IT IS NOT ABOUT FORGIVENESS

Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal Son (from Forgiveness (en.wikipedia.org))

As artaxes observes in Stories From Lockdown? (artaxes.wordpress.com).

IB knocks it out of the park. She lists the irreversible harms of two years of covid craziness and the irrecoverable loss of trust in the fellow man.

Stories From Lockdown? (artaxes.wordpress.com)

So, what is IB’s post about? Well, here is an excerpt.

It’s hard to describe how someone who really has no illusions, can have their illusions so shattered, but mine have absolutely pixelated. I no longer trust our healthcare system. I no longer want any medical care, ever. I no longer trust cops. I no longer trust our banking system. I no longer trust our political system. I no longer trust relationships. I no longer trust employers. I no longer trust the church.

Stories From Lockdown? (insanitybytes2.wordpress.com)

We are emotional creatures, and we learn from experience. We learn what feels good. We learn what hurts us. IB does a great job of detailing how the COVID-19 pandemic has been a thoroughly painful experience because our leaders abused their powers. What she does not specifically address is how we erred. So, let’s try to do that here.

Consider the aftermath of the American Revolution. The founders of our nation had just fought a long, bitter war with their mother country and many of their neighbors. Effectively they had fought a bloody civil war against people they had formerly trusted. Unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, in that war men had taken sides and deliberately killed each other.

As the Declaration of Independence (archives.gov) clearly demonstrates, the founders knew why they fought. To make that point, we often quote this passage.

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.

Declaration of Independence (archives.gov)

Yet, we should also observe something else. Most of the Declaration lists a long train of abuses and usurpations by the King of Great Britain (Please take the time to read the entire Declaration of Independence.). That is why when the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783 the founders found themselves with an awkward conundrum. James Madison stated it best.

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. — James Madison (whitehouse.gov)

from The Federalist No. 51 (avalon.law.yale.edu)

So it is that when the founders set about trying to structure a new government, they were not certain as to what they should do. First, they wrote the Articles of Confederation. Then, when the government chartered by The Articles of Confederation : March 1, 1781 (avalon.law.yale.edu) proved ineffectual, they wrote The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription (archives.gov/founding-docs) which came into force in 1789.

Why did it take two attempts? The founders feared making the Federal Government any stronger than necessary. There are certain things that a government must do, but men cannot be trusted with power. Hence, the government the founders passed onto us is awkward because its powers are divided up among many people, and it is full of checks and balances.

Unfortunately, over the last 233 years, many of our leaders have devoted their lives to acquiring and consolidating as much power as they can grasp into their own hands. In addition, successive generations of Americans have failed to instruct their children in Biblical wisdom. Therefore, we don’t understand what the founders did for us, and we don’t understand why we cannot put our trust in man instead of God.

Check out my last post, IT IS NOT ABOUT LABELS. Contemplate that passage I quote, Jeremiah 17:5-11. Then consider why the Apostle Paul said we should submit to those in authority.

Romans 13:1-7 New American Standard Bible

13 Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a servant of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.

The Apostle Paul told early Christians to submit to those in authority because government holds us accountable for doing evil. Yet that passage is breathtaking because that same government that the Apostle Paul told Christians to obey crucified Jesus Christ, persecuted Christians, and removed the head of the Apostle Paul with a sword. Therefore, we have to wonder why the apostle had anything good to say about it. Why? At that time the government of the Roman Empire was the one the people accepted, and it was the best they could do. The government that crucified Jesus Christ was a better government than no government at all.

It is not about labels. It is not about forgiveness. It is not about trust. It is about who we trust.

We need government to protect each other’s rights. When we give our leaders more power than they need to protect our rights — when we give them the power to end poverty, to educate us, to provide for our retirement, to give us medical care, and so forth — we have to give them more of our trust than we should. We do that when we foolishly trust in man instead of God.

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