply records the same power grabs and cruelty over and over again. Can change be accomplished? Yes, but only through self-interest.
But my point earlier was that if change can be accomplished, then by definition, these specific social problems are not essential to humanity. That is, they do not have to occur to all humans.
Ironically, the best way to preach social change is either on the grounds of religion- i.e. ethics handed down by higher authority and seeking to please that god by doing things to please him/her, financial interests i.e. this will bring me more money, or increased power, i.e. this will make me one of the elite or make everyone equal
(There's a pretty enormous moral difference between these two things, isn't there?)
(this usually only appeals to the ones who feel subjugated, or the last method shown to work- violence- change because I will hurt/kill you otherwise. Since religion tends to be despicable to the progressive movement, along with capitalism (the financial method) you are left with socialism's empty power sharing promises or violence.. Am I forgetting a proven method of change? Enlighten me. :)
Well, as far as you and I are concerned, there's the power of Christ in the lives of His followers. Because all the methods you mentioned depend on a leveraging of human power, they are dependent on our fallible ability to make them work. But I believe that social change impelled by Christ's love is not something that will ever be ineffective; the Implementor of this method simply does not fail.

How, then, should we act politically as followers of Christ? I would argue that it is our duty to act in a way that demonstrates our love for mankind -- and I don't really see laissez-faire capitalism, for instance, as an especially loving system -- in order that people may see our good works and glorify our father who is in heaven.

I don't advocate a massive socialist welfare state, but it seems like it'd be nice to create a system where poor people aren't required to stay poor, no matter how hard they try to get ahead. It seems like it would be nice to have a health care system that is affordable even for the poorest (instead of for those who will get along somehow anyway).

And perhaps legislation isn't the best way to effect this change. Maybe, in theory, a privatized system would work as well. All I know is that something needs to change, and legislation seems easiest to implement. The status quo is harsh at best. There are people in the U.S. (to say nothing of elsewhere) who die because they can't afford operations, pharmaceuticals, or other necessities of life.

Reform needs to happen, and who better to undertake it than the salt and light? Why shouldn't we see social change as a Christian duty?


The Lizard Queen said...

Why shouldn't we see social change as a Christian duty?

Indeed, indeed. Anyone looking for an example of a progressive Christian need look no further than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He--and the Civil Rights movement in general--stands as proof that religion is not by any means anathema to social progression, and vice-versa.

marshwiggle said...

hmm.. but if legislation is the answer... which you admit it may not be... but if it was.. and christians are pushing for social change because of their beliefs... are we not back to legislating our morality?

luaphacim said...

Touché, marshwiggle. That's the main reason that it seems like other forms of social change would be superior... but, at the same time, the legislation would benefit everyone without necessarily penalizing any specific people or abridging any specific group's rights. So I suppose that could be a counter-argument, if one were inclined to make one.

marshwiggle said...

hmm. Perhaps my point was too lightly made. I agree with you that Christians should work to make the world a better place, one that is more pleasing to their Father. So let the objections to legislating morality be damned. If my morals can make the world a better place, then the fools that object to my work because my religion doesn't match their values can use their own programs.. Why stop the good that my God wants because you don't like my God?