Monday, June 27, 2011

Unions, Social Justice and the Kingdom of God

Saturday's post on "striking" got me thinking. Here's my question: are the tactics of unions as practiced today really in line with the 'way of the kingdom of God'?

Particularly, I think we should ask this questions to Christians who lean more politically leftward. So we will hear much about 'American Imperialism' and bullying. We will hear capitalism decried (FYI: I think capitalism itself is morally neutral although it can be used for evil and for good. The system needs individual liberty to flourish and said liberty is in accord with Biblical values). 

Anyways, we are often told that leftist policies will work harder to defend the innocent.

Yet, we are told (rightly in my view) that the kingdom of God does not advance by force. It is a power outside this world. The religious right is chided (rightly in some instances) for trying to grasp and seize the world's power and power systems to effect change. Kingdom thinking as it is practiced by some who lean leftward goes like this: When a nation uses force it is bad, God's kingdom advances by peace and sacrifice and nations should always reflect so conduct. (setting aside just for war theory for this arguments here). When a company or a rich person uses the force of their power, it is bad, God's kingdom advances by caring for the poor not seizing power and money (setting aside for the sake of argument the right use of capital). The message is largely: force is bad. Advancing agendas by force is contrary to the way of the kingdom. I have seen such kingdom metanarrative applied to how church leaders should lead (a point I largely agree with so long as you recognize the kingdom is not opposed to leadership hierarchy, so long as it is servant leadership).

One thing you never hear much about is whether or not when unions use force is it bad? What happens when they force people through non-violent means of coercion--but still means to conercion, sometimes even legal coercion methods.

Now getting together to collectively bargain is not bad or evil per se. 

But is it really the way of the kingdom to use 'good coercion'? To grab the world's force and power and use it even for good ends it still wrong force and coercion--or at least that's what we are told about military might and capitalism. 

Peaceful protesting maybe isn't opposed to God's kingdom. But what about when the purpose of protest is really to use power to force an opponent to cave? At what point are you collecting power from within the world's system to us it? Isn't that precisely what we are told is against the kingdom of God?

What I am asking is: is there an inconsistent way in which a Christian lefts trots out the kingdom of God and way of love narrative when it comes to issues like foreign policy, the death penalty, or capitalism--but why does this narrative fall silent when it comes to union tactics (just as 1 example)? Should they at least not apply the lens of the paradigm and see what criticism they may or may not uncover?

Let me hit the nail a little harder: we often hear that nations should never (or only extremely rarely) go to war but should always make peace. A nation showing love to another nation will win over others. [again set aside traditional just war theory that does demand that you seek peaceable solutions first and use war only as a last resort and only to stop injustice]. Yet why don't we hear Christian leftists arguing this way against union tactics: 'if the employee will just love and serve his boss in the face of injustices, the love the employee shows will win over the other party.'

I guess since prophets aren't welcome in their own towns, it is best to keep one's head down rather than, you know, speak out in your home town. That's how you can do really prophetic kingdom work. Prophetic: you keep using that word but I do not think it means what you think it means.

It's been said that inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument. What do you think? Does the 'Christian left's' inability to apply their paradigm to issues like union tactics indicate a more serious structural weakness to their thinking about the "kingdom of God"?

It seems to me largely, "kingdom of God thinking" is the way to go. However, for some "kingdom of God" has become code for leftist policies. Taken to the extreme, the kingdom becomes what we created. (fair play: just because who are politically 'right' doesn't make you morally right and justified either)

In the end, Christians should be concerned with injustice--all injustice. Christians should be concerned to see God's rule exercised in all of life. On the other hand, we recognize God's kingdom will coexist with man's kingdom and their is common grace and the proper role of the state.

No comments:

"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...