Utopian Impulses

by james on December 17, 2011

in General, Poli-links

On Thursday I watched part of the Republican Presidential ‘debate’ in Iowa (if one dare call 30 second sound bites a debate). At one point, serial monogamist Newt Gingrich was criticized for being as opposed to “right wing social activism” as he is to left wing activities of the same. Whether or not the accusations are true is not my beef. But it got me thinking.

… dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.

There are too many people who think little of using State power to coerce their fellows to do as they please. To do the right thing. Of course, the proper role of the State is to punish evil doers, and reward those that do good.  The Bible commentator, Barnes, has this to say on the famous Bible passage (1 Peter 2), so foundational to limits on government power,

” . . . it is a part of their business to reward in a suitable manner those who are upright and virtuous as citizens. This would be by protecting their persons and property; by defending their rights, and, perhaps, by admitting those to share the honors and emoluments of office who showed that they were worthy to be trusted. It is as important a part of the functions of magistracy to protect the innocent, as it is to punish the wicked.”

But moving from using the sword to remove evildoers, left wingers invariably pitch their tents on the questionable ground. They wish to use the sword to compel good, rather than prevent evil. And these days, more than ever, the desire to compel goodness comes through cowardly evasiveness based on the deadly euphemisms of political correctness.


Gustave Doré's Tower of Babel shows the desire to have heaven on earth, but without Christ.

There are the usual manipulative appeals that one should feel guilty for less than enthusiastic embrace of illegitimate expansions of State violence, since the end is “just”, “fair”, and “for the children”. This is more than a little self-serving. My relatively dewy and politically untried African eyes find such appeals raising immediate images of the schoolyard bully. It makes bile come to the back of my throat.

So-called progressives have all the self-righteous certainty that it is good to use the threat of government violence to redistribute the fruits of my hard-earned labor to help others. The great-hearted politically correct will have the State love my neighbor on my behalf.

Of course, I, not the State, know my neighbor. A political system is not personal. It does not love, or feel. Humans, created in God’s image, must reach heavenward; God commands us to love Him first, and then our neighbor. But progressives, and the trendier-than-thou in the Church, reach as for forbidden fruit. Human dominion, granted in Eden and re-iterated throughout the Scriptures, is not over others created in God’s image. Proper dominion begins with face bowed and knees in the dirt.

The argument is that if we do not use violence, or the threat of violence, then who will  help those who need help?  Unless Peter is robbed, Paul will die. This is a false dilemma. Instead of using his energy to rob Peter, the prospective thief could choose instead to help Paul. Instead he is consumed with hate and envy that Peter is not doing enough, in his opinion, to help Paul.  If he will not do it himself, he demands that strong men rob Peter, in the name of Caesar, God on earth.

Progressive situation ethics attempts to vindicate or legitimize the act of sin under certain conditions so that good may be the result. Essentially, it is the argument of ends justifying means.  It is wicked to desire the use of raw government power to take from one, under the threat of violence, what God does not command. The apostle Paul said  (Romans 3:8) that those who think like this, those who say, in effect, “Let us do evil, that good may come,”  are those “whose damnation is just.”  And in Colossians 3:25 we  are reminded,  “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done“. God is not mocked.

Ironically, therefore, desperate appeals that goodness and salvation must be compelled by state violence and power results in more, not less, injustice.  God requires a tithe, an institution preceding the Mosaic law (Genesis 14:20). He could demand 100 percent, but asks just 10 percent. Are there any circumstances under which a state or king dare demand more than does God?

Unjust taxes are not voluntary. They reduce our fruitfulness. Thus private charity is gelded, frustrated by the merciless government tax collector.  Voluntary charity is good, and some tax is necessary to maintain the legitimate role of government, as Jesus explained (Matthew 22:15-22). But the messianic State, a perpetually failing utopian experiment, binds heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lays them on men’s shoulders.

As in Eden, where Eve was offered power to be like God, as at Babel where men reached for Utopia which their hearts could not find, so-called progressive dominion passes, like a cloud without rain, over personal heart change and reaches for the power of man over man. And they do it all in the name of helping man. That is the rawest expression of dominion. Then no one needs to seek God, no one needs to be good, because the state has legislated goodness.  The state is charity incarnate.

So progressives obscure and pass over the fact of sin, eschew righteousness by faith in Christ alone, unlike the angel of death in Egypt, which passed over the blood of the lamb, but crucified sin. When any god is as good as any other – or none – it becomes crystal clear that man alone is God. And when man alone is God we have heaven on earth, we have achieved Utopia. That is the goal towards which progressive bullies strive.

The poet T.S. Eliot had their measure:

Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her laws?
She tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget.
She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft.
She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts.
They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is will shadow
The man that pretends to be.

—T. S. Eliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock’”


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