Human government is the product of divine expression, though not itself sacred in nature. “Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” is the familiar injunction.
The things of Caesar matter therefore. Caesar is important. Used here Caesar represents the state and its associated institutions. Inferred from the injunction is the view that we do not have to “diss” the state in order to move or properly value the Kingdom. Service to the Eternal Kingdom does not pre-empt service to the Temporal Kingdom.
This above injunction therefore calls forth from the Church a sense of strong obligation to both Kingdoms. It promotes the pursuit of those obligatory duties in the context of right relationship, right attitude and right action for the glory of the Eternal Kingdom and the good of the Temporal Kingdom.
Faith communities must both realize and embrace their mandate in relation to the earthly Kingdom. Such realization and embrace must express itself in bold challenge of existing societal structures and state systems which are dysfunctional, obsolete, incapable of delivery or even regressive. In any evolving or maturing democracy there will be from time to time the need to challenge structures and systems in the political kingdom. Obvious targets are institutions and structures which are conduits of policies which do not properly yield the desired peace and order of society; which do not sufficiently promote justice, freedom and human dignity; which frustrate or deny the thrust towards societal well being.
Both the Church and the State avow as their principal pursuit, positive and progressive change in the human condition. In our context much of what is intended to facilitate this positive change in the human condition is administered by the processes associated with politics and governance.
Charles Colsen suggests the “the civic conversation must be impacted by the Christian voice”. This writer goes further: Politics is the expression of the power-relations mix in the society. Policy is the product of this power-relations mix. The faith community cannot influence policy direction unless it can help to shape this power-relations mix.
One area of our democracy critical to our just and orderly national development is that of the administration of justice. It is beyond dispute that too many of the foundational institutions of our national governance are reflecting a disconcerting measure of degradation, eroded credibility and implementation incapacity.
Justice along with law and order has always represented that plank in our institutional architecture which we believed to be sanitized and serving the common interest. It is the last bulwark of the state which assures peace, orderliness and security. Other institutions have been the subject of wear and tear. This erosion has evoked some measure of a sense of alienation on the part of our citizenry.
I submit that the administration of justice, along with law and order is in danger of falling prey to a similarly unfortunate fate. We continue to have judicial appointments subject to political action. We are seeing evidence of political interference in law enforcement matters. We now face long delays in the administration of justice because of the incapacity of the system to deal with the myriad matters. Hence inordinately long periods of remand before trial with all of its implied consequences.
If the faith community does not speak for or stand up in the interest of justice, what is its relevance?