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.

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