“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. “--Gen. 8:20-21
“ In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
As I write these words I know that I am entering into one of the ‘danger zones’ of polite company but probably even more so in the church where political preferences easily erupt into passions quickly mistaken for actual articles of faith. I assure you I do have political points of view and preferences but have little interest in promoting them this context. What I do wish to accomplish in this series is actually quite simple. In light of this being an election year and all that it entails (the good, the bad, and the downright ugly!), I would humbly submit to you several short articles that consider what Scripture says about the role of government in our lives with the hope that as Christians our thinking and decision-making will in some way be shaped by the mind and spirit of Christ.
As an avid listener to “Talk-Radio” one of the common themes I hear is the need for less government or limited government. For the most part I agree with this idea if for no other reason than their opposites, more government and unlimited government, definitely would not make any of our lives better and probably would make them worse. But something that is missing in our discourse on the topic is the spiritual reality of man. The Bible teaches three important truths about humanity. First man is the highest creation on this planet because he is “made in the image of God.” Second, man is so loved by God that God sent His Son to redeem our lives. And finally, man is a fallen creature and therefore totally depraved. As such, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that men are totally evil and incapable of good and noble things. What it does mean is that all of us are broken in our thinking, values, and wills. At core, apart from Christ, we want to be our own god and be a law unto ourselves.
Thus to be able to reduce the amount of laws we have and hence the amount of government and to not fall into total chaos and lawlessness would actually require more than electing the “right” candidates, it would require a massive improvement in everyone’s character. Given the state of human society today, I suspect you won’t being seeing the need for any prisons to close, armies to disband, or police forces going out of business any time soon.
And so as we think about why government exists in the first place we must understand that it is actually a servant of God that is there to serve as check and balance against human depravity and lawlessness. When we consider our own capacity to sin, we should recognize right away that God has made provision for humanity in this way that is neither overly optimistic or pessimistic, just realistic. Man needs something outside of himself to help him do the right thing and failing that to stop him from doing the wrong thing.