"The Church never said that wrongs could not or should not be righted; or that commonwealths could not or should not be made happier; or that it was not worth while to help them in secular and material things; or that it is not a good thing if manners become milder, or comforts more common, or cruelties more rare. But she did say that we must not count on the certainty even of comforts becoming more common or cruelties more rare; as if this were an inevitable social trend towards a sinless humanity; instead of being as it was a mood of man, and perhaps a better mood, possibly to be followed by a worse one. We must not hate humanity, or despise humanity, or refuse to help humanity; but we must not trust humanity; in the sense of trusting a trend in human nature which cannot turn back to bad things." -GK Chesterton
I just saw this quote for the first time today. Most of my postings of GKC quotes are ones that I had some vague familiarity with. This one was well timed with something I've been pondering.
What I really like about GKC is he puts sharp and precise words to what I'm thinking. Of course I'm wrestling with wild loose concepts and he bundles them together and tames them. Sunday was a strange day as I had a decent online discussion regarding the mandate for contraceptive coverage expanding into religious institutions. That evening I also attended a meeting on exploring other denominations since the PC-USA has been so fast and free with their doctrine; especially supporting more politically charged (rather than biblically charged) stands.
All of this had me wondering about the relationship with church in culture. How do you plug in without getting sucked down? How can you be a voice proclaiming the truth if you had just preached the heresies?
To me the mandate of tending to the poor and the widows has been a mandate to me and my church; it is not for me to support a government program that might try to do it. Certainly not a calling to create a government program for it. Beyond the inefficiency, it's numbing. It is simply too easy to drop a twenty in the plate and then be numb and comforted by the thought that "I did my part". That's without getting into the corruption potential once it leaves the sight of the giver. Some government programs do exist that do good and help people, but the church should be better at doing it. I simply trust the group of men assembled for God (however poorly it may be reflected at times) over the group of men assembled for governing men.
This quote struck me for how it captures the trick. Humanity may swing to doing something good; allow it, support it - but do not trust it. The only way humanity moves towards being less sinful is by refusing to call sins sins.