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)