Just Remember What Country We’re Really From, and The “Wag the Dog” War That Didn’t Work

Chuck Colson is trying to making things complicated for Evangelicals:

So do we retreat into our sanctuaries? Political columnist Cal Thomas, among others, says we should forget the idea of changing culture through politics and just be the church: help the poor, visit those in prison, and so on. To that I say an emphatic “No!” Rather, we should learn from Scripture how God taught the Jews in Babylonian exile to behave: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters … multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city … and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer. 29:5-7, ESV).

That means we are to be good citizens, praying for and obeying the state. In doing so, we may impact our leaders powerfully, just as Daniel influenced King Nebuchadnezzar when he was appointed to serve him.

And as God commanded the Israelites, we must also build up and disciple our families at a time when most of the West is in a destructive demographic decline. Close friends of mine, Jack and Rhodora Donahue, consciously decided to raise and disciple a Christian family. Their 13 children have given them 83 grandchildren and growing numbers of great-grandchildren. Not one is weak in the faith; several are priests and almost all others work in lay ministries. The Donahues quip that they have invaded occupied territory, Satan’s domain, with their own brood. Would that every Christian parent approach child rearing that way.

I say “make complicated” because I don’t think that most Americans–and that includes Colson–really grasp the true meaning of what the New Testament says regarding our relationship to the state.  It’s a subject I discussed over three years ago in Church and State: A Slightly Different View.   Since that time we have developed what is effectively a one-party state, with no relief in sight.

But there’s the opportunity: we need to realise that, while the God we serve is permanent, our state is transient.  We may be, in human terms, in a purely reactive mode inside the U.S., but we are moving forward elsewhere.  We need to be Christians first and devote our time and resources to the advancement of God’s kingdom rather than trying to rebuild what we’ve lost.  Unlike the bridge over the River Kwai, we don’t need to be building up our enemies any more than we have to.  Unfortunately, in this country too much of our view of who we are and our relationship with God is tied up in our national identity.  Since we are dealing with people who want to separate the two, give them what they ask for and see how they like it.

While on the subject of states, the State of Israel seems to be going in the opposite direction to the U.S., since Benjamin Netanyahu has the upper hand to form a government.  That having taken place, it seems appropriate to bring up something else the U.S. media has overlooked: the fact that, in many ways, the invasion of Gaza was instigated by Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni to show they were strong on security and blunt Netanyahu’s Likud Party.  It’s obvious that this didn’t quite work according to plan.

It’s obvious that, when you have an opponent that likes to shoot rockets into your towns and cities, you have to make some kind of response.  But Hamas has been doing this for a long time.  And people who consider dividing Jerusalem and other major concessions don’t seem to be the optimal people to start “tough guy” (or girl in this case) wars.  It’s a similar situation Bill Clinton faced with the Kossovo War; he started it, like the movie Wag the Dog, to deflect attention from his problems with Monica Lewinsky.  It worked: he survived impeachment.

“Wag the Dog wars” stink.  It’s that simple, irrespective of the nobility or necessity of the cause.  Starting a war for political gain is basically asking people to fight and die for your political party, or you personally as a politician.

But there’s a silver lining to this cloud.  It’s noteworthy that the biggest advance in Israel-Arab peace–the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt–was done by Menachem Begin, the crusty veteran of the creation of the State of Israel who headed up Likud.  So perhaps it’s time to stop “wagging the dog” and start working from a position of resolve.

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