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Many have been shocked and embarrassed by the circus of obnoxious behavior which has taken place at the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. It seems to have been a well–choreographed performance of actors who were paid to disrupt the proceedings.

It would not be surprising to learn someone with senatorial authority had authorized this sideshow. However, even if this possibility were not on the table and the protesting voices were motivated by their own personal pain, fear, and guilt, it would remind the nation that government alone cannot heal the cancer in the body politic.

The frequency of pro–abortion shouts, slogans and signs from the Senate gallery and from those who stormed Senator Grassley’s office (NARAL Pro-choice America and others), reminds all thinking people the pain and guilt of 60 million abortions since 1973 is affecting the mental health and stability of many citizens.

It is especially tragic those who resort to emotional outbursts of verbal and physical abuse seem to believe that a judicial or legislative pro–abortion policy can free them from personal guilt and clear the nation’s bad conscience. Unfortunately, this is impossible because the murder of human beings in the womb or outside the womb is a moral issue that requires a moral solution.

“You shall not murder!” is not only the clear teaching of Christianity, as well as Judaism and Islam, but is the natural law acknowledged by all cultures. Thus, those burdened by guilt over an abortion or any other sin cannot find peace through the government’s legislative or judicial declarations, e.g. that the murder of pre-born children is legal. According to God’s Word — the Bible — the way to peace of mind and forgiveness for sin is not within the scope of governmental authority (the kingdom on the left), but only within the authority of the church (the kingdom on the right).

The founders of our nation recognized a distinction between church and state, and considered the Bible the fundamental source of authority for both kingdoms. Because God rules in both kingdoms, they understood that he rules through different means in each.

In the state, God rules through the civil use of the law, and through reason, judgment, and force. God’s word confirms this in Romans 13:1-4: “He who resists the authorities resist what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment ... If you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”

However, in the church, God rules through love, compassion, forgiveness, and faith. The Bible tells us this love is a gift from God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8); “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4: 11)

Thus, church and state have distinct functions, but both are necessary for the well-being of individuals and the nation. President George Washington affirmed this truth in his farewell address to the nation: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports ... It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government” ... Again Washington declared: “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.”

Without this moral/religious foundation, the nation becomes sick. Citizens try to find peace and happiness at the altar of government, but when they fail to find it, they become frustrated and angry, regardless of which party is in power.

Both individuals and the nation need the God–given counsel of both church and state. The cry for help from the floor and gallery of the Senate was masked in political language; however, the tirades and the threats, the shouts and the screams were symptoms of a deep moral problem — the reality of guilt and the need for forgiveness and reconciliation.

But these are gifts that government cannot give; they can only be received by faith in the promise of the kingdom on the right.

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The Rev. Duane R. Lindberg, Ph.D., American studies, is presiding pastor (bishop) emeritus of the American Association of Lutheran Churches.

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