Soc 398 Essay 1

Hayden Foley
for Professor Candelaria
RELG 347/SOC 398
11 September 2015
Irrational Rationalizations: The Problem of a Politicized Christ
Imagine a young child does something, morally wrong or otherwise, that a large group of
people would not approve of. It would be hard to fault the child for his actions due to the fact
that it might simply not know better. Now imagine that child blames somebody else for his/her
actions. Still, it would be hard to demonize the child and all that could be done would be to teach
it that it is responsible for its own actions and that honesty and personal accountability are
valuable traits. Children tend to be exempt from the same social mores that adults are subject to
simply because they are young, inexperienced, and unknowledgeable. However, one would hope
that most adults alive are aware that they are responsible for their own actions and the
consequences therein. It would therefore be illogical and disingenuous for adults in a healthy
state of mind to invoke any religious deities as the justification or motivations of any political
movements or goals.
In the modern day, the decisions people make and the rationalizations for them are hoped
to be both rational and valid. Seeing as humans organize themselves into societies which are
heavily reliant on logical things like laws, social contracts, and cooperation, one would expect
the people that comprise any given society to be logical as well, yet this is not always the case.
Despite the fact that human beings are subject to the most rational of power structures, they often
times fail to express the same rationality that is necessary to support those structures. If civil
societies are to carry on in an efficient matter one might hope that the people living in them
would always succeed in keeping their personal lives and emotional influences out of the system.

as political movements 2 . Sadly. arguments. This is only natural. not just in America. people would base their political motivations and movements on careful thought and deliberation. it is undeniably both wrong and fallacious. structure themselves as secular states. this practice allows everyone in a society to maintain their religious freedoms while leaving the political system in place unmolested. lest the whole system fall into chaos. and in this case Christianity. and countless other nations around the world. Any nation that strives to be successful. One can understand why a child will attempt to place blame on someone else whenever they do something wrong. and competitive on the world scale must then be logical and characterized by complex but efficient political systems and a diverse yet peaceful populous. and actions with rational or intelligent thought. it seems as though adult people are now acting like children. invoke the name of Jesus (and other divine/prophetic figures) to support their own political motivations or ideologies. a secular state inhabited by an extremely diverse populous. as the truth is America always has been. Although this practice has become the norm. secularism has never really been able to function properly as people around the world. However. Nobody truly wants to face the consequences of their actions. In a theoretically perfect society. constantly shifting blame from themselves and failing to support their motivations. Some might argue that this nation was “founded as a Christian nation” which is a revisionist statement by nature.Soc 398 Essay 1 That’s one of the reasons why the United States. this is rarely the case. Unfortunately. but a well functioning society requires that those who comprise it be accountable for those actions. Religion and the aspects of personal life it influences are supposed to stay separate from politics and the overarching structures of the state. and always should be. religion. accounting for every variable and every person/group that might be affected. To return to the analogy of the child from before. frequently stands in the way of this. just. In theory.

possess no workplace rights. Politics are an ever-changing and constantly evolving entity. The issue with 3 . and would suffer dangerous and unhealthy work conditions. Workers in the nation would have no minimum wage. those who attempt to invoke Christ for their own political gain are well aware of what they are doing and of the scapegoat they are employing. Second. In addition to the inherent impracticality of trying to use the 2000 year old figurehead of a global religion or the religious text involving him as a scapegoat comes the issue of political irrelevance and the archaic nature of Christian texts and traditions. and must be able to undergo this evolution if a given political climate is to remain healthy. People try to use Christ as a justification for their political ideologies because they feel it is valid and brings them credibility. First. That is why one must conclude that for the reason of keeping secular nations secular one should consider the practice of invoking Christ as a political justification impractical and irrational. that if the offending person or persons doesn’t know any better than to try and bring religion into secular politics. Imagine for a moment if the United States were still employing laws that were in place during the industrial revolution and earlier. Many feel that Biblical law trumps political law. However. To once again return to the analogy of the child.Soc 398 Essay 1 and ideologies spring up every day all over the world that invoke the name of Jesus and/or God as justification. one could be reluctant to judge these people on the basis that they might not know any better. and should definitely be considered both knowledgable and accountable. then perhaps they have no business in politics in the first place. This charitable explanation fails for two reasons however. laws change over time and now people in America and other industrialized nations enjoy rights given to them by more contemporary laws. Political law must always remain superior over Biblical law if a society wishes to remain just. but these people fail to realize how unrepresentative of modern people and culture Biblical laws are.

a law was to be created that stated that anybody who is found guilty of adultery should be put to death many an eyebrow would be raised. So it is not unrealistic to think that some people might support a law like this or create a political movement to “restore the sanctity of marriage. and it would be almost impossible to enforce. though. including a large number of Christians. and include things like forbidding tattoos (Leviticus 19:28). Anyone familiar with the Bible knows that the somewhat strange rules and laws like those given above are numerous.” It is common knowledge that many religious groups. There would be mass outrage if a law such as this was passed. If for example. Of course it must be said that these passages given are merely meant to exemplify the idea that using the Bible to create contemporary laws or political movements is impractical and unrealistic.” However. all the way to forbidding gold jewelry and other adornments ( 1 Timothy 2:9). Leviticus 20:10 states: “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife…both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. Perhaps in the early centuries of this era people may have accepted it. she commits adultery. this would once again prove impractical as a law preventing divorce and remarriage would have no place in a contemporary society characterized by those aforementioned practices. is that those laws never change and are rarely altered in any significant manner. making it difficult to deny that this type of law just doesn’t fit in contemporary society.” This is very frightening. Rules crafted in societies that existed thousands of years ago have no place in the 4 .Soc 398 Essay 1 crafting laws inspired by the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. but now it would be considered barbaric and cruel. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man. are against divorce and/or remarriage altogether. Even though this sounds a bit outlandish. Another similar example comes in Mark 10:11-12 and states that “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.

let alone modern politics. though. not to talk back to them…” It would be hard to deny that slavery is a blemish on American history and that using the Bible and invoking the name of God or Jesus to justify it is reprehensible. and/or the Bible is impractical and should be done under few circumstances. unnatural. and that people could realize that a millennia old religious text does not carry over well into politics. as I have loved you…” (John 13:34) no matter the circumstances. Many are attempting to fight gay-rights by claiming that the Bible states that it is “…shameful. It is troubling to see that some people are using a book that is supposedly meant to teach love and tolerance to take away the rights of others. There are real world examples of people using the Bible to justify political movements and ideologies that might be considered unrealistic or unjust.Soc 398 Essay 1 modern political scene. obey your earthly masters with respect and fear…” and with Titus 2:9: “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything. and indecent…” (Romans 1:26-27). It must be asked if people will not look back on the current use of the Bible as justification of political ideologies in the same light as they look back on slavery? One would hope that this would be the case. Since the Bible and the teachings of Christ do seem to be archaic and irrelevant in the current political environment we must conclude that religion has no place in modern politics and that invoking the name of Christ. God. and should retain their identities as stories and prose from a religious text. to try to please them. lustful. People seem to so easily forget that Jesus supposedly taught that man should “Love one another. A more contemporary and controversial example could be that of gay marriage. or no circumstances 5 . One of the most well known examples is the justification of American slavery through the use of the Bible. Specifically with Ephesians 6:5: “Slaves.

Note: The Bible used for this piece was the Holy Bible: New International Version 6 .Soc 398 Essay 1 at all. We must also hope that citizens in modern society be accountable and aware of their own actions. leaving finger-pointing and scapegoating to the children.