Now that the Republican Party has effectively run the table on American governance at the federal and state level, leaving progressives with small islands of urban control, Democrats have turned to the one place they never thought they’d go: Federalism. For Biblical Christians, this is the best possible road to travel, for several reasons.
First, Christianity was never meant to be a political movement. The Bible is replete with examples. John 18:36, Acts 17:24, John 17:16, Romans 12:2 come to mind. At the founding of our nation, Americans of all political stripes subscribed to a government designed by men to manage our affairs, while we as a people and as a nation served God through His purposes.
That is no longer true, really of either party. It’s dangerous to associate Christianity or Judeo-Christian values with one political party, and then seek to govern through it. Nothing has ever been gained for the Kingdom of Heaven through human government. Nothing.
The push-back against Christianity by progressives, mostly through the Democratic Party, cannot and should not be countered by replacing Democrat policies with Republican ones. It didn’t work in 2001-2003 when Republicans controlled the Congress and the White House, and it certainly won’t work now with our current president.
The 10th Amendment guarantees that the States and the people have ultimate power, outside those limited, enumerated powers delegated to the national government.
Second, America’s unchecked growth of the federal judiciary to handle every dispute, and the administrative state to regulate all aspects of our lives, has damaged federalism, and allowed Christian ethics to crumble within our government. But it’s not fatally damaged.
The Democrats’ rediscovery of federalism, to protect their own ideals, moves the entire nation back toward the founders’ intent, and therefore closer to a Godly form of government. No nation on earth has had its government so conceived, discussed, prayed over, and erected by people so serious about human failings and the dangers of unfettered liberty (license). You need only read the Federalist Papers to get a taste of their single-minded purpose.
Third our government is uniquely the product of the Judeo-Christian worldview. It is inconceivable that a Buddhist, Muslim, or atheist/naturalist worldview could have produced our federal system with its checks and balances. This is why those who wish to change our system of government first must attack Christianity. Ravi Zacharias explained:
The Judeo-Christian worldview is the target of the Western media. The media is the single greatest destroyer of the notion of absolutes and of the Judeo-Christian worldview, the only worldview that could justify the existence of a nation like America. They wish to stigmatize the Christian in a way that they do not need to say anything else.
Fourth, the kneejerk reaction to our culture’s headlong run away from God and absolute morality is to reassert that morality through the same damaged government edifice. Intolerance met with intolerance. That is wrong. We must allow those who wish to run from God to run, and let God do the pursuing through the culture, which is upstream of politics.
That means if California wishes to assert itself through a “CalExit” and set up a liberal, anti-Christian haven, then let it happen. If New York wishes to codify abortion as a right in its state constitution, we should encourage their federalist movement. (Obviously, without endorsing the horrendous act of murder they’re trying to “protect.”)
We should meet their intolerance with tolerance, because our union was founded on this principle of states’ rights and freedom of association. If Calfornians and New Yorkers are free to associate as they please with others who are like-minded, then Georgians and Texans should also enjoy that right. We should foster federalism wherever it blooms, and simultaneously peel back the judicial overreach and administrative state hegemony that thwarts this liberty.
In that, we should be grateful for two things President Trump has done. On Monday, he signed an executive order requiring that for every new federal regulation, two others must be rescinded. What a wonderful idea. On Tuesday, the president nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is an originalist, who supports a limited administrative state.
Fifth, Christians must never invest ourselves in one political party. For conservatism to mean anything beyond political catchphrases, we must move back to the founders’ vision. The nascent Federalist Party’s J.D. Rucker wrote:
Promoting conservatism in an atmosphere that’s so tilted towards DC overreach is like trying to build a sand castle in a tsunami. We need to rein in the Washington and return power to the states and local governments before we can make real strides towards a conservative national philosophy.
We may celebrate today what we’ve gained politically, but the bigger gains are achieved by reducing the power of the federal government, and putting politics in its proper place. The founders understood this, and Christians would be wise to emulate them.