Sunday, October 16, 2011

Separation of Church and State

The Gospel Text on Matthew this Sunday in Chapter 25 talks about how Jesus was challenged about the giving of taxes to Caesar or to the temple. This text has often been cited to be the Scriptural basis for the separation of church and state. Such usage is a classic example of a bad exegesis. Since the topic on separation of Church and State has been opened with this text, I choose to discuss this issue to bring home the point of the misunderstanding of the concept of separation of church and state. Again, my foundation for such argument is the same reason why I struggle to integrate theology and medicine.

The dichotomy of things into church and state is based on the premise that church matters should be left to spiritual concerns and that matters of politics or social concern be the realm of the government. With such perspective there should be separation of church and state.

I have always argued that the Church does not exist in a vacuum that it can be indifferent to the reality of the time, place and events that happens around it. The Church cannot pretend that what is happening around it does not and do not affect it. Because the different processes affect and concern the Church, it is just proper for the church to be involved in social concerns.

The misunderstanding to the separation of church and state should be placed in proper perspective. Here in the Philippines, the narrow understanding of Filipinos, especially the ignorant lawmakers, is that the separation of Church and State is the ticket to disregard the voice of the Church. This is especially helpful with the ethical issues of the RH bill among others.

A better and clearer understanding of separation of church and state will help lawmakers, the church and the church people appreciate the significance and importance of one to the other. If the society and the church can only see that they are partners in weaving a good society, then the separation will have a better meaning.

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