Thursday, January 17, 2008

Well that's scary.

H.R. 393: Universal National Service Act of 2007
"To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the favorable treatment afforded combat pay under the earned income tax credit, and for other purposes."

This bill was proposed to the House of Representatives this week. Feel like joining the army?

Yet another reason I'm voting for Ron Paul.


Timothy Fish said...

I suppose my upbringing taught me that women are to be protected rather than sent off to war, so I am not thrilled about some aspects of this bill. As to the concept of mandatory service to one's country, I don't see how I can be a Christian and be against that, whether it is military service, civilian service or jury duty. In reading the teachings of Jesus, I think we must conclude that we are to serve our country when called to do so and if that call comes we are to go above and beyond what is asked of us.

Dan said...

Re: Timothy Fish - Are you suggesting that because we are Christian we are required to always obey our government? I think that might be taking "give unto Caesar" a little too far.

Let's take it to an extreme: I assume if the government told you to kill all of a certain ethnic group because they were apparently inferior, you would protest and refrain. So you would likely accept that there are circumstances which would warrant civil disobedience, etc. and situations where the government might be clearly in the wrong.

This being the case, your above comment means very little as it does not take into account any such circumstances. That is, you can say that as a Christian you do not oppose mandatory service, but if the country you are being forced to serve is requiring you to further an illegitimate war, illegally occupy another sovereign nation, or something even worse, then I do not see why our allegiance to the government would supersede our allegiance to God.

So all that remains is for people to debate which circumstances would warrant civil disobedience, or even revolution.

Timothy Fish said...

Dan, anytime we go to extremes we have the potential of running into problems, but I might remind you that Jesus, Peter and Paul were living under the Roman government, a government that did some things we would now oppose, when they said what they did in Matthew 5:41, I Peter 2:13-17 and Romans 13. Of course, the apostles chose to preach the gospel rather than obey the council in Acts 5. I think the simple answer is that if we know God’s will we are not to disobey him. If it isn’t clear which way we should go then we should lean toward following our government.

Dan said...

I believed it was obvious that the purpose of using an extreme (though not impossible) example was to demonstrate that there are indeed potential circumstances where government should not be obeyed. Given that point, the goal then is to work backwards from the extreme to determine at which point you abandon government allegiance.

I’m familiar with the verses you cited. Unfortunately, there is not room to discuss them fully here. Fortunately, there is no real need either, because (1) you referenced a passage that demonstrates the reverse, and (2) you yourself have boiled it down in your next point. For now, however, I’ll quote Adam Clarke from his commentary on 1 Peter, who wrote,

“In every settled state, and under every form of political government, where the laws are not in opposition to the laws of God, it may be very soundly and rationally said: ‘Genuine Christians have nothing to do with the laws but to obey them.’ Society and civil security are in a most dangerous state when the people take it into their heads that they have a right to remodel and change the laws.”

Again, the question is, are the laws (actions) of our government in opposition to the laws of God? If not, then I would agree with you and Clarke wholeheartedly.

Of course, as you say, in the end it really comes down to what you believe God’s will is. You seemingly are either confident that our government is in line with God’s will or are simply not confident enough that it isn’t. That is fine. But your conclusion presumably rests on the circumstances surrounding our government which you are comfortable with or affirm. It seems obvious to me that Alison and I (and many others) are not comfortable with our governments actions and do not affirm its policies. Therefore, again, quoting passages without applying them to a specific situation doesn’t help.

Not only is it clear to me that our government runs against God’s laws, it runs contrary to its own as well. They illegally initiate wars, invade and occupy sovereign nations, unjustly tax, and irresponsibly spend for a start. Our politicians make promises they couldn’t keep if they wanted to all for the sake of getting another vote. We have a debt that could not be paid back if everyone in the country gave every penny they had tomorrow. We borrow billions each day from foreign countries to simply pay for the interest on this debt. The list goes on and on.

Again, we either believe that we must obey regardless of what our government asks because of our interpretation of Romans 13, etc. or we believe that there are circumstances in which disobedience becomes necessary. Remember though, if one is going to affirm the former, one cannot ‘step back’ when “potential problems” arise from the extremes. If it is true at all it is always true. This is not a case where “extreme” examples are the exception, unless they are impossible, and the extreme example I used is far from impossible. On the contrary, it has occurred in the last century.