Double Minded

This is a term used for people who have conflicting allegiances, and struggle to fulfill the needs of both (or more). I think that any religious person fits into this category when it comes to our faith and our country; that is, if we are serious about both of them. I can only speak for myself, but I know that many of you probably struggle, at times, between what our country does, and what God demands of us as individuals. We see this in many ways: whether or not to be in a war, abortion, same-sex marriage – there are more. The struggle is real, and Jesus was asked about this in a story that is told in all four Gospels. You probably know the story, but I will sum it up:

In Luke 20, Jesus is being challenged about his theology, which was not unusual in his time or ours, and He was asked if taxes should be paid to Caesar. Jesus asked whose face was on the coin, and when they replied that it was Caesar, Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God.” Yes – for all those religious people who don’t want to pay taxes, Jesus said we must. Part of His point, I think, was that everything else has God’s imprint/image on it – including us – so we give that to God.

When I was in college, my best friend’s Dad used to tell me I should be a military chaplain (he was a colonel at the time). He believed I had the right attitude to do that work, and from what I understand, it is demanding in ways that other forms of ministry are not. I told him that while I truly respected and appreciated that kind of work, it would put me in a dilemma. I did not think Jesus would approve of killing people, even the enemy, yet I understood the need for a strong defense. I told him that I would leave that work to those better suited for it and save myself the difficult struggle I knew I would have. I was, and still am, conflicted about what was the right thing to do. I’m double-minded.

We do not live in a country based on religious rules; we are a nation based on the rule of law. This is why abortion and same-sex marriage are legal – restricting them is based on faith and doctrine, not on equal rights demanded by the Constitution. Whether you agree with that is irrelevant, because this country is supposed to be a place where diversity matters more than uniformity. You might believe that life begins at conception and someone else might not, and since when life begins cannot be proven, and women have rights over their own bodies, the law allows for abortion. Nobody is pro-abortion, but we should all be pro-Constitution. To dictate based on theology is what happens in Iran, not America.

I am a citizen of the United States – I put my hand on my heart when I say the pledge, and I fly an American flag on my front porch all year long. I thank those who serve in the military and I honor those who are opposed to war. I am also a citizen of the kingdom of God – I think that loving one’s neighbor as oneself is better than hating someone because they are different from me. I believe that helping the poor is better than allowing them to die in the street. I try to balance my double-mindedness every day, and I hope I make the right decisions. It isn’t easy, but I think it is the right thing to do. It is also a struggle, which is what living as a person of faith should always be. If it were easy, that would probably mean we aren’t really thinking it through – and that is dangerous.

Prayer – Help us, God, to make the right choices for You while respecting the free will of others. Amen.

Today’s image is the D1 Nebula – just because.

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