WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY

Marie Antoinette's execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)
Marie Antoinette‘s execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)

There is a saying that is unwise.

Love rules without rules. — Anonymous (from here)

Not even for the sake of love should we set aside all the rules. Yet many use that excuse when they vote. Instead of voting for the most competent and honorable candidate, the one who promises to support and defend the Constitution and keep our country safe and secure, they vote for the most charming and charismatic fellow.

Does this sound silly? What is the point of associating romance with politics? We expect lovers to be a bit nutty, right? Yet there is very little these days that is rational about our politics. That is a subjectinsanitybytes22 amusingly explores in this post, Running the Gauntlet.

When we love without rules, what is the problem? Do we let our passions dominate our reason? No. What we set aside is wisdom, not reason. We still know what is going on. We still know what we are doing. What we do not do is care about whether our choices are right our wrong.

The ability to reason simply allows us to logically work our way through cause and effect relationships.  Consider.

  • If a woman gives in to the ardor of a passionate suitor, don’t both of them know what is going to happen?
  • If we vote for a politician who makes extravagant promises to care for the poor, the old, the children, the sick and so forth, don’t we know he is not serious about balancing the budget?

When we consider the rules, which alternatives are right and which are wrong,  wisdom takes us a step or two further than reason.

  • Before a woman gives into a passionate suitor, she wisely considers the character of her suitor. Out of self-respect and for the sake of any children she might have, she demands a good marriage before sex.
  • Before a voter chooses a candidate, he considers that candidate’s record. Does that candidate have a good record? Will he honor the Constitution? Will he try to balance the budget?

Thus, reason often fails to look beyond the desires of the moment, whereas wisdom — because the wise strive to discern good from evil — carefully evaluates the consequences.

Logic and science provide the basis for reason. From where do we derive wisdom? In our society, we have traditionally used the Bible. Yet many in our day insist we cannot mix religion with politics. Instead, they say we must keep church and state separate, that politics is just about keeping the peace. Out of “respect” for religion, secularists may even say that only God can judge another person’s sins, that what defines sin is too personal for politics.

Doesn’t the Constitution say we have a secular state? No. Those who demand the separation of church and state often argue that the word “God” is not in the Constitution, but they neglect to mention the word “secular” is also not in the Constitution. The word “religion,” however, is in the Constitution. It is in the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note that the First Amendment protects our religious rights. It prohibits the government from interfering with the people’s religious rights, not the other way around. Therefore, the Constitution does not discourage us from trying to make certain our government upholds our moral and religious beliefs.

In fact, as Christians we should expect our government to uphold our moral and religious values. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote. Remember that the Roman Empire executed Jesus and persecuted Christians, that Roman authorities also executed Paul by cutting off his head with a sword.

Romans 13:1-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

There are worse things than a bad government. That is no government at all. Since those who lived around the Mediterranean Sea recognized the rule of the Roman Empire, Paul did not advocate its overthrow. Instead, he preached the Gospel to Roman officials, and he urged Christians to pray for them.

When the founders of this nation spoke of a secular government, what were they getting at? We know they believed God blessed their efforts, but they did not claim divine guidance. In so far as they knew, the American government functioned purely as a man-made organization with three tiers (federal, state, and local). Hence, they did not believe Federal Government could rightfully impose or establish a national religion. Nevertheless, We the People must work to make certain that what our government  conforms to our moral and religious beliefs. Good government depends upon a moral people, not moral leaders.

Consider the gravity of our task. Government exists to exercise force. When our leaders make laws, spend our money, and tax us, they use military and police forces to enforce their will. Therefore, when any of us attempt to thwart the will of our leaders, we risk arrest, trial, conviction, and punishment. While it is true that judges and juries render a secular judgement (They do not judge people’s souls.), if we do not believe someone has committed a sin against another person, what is point in arresting them, trying them, convicting them, and punishing them? If We the People do not view what one of our fellow citizens is doing as evil, why would we want our government to punish them?

Consider the alternative. When we allow our government to punish our fellow citizens for arbitrary reasons, we empower difficult people (especially harmful sinners) with the ability to severely trouble both ourselves and our neighbors and for no good reason.

Given then that we have a Christian duty to influence our government for the better, what should we to do? What kind of government does the Bible encourage? To that question there is no simple answer.

The Bible speaks a great deal about government. The Old Testament provides the Mosaic Code. The Jews referred to this as the Law. The New Testament does not ignore government or the Law.  For example, the New Testament tells us when we should obey the legitimate governing authorities. We render to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Nevertheless, Jesus never told us what kind of government we should have.

What we can guess, however, is our government should allow each of us to answer to our own conscience. We each should allow our neighbors to live as they think proper.

Romans 14:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Other Views

47 thoughts on “WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY

  1. Not sure I would say that Scripture doesn’t give us any clue as to what sort of government a moral people should seek. One cannot base a government on principles of socialism and be within the teachings of Scripture. This is because all socialist systems are based upon claims to the labor and property of other people. This violates the ‘though shalt not covet/steal’ commandment 🙂

    Nor would a secular dictatorship/monarchy fall within the teachings of Scripture — but one that is founded on those teachings MAY be.

    Still, I believe I understand your point, and on the broader subject, I agree. Nice post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Black3Actual

      Thanks for the comment and the compliment.

      I don’t disagree with your comments about socialism or a secular dictatorship/monarchy. I think it is safe to say scripture rejects some forms of government. Nevertheless, I think the founders did a lot of head-scratching before they settled on a constitutional republic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Citizen Tom,

        They did. They rejected a monarchy (for obvious reason). They also rejected a direct democracy on grounds that they always degenerate into tyranny. For whatever reason, they settled on a republic. However, we do know that Madison suggested the three branches from a passage in Isaiah, and when asked after the 2nd Constitutional convention, Franklin told a friend that they found the basic principles of the new government in ‘the ancient Scriptures’ (i.e. the Bible).

        People like to ignore/dismiss these facts, but the founders recorded them for a reason: so WHEN we lost our way, we would have a beacon pointing us back in the direction of liberty.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The Founders divided government into three branches because to create law (the legislative), to enforce law (the executive) and to mediate conflicting legal interests (the judiciary) are what define the power to rule over men; and since only God can rule over men, the Founders separated the power of God to rule over men, into their constituent parts, thus allowing liberty (self-rule) to flourish.

          That critical, profound and self-evident truth was “discovered” by Enlightenment political philosopher Charles de Montesquieu, the most widely read political philosopher in Britain and the Colonies.

          The teachings of the Bible are critical to the American Republic because only a virtuous people can manage the type of regime (the republic) that requires self-rule.

          The greatest stories in the Bible, God freeing the Chosen People from slavery; and Jesus, the Son of God freeing all mankind from slavery to sin, are really stories about God teaching self-rule to mankind.

          Consequently, it is no surprise that America rose so quickly to be the most prosperous, most just, most technically advanced civilization in human history.

          But alas, it’s all gone.

          The American Republic ended on the day that pre-natal genocide, euphemistically called, “the woman’s right to choose,” was legalized.

          That was four decades ago.

          And freedom of the religion and all human rights ended only a couple of years ago when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

          We now live in a full blown tyranny and the crisis our American Union faces is a great if not greater than the crisis wrought by slavery which led to the Civil War.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Well, to be fair, it was “discovered” by de Montesquieu in the writings of Aristotle a couple of millennia earlier, and in the writings of Calvin and others as well.

          Don’t give up on us; we’re not dead yet! Let’s get an Article V “Convention for Proposing Amendments” going and patch the leaks in our once-limited government system.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 2 people

        3. @silenceofmind

          Interesting.

          I don’t know how the Bible supports the separation of powers, and I don’t think we have a full blown tyranny, but the rest I agree with. I also respect your concerns and fears.

          If we had a full blown tyranny, then ten percent of our population would be dying in concentration camps. If we want to regain the constitutional republic we once had –if we want to prevent a full blown tyranny — then we have much to do.

          We still have hope. Many of our countrymen still love God. Many also still cherish what the framers passed on to us. And many still seek to know the Truth.

          Like

        4. Keith,

          Let’s not be fair, let’s be accurate.

          The ancient Greeks were pagans.

          And great philosophers like Aristotle had no idea of the One True God, though they were able to reason out the existence of God, the First Cause.

          Their notion of divided government was based on how society tended to be divided among fundamental interests: the aristocrats, the merchants and the plebes.

          They had no idea about how intrinsically God and man were connected.

          Those notions where developed exclusively by the Hebrews and the Christians because it was God who revealed those notions to them.

          And then during the Enlightenment (it’s called that for a good reason) great Christian philosophers like Montesquieu and Locke developed the political philosophies which the Founding Fathers used to construct the American Republic.

          Further, it is absolute folly to believe the American Republic simply suffers from a leaky hull.

          The American Republic ship of state has been blasted to the bottom of the ocean.

          There is no hope of it ever being resurrected, either.

          That is because the moral fabric of our society has disintegrated to the point where anyone with open eyes can witness its collapse, in real time.

          There no longer exists the moral fiber in American society that is required for the existence of a republic.

          The nullification of the rights to life, free speech and religion are catastrophic and irreversible barring an extremely violent upheaval like the American Civil War.

          If the abortion genocide of 56,000,000 human beings hasn’t led to a violent upheaval, the type of change postmodern American Christians are hoping for isn’t going to happen.

          Likewise with the legalization of gay marriage which effectively expunged the rights to freedom of speech and religion.

          Christians just don’t have it in them to be violent counter revolutionaries. After all, our faith grew up during the Roman Empire and the Catholic Middle Ages.

          It will take a statesman the caliber and character of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to drive the American people into the apocalyptic crucible necessary to resurrect the American Republic.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Silence,

          First, well said (and accurately stated, as well). Second, I think you would be a perfect fit as a co-blogger on The Road to Concord. If you would be interested, please let me know. I’ll get you my email address and we can discuss it.

          Like

        6. I am American, and proudly so, but in no other respect would I qualify as a “postmodern American Christian.” So perhaps the dire pronouncement does not apply to me.

          The US is fixable, It will require work, not an attitude that all is already lost. And even you suggest that, with the statesmanship of a Washington or Lincoln, it would not be. So let’s work on helping that come about!

          You had suggested that the three-branches idea came from de Montesquieu. I merely pointed out that Aristotle wrote about the same concepts long before, and de Montesquieu credited Aristotle for the idea. And in between (among others) came Calvin, who was also enamored of three counter-posed branches of government.

          Undoubtedly, Aristotle was not working from a Christian perspective, as he was writing in Greece around 350 AD — and even the religious perspectives of Calvin and de Montesquieu would differ. But Aristotle was quite savvy on making government work, and I found him worth the study. As did de Montesquieu, of course.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Like

        7. @silenceofmind, who wrote:

          Keith,

          Let’s not be fair, let’s be accurate.

          The ancient Greeks were pagans.

          And great philosophers like Aristotle had no idea of the One True God, though they were able to reason out the existence of God, the First Cause.

          Their notion of divided government was based on how society tended to be divided among fundamental interests: the aristocrats, the merchants and the plebes.

          I hope to straighten out a misunderstanding. My original quibble was with this statement of yours:

          The Founders divided government into three branches because to create law (the legislative), to enforce law (the executive) and to mediate conflicting legal interests (the judiciary) are what define the power to rule over men; and since only God can rule over men, the Founders separated the power of God to rule over men, into their constituent parts, thus allowing liberty (self-rule) to flourish.

          That critical, profound and self-evident truth was “discovered” by Enlightenment political philosopher Charles de Montesquieu, the most widely read political philosopher in Britain and the Colonies.

          While Aristotle did not have the “since only God” motivation, he did indeed propose essentially the same three separate branches. This was not “the aristocrats, the merchants and the plebes” as you suggest above, but instead:

          When [the branches] are well-ordered, the constitution is well-ordered, and as they differ from one another, constitutions differ. There is (1) one element which deliberates about public affairs; secondly (2) that concerned with the magistrates- the question being, what they should be, over what they should exercise authority, and what should be the mode of electing to them; and thirdly (3) that which has judicial power.

          Yes, Aristotle was a “pagan” in your terms. But is fair to take completely away from him any credit for the three separate branches of a “well-ordered” constitution of government?

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        8. @silenceofmind

          There is this concept in the Bible we each need to review. Revival. Leadership of the caliber and character of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would be helpful, but we won’t choose such leadership until AFTER we have a revival.

          Our first obligation is to the salvation of souls of our neighbors, not the salvation of our republic.

          When we share the Gospel of Christ, our Lord changes people. As you effectively pointed out, our republic is a consequence of what God taught men, not something we would developed on our own. That is, our republic is a fringe benefit of being devout Christians.

          Oddly, Keith also has a role in this revival, even if he still cannot bring himself to accept Christ. Because Keith recognizes that the decline of our nation is a moral problem, he too must consider what philosophy enables men to live in peace with each other. He too must share that philosophy, and there is more to it than just the structure of our Constitution.

          Like

        9. Keith,

          It was not a principle discovered by the Greeks. They did NOT believe all men were created equal — and there are many reasons for this. But the short of it is that the modern Western world has credited the Greeks for much more than they deserve. This is because the modern Western world does not want to credit the true source of these things — Biblical teachings!

          Liked by 1 person

        10. Keith,

          How do you propose to repair the moral fiber of a people who engage in or allow a genocide of 56,000,000?

          The American Revolution and the American Civil War were catastrophes caused by a clash of different moral worldviews.

          In the case of the American Revolution, a radically activist minority of freedom lovers faced off against a superpower (Britain).

          That led to the Revolution which was a blood bath.

          Likewise, the Civil War. It was an even worse blood bath.

          What we have in America is an existential conflict between those who love liberty and those who love to satisfy their carnal appetites.

          The carnal appetite people will destroy anyone or anything that gets between them and the satisfaction of their appetites.

          It has really become a savage place out there and I don’t think the average Christian has any idea how bad things really are.

          Liked by 2 people

        11. Silence,

          I have an idea — but only because I read the Scriptures and see that we have become as Israel was right before God destroyed it — and for the same reasons.

          You are correct (though Keith does not seem to see or understand why). When a people degenerate, the only way to restore that society is by destroying the wicked and allowing the moral remnant to start over. Unfortunately, in our modern world, I do not see that this is possible anymore, and that is the primary reason I believe we may be about to experience the ‘final reset.’ I PRAY that the lost will listen and heed our warnings because, if I am correct, time is short.

          Liked by 1 person

        12. @silenceofmind, who wrote:

          How do you propose to repair the moral fiber of a people who engage in or allow a genocide of 56,000,000?

          I completely agree that late-term abortions are horrific things, and inhuman treatment of baby humans. But I don’t equate this with the mass slaughters carried out by the Nazis or the Soviets or the Japanese or the Communist Chinese or the Belgians or the Turks or the Rwandans (or the jihadists and their current campaign against Christians and Jews).

          The abortion issue is different; the direct participants have much to answer for but most are not direct participants. And while people always tend to rhetorically dehumanize their enemies, the genocidal groups were not making the argument that the victims were literally not human.

          But many who decide to abort their developing offspring do believe that these fetuses are not yet human. This is an issue of worldview, education, culture — and can be changed. But this is not the business of the federal government. Is it murder? Many argue for this, but even the penal codes for murder are not properly the province of the central federal government.

          So let me answer your question as to what I propose:

          Amend the Constitution to restore the limited government envisioned by the Framers.
          As part of that, unwind the federal administrative apparatus replacing it with state and local sovereignty.
          Rebuild the defense capabilities of the US, to reduce the chance of needing them.
          Realign our foreign policy to oppose our foes and support our allies, unwaveringly.
          Encourage the re-development of nuclear families, so much abused these days.
          Encourage the development of responsible parenting, not this helicopter coddling.
          Encourage the resurgence of patriotism, and of faith for those inclined.
          Encourage the re-development of a work ethic, including pride in all sorts of work.
          Encourage the development of charities to replace government handouts.
          Encourage respect for the rule of law, including the borders of the nation.
          Encourage the assimilation of all (not just immigrants!) into the American culture arising from all of the above.

          These are not easy — but the problem currently is that none of these are even goals. Realizing these goals will solve our major problems, I believe.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Like

        13. @Keith

          What is the correct order for a horse and a cart? That is, how do we persuade people to properly amend the Constitution?

          I believe that is the problem silenceofmind wants you to address.

          Like

        14. @Tom and Keith,

          Tom’s question to Keith (“That is, how do we persuade people to properly amend the Constitution?”) brought me full circle back to the first interchange I ever had with Keith. It was when you reblogged my first Due Process of Law article on May 25th last year, called “Can a Law Be Unlawful.” I was trying to start a train of thought that would illuminate the fact that, no matter how all the detailed x’s and o’s tactics play out in the daily political arena, the BIGGER picture is that the whole legislative and executive world is now operating in an “extra-Constitutional” manner. An alarming percentage of the federal statutes on the books, and many of the federal government’s overt actions are simply devoid of any Constitutional basis — which I asserted makes them philosophically/morally unlawful. As we’ve gotten to know each other, Keith and I have found we’re both enthusiastic advocates for an Article V Convention to amend our Constitution back towards its original intent.

          I would like to reprint a comment I made back then:

          [[Keith, I would also observe that it’s clear your (and Citizen Tom’s) greater interest is in “What do we do about it?”, and you’re not necessarily as interested in hearing the case for why it’s morally wrong for the government to pass bad, unconstitutional, improper, wrong, inappropriate, laws. But there are a LOT of people who would never stop to question the behavior of lawmakers like I am doing here. It’s them I am primarily addressing, not you. Why? Because I believe that educating them to question their government’s actions is THE BEST thing within my control to help “do something about it.” Clearly, the impeachment avenue that was provided by the Constitution will never seriously be used, because there’s too much political posturing and media subterfuge in the modern political arena for impeachment to be practical. So influencing moderates, independents, and new voters in their teens and twenties that they should be careful and effective with their voting power is what I’m all about….especially in this series. I’m trying to fight against the spread of moral relativism.]]

          – Jeff

          Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, I read that one a week ago I think, but thanks for the link.

        I’ve been around for eleven different presidents. One thing I’ve learned is that there is no firm correlation between character and competence in the job. I’ve seen ones that were seriously flawed persons who did good things (LBJ, Nixon), and much more ethical guys (Ford, Carter) who were ineffective presidents.

        Since we voters can’t tell what will happen, who will grow into the job and who will crash and burn, might as well go with your gut and pray for God to guide whoever wins.

        Like

        1. @Invisible Mikey

          One thing I’ve learned is that there is no firm correlation between character and competence in the job.

          That’s an interesting observation, but I am not certain how true it is. My gut feeling is that a president without good character rarely succeeds. The problem is that he is probably trying to do something other than what he should be doing.

          Did LBJ and Nixon do good things? Did both lack character? I wonder how well we can judge the character of such men.

          When I look at politician’s record, I consider whether I like what he set out to accomplish and how he went about trying to keep his promises. His character? If the guy makes a habit of doing what I consider unethical, he is not going to be my first choice. Nevertheless, even if he has a good record, I doubt my ability to judge a politician’s character.

          It appears we would agree that we make many important decisions with incomplete information, but the addition of prayer fills in a lot of information gaps. Hence, I think you will agree that we should pray about our choice as well as for whoever wins.

          In a constitutional republic, the wisdom of the people matters greatly, and wisdom is something we must request through prayer from our Maker.

          Thank you for your interesting comment and bringing up the subject of prayer.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. “…might as well go with your gut…”

          All in good fun here, but if we are speaking of politics and romance, it is actually not your “gut” that is leading.

          Good post, Tom. You have given me much food for thought.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I should have said perceived character, since all we can observe is behavior, actions. I specifically chose to refer to LBJ and Nixon because we have their unedited behavior on tape, recordings of all their meetings and calls in the Oval Office. From those tapes we can hear that both men were routinely profane and crude in speech, treated their employees disrespectfully, lied to form or disband alliances, drank to excess, and were both racist and anti-semitic. But we got most of the Civil Rights laws, improved air and water via the EPA and regulations, and the many technological benefits from the space program during these presidencies.

    But we always find out what really happened, even during our lifetimes, long after the events occur. History’s fascinating to research. The more you study it, the more myths get exploded.

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    1. @Invisible Mikey

      Too many people have a tendency to behave poorly when they think they are not being watched. Admittedly, I need to be watched.

      Frankly, I wonder about the character of politicians in general. Given the way the country is going, I wonder about the character of the American people.

      Remember what I said about men of bad character not doing what they should be doing. What was the net effect of those Civil Rights and EPA laws/regulations. Initially, both the Civil Rights and EPA laws/regulations produced some good effects. Then things started going downhill.

      With respect to their application to private enterprises, the Civil Rights laws are unconstitutional. Similarly, the notion the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide is a farce. Both the civil rights movement and the environmental movement have been used to establishment die-hard Democrat constituencies and for power grabs.

      When private companies discriminate, the market punishes them. All they are doing is turning away potential customers and employee. It is government we have to stop from idiot discrimination and bigotry. What is hurting blacks these days is our state-run school system, not exactly the civil rights issue LBJ supposedly fixed.

      The EPA has gotten so ridiculous we are using forty percent of our corn crop as a fuel additive that damages engines, a fuel additive that uses just as much fuel as it saves. That is crazy, an example of crony capitalism at its worst. But we supposedly just have to have alternative fuels.

      You want alternative fuels? Then tax people for using products that damage the environment. Make companies pay for recycling costs and for the cost of using up irreplaceable fossil fuels. Just do let politician tell business people how to run their business. And to make certain the taxes are applied so as to reflect the real costs as best we can, watch the government like a hawk.

      Like

      1. @Citizen Tom, who wrote:

        You want alternative fuels? Then tax people for using products that damage the environment. Make companies pay for recycling costs and for the cost of using up irreplaceable fossil fuels.

        Ouch! You were doing so well! But this is exactly what they’re trying to do.

        As far as “using up irreplaceable fossil fuels” is concerned, the elusive scarcity will automatically adjust the price and motivate alternatives. Why tax the poor for this, especially in advance?

        The “negative externalities” that “damage the environment” are made-up numbers designed to fuel government coffers and maintain control. The federal government is not qualified to do this, and may even have the externalities of CO2 backward. I suggest that CO2 emission is a net benefit. But keep the feds out of this!

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

        Like

        1. @Keith DeHavelle

          I just finished writing that last post, and then I saw your comment. I was looking forward to reading all the comments in the morning (bedtime), but then I saw your disappointment.

          The federal government is not qualified to do this, and may even have the externalities of CO2 backward.

          Keep in mind we are talking about a consumption tax. Those drive the libs bonkers.

          Pollution is not a new problem. So we do have some experience dealing with it. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of products we produce, we have an increasingly larger variety of pollutants. So controlling pollution has become increasingly complex. Thus we have a choice. We can increasingly regulate polluters and mangle our economic system or we can pay more attention to the incentives we give industry. I recommend the latter.

          Pollution imposes costs on our society. When our industries make products that pollute they should be taxed for doing so — unless they recover and recycle those pollutants.

          Is carbon dioxide a pollutant? No. However, the earth is finite. We will eventually use up all the fossil fuels, imposing a cost on future generations. In addition, burning fossil fuels produces pollution.

          Anyway, Congress establishes sales taxes. If we force Congress to vote on these pollution added taxes (instead of passing the buck to the president) and replace the entire tax code with pollution added taxes, I think the wrangling and the politicking would be hilarious.

          The entertainment value alone would be worth the change.

          Like

  3. Happy New Year, Tom. And happy Jonas blizzard.

    I have been absorbed in personal business and haven’t written in awhile, but receiving a pingback from you is always a welcome diversion. Your articles are so often like a multi-span bridge, with several places to pause and ponder.

    Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

    Tom: “There are worse things than a bad government. That is no government at all.”

    Those two quotes made me pause and ponder North Korea. I pray that God appoints somebody better than the evil dictator-boy they’ve got now, and soon. What a heart-wrenching existence those poor souls suffer. Perhaps you would agree their “bad government” is indeed worse than no government at all.

    I recently heard an audio reading of a portion of the 1967 book “Tortured for Christ” by Richard Wurmbrand. It’s a horrific first-hand account of the persecution of Christians behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe during the Post WW2 USSR nightmare years. It was riveting to listen to because of the strength of Wurmbrand’s faith, but the description of the pure evil inside the communist machine made my stomach churn.

    “Good government depends upon a moral people, not moral leaders.”

    After pondering it for awhile, I find that sentence unsatisfying. I agree with the bigger point you’re driving at — that the morals and values of We The People are the most fundamental long-term factor that determines whether we have good government or bad. But in the short term, immoral leaders can certainly foist “bad government” on us. So I’d say instead, “A moral people are able to ensure that good government survives bad periods stained by immoral leaders.”

    “Nevertheless, Jesus never told us what kind of government we should have.”

    I am only a novice student of the Bible. I chose “The Founders’ Bible” (NAS) for my first thorough dive into The Book, because I find the interleaved articles by David Barton illuminating. Barton discussed the biblical origins of America’s republican form of government in an article near Exodus 18:21 in the Old Testament, where Moses’ father-in-law Jethro told him: “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.”

    That sure sounds like a pretty clear description of a government that is neither a monarchy, empire, or a democracy. Since that’s from the Old Testament, it seems you and Black3Actual are both right. You said “Jesus never told us what kind of government we should have,” and he said “Not sure I would say that Scripture doesn’t give us any clue as to what sort of government a moral people should seek.”

    Tom: “I think the founders did a lot of head-scratching before they settled on a constitutional republic.”

    Black3Actual: “They did. They rejected a monarchy (for obvious reason). They also rejected a direct democracy on grounds that they always degenerate into tyranny. For whatever reason, they settled on a republic. However, we do know that Madison suggested the three branches from a passage in Isaiah, and when asked after the 2nd Constitutional convention, Franklin told a friend that they found the basic principles of the new government in ‘the ancient Scriptures’ (i.e. the Bible).”

    I’m quite a bit more well-read on the American founding than on the Bible, though I hope Keith DeHavelle weighs in here too because his knowledge blows mine away. I agree the Founders did a lot of head scratching when crafting the Constitution, but I don’t think it was much about the major form of the government. Rather, it was mostly about the specific implementation, structure, and safeguards. The key Founders were fully educated in the political philosophies from Europe’s Age of Enlightenment. In the book “The Spirit of the Laws” in 1748 (so it was contemporary to the Founders’ era), the Frenchman Baron de Montesquieu had well analyzed the virtues of a tripartite system of government, but even he drew upon a century-earlier set of ideas by John Locke and other lesser-known English philosophers. So it wasn’t ONLY Isaiah 33:22 that informed the Founders, although Madison himself seems to have attributed his awareness of “separation of powers” to the Bible, and not to Montesquieu. Or perhaps Madison was aware of both, but was correctly giving original credit where it truly belonged.

    To me, the great achievement with the Founders’ masterful U.S. Constitution was how they combined so many theoretical (and untried) philosophies from the Greeks, Romans, Christianity, and the Age of Enlightenment into a practical implementation of a constitutional republic. The head scratching was mostly about how to create institutions and procedures that would allow both the majority’s and the minority’s voices to be heard and balanced.

    Finally, thank you for including one of my articles in your Other Views links. Although I realize you were seeking examples of the tug-of-war between religious and secular ideologies, I’m actually surprised you selected the 18-month old Hobby Lobby SCOTUS article of mine, rather than the more recent “Reciprocity” where I made a comparison between dating and voting, similar to that in your opening section.

    As always, thanks for the stimulating discussion.

    And good luck shoveling.

    – Jeff

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me add my own recommendation of that Tortured for Christ audiobook. Grim and compelling, and inspiring at the same time. Who among us could have met those horrific challenges with such grace and perseverance?

      Here’s a sort of brain dump on the formation of our system of government, since you wanted input from me. I did find Aristotle’s works online just now, but I’ll keep links to a minimum.

      There are conceptual hints in Scripture and remarks by Jesus on what forms of government are disfavored, but the Framers took inspiration from Aristotle. Many Enlightenment thinkers tended to downplay Aristotle, though the re-discovery of his works is one of the factors leading to the Enlightenment. But many of the Framers read Aristotle directly as well as earlier writers he inspired including Locke and de Montesquieu.

      Aristotle spends the first several chapters of Book 4 of Politics cataloging systems of government in a way reminiscent of Linnaeus taking apart the structure of species of flowers. Aristotle gets something of a bad rap here, in which he is frequently said to “favor rule by a strong and virtuous leader.” This misunderstands him, as that is not his most favored arrangement. Here he describes a government divided into three branches:

      Having thus gained an appropriate basis of discussion, we will proceed to speak of the points which follow next in order. We will consider the subject not only in general but with reference to particular constitutions. All constitutions have three elements, concerning which the good lawgiver has to regard what is expedient for each constitution. When they are well-ordered, the constitution is well-ordered, and as they differ from one another, constitutions differ. There is (1) one element which deliberates about public affairs; secondly (2) that concerned with the magistrates- the question being, what they should be, over what they should exercise authority, and what should be the mode of electing to them; and thirdly (3) that which has judicial power.

      Aristotle’s work has given rise to many diagrams of governing systems. Of his favored system, he describes three functions, and de Montesquieu later develops this.

      But de Montesquieu, as important as he was, actually didn’t like the three-branch system all that much, and seemed a bit fuzzy about how England’s government actually worked. Calvin’s role in developing the three branch idea is also often overlooked.

      Still, Calvin was preceded by the deep thinking on these issues of Aristotle by almost exactly two thousand years, in which Aristotle developed surprisingly modern ideas not just of government, but of citizenship and virtue and liberty.

      So America was inspired by ancient Greece, who inspired Anglican and European thinkers. But those Europeans had been inspired by America already, as the experience of the early Pilgrim governments (including formalizing the concept of religious liberty) had been documented into a book popular in England and Europe that influenced de Montesquieu and others, and from thence back to us.

      The expression “scratched their heads” sounds to me like people gathering together and working a plan out from scratch. In the case of the Framers, a few key players arrived with plans already worked out in their minds. One, the Virginia Plan, was already written, and the Pinckney commentary, the New Jersey Plan, and Hamilton’s rather royalist idea now called the British Plan followed closely behind. These plans went through iterations of revision and combination to form the ultimate result. The Virginia Plan, for example, contains chunks with quite recognizable descendants in the Constitution.

      A key aspect of the Convention was that it wasn’t just a group of learned men — though it was certainly that. These men were representing a dozen different nations engaged in an exercise of forging a joint governing system. But each already had their own (often quite different) governing system, as well as strong ideas as to how the joint enterprise should look. The Constitutional Convention was thus a time more of compromise than invention — and yet ultimately invented the most successful governing system ever created.

      The US Constitution is not perfect, and certain ambiguities have been taken advantage of. (One of these, the Necessary and Proper clause, gave rise to Jeff’s blog name.) These quirks things can be, and should be, addressed. But the basic concepts have proven worthy of preserving, and restoring to the level of respect and authority that they deserve. Only through such a course of action can the United States be preserved as a prosperous and free land.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 2 people

      1. @Keith DeHavelle

        Although I think most people give Montesquieu the credit for first recognizing the importance of three separate branches of government, it would please me to see the idea is older than that. I guess I will have to read “Politics” by Aristotle again.

        Why did I use the words “scratched their heads”? Did I mean to imply that the writers of the Constitution came to the convention unprepared? No. Nevertheless, they had to work out some very difficult compromises.

        Because each of each us has our own world-view, our own values, and our own beliefs, we each have a different notion of the functions and the roles of government. We also have a different estimation of integrity of our fellow man. Therefore, we each have different requirements for a constitution. Hence framers spent a very difficult summer in each others company.

        Like

        1. Tom, you don’t need to comment further on this…..but I can’t help but point it out: Isn’t it interesting how your choice of words regarding what body part the Founders were scratching had a subliminal effect on a portion of this blog discussion. Both Keith and I perceive “head scratching” as indicating being stumped and needing to go back to square one — to a blank sheet of paper. Whereas you really meant a gesture indicating persistence in negotiating/bargaining. I guess I would have called that “chin scratching.” 🙂


          Your loyal body language translator….
          – Jeff

          Liked by 1 person

  4. @Jeff

    Thanks for the great comment and the kind compliment.

    Because of the links in your comment, the spam-checker stuck it moderation. Sorry about that.

    When is government worse than no government?
    Can a government be so awful it is worse than no government? In the modern era we have certain had such awful governments. A Nazi or communist regime can be hideous. Such regimes are worse than merely bad.

    When I was in college, I read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The first fifty pages were like listening to a speech of crying man. I almost put the book down and gave up on it. Then he grabbed hold of his emotions and began to tell his story, and I could not put the book down.

    Stalin created the gulags to stifle his opponents by working people to death. Somehow Solzhenitsyn survived to write about the horror.

    Why didn’t the Russians throw off Stalin’s regime? Fear! As your comment indicates, we have difficulty throwing off a police state, but eventually Stalin died. Yet now they have Putin. It appears to me that the Russians either want a tyrant or they don’t know how to avoid the rule of such a man.

    Does the Bible tell us how to form a government?
    I would say the Bible provides us characteristics of the type of government we should form.

    When Moses and Joshua ruled the Hebrews, both men stood in for God. They spoke with his voice. God has given us no such man. So we have to find and give power to our own Moses’ and Joshua’s, but we do not choose with the wisdom of God. So we cannot trust our choices. Hence the founders contrived a constitutional republic, knowing their own corruptible natures.

    I agree the Founders did a lot of head scratching when crafting the Constitution, but I don’t think it was much about the major form of the government. Rather, it was mostly about the specific implementation, structure, and safeguards.

    Thus, your observation and your notes about their careful research and planning.

    Why I chose that article from your blog

    I chose the articles I linked to by googling web sites I think well of. I searched on these words: love, wisdom, government, and tyranny. Those words are either in the blog post or the comments.

    Not too long after you posted it, I reblogged “Reciprocity.” Moreover, Why Must Unalienable Rights Be Legislatively Restored?? was the top google choice, and when I read that post I decided it fit in with the discussion on this post.

    Again, thank you for your thoughtful comment and kind compliment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Silence said, “It has really become a savage place out there and I don’t think the average Christian has any idea how bad things really are.”

    I know, right? We are so far off course both faith wise and government wise, and so many people don’t seem to see it. Jesus Christ gives me great hope however, but what is also reassuring is reading debates like this, realizing that there really are people paying attention, that some do see the issues we face.

    Liked by 1 person

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