“From what place comes wars and fights among you? They are from this place, from your desires after pleasure which war in your members, are they not?” (James 4:1).
Modern ideological systems have convinced humanity that the “problems” of the world are located “outside” of a person: a political system, an economic system, racism, poverty, inequality, and so forth. Persons are generally viewed as “victims” of “systems” or governments. Where as in Christian though, systems are the reflections of the person. That is “evil” systems grow, multiply, gain power, and are supported because of persons willingly collaborating with sin and evil.
Persons are not the result of systems, rather systems are the result, to varying degrees, of the internal state of mankind. This of course does not exclude the reality that the relationship between system and person becomes cyclical. Persons within, for example, godless systems are encouraged by the external, which are the result of a wicked internal disposition, to cultivate further their own passions and godlessness. The internal then feeds the external, which in turn feeds the internal, and so on.
The past one hundred years prove that “systems” do not create “goodness.” They cannot. A survey of the numerous and various promises of earthly paradise through government or supposed lack thereof, which are only two sides of the same coin, definitively indicates that “oppression” and such do not reside in “systems” but rather in men given to sin and evil.
St. James makes clear that the source, the root, of all social problems is found within hearts given over to and controlled by sin and the passions. “Each is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own desire. Then after he conceives the desire, it brings forth sin; and sin, after it is fully formed brings death” (James 2:14-15).
Now, I’m not saying it does not matter what form of government you have. Certain systems surly are simply the result of human rebellion against God, such as the various forms of Communism. I sure do not want to have to live in a type of blatantly godless government. My point is to elucidate the source of true oppression and slavery in the world according to Divine Revelation.
“Wars and fights” spring from the human heart given over, enslaved, to desires, which also may be called the passions. The fallen human desire for “pleasure” results in oppression. He also says that these passions “war in your members,” that is, they create not an internal peace but an internal turmoil which is then reflected externally. The current “social unrest” should be understood in this light. The hearts of men are sick and this reflects in society. Sick hearts are easily stirred into a frenzy.
Most do not want to take responsibility for the evil in their own hearts. Thus, systems continue to be made which deny this and then “blame” the problem of evil on other external “systems.” They then claim that a magic change will transpire if the said guilty system/government is overthrown. And humanity is led around like an ass by a carrot.
“You desire and have not. You murder and are jealous and are not able to attain. You fight and war, but you have not …” (James 4:2).
Most current systems make a massive appeal to the appetitive aspect of humanity. “Those rich have it all, and you do not!” “Those white people have privilege, and you do not!” “If you do not act in such a way, you care nothing for others!” “Those, them, out there!” and on it could go.
The devil knows how to manipulate the desires of humanity. In most cases, he promises “freedom” through desire but the end result is only abject slavery to the passions and the devil.
Jealousy, lust, is a bottomless pit that can never be filled. It makes of persons total slaves. Such persons are ever being driven along by consuming desire which cultivates hatred. For no matter what is achieved and acquired, it will never be enough for such ones. With eyes blinded by greed such persons always find someone with more privilege and then seek to destroy him.
Thus, murder here is not simply physical murder, but moreover, spiritual murder which in many ways is worse. Those driven by fallen desire will not tolerate in the least those who in their minds are the “enemy.” Irrationality is a hallmark of such all-consuming desire. There is no place for reason, no place for any true discussion. Fallen desire creates a frenzied hatred that is bent only on destruction. For such persons believe that only through this all-consuming hatred and destruction can the “opposing system,” the perceived obstacle to the fulfillment of their desires, be eradicated. Such people believe that only then their desires will be placated and a “peace” achieved. Such should be pitied, for they are but slaves of the passions and the devil.
In the modern age, Traditional Christianity is constantly targeted as “backward,” “oppressive,” “chauvinistic,” “intolerant,” and so on. This is because Christianity addresses sin and fallen desire, it has Divine standards. Yet, those enslaved to the passions believe that their overlords of desire will be their freedom. When Christianity speaks against their masters, the masters incite their slaves to attack the very means by which they could be set free. Thus, every system of the modern age sets as primary either the eradication or the dissolution of Traditional Christianity. These systems are the result of rampant fallen desires in the hearts of men.
Promised “freedom” from the “constraints” of God, the fallen human heart willingly throws off its only hope of salvation. Then it goes about building a kingdom without God, this kingdom has a name – Hell. Hell is the desire to dwell and live without God. What we see as men run after fallen desire is that hell manifests itself even on earth.
“You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly for yourselves, that you might consume it in your desire for pleasure” (James 4:3).
Clearly, this can relate to prayer and the direct petition to God. Yet, also there are other “askings” that can take place. The many social endeavors are a form of asking. Protests and riots are a form of asking, and so on. The “asking” may vary in its degree of corruption.
Divine Revelation reveals that although many times human “asking” clothes its self in altruistic garb, the reality is – it is simply founded in fallen human desires and passions. We want “wealth equality” so we can have more! We want to crush “white privilege” so that we have more privilege! I’m just cherry-picking some current hot issues. Again, the list could go on. And these things simply fan the flame of fallen desire in the hearts of humanity. And as the flames are fanned we feel so righteous in our burning!
Ultimately the desire is to strip the perceived “injustice” from someone else so that we can use it for ourselves! Yet, we like to flatter ourselves as a race and claim that “we” will be the ones who do it all “rightly.” We will be the generation that brings peace and stability to the empire!
Every “social injustice” has its roots in the passions of each person. This is why True Christianity calls the faithful to start with personal repentance, which is the setting aright of their own hearts. Evil is not an external thing, but it is a matter of each human heart. Heal the heart and you then will heal society. Otherwise, there will only be a changing of the guard, those that use fallen desire to overthrow those that are currently ruling through the power of fallen desire.
In such a cycle the subsequent systems become more and more corrupt, for as the fallen heart pursues its uncontrollable desires it makes more and more oppressive and debased systems; repeat the process. I would posture that this is how the kingdom of the Antichrist eventually makes its appearance. It is but the culmination of the rampant sinful desires and passions of the human heart which refuses to repent and turn to God.
Thus, the problem of the world is not “social justice/injustice” in whatever form it is presented. And the primary job of true Christianity is not to dismantle “social injustice.” Our Lord came to heal persons through repentance and the purification of the heart. If a person is healed then he will share of his material possessions, he will see all men as fellow creations of God, he will deal with others “as he would be treated,” and all of this is the result not of external systems but the transformation of the heart by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
It must be pointed out that Christianity does not confess a Paradise of this world. That does not mean Christians are indifferent observers, no. It does mean that a Christian should understand that no system of man can eradicate sin and evil. A reality of this age is – there will always be persons that freely give themselves to evil. This is why there can never be a perfect system, a paradise, of this world.
St. James confirms this when he writes, “O adulterers and adulteresses! You know, do you not, that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world is rendered an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
St. John the Theologian elaborates in his epistle, “Do not keep on loving the world, not the things in the world. If anyone love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desire of the flesh, and the desire, of the eyes, and the false pretensions of life – is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 Jn. 2:15-16).
The system of the world, which is the results of fallen sinful desires produce only more turmoil. Sinful hearts will only produce sinful systems. The only true answer resides in “not loving the world.” That is, refusing to be a slave to the desires and passions of sin.
St. James gives us a simple resolution. “Be subject therefore to God” (James 4:7).
Only through subjecting our hearts to God through repentance will any sort of peace be achieved.
And yet, it seems, we as a race desire to be our own masters. The end of which will be terrible. The fruits of which are becoming fearfully ripe. “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord … Indeed, we count then happy who endure” (James 5:7,11).
2 thoughts on “Government, Social Justice, and the Hearts of Men”
Great text according to st.James epistle. My thought is that USA is the whore of Babylon, every modern state and revolution has roots in the American Revolution, all antichristian agendas are spread all around the world by USA. I am orthodox from Croatia, and have blog not so spiritual as yours, but have the same questions, and have orthodox answers (I suppose).
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