In Part 1 of this series, we considered Human Rights and The Purpose of Government. If the purpose of government is to protect human rights, how do we organize our government? With a quote that has become trite with usage, James Madison framed the problem.
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. — James Madison, Federalist No. 51 (6 February 1788) (from here)
What was Madison talking about? In a Christian nation that still remembered the power King George III had abused, We the People understood. Today? We need to study the matter more carefully. Madison and two other gentlemen wrote about our lack of angelic character and other problems in The Federalist Papers. If you have not read that great work, please do so, but first consider how Shakespeare described our existence.
Speech: “All the world’s a stage”
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
(from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques)
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. (continued here)
Why do we have so much difficulty governing ourselves? We refuse to humbly accept our role in God’s play. If all the world’s a stage, whose stage is it? We each play a role, but who assigned us a role? God, of course. We can either play the role He has assigned to us, or we can rebel and try make the play about us. Of course, we rebel. This is the temptation that caused Adam and Eve to sin.
How do we sin?
- We form into factions or teams. After Eve bit into the forbidden fruit she immediately offered Adam a bite, suddenly realizing she had bitten off more that she could chew. We each try to organize the other players to serve our needs. Ostensibly, we seek to win glory, power, and wealth for our team. We look for others with shared interests. So, we organize by race, creed, sex, nationality, occupation, disability, entertainment preferences, social causes, economic class, and so forth; any parameter which might serve our purpose and give us the power of numbers.
- Instead of God, we worship idols, but today our idols are not made of metal, stone, or wood. Instead, we have “scientific truths”, whatever valuable stuff we acquire, sexual pleasure, the almighty state, and our wonderful self. Like Adam and Eve, still too full of ourselves, we still seek to be like God.
Why do we rebel? We want to exalt ourselves. In pursuit of pride we “believe” we deserve what belongs to others. That’s why there is a commandment against covetousness.
Exodus 20:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
In addition to what belongs to our neighbors, we covet the glory that belongs to God. We should worship God, not try to replace Him, but to resist that temptation……
So, what should we do instead? Repent. Turn to our Lord, Jesus Christ. This universe is of His making, not our doing.
Colossians 1:15-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
We should learn to love our Lord Jesus and humble ourselves as He did when He took the form of a man and died on cross (see Philippians 2:1-11). The Bible promises that if we love Him and put our faith in Him we can obey Him and love each other as we love our self.
Is it easy to love God? No. Is it easy to be humble? No. That is why the Founders designed a government full of checks and balances. Instead of an all powerful king, we have three branches of government: Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. In addition, the Founders retained their State and local governments. Therefore they the divided executive, legislative and judicial powers among thousands of people.
In their effort to protect We the People from the abuses of power, the Founders risked chaos. So, why do the People of the United States have a history of being relatively efficient at getting things done? The answer is freedom. When the Founders set up the government of America, they also sought to protect the People from the abuses of power by limiting the power of the government. They wrote charters, constitutions, for both the Federal Government and the State governments that stated the powers of those governments. Whenever powers those constitutions did not give the government remained with the People. Thus, We the People can do whatever the law does not prohibit. Under the protection of a beneficent government, our government, We the People can get things We want to do done.
Therefore, We the People may not live exactly as We wish, but We don’t have to live the way some powerful busybody tells us to live. We retain the power to run our own lives as best We can.
What is to come?
- Part 3 – The Motivation And The Sin: What is the basic flaw in Socialism? What makes Socialism fundamentally immoral?