on morality and government

One of the intellectual trends in Christianity today I find particularly curious is the general tendency to regard government as completely benign when it is expending revenues on social welfare projects and as completely corrupt when it is expending revenues on national security or on the development of business enterprises. Unless those businesses are receiving development funds for favored endeavors, in which case it is the sort of enlightened subsidy of business government should expend revenues on.

This has been captured in recent years by a variety of slogans and concepts about what Christians should support in government action and what they should oppose. What I find curious is the extent to which those slogans and concepts align along party lines in the United States. This seems remarkably improbable, if Christian thinking stands over against earthly entities and powers.

More likely, in my opinion, is that this sort of sloganeering and advocacy represents the result of a way of thinking about the world that privileges a specific set of concerns to the exclusion of considering anything else. The concept of the moral is restricted to what advances a particular set of concerns. Concepts of morality that would lead to a different course of action are ignored or disregarded. The problem makes itself clear in short-sided considerations to the detriment of the long-term.

It is admittedly difficult to make decisions based on the fullest set of conditions and considerations as possible. Timothy Dalrymple begins to explore this complexity in this post. It’s a useful corrective to so much over-simplified commentary on how to understand the U.S. Federal Government budget, deficit spending, and debt load.

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