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Not Of This World, And Certainly Not Globalist

In the course of giving his devastating reply to Derbyshire's review of his book Religion of Peace?, Robert Spencer reminds us once again of a crucial point regarding Christianity and immigration:

In reality, Christianity has no inherent connection at all with open-borders insanity and globalization. No less prominent a Christian than St. Thomas Aquinas expressed the mainstream Christian view when he said that “after his duties towards God, man owes most to his parents and his country. One’s duties towards one’s parents include one’s obligations towards one’s relatives, because these latter have sprung from [or are connected by ties of blood with] one’s parents…and the services due to one’s country have for their object all one’s fellow-countrymen and all the friends of one’s fatherland.” An open-borders globalist? Not quite.

It is telling that many of those who either cite the Gospel as the source for rejecting national loyalties and/or supporting immigration or invoke the Lord to justify the importation and exploitation of poor labourers are not themselves professing Christians. Of course, the absurdity of justifying the exploitation of labourers in the name of Christian fraternity ought to be obvious, but we live in dark times where even the simplest things are obscured. This quote also brings us back to the question of the relationship between Christianity and patriotism.

It has also never been clear to me where anyone came across the idea that orthodox Christianity endorses or encourages egalitarianism or rootless cosmopolitanism. (There have been many modern Christians who have understood their religion in this way, but their egalitarian and cosmopolitan views are typically matched by their departure from orthodoxy more generally.) The teachings in the Gospels and Epistles presuppose social hierarchy and patriarchal authority, and their authors literally cannot conceive of a world in which civic and family obligations are weak or non-existent, much less do they advocate for such a view. If Christianity is "universal" in that it is for the salvation of all, it nonetheless does not obliterate natural loyalties and affinities to particular places and peoples. Being willing to leave all your earthly relations for the sake of following God is a measure of the devotion the believer has and his desire to put God first--it does not abrogate his obligations to his kith and kin. Indeed, to be a good and faithful servant, the Christian must not only show mercy to those who seek it from him, but he must also discharge his duties to those to whom he is obliged and related. The Apostle exhorts: "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (I Tim. 5:8)

For more on this, I recommend Dr. Fleming's The Morality of Everyday Life.

Cross-posted at Eunomia

Comments (4)

I'm not sure how one can leave all one's earthly relations for the sake of following God without abrogating one's obligations to one's "kith and kin."

On the other hand, to say that one's obligations to God *trump* one's obligations to family is not to say that one *has* no obligations to family. Maybe that's the thought here.

Isn't the phrase "rootless cosmopolitan" a Stalin-era euphemism for "jewish?" I agree that orthodox Christianity does not exactly endorse jewishness.

But does it endorse or encourage egalitarianism? Hmmm...that's a can of worms. Surely Christianity has played a prominent role in ameliorating various forms of inequality, over the centuries - and surely that's a *good* thing?

Surely Christianity has played a prominent role in ameliorating various forms of inequality, over the centuries - and surely that's a *good* thing?

It seems to me that most discussions involving "equality" are contentless. Every decision we make involves discrimination. Discriminating in a way which goes against the natural law is bad, so inter alia "equality" in such a case is good. Discrimination required under the natural law is good and necessary, so inter alia "equality" in such a case is bad. We'd be better off simply dispensing with the content-free "equality" talk and deal with what is right and what is wrong, in my view.

I agree with virtually everything in this post. I didn't know that about the phrase "rootless cosmopolitan," though.

I'm also strongly inclined to agree with Zippy about the difficulty in giving content to any general sense of "equality." I suppose, though, that's why Steve said "various forms of inequality."

Perhaps the most general thing we can say is something like this: Human beings in a state of nature are often inclined to exaggerate natural category differences and to draw wrong conclusions from these differences. So, for example, it's true that men are stronger than women and that this makes it natural for men to be in positions of rule and leadership, including in a marriage. The exaggerated version of this is that knocking your wife around is okay and sometimes necessary. It's natural to feel more love for and obligation to your immediate family than for those outside of your kith and kin. The exaggeration of that is loving your children and blowing sky-high the children of those designated as enemies or "the other guy." And so forth.

Christianity has come in with an emphasis on certain aspects of the natural law that were getting overlooked--such as, it's not okay deliberately to blow children sky-high, even when they belong to your enemies. This has tended to contradict the wrongful conclusions people were drawing from natural inequalities. Unfortunately, some have therefore concluded that there are no natural inequalities to begin with.

Something a bit similar is true of pacifism: *In one sense* it's radical to teach that we should love our enemies. But it doesn't follow that we can never defend ourselves against our enemies.

What I was trying to describe was the willingness to leave everything for God. Obviously, monastics do leave all their relations behind to live only for God, but not all Christians have the calling or the capacity to do this, and furthermore it is not the only way that Christians are meant to serve God. Ideally, monastics thus have the function of serving as prophetic and eschatological witnesses of Christian community, by living almost entirely outside the world. The obligations of a monastic and a layman are not entirely different, of course, but the latter has responsibilities in the world that he is bound to fulfill. Nonetheless, serving God should remain at the center or at the head, if you like, of all his duties, and should guide him in how he fulfills all his other duties. That is what I was trying to get across, but which I apparently expressed too quickly.

Ameliorating the abuses of stratified or unequal relationships is different from the sort of radical political and social egalitarianism I had in mind (and, yes, ameliorating injustices and abuses is a good thing). The phrase "rootless cosmopolitanism" has some very negative associations, as Steve rightly pointed out, and I should have thought of that and been more precise in what I mean. I mean by it a cosmopolitanism that puts no store by cultural and political diversity on the one hand (a cosmopolitanism of homogenisation), and also one that has no interest in loyalties to one's own place, people and traditions (a cosmopolitanism that prizes mobility and disconnectedness).

There is, I believe, a patriotic cosmopolitanism that is able to recognise the virtues and achievements of other cultures and nations without ignoring or abandoning one's own. It is because of a person's devotion to his own place and people that he is best able to respect the loyalties and customs of others. A cosmopolitanism that has no respect for place and regards a people's traditions and customs as barriers to their progress is what I would call rootless, but perhaps someone can come up with a different word that is not so disagreeable.

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