What Is Good Government?
What does good government look like? Most of us probably associate good government with virtues and a virtuous person (see the links in the caption of the picture above). Unfortunately, we often forget that good government mostly depends upon the We the People behaving virtuously, not just our leaders.
Consider the Apostle Paul’s problem when he wrote Romans 13:1-7. The Roman Empire had crucified Jesus Christ. That same government would eventually martyr millions of Christ’s followers. Yet Paul counselled obedience to that same government. Why? The Peoples of the Roman Empire were intolerant of Christ and His followers, not just their government. Paul could not change the government without changing the People. Given the nature of the People, the People of the Roman Empire had the best government they could have.
The Roman Empire consisted of a hodgepodge of different peoples under tribute to Rome. Relatively few were enthusiastically loyal to Rome. So the Roman Empire ruled by force, and government force can be effective. When the People don’t want to obey the government voluntarily, because they don’t see the government as representative of their interests and their beliefs, then government force must of necessity be great and costly. Government must enslave the People, and slavery is grossly ineffective and inefficient, to say the least. Except for the elites who enjoy whatever luxuries may still be available, everyone else becomes a miserable captive confined to poverty. Then even the elites must watch their backs.
Is God On Your Side, or Are You On God’s Side?
Wasn’t God on the Apostle Paul’s side? With the Almighty to support him, why didn’t Paul take up arms against the Roman Empire? Why did Paul counsel such extreme patience and perseverance? Was it because God considers saving the souls of the People more important than overthrowing a tyrannical government, more important than “good government”? Apparently.
So Paul exercised self-restraint. Instead of violence he practiced civil disobedience long before we had a word for it. He obeyed God, and he upset the Roman authorities and outraged the Jews by vigorously spreading the Gospel. Still, as much as he could and still obey God, Paul submitted to the power of the Roman Empire.
Being on God’s side requires humility. What does humility involve? I have two quotes I think are important. Rick Warren first.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. (from here)
Instead of trusting in our self, we trust God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
We are God’s servants. To serve God requires us to think of God first. Since Paul was wise, he strove to save the souls of the People of the Roman Empire.
What Is Broken Today?
In the name of love the busybodies who lead us seek to impose their supposedly wonderful, selfless, socially just, secular moral beliefs on us. Why? It gives them excuses to do two things.
- Spend our money. As Romans 13:1-7 indicates, we need government to provide for national security, maintain order and punish lawbreakers. However, most of the money our government now spend involves health, education, and welfare programs. It sounds like a great idea provide “rights” to healthcare, education, food, shelter, clothing, transportation, a job, retirement, vacation, and so forth. It sounds great to help the poor and the needy by taking money from the “rich” and giving it to the “poor”, but politicians cannot be trusted with that kind of power and money. We cannot control how they will abuse the power or spend money. So they will become more and more corrupt, peddling influence, buying our votes, corrupting everything and everyone.
- Increase their power over us. When some people try to force their moral beliefs on other people, there is always resistance. If our politicians can convince enough of us that imposition of their supposedly wonderful, selfless, socially just, secular moral beliefs is justifiable, then we will give them immense power. Do you want force others to approve of the Theory of Evolution; Climate Change theories; situational ethics; racial, sexual, and creedal favoritism; abortion; same-sex marriage;… Busybodies revel in making other people do things, but do you want to be constantly busybodied.
Busybodies will say anything to justify sky-high spending and their need for the power. They will claim history or even God is on their side. They will say “we” have a responsibility to do this or that supposedly wonderful, selfless, socially just, secular thing.
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. — Abraham Lincoln (from here)
Lincoln made an important distinction. It is the difference between pride and humility. The prideful insist God is on their side. The humble pray they have chosen correctly.
“We” don’t have a responsibility, not if we have freedom of religion. We each have a choice to obey God, to be on “God’s side” or not as best we can. I have my way of trying to be on God’s side. You have yours. In a society that permits freedom of religion, we each have the right to try to be on God’s side or not — to pursue happiness — as we see fit. Problems arise when a large faction starts employing the government to force everyone to be on “God’s side,” or else. Then we will eventually find ourselves at each others throats.
How Do We Improve Our Government?
What kind of government is better if it can be made to work? Abraham Lincoln called it government by the People, of the People, and for the People. Because government by the People, of the People, and for the People by definition implements the shared will of the People, the People must share a similar vision of what good government looks like. We don’t, not anymore. Therefore, we are increasingly at each other’s throats.
The Founders of our nation were not apostles. They had a job to create a good government. Still, they were students of the Bible. So they focused on fashioning a government that would inhibit our tendencies to violate each others rights. To accomplish their ends, they did an odd thing. They created a managerial monstrosity designed to prevent any one person from accumulating great power to himself. Three – four independent levels of government. Checks and balances. An electoral college. And so forth. Deliberately inefficient!
What did the Founders scheme depend upon? A people moral enough that they actively sought to obey the law. Anywhere else in the world they would have been nuts to try such a thing, and they knew it.
Where did the American People’s morality come from? Government? Nobody has ever succeeded in using government force to make a moral people, people who will strive to do the right thing even when no one is looking. Jesus, however, has persuaded untold numbers to love Him and obey His command to love their neighbors. Hence, the Founders of our nation benefitted from a work begun centuries ago.
Yet we are now a divided People, at each others throats. Isn’t government force the solution now? We will use it, to some extent to a good purpose, but government force won’t solve the basic problem. Because we have let Busybodies educate us, We the People have become relatively more corrupt. We have turned from Him. Therefore, so long as God gives us the time to do so, we need to imitate the Apostle Paul. We need to study and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Where do we begin? We begin at home. Do you have children or grandchildren? Then ask yourself a question. Do you want your children to learn your values or someone else’s values? What would someone else’s values be? Who knows? We can only assume that some politician will think it suitable to his purposes, not necessarily yours, or to the benefit of your children.