INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 4

The post continues where INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 3B left off. Please refer to INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1 for links to the other posts.

Note that this series briefly diverted to examine a particular subject in-depth, GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS OR GOVERNMENT-GIVEN RIGHTS?

Why? Our view of government depends upon whether we believe God or Government gives us our rights.

Restoring Our Constitutional Republic

When we read the The United States Constitution, we won’t find anything that looks especially awe-inspiring in the document itself. After all, the Constitution is just a set of rules that mostly describes the structure of the government.

  • There are three branches of government.
  • The Constitution  carefully describes the rules and procedures used to appoint men to run each branch of government.
  • The Constitution assigns each branch of government certain powers, powers that can be checked and/or balanced by the other branches.

The Constitution reads like the rules for card game, dry and Spartan prose. Unless we stop to consider that the Constitution is the governing document of the world’s most powerful nation, there is nothing especially impressive about it.

Why these rules? Why a constitution? The Preamble briefly describes the purpose of the Constitution, but the Constitution does not reference any other document. To understand the philosophy of the men who wrote the Constitution, we have to consult other works. Then we have to assess what we can learn and decide for ourselves what we believe.

What is the most obvious document we should consult. Yesterday, we celebrated Independence Day. We don’t celebrate Constitution Day with similar fervor. The 4th of July is the day we set aside to memorialize the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Because of these lines, that declaration is very special to some people.

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, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. (from here)

When they contemplated separation from the United Kingdom, our nation’s founders had to address the morality of their decision. Each man had to ask, what gives me the right to do this? Consider what the Bible says about government.

Romans 13:1-7 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

13 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

In 1776, the people who populated the 13 American colonies were Christians, most of whom were familiar with the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. They knew the Roman Empire had persecuted Christians. Yet the Apostle Paul, who was eventually beheaded by the Roman Empire, counseled obedience.  Therefore, these people could not be driven to make a hasty decision to rebel. Instead, their had to carefully persuade them it was morally right to rebel.

Thus, the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and enumerated their objections to the British crown. Their list included the fact that King George had violated the very purpose of government, which the declaration clearly and succinctly stated.

What about us? We still celebrate the Declaration of Independence, but do we believe in God-given or Government-given rights? Do we believe government exists to secure our rights or to give us our “rights”?

Is there a way we can slowly restore our constitutional republic? Yes, but first we must each resolve these arguments for ourselves first.

  • What is the place of God in our lives?
  • Why does government exist?

Consider how Jesus answered the Pharisees and of the Herodians.

Mark 12:13-17 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Cæsar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

How do you decide what things to render unto to Caesar and what things to render unto God? When you consider your fellow citizens, what would you force them to render unto Caesar? What would you allow your fellow citizens to render unto to God?

Why do we need a government in the first place?

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