With Thanksgiving around the corner, I have decided to pause and ponder what I am thankful for. Here it is:
I am thankful for the separation of church and state.
As the government continues to debate healthcare reform, especially as it concerns abortion initiatives, the Church has stepped in to voice its opinion and make certain demands. Or in the case of the Catholic Church, in DC they are threatening to withdraw social aid from the city should legislation on samesex marriage pass. Here in Washington, the debate ranges over samesex marriage as well. For example, if samesex marriage passes here, clergy will not be allowed to decline marrying a couple based on their sexuality.
I love the separation of church and state. I am willing to fight forcefully to protect my church from my state, and to protect my state from my church. I do not believe that my state should be allowed to dictate what my church can or cannot do (within reason of course. If my church began to practice child sacrifice, then maybe my state should step in). Neither do I think my church should be able to dictate what my state can and cannot do.
Here's how I stand: The state and the church need each other. The church should always be in service to the people, and the people belong to the state. I believe we of the church should continue to offer our advice on morality, but without contingencies. We should not say, "Do this or we will do that". In the same way, the state should consider our advice, as citizens of this country, and not as advocates of religions. Neither should the state be able to force the church to participate in certain legislation. Unless the church is actually causing harm, there should be no state interference in the practices of the church.
This means that I do not think people should be able to sue the church if the church says you cannot accept Eucharist as a divorced person, or as a homosexual (although church you should allow divorcees and homosexuals at your table). This also means that I think people should back off things like the ten commandments on the capitol building, or In God We Trust on our money, and all the other petty crap we pick fights about. At some point we must set aside all of our issues with each other and remember that we are all Americans. We are not all religious. But some of us are, and that is our prerogative. So let the senate open in prayer if they want to, because its our prerogative. If your church doesn't like you because you are gay, then ditch them and worship with people who love you.
Last thing: I love my church and my Church. I disagree with some things, but I submit because I am one little me and the Church has been the Church much longer than I have been me. And the Church is much more than I will ever be because the Church is us. So although I think that priests should be allowed to marry (I've thought about this more and I've decided that priest who only want to serve on a local level should be allowed to marry, but if you want to move up in the hierarchy of the church you must remain celibate), that my father should be allowed to receive Eucharist (he's divorced...), or in the case of the evangelical church that dispensationalism is crap, and that inerrancy is stupid, and confession is still necessary, I choose to follow the orders of the churches to which I subscribe because community is more important than agreeing with everything the church says.
And! I love my state and my State. I disagree with some things, but I submit because I am one little me and American has been America much long than I have been me. And America is much more than I will ever be because America is us. So although I think that abortion should never be legal, and that samesex marriage should be legal, and that euthanasia is actually really horrible, I choose to follow the orders of the state in which I live because community is more important than agreeing with everything the state says.
So give thanks, because we are Americans, and we can protect our church from our state and our state from our church.