The Dilemma of the American Christian

Jesus spoke under the opressive regime of the Roman government. His sermon on the mount addresses multiple times how to handle being abused by the government. This makes his words particularly relevant to people under tyrannical dictatorships, but leaves the American Christian making mental leaps.

As American citizens, we are expected to vote people into power who will best act in accordance to our beliefs; we call this a representative government. As Christians, we have a personal resposibility to love our enemies, to bless them that curse us and to do good to those people who would say all types of evil things against us falsely. We are called to turn the other cheek, yet we vote people into power who will do just the opposite, who will kill our enemies. How do we justify the dichotomy between the individual and the state?

I know that Romans 13 tells us that the government is established to bear the sword for the punishment of evildoers; but at what point does our responsibility to love our enememies as individual Christians stop? If you get elected mayor of your town, are you then a valid “sword bearer”? What happens when the collective government asks you as a citizen to kill someone? Does your individual Christian responsibility end? What would make killing your enemy by order of the government any different than killing innocent men, women and children? Aren’t we commanded to love both?

Now, I know the practical implications of this. There are many enemies: sexual predators, thieves, terrorists (sorry Andy) to name a few. If we took Jesus’ words as national policy, I’m not so sure America would a very nice place to live. But how do we resolve theindividual responsibility of believers with the representative nature of our American government and still maintain national security? Is it possible?