Christians can even take subsidies (like tax credits or medical assistance) from the state although they shouldn't have to. The North American Church and its worship of money has greatly hindered its ability to function and in the name of bogus and spurious 'stewardship' most Churches actually exercise wanton disregard for the spirit of God's commands with regard to money and all too often the literal commands as well. In many cases Christians are directly involved with the institutions that are oppressing the poor and then begrudge them when the state extends them financial aid. This isn't some kind of altruism on the part of the state. It is socio-political calculus. If you completely break the poor and decimate the lower classes the Establishment's profits will be lost in the resulting unrest and instability.
The stewardship presented in Scripture is largely antithetical to the Middle Class money-values and sensibilities of American Christianity... even when it's dressed up and packaged as being in accord with a 'Biblical Worldview'. All too often this is simply a marketing ploy for a synthesis of man-made and sin-based economic systems with Biblical texts read out of the New Testament's context in an anti-Christocentric and anti-Kingdom manner.
Faithful Christians do not flourish in the Western context. Christians who are attempting to follow and live out the commands of Christ and live by New Testament ethics are already feeling exclusion if not persecution and have been for a long time.
The Sacralism of the Magisterial Reformation birthed a prosperity gospel that only falls under condemnation when it is presented in a crass form and wedded to the sensationalism and false prophetic claims of Charismatic Christianity. And yet for all its obscenity it is but a consequence and outworking of Magisterial Protestant Christianity and its sacralisation of culture. This tradition happily embraced Postmillennialism for only with that expectation could the overwhelming testimony of the New Testament regarding This Age be eliminated. The many verses calling us to martyrdom, cross-bearing, persecution, otherworldliness and poverty could be eliminated and relegated to an obsolete epoch of Church History.
Today as their project collapses a reactionary theology has developed that now decries almost any hint of antithesis as smacking of 'dualism'.
In the Middle Ages, Underground Christians were forced into equally dire straits. Many vocations were closed to them as most of the guilds and official occupations incorporated Roman Catholic ritual, Mariolatry and other such corruptions which were contrary to a Biblically informed conscience. Christians were forced to the margins, sometimes even the forest and the mountains. Those in the cities and society found solace in becoming weavers and in other occupations that afforded a degree of independence, not financial independence but a type of social autonomy. In some cases the Christians came to dominate regional weaver's guilds and they became shelters for 'heretical' congregations as well as the movement of their materials and personnel. The time has certainly come to revisit these historical precedents.
Evangelicalism in the spirit of Rome and the Papacy has joined with the secular culture in labouring to Sacralise almost every aspect and facet of society. One cannot attend a sports event without the veneration of the state, and the Evangelicals love it so and champion such displays of adoration. Even children's sports and certainly the elementary schools have incorporated these rituals of veneration for the flag and the 'troops'.
You can scarcely join a club or in many cases work for a company and you're not forced to wear a flag or drive a vehicle with a flag. When I get my oil changed I am required to sign the form acknowledging payment and the checklist of accomplished items. At the bottom there's a blasphemous note about 'God Bless the Troops' incorporated into the form.
If you have a conscience about these matters, you are excluded. I refuse to work for churches and aid them in the construction and repair of their idolatrous temples and yet how often am I confronted with clients that all but insist I aid them in some kind of veneration of the flag and troops. They want me to build them something, paint something. It's unbelievable. I can't escape it. I am vexed by their words and deeds.
Everywhere we are assailed with the cult of bumper stickers and hats celebrating participation in murderous and criminal wars. I cannot describe the visceral reaction that stirs within me when I see someone donning a 'Vietnam Veteran' hat. I've studied too much about that war to not react with horror and revulsion at the notion that someone would brazenly celebrate their participation in that almost genocidal debacle.
And then when that same person professes to be a Christian, a righteous indignation swells within me.
The same is true with regard to both Iraq Wars. Their badge of honour, is in reality shame and a proclamation that they are all too happy to participate in lies and murder... they are men without consciences.
The Christian Church in the United States is perhaps even more guilty of this syncretism and idolatry than the culture at large. Desperate to maintain their romantic narratives concerning their blasphemous pseudo-Zion they are engaged in a frenzy of über-nationalism, an almost frantic effort to propagandise themselves and those around them. It's reminiscent of the fanaticism found in totalitarian states.
Increasingly Christians are shut out of the most basic aspects of society. If your conscience is active the number of available jobs and social activities is rapidly dwindling. But this has been the case. It's not something that just recently developed because the state has formally embraced sodomy. That was but the logical and spiritual consequence of the course this nation has been on for several generations.
Some will say patronisingly... ah, a weaker brother speaks. His conscience is tender and his scruples handicap him in the real world.
Nay, oh man. The weaker brother in Romans is the one who felt compelled to maintain Old Covenant ritual and practice, one that had to be endured out of Christian charity during the era of Covenant overlap and transition. This passage has been abused by innovators and libertines.
Or in the Corinthian example, the weaker brother would (in our present socio-political context) be one who is afraid to register a business with the state or obey its laws out of fear of pagan contamination. It's becoming all too common. We are called to obey the laws. If you can't, the answer isn't to run your business illegally. You are called to suffering. It is only in the realm of the Church that we will completely disregard their laws. We will not stop worshipping, we will not stop preaching etc...
It is another passage greatly abused by those who promote Dominion theology. They use it not as a parameter for Christian charity but instead as a vehicle for license.
Ironically it is on this point of conformity that so many Churches out of a desire for respectability and in many cases greed are happy to capitulate to the state, register and allow civil law to influence and dictate ecclesiastical polity. Take your personal tax subsidy but the Church should never register with the state, tax breaks or no. Doing so allows the state a voice in the operations of the Church.
I am not establishing some kind of legalist parameter for what Christians can or cannot do. I'm simply identifying the fact that there is a parameter and it has been all but missed by the adherents of the dominant Sacralist theology. Individuals must work out these things for themselves. These are issues of conscience. The Church can assist but largely even the elders of local congregations cannot issue mandates when it comes to some of these decisions. But instead of guidance the corrupt leaders of the Church are quick to affirm the world and worldly employments... all the more if it generates wealth.
Whether you can in clear conscience work for this or that company or be engaged in this or that industry is your decision. But what I lament is that I rarely encounter anyone who has even wrestled with the issue.
Why would they? The leaders of Evangelicalism decry the non-Christian worldview of their congregants, the lack of zeal and the failure to be salt and light. Their outrage is itself outrageous. For a generation now they have vigorously taught a world-affirming theology that demands every aspect and field within society must be engaged and transformed. Everyone must go out and swim in the sewer in order to clean it up. And now everyone is tainted by the smell of the world's filth. They live it, eat it, breathe it and regurgitate it.
You cannot survive and flourish in the world without embracing its values, ethos, ethics and vision. The world has not been transformed but the Church has. The Church has taught them to offer incense to Caesar, to bow to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar... just do it with a 'Biblical' worldview.
It's okay if you put a cross on the incense burner and atop the idolatrous statue. This signifies the transformation of these elements and appropriates them to the cause of Christ, or so we're told.
They're only fooling themselves. The cause if not the 'Christ' they serve are counterfeits.