The Church Militant lives in the Kingdom of the Left. That is, the Church of Christ on earth, consisting of all who believe and trust that He is their Savior, exists within the framework of secular and worldly laws and rulers that encompass life on earth. Christians live beside non-Christians, under the same laws.
Individually, Christians have as much interest in laws and justice as everyone else does. The mission of the Church is different. It revolves around the message of the Gospel. When we believe that message, that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, gave His perfect life upon the cross as the sole, sufficient payment for the guilt of the whole world, then God has made us members of the Church, and we possess all of His gifts. On the other hand, the faith that receives this greatest of all gifts in a completely passive way, does not remain passive in our life as Christians.
Christian faith must be active, and that activity takes place in the Kingdom of the Left, within that framework of laws and justice that defines civil society. The activity of our faith is directed by a conscience informed by Holy Scripture. That’s one of the reasons we teach the Ten Commandments in our catechesis: to inform and guide our actions of faith.
When we study the Ten Commandments, they teach us that the Kingdom of the Left — our government — exists as a gift from God, having certain responsibilities that represent His blessings upon us when they are fulfilled. For example, the Fourth Commandment describes not only our responsibility to figures of authority, but implies that they exist to serve our well-being. The Fifth Commandment shows that human life is to be protected, even by our government, when it is not fulfilling its greater responsibility in the Fourth Commandment. The Sixth Commandment reveals that God would also have government protect and encourage lifelong marriage, obviously between one man and one woman. That relationship provides the context for the basic meaning of the Fourth Commandment, “your father and your mother,” so that the institution of marriage is fundamental to civil society itself. The Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Commandments show that God would have government enforce the respect of private property, which is the fruit of our labor. The Eighth shows that God hold government responsible for protecting the good name of its citizens.
God blesses every citizen, Christian or not, when government fulfills these responsibilities. What’s more, Christians are then better able to live our their active faith in love toward their neighbors. Yet before any of those commandments, God commanded that we have only one God, and that we sanctify His name and His Word in their proper and daily uses. If this is forbidden or suppressed in the Kingdom of the Left, then Christians must disobey the errant earthly authority in order to obey the greater authority of God. Certainly, this will result in hardship or even death, especially when the earthly authority is not interested in justice or the other responsibilities that God has given it. It is for that reason that the Bill of Rights is such a blessing to the Church, in particular the First Amendment, guaranteeing the freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion. Of slightly less interest to Christians is the Second and subsequent amendments, which also exist to provide citizens the means to protect their individual freedoms in the rest.
These days, people seem more concerned about the “establishment clause” of the first amendment, prohibiting the government from establishing a national religion — or a state religion, as the Supreme Court has further interpreted it. However, just as important as the “establishment clause” is the “free exercise clause,” which forbids the national (or state) government from prohibiting the free exercise of an individual’s religion. The clause assumes that the religion in question does not threaten the freedoms of other citizens. Especially in this area, Christians in the Church Militant should be concerned and involved in the American government, because it applies directly to the activity and scruples of faith.
For an application of this concern, see Gene Edward Veith’s blog post about how the federal Equal Opportunity Commission is requiring Roman Catholic institutions to pay for birth control in their health insurance plans. You may be tempted to consider it “someone else’s problem” if you’re not Roman Catholic, but that would be unwise. A government willing to ignore the free exercise clause in the case of Roman Catholics will not hesitate to ignore it in the case of Lutherans, Reformed, Evangelicals, Orthodox, etc.