By Ibn Anwar, Malaysian Muslim cleric.
The concept of a Christian government or a government ran by professing Christians is completely foreign to the vision of the New Testament writers. No writer of the New Testament representing their new-found faith in the ministry of Jesus, as they saw it, ever imagined or envisioned that prior to the second coming of their Lord, Christians should possess the mantle of government, ruling populations and defending it and expanding territories through the use of arms– a standard policy of governments for thousands of years to which the passive advocacy of Jesus’ teachings were strongly antithetical. Perhaps Paul encapsulates Christian ethics best when he describes believers as being obedient servants of the state as seen in his letter to the Romans in chapter 13. Neither Paul nor the apostles before him sought to have Christians replace the nonbelievers as ministers or rulers of any kind. They were all in concert with Jesus’ dictum, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.” (Matthew 22:21) In their view, following the footsteps of their lord, Christians ought to be under the yoke of government. The only time that any of them saw it fit that Christians be at the top of the food chain was in their eschatological conception. Luke, for example, gives us a graphic image of the bloodshed owed to Christians and Jesus when the latter returns in his second coming:
“But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.'” (Luke 19:27, NIV)
It was inconceivable to the average Christian mind in the early days of the New Testament period to imagine Christians holding earthly seats of power, wielding executive authority over lands and peoples without their messiah Jesus present, in person, in his second coming. To be in government was something terrible to the mind of Christians. For that was what led to the torture and death of their lord, Jesus. Christians were never meant to have influence or control over military might as that was always seen as the prerogative of non-Christian powers under which Christians submitted their lives as Paul articulates in Romans 13. As Christian preachers typically insist, “Christianity is a peaceful faith in which violence is rejected.” It is meant to be peaceful according to the dictates of Jesus that “all who live by the word, shall die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) Christians are not meant to strike their enemy in any situation. Rather, they are to receive happily what the enemy decides to give them as Jesus said, “DO NOT RESIST EVIL. If your enemy strikes you on your left cheek, give the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:39).
Looking at these exhortations towards passivity and peacefulness, it is easy to conclude that all the Christian nations that we see dominating our geopolitical landscape today are totally ‘un-Christian.’ That is to say, if Christian means to be a good follower of the dictates and teachings of Jesus, then none of the Christian-run governments of the day are consonant with Jesus and are therefore anti-Christian or perhaps even, anti-Christ? Even the Vatican with the pope at its head, which claims to have an unbroken chain of authority from the apostle Peter, has its colorful Swiss Guard with their sharp pikes that could blind an eye or even kill a life, if the situation demanded it. Since Constantine, Christians have long abandoned the notion that they should be passive and peaceful like their alleged lord and savior, unto whom they continually spit with disdain with their military power and might, that continues to this very moment as they visit atrocities and destruction on countless lives around the world. Rather than being the proponents of Jesus, in which peace and passivity must prevail at all costs in any and all situations, they happily become opponents of his peaceful ministry.
As Muslims, we should remind our Christian friends of their lost heritage. We must encourage and convince Christians to not simply believe but practice what their “Lord,” and “Saviour” taught: to be peaceful, to not resist evil or persons that are evil and to never carry weapons. We should encourage them to be more Christian and abandon their military activities and to dismantle any and all defensive structures that require the use of arms and weapons– things that Jesus, according to their sacred scripture, utterly disapproved.