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Feb 22: Two Moralities: Separation of Church and State

What is it our pulpits are not addressing? Christian radio program Vision Viewpoint, a ministry of Reformation Hope Church in Hartford, WI, takes a continued look at why the different spheres of culture are deteriorating, and what the Christian church is called to do about it.

One of the things the pulpits aren’t addressing is this issue of two moralities: private and public. But in response to this we’re told: “Wait, that would violate the separation of church and state!” But let’s deal with the former issue first: are there two different moralities?

In the book of Proverbs, the father teaching his son, says this: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Furthermore, he goes on in the same chapter, teaching his son that it’s important to understand that public morality is just as important as private morality. They should both be consistent, speaking the same voice – in this case, grounded in the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:20-23 says, “Wisdom cries outside, she utters her voice in the streets, she cries in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city, she utters her words, saying, ‘How long you simple ones, will you love simplicity? And scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.’”

It’s clear that the Scripture expect the same morality, public and private. But the objection is raised: what about separation of church and state? Well, the phrase is not found in the Constitution, but that’s really not the issue, is it? The fear was that somehow the church would take over the state – an ungrounded fear, especially in this country, when for the first almost 200 years, our courts, including the Supreme Court, recognized that this was a Christian nation.

In fact, in the case of the Church of the Holy Trinity v. the United States (1892), the United States Supreme Court made this statement: “This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is a Christian nation.”

In fact, in the case of the Church of the Holy Trinity v. the United States (1892), the decision that was made not only stated that this was a Christian nation, but a rather lengthy list of Christianizing efforts in the history and heritage of our people was listed in some detail. It was not simply talking about the Pilgrims. It went back to Columbus, right on through the Puritans of New England, the Presbyterians of Maryland, the Baptists, and others, and discoursed on the fact that William Penn received his charter so that people could be truly happy in the enjoyment of their religious professions and worship.

The Declaration of Independence is cited as demonstrating that this was, and is, a Christian nation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” What’s more, later on in the Declaration of Independence, the writers appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions, and for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

The fact of the matter is that the court repeatedly has stated that this is a Christian nation. In a quote from  Degraff v. the Commonwealth, it was decided that, “Christianity, general Christianity, is and always has been, part of the common law. Not Christianity with an established Church, but Christianity with liberty of conscious to all men.”

Our pulpits haven’t told us that. We’ve allowed the public morality to decline, to give preference to the private. The final result has been the loss of both.

Vision Viewpoint, a ministry of Reformation Hope Church in Hartford, WI, continues its Christian radio program series that looks at how the pulpits of the church have failed to instruct its congregations in handling the spiritual matters of morality in the public sector.

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