Of late, I have begun to realize that Christian piety (at least in Canada) can no longer avoid political implications.
Here are five reasons why I believe this, which in turn explain what I mean by political implications. The church’s mission is worship, but her worship of God and her good works will encounter a world that does not think those works are always so “good.”
Bill C-6 forbids conversion therapy. Christians, I grant, do not participate in conversion therapy (or should not), but they do proclaim the Gospel which transforms and converts people from sin to Christ. And therefore, the conversion therapy law may, in isolated places, apply to Christians.
BUT, this law will for sure give ammunition to the Canadian POLIS—our political arrangement in society. People will attack us because they do not like us. They will accuse.
MAiD will soon terminate the lives of infants, teenagers, and the mentally ill who would otherwise live, if they felt like they had the choice. But lack of medical care and poverty will drive them to get a prescription for death.
We will say that this is wrong. Canadian culture will say it’s a beautiful death, it provides organs for those who want to live, and it is a PERSONAL choice. It doesn’t hurt you, does it?
That’s the problem with liberalism by which I mean defining freedom as the essential political settlement in society.
Abortion in Canada is so normalized that Christians have become apathetic. In 2016, a pill form of abortion came online and nobody batted an eye. Thousands of pregnancies are terminated. Few care.
The few that do, however, are pariahs. They cannot go near a hospital. If they make pro-life part of their platform explicitly, they cannot get a summer jobs grant. They lose a powerful tool of the polis—summer job grants. It may be deadly for organizations that support pregnant women.
Artificial Insemination & Birth
Babies can now be grown in external wombs. This will happen en masse. Sometimes, babies grow in wombs whose gametes come from two others and not the spouse of the woman carrying the baby. So there are three biological parents, two genetic parents, one father who is there, and two foreign gametes.
Soon, we will have no idea what makes a human, a human. We will soon make children in external womb sacs. And don’t tell me this is science fiction. It is happening. And it will happen often. And leasing a womb is already happening.
No longer—to use O’Donovan’s language—are babies begotten of us and made by God; now, they are made by us and begotten in laboratories.
We have unnaturally reversed the begetting and making process. Nobody cares. It helps the infertile. Don’t question it. It’s cruel to do so.
Well, some should question this activity. They will be maligned as hating women, being cruel for denying pregnancy, and more. And by the way, I am not saying artificial insemination, IVF, womb leasing, external womb use, etc. are wrong. I am most literally saying we should QUESTION what it is that these things are.
And when we do, the political order will raise its eyebrows.
Psychopolitics and technocrats
Our political order now rules by two means: psychopolitics (using psychological tools to control us) and technocrats.
The first involves a set of incentives in neo-liberal society to produce more and more products for GDP; to have both parents work (free childcare!) as a means to exploit women to feel like they have an opportunity to work, while actually making all of life more expensive for the sake of GDP (on this, see Byung-Chul Han).
The second involves making decisions on the basis of what the experts say and not on political reasoning (see Hannah Arendt). Remember the pandemic? We acted on science over the broader concerns of politics. At times, our politicians acted as technocrats—not politicians.
Finally, after two-and-half years, we have said no to these experts, and a subset of them are aghast. Find their accounts on Twitter to see. They think we as a society have denied science by living ordinary lives again. They have no ability to think politically—in the old sense of the common good—and only think about scientific reasoning, which cannot alone make political decisions.
Christians should question this ordering of society since it is the same scientists and their technocratic associates who made abortion normal, womb sacs, and a whole host of other matters. It’s not that science is bad. It’s that scientific reasoning is felt to be the primary mechanism. It’s not. It contributes. It’s not the main thing.
Ordering society towards a common good matters. And however you feel about this, Christians will increasingly find that the technocratic good and the psychopolitical good will be directly at odds with Christian moral theology and thus cause us to be political outsiders.
Kathy Clark says
I agree on all except the premise that the role of the Christian on earth is worship. Worship is an expression of our faith, love and obedience for eternity. But we have commission to preach, teach, baptize; to be salt and light in a dying culture; to point out sin in the hope that we will save a soul, or share the guilt of the sinner; to pick up our cross daily and follow the Lord into the world to show them “the way, the life and the truth.” We are to be counterculture to the world. That is why our Lord told us that the world will hate us and persecute us as it did him.