Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, March 12, 2015

God and Government

So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. -- Habakkuk 1:4
Verse 4. The law is slacked: They pay no attention to it; it has lost all its vigour, its restraining and correcting power, it is not executed; right judgment is never pronounced; and the poor righteous man complains in vain that he is grievously oppressed by the wicked, and by those in power and authority. That the utmost depravity prevailed in the land of Judah is evident from these verses; and can we wonder, then, that God poured out such signal judgments upon them? When judgment doth not proceed from the seat of judgment upon earth, it will infallibly go forth from the throne of judgment in heaven. – Adam Clarke, Commentary, on Habakkuk 1:4

Please direct your attention to that last sentence in the quote from Clarke.  Most of us as Christians are familiar with Paul admonition in Romans 13:1 to be obedient to civil government:   Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  I can believe, readily enough, that God, in His wisdom, has a hand in establishing governments.  We can see that some government is appropriate and useful and necessary. 

As a Christian, I favor justice, respect for the lives and property of others, and good moral behavior.  I seem to recall a time when people behaved themselves because it was the right thing to do, when what we could call “community standards” were recognized and generally accepted.  I am concerned about the militarization of local police forces and the increasingly militarized bureaucracies of the federal government.  But when community standards and common decency are pushed aside, when the basic morality reflected in the Ten Commandments is dismissed, it’s not too surprising that stronger and more tyrannical governments arise as a consequence.

In other words, if we want Andy Taylor for our sheriff, we need to live like the citizens of Mayberry.  I believe that God will give us the kind of government we deserve.  America is far less a Christian nation than it was a hundred years ago.  We can blame that on Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Clinton, Bush, and Obama, but the fault lies in us -- perhaps not you and I personally, but the citizenry as a whole.  As Peter told us long ago, [I]t is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17). 

The purpose of the Church is not to rubberstamp the decisions of secular authority.  We are not to accommodate and tolerate whatever the government decides to approve and endorse.  We can have license without righteousness, but we cannot have liberty.  If we want to live in a free country, we have to be moral people – not by government mandate but by the mandate of heaven. 

Perhaps there is a corollary to Clarke’s observation.  If, when judgment fails to come from the civil magistrates, judgment falls from the throne of God, is it possible that we could restore righteousness to secular authority by living according to the divine standard?  Then he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there. He answered, For the sake of ten I will not destroy it (Genesis 18:32).  The Cities of the Plain would not have been overthrown if there had been within their walls but ten decent, troubled souls, ten who wept and mourned for the sins of Sodom.    


Rick said...

Excellent post.
The ten commandments really are just statements of fact; a government in itself so to speak that comes "from the throne of judgment" as was said.
So God must be in favor of government here below as above. What maintains a hierarchy or any order of things, after all. And of all governments, he must be in favor of ones which recognize His gifts (our rights) and protects them. Where they are not protected, the Laws of Nature surely take over.

mushroom said...

Right. The commandments tell us how it works. We break on them.

julie said...

Yes, Rick - exactly.

We can blame that on Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Clinton, Bush, and Obama, but the fault lies in us -- perhaps not you and I personally, but the citizenry as a whole.

An Obama - or any other president, really - is not the cause of our national problems, but rather a symptom. A nation of Christians trying to align their lives with God's will would be far less likely to have put, and kept, such a man in charge.

mushroom said...

I am afraid so.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yes, I cooncur, the lawlessness and lack of justice by an Obama is just a symptom.
For Obama, for instance could not get away with it without the support and collusion of millions of like-minded justice haters, consisting mostly of leftists and quite a few republicans, independents and libertarians.
Nor would he have been elected and re-elected in the first place.

These are all examples of a nation turning away from God.