It was not until I first left the states that I realized how differently the rest of the world views our nation. We are Babylon. We are Rome. In a very real way, the political and economic systems that we propagate and fight for are nothing less than Anti-Christian. I realize that this must seem like another Anti-American rant, but I assure you that I do not hate my country. My citizenship is a blessing that I will never fully appreciate, and the opportunities that life in the United States grants are unparalleled in any country at any point in history. However, perhaps because of the Anabaptist origins of my faith, I have a fear and an aversion to the gospel of power and prosperity that are so often preached in our faith. The idea that God’s primary concern is in “blessing me” (or blessing America) strikes me as both indulgent and unbiblical. While I firmly believe Paul when he writes that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love him”, I recall no place in which scripture tells us that God always heals, always rewards, or always answers our every prayer. The idea that God wishes us to be rich and prosperous stands in direct opposition to everything I understand Christ to be teaching. In the words of Atheist philosopher Sam Harris, “Christian values [are] belied by other indices of social equality…many a camel, it would seem, expects to pass easily through the eye of a needle.”
Tolstoy would assert that, as Christians, it is against our faith to recognize ourselves as a part of the state. He advocates a complete separation of the Church from the State, in the sense that we would refuse to participate in the political, economic, and military institutions of the nation. We would only observe those laws which we must. While I feel that this goes too far, I do strongly identify with the notion of abstaining from our rights in the government and “duty” in the military. I cannot support the notion that the principalities and powers of the world can be made to serve Kingdom values.
I seek to live this belief out in two ways: First, to the greatest degree possible, I remove myself from the political system. I am not registered to vote nor will I register. In not taking my right to select those in office, I seek to demonstrate my belief that these men and women do not represent me or my interests. My interests are (hopefully) in Kingdom values, and as such are counter to the systems of government in their fallen state. However, in giving up my right to elect officials, I must also give up my right to lobby for or against any policy or legislation. I recognize the sovereignty of American laws in American states and any civil disobedience on my part must be in reaction to injustice only and I must be willing to pay full penalty.
Secondly, as a Christian, my conscience does not allow me to participate in the military. In professing that God is Lord and creator of the whole world, I find that I cannot and will not bear arms against any child of God. Love of enemies does not permit for the slaughter of another life, and this is a value that I am willing to die for. I must state however, that I have nothing but the highest respect for those individuals who are in the military. Service to one’s country is an act of bravery, and such men and women should be held in the highest esteem. It is not soldiers I am against, but the system which says that the State’s interests have precedence over human life. I am willing to give my life and my allegiance to only one Kingdom, it is not America.