As we move past the "intimate three" social systems discussed in the last two tours (Family, Church and God/Man), the next two tours focus on the role of the State in the Biblical worldview. This week addresses The State in general, while next week looks specifically at "The American Experiment."
It is important to remember that the claim that there is a Biblically defined role for the State is not a claim to any specific form of government. In fact, the Bible records different types of governance for God's people, beginning with what should be considered the foundation of any civilization -- the Family. God's original and basic design was with Adam & Eve and his ethical observation that it was "not good" for Adam to be alone. The design of the family (Husband - Wife - Children) was itself based by the eternally existent Trinity (Father - Son - Holy Spirit) ... and so it goes with each of the social systems being discussed. The Trinitarian-type of relationship is the core idea for any such system. The State is no different.
When the nation of Israel first began, the system of governance had Moses filling the human leadership role. Acting in submission to God with the people honoring his leadership role, the system worked just fine -- for a while. Later, God instituted a system of Judges to fill the leadership role and that worked just fine too -- for a while -- until the people demanded a King so that Israel could be like the other nations that surrounded it. God warned his people what would happen, but then complied with their request. That worked just fine too -- for a while -- until the Kings became corrupt and the people went astray.
Obviously, this is a Cliff's Notes version of the actual historical events, but the point is this: God created the sphere of the state as the instrument by which evil is punished and good is condoned (Romans 13). He did not design the form of that government. Any form could work if the State leader acts in proper submission to God and the people honor both Godly ethics and their godly leader. As soon as God is removed from the picture, the system leads to tyranny and oppression.
Just look at the 2oth century ...
Vladimir Lenin called religion "the opiate of the masses" and proceeded to construct a Marxist, human-centered state apparatus that murdered people by the tens of millions. The result of this type of godless political philosophy was tried around the world by people like Mao Tse Tung, Pol-Pot, Josef Stalin, Chiang Kai-Shek and Adolph Hitler. The result was nearly 200 million people murdered by the idea that "the State is the march of God through the world" (Hegel).
These kinds of atrocities always result when "sphere sovereignty" is dishonored -- when the State proactively injects itself into social systems where it has no legitimate jurisdiction. When the State tries to replace the Family, or invade the Church, the consequences are catastrophic. History proves this over and over again. And yet, we never seem to learn our lesson. We see the influence of an invasive State at work today, not just nationally, but internationally. If the trend continues, we have no reason to expect a different result.
As an example of an issue that illustrates the proper -- and improper -- role of the State system at work, consider the protection of the poor and oppressed. There is a clear Biblical mandate for the State to protect these kind of people. But the protection of those in need is a far different thing than approval to provide the care itself. This is properly the role of the Church and Family. The State's protection should come in the form of enacting laws and policies that stop the abuse of those who are most vulnerable and punishes those who violate that protection. When the State, no matter how well-intentioned, takes to caring for people directly by providing anything more than a temporary "safety net," the fallout is always destructive:
- Being monetarily impotent, the State is forced to confiscate funds from some, under threat of punishment for non-compliance, in order to provide it to others -- an action Dr. Tackett rightly labels "stealing."
- This action deprives those with financial means the privilege of acting charitably toward those less fortunate than themselves.
- Those who receive unearned aid are discouraged from experiencing the satisfaction and dignity that they should derive from a proper view of Labor (see: Truth Project Tour 11)
- The promise of undeserved monetary reward encourages others to also feed at the public trough and removes some of the motivation to be successful when they see that they can receive something for nothing.
- The numbers of the needy increase, thereby causing the State to demand more from the wealthy, often by using class warfare to encourage the needy to vote those politicians who promise to continue these types of policies into office.
- Return to Step 1.
The State is the God-ordained institution meant to set ethical boundaries and promote justice. When it does so properly, and when the people are treated justly and honor their leaders as a result, the State social system, no matter what form it takes, works as it was designed to work.