On separation of Church and State

In my interactions with others who want to bring back virtue and order, I have often encountered the idea that separation of Church and State is antithetical to this goal. I have heard the same theory espoused by those of the opposite persuasion; claiming that Church and State must be kept separate–or driven further asunder–in order to prevent a return to virtue and order. (Or, as they sometime express it, to protect LGBT “rights.”)

I have considered this proposition thoroughly, and come to the opposite conclusion.

I believe, in the interest of virtue and order, we must keep separate Church and State.

Or, to put it another way, our generals must not be our bishops, and our bishops must not be our generals.

Our priests must not be our warriors, and our warriors must not be our priests.

Above all, our confessors must not be our executioners, and our executioners must not be our confessors.

I approach this from the perspective of a warrior, and as a man who knows many other warriors. Many of the best warriors I know are devout Christians. These men can be mighty to war only because they are not priests. They can execute a man only because they do not know the state of his soul. They may pray that The Lord might have mercy on a man’s soul even as they liberate it from his body.

A priest-executioner, on the other hand, would kill with the full and terrible knowledge of damning a soul.

And make no mistake, the executioner is the very embodiment of the State:

 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. —Romans 13:3-5 (KJV)

In contrast, the role of the Church is to guard your soul:

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. —Hebrews 13:7,17 (KJV)

As a warrior, I would love to enlist under the banner of a Christian state, yet I know that I could not be an effective warrior were I to try to be a warrior-priest. I would gladly serve under a Christian general, but not under a bishop-general.

In this sense, then, a separation between Church and State, between martial and ecclesiastical, between warriors and priests, is essential for a virtuous and orderly state–indeed, for a Christian one.

But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thouhast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. —1 Chronicles 28:3 (KJV)

11 thoughts on “On separation of Church and State

  1. Once upon a time, Government was small – the church recorded births amd marriages, and unless something criminal happened or a civil dispute, recording a deed or claim, or something with a foreign country, the government wasn’t involved, and there was that wall of separation.
    But the churches said “welfare is hard, it’s a depression”, or “people are sinning, though it isn’t now a crime (prohibition)”, so the wall was moved.
    Before, the wall was at the courthouse and surrounded it,
    Today the wall is at the church and surrounds it.

  2. Or, to put it another way, our generals must not be our bishops, and our bishops must not be our generals.

    Our priests must not be our warriors, and our warriors must not be our priests.

    Above all, our confessors must not be our executioners, and our executioners must not be our confessors.

    Fine. Except these have nothing to do with an Established Church. On the contrary, the reason you NEED an established church is to prevent these very things from happening. When you forcibly separate church and state–divorce things that cannot (even in theory) be divorced, the church gobbles up the state. By establishing a church (hierarchy, i.e., government) you circumscribe its power. This much power for the Bishop and no more. When you don’t do this, bishops multiply… and they all use their naturally privileged position (i.e., telling people what to think and how to feel) to gobble up more power which rightly belongs to the secular sovereign.

  3. @ NBS,

    When I say there should be a separation between Church and State, I mean only that separation which I proceed to lay out. As you noted, nothing I wrote has to do with an Established Church–that is beyond the scope of my point. Yet I note that your statement that

    When you forcibly separate church and state–divorce things that cannot (even in theory) be divorced, the church gobbles up the state.

    doesn’t match with observable reality. Certainly such a forcible divorce has been (wrongly) enforced in the US, yet it is risible to suggest that the church has gobbled up the state in the US.

  4. By “church” I mean the institutions and people that fill the sacerdotal psychological space (telling people what to think and how to feel). Obviously… it is not The Church, nor even “a church”, but an emergent pseudo-church, occupying the space normally occupied by a church, and empowered by the very fact that it’s not identified as a “church”.

  5. In short… we should definitely NOT have “separation of Church and State”. An established Church is the only (known) way to protect the State from “church” (ish) overreach.

  6. @ NBS

    By “church” I mean the institutions and people that fill the sacerdotal psychological space (telling people what to think and how to feel). Obviously… it is not The Church, nor even “a church”, but an emergent pseudo-church, occupying the space normally occupied by a church, and empowered by the very fact that it’s not identified as a “church”.

    Gotcha. I think we are in agreement here.

    In short… we should definitely NOT have “separation of Church and State”. An established Church is the only (known) way to protect the State from “church” (ish) overreach.

    I think you are using the phrase “separation of Church and State” as it is commonly used, which is explicitly not what I mean. The type of separation I describe and advocate is perfectly compatible with an established church, which is why I stated that discussing whether or not there should be an established church is beyond the scope of my point.

  7. OK. So you’re saying we shouldn’t have a theocracy. I totally agree… And I’m saying… a theocracy is exactly what we do have (cf. Politically correct outcomes in the military) because we don’t have an established church.

  8. @ NBS,

    I see two competing definitions of theocracy in use
    1) Civil authorities are informed by a particular religion and enforce morals and rules of that religion.
    2) The priests of a particular religion are the civil authorities

    I agree with you that what we currently have is a progressive theocracy in the first sense, and perhaps starting to trend towards the second sense. Far be it from me to defend the status quo. But I’m not really against a theocracy in the first sense in principle. What I’m advocating can exist in the first type of theocracy–it did, for instance, in the ancient Israelite one, where Priests and Judges were distinct in roles and not at all confusable. The Judges were appointed from “all Israel” (Ex 18:25) and judged within their own tribes, while the Priests came from the tribe of Levi and served the entire nation.

  9. No. I’d say we have a progressive theocracy in the second sense. You do not obtain meaningful amounts of power in the current regime without attending an accredited “seminary”, aquiescing (at least implicitly) to a slate of “religous dogmas”, and submitting oneself to the final authority of the “religious” body to decide all future questions of “doctrine”. We are literally ruled by progressive priests, in academia, media, government, the military and NGOs. America is literally a theocracy. It is not an allegory.

    The first sense is not a theocracy at all. It’s just… normal government. Tho’ of course for the civil authorities to enforce the rules of a particular religion requires the existence of sovereign rulers over that religion, which in general low church religion doesn’t have. So that’s a big part of the problem. Low church religion leads, I think, inexorably to this sort of anarcho-theocracy.

  10. @ NBS,

    No. I’d say we have a progressive theocracy in the second sense. You do not obtain meaningful amounts of power in the current regime without attending an accredited “seminary”, aquiescing (at least implicitly) to a slate of “religous dogmas”, and submitting oneself to the final authority of the “religious” body to decide all future questions of “doctrine”. We are literally ruled by progressive priests, in academia, media, government, the military and NGOs. America is literally a theocracy. It is not an allegory.

    I have to disagree. I think the trend is that way, but that we are currently ruled by the true believers rather than the priests. I was going to give some specific examples, but I think it’s better here just to say that I’ve met a number of non-progressives, and a few anti-progressives in positions of real power. You know how to reach me privately if you want me to elaborate.

  11. @NBS

    By “church” I mean the institutions and people that fill the sacerdotal psychological space (telling people what to think and how to feel). Obviously… it is not The Church, nor even “a church”, but an emergent pseudo-church, occupying the space normally occupied by a church, and empowered by the very fact that it’s not identified as a “church”.

    By this standard, every government is a sort of church. There are no governments that do not tell people what to think or how to feel about some things.

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