Conflating the two kingdoms
There have been a couple of political “hot potatoes” that have been highlighted in recent weeks. The first one is the immigration policy of the United States which includes building a border wall. The second is the status of health care coverage for Americans.
In my home state of California, some have fused legal immigration with illegal immigration. They have even started programs targeted to helping illegal immigrants. When two different things are fused together like this, it is called conflation.
I support immigration to the United States, however, I don’t support illegal immigration. There is a big difference. My parents were immigrants, but they had to wait 3 1/2 years to get approved to come to the U.S. My father even had to have a sponsor. Both of my parents became citizens of this country in a legal manor.
To say that illegal immigrants are the same as illegal immigrants is conflation. This undermines all of the efforts of those who have been waiting to enter the United States according to the law.
The other issue has become a bit of a firestorm lately, too. There are numerous people who support universal healthcare (Obamacare). There are numerous people who don’t support it and would rather it be repealed (especially of the penalties for non-compliance). The latter group would call the penalties coercion.
Now, into the fray enter the Christians. Some are for the gutting of Obamacare, including the funding of Planned Parenthood, which they believe has an immoral purpose in infanticide. Others are convinced that it is scriptural to support one’s neighbors through providing them with health care coverage. They are passionate about it, even quoting scripture.
Martin Luther, the 16th century German reformer made an important distinction which many have forgotten. He described the two kingdoms of God. There is a right-hand rule of God and a left hand rule. The right hand rule is where Christ rules by Grace, mercy and forgiveness through His Church. The left-hand rule is the power of earthly authority given to the government.
Some Lutherans hold the conviction that the Health Care Mandate is our responsibility as Christians to uphold. Any opposition to this point of view is seen as heresy. Unfortunately, these Lutherans are guilty of the most basic error; the conflation of the two kingdoms.
The church is to care for the poor, the aged and infirmed. The government is to protect the populace and support a beneficial atmosphere in which people can earn a living. The government is not the church. And, this is where the conflation enters into the picture.
If our neighbor is unable to afford healthcare, then it is up to us (if we have such a conviction) to help them out. But to coerce millions of people to bear the brunt of health care costs for millions of others is nothing less than using the left-hand kingdom for right hand kingdom purposes.
Each person has his or her own conscience. In this we have freedom. Binding other people’s political convictions and condemning their position (or them) are a gross violation of the Two-Kingdom doctrine.