What happens when Christians fail to understand their role in government? Their government becomes a threat to the spread of the Gospel. Does that sound a bit alarmist? Well, look at what is going on in Washington D.C. and Richmond, VA. At this point, the problem should be self-evident. Consider the moral decay.
- We abort babies by the millions, and euthanasia is growing ever more popular.
- We admire people who practice what we once had the good sense to regard as sexually perverse and self-destructive.
- Our mass media, the operators of our social media, and our elected leaders actively propagandize (lie) to us. Therefore, we find it increasingly difficult to discern and to share the truth with each other.
- Our country is more bitterly divided than at any time since the American Civil War. The side in power has actually reached the point where it is actively trying to “cancel,” that is, render silent, jobless, and totally ostracized, the people who oppose its goals. It seems to be only a matter of time before the practices of the “cancel culture” include violent persecution and legal sanctions.
- Our rights, which we once thought well-protected by the Bill of Rights, are threaten by pundits, lawyers, judges, and politicians who twist every word until what is good seems evil and what is evil seems good. These rights include our First Amendment right choose and freely exercise our own beliefs about who God is and how He wants us to worship Him.
- And so forth.
Because as Christians we have neglected our proper role in government so long, what we need to do repair our government (and our culture) is not obvious. So, this will be the first of five posts that examines the problem and suggests remedy.
- Part 1: Why and how Christians Respect The Rights Of Their Neighbors
- Part 2: What Rights Do The First Four Of The Ten Commandments protect?
- Part 3: What Rights Do The Last Six Of The Ten Commandments protect?
- Part 4: What Does The Bible Say About All Men Being Created Equal?
- Part 5: How Do We Fix This Mess?
Why and how Christians Respect The Rights Of Their Neighbors
Why would an American Christian believe that Christians have an important role in government? The Declaration of Independence provides a clue.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,Declaration of Independence: A Transcription | National Archives
We will set aside until Part 4 an examination of this phrase, “that all men are created equal.” However, keep this point in mind. Because God created all men in His image, we expect our government to treat every man and woman without partiality.
How did God gives us rights? Are these rights in the Bible? Yes. Exodus 20:1-17 NASB – The Ten Commandments – Then God spoke – Bible Gateway summarizes our rights. Is this difficult to believe, that The Ten Commandments is a human rights document? Well, here are several reasons for this confusion.
- The benefits of a “free” government education. Our government is no longer just a secular institution. Our government has become a secularizing influence. So, most of us don’t know much about the Bible, and what we do know is often wrong. Because our republic has been around for several lifetimes, our government has had plenty of time to render successive generations more and more ignorant of the Bible.
- The Bible doesn’t speak of “rights.” Instead of speaking of the “rights” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the Bible, the Word of God, reveals commandments and the wisdom from God. Instead of telling us we have a right to life, for example, the Bible tells us not to murder other people. Think! God gives each of us life. We don’t murder our neighbors because we each have the “right” to the life God gave us. We are His servants, and He has commanded us not to murder each other.
- Confusion over the meaning of the word “right.” Over time what we call a “right” has changed (see right | Search Online Etymology Dictionary (etymonline.com)). Originally what people thought of as “rights” we now absurdly call “negative” rights. Since then, starting in about 1825, people have started referring to the “rights” that the government gives them. These are supposedly “positive” rights. We have reached the point where people now think they have a “right” to “free” health care at someone else’s expense.
Still don’t understand the distinction between positive and negative rights? Well, that distinction is important. Check out Section 2.1.8 of this document, Rights (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), or have more fun listening to Ben Shapiro.
As the result of government-run schools, ignorance of the Bible, and confusion over the meaning of the word “rights,” most of us don’t think of the Bible as the place where God gave us our rights. Yet, with a little study, it becomes obvious that Exodus 20:1-17 NASB – The Ten Commandments – Then God spoke – Bible Gateway is a list of rights. Given what they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, the Founders of our government understood our rights as God-given, and they most certainly studied the Bible much more carefully than we do today.
Unfortunately, Americans increasingly believe that all God requires is that we love each other, and Americans increasingly believe love gives them license to do whatever they think love requires. That leads to an age-old horror. Instead of doing what seems right in God’s eyes, we do what seems right in our own eyes.
Consider that the Book of Judges is more frightening than any horror novel, and this verse is its theme.
When we do not make God our King — when we do what seems right in our own eyes — we sin. We sin because we do not ask God for wisdom, and even love, when we wish to love well, requires wisdom.
The Founders understood that to love our neighbor properly requires Biblical wisdom. Love, even when we are in the majority, does not excuse us from the need to discern the difference between good and evil.
Because we are fallen, we are each born as sinners. That is why the Founder of our nation created a constitutional republic. Even though most people now call the United States a democracy, the Founders very deliberately created a constitutional republic, and that distinction is highly important. What is the difference?
- In a democracy, the majority rules without restraint. Without restraint, the majority rules as a mob, and individuals must obey whatever the majority requires or accept the consequences of their disobedience. Since only a coward always chooses to be in the majority, the prospect of mob rule should horrify anyone.
- In a constitutional republic, the majority accepts the restraints defined by their constitution. However, these restraints are defined in a backwards fashion. The majority can only exercise the powers that their constitution gives their government. That is, the majority can exercise those powers the constitution gives to the government, and the government must follow the procedures dedicated by their constitution. That allows the individual to do whatever the government does not prohibit. This restraint, the self restraint provided by a People who honor their constitution, protects the right of individuals to run their own lives.
Does a constitutional republic prevent men from doing what seems right in their own eyes instead of God’s eyes? No, but the Founders understood the value of freedom. They understood that God gives us the right to freely choose whether or not to love Him. They understood that if we love God we will dedicate our lives to Him. Therefore, they set up a government designed to allow their neighbors to dedicate their lives to God, or not, as each sees fit. In a free country, we each get to choose whether or not to make God our King, and we get to decide for ourselves how God would have us worship Him.
To Be Continued.