Big Sticks in Bad Hands

When it comes to things like hair-styles, tumors, and government bigger is definitely not better. It is a common mistake that we all fall into when we think a particular goodness is always meant to be multiplied or reproduced. It is a small thing to make this mistake with Oreos. One is good, two are better, and twenty must be divine! The end result is a tummy ache and a lesson learned. It is another thing altogether when we make the same mistake with something like the size of government.

Take the recent conflict between the Roman Catholic church and the federal government.  Rome has done the right thing here by standing firm (at least so far) on a higher authority than the current thinking among government officials. But why does the federal government feel it has the right to demand such things in the first place? Because “he who takes the king’s coin becomes the king’s man.” Why can the federal government demand that schools teach homosexuality as normal, evolution as science, and polytheism as tolerance? Because the government pays for the building, the buses, the books, the teachers, the desks, and the lunch lady. “No, our tax dollars pay for those things,” I can hear you saying. Your tax dollars are no longer yours once you give them to the government. This is not a charity where money can be designated and accountability demanded. This is a tax we give so that the federal government can perform it’s delegated duties. Who asks the government to provide schools, to provide health care, to provide a utopian society free from the dangers of fattening foods, car accidents, dangerous household products, etc.? We do!

For Christians, the unintended consequences rear their ugly head when that government is no longer operating from a Christian foundation. What happens when the Bible and the Constitution become more suggestive than authoritative? Worldliness trickles down. And it is flowing at a pretty good rate right now. The answer is not to try to purify the water but to begin digging our own wells. Righteousness and joy rise from the bottom up.

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” (Isaiah 59:14-15)  Where truth stumbles, justice fails. For this reason, we should all be seeking the decentralization of power and the limiting of the federal government.

The truth is, we like activist judges in the courts when the ruling goes our way. We like the government defining marriage when it agrees with our definition. We like the government educating our children as long as they pray before class. But once you build the house, you can’t always control who moves into the neighborhood. What happens when the big stick finds its way into bad hands? What happens when the Precious is not with the hobbit who fears it but a Boromir who seeks to wield it? What happens when the Pope is more sinner than saint?

The idea of church and state separation runs deep right now in our country. It is not enough to simply point out the fallacy that neither those words nor the current understanding of that separation ever appear in the Constitution. As the government seeks to become more and more secular (they would call it neutral, I would call it the usurping of divine authority) and the people of God allow this same government to take on more and more responsibility, doesn’t it stand to reason that as the government grows Christian liberty diminishes? It would not take too many generations for Christianity to be relegated to a tiny corner of the empire.

This is one of the reasons I plan to vote for Ron Paul in the upcoming primaries. It is not because he is a perfect candidate on all the issues. There is certainly some tension at times between his Christianity and libertarianism (Although I would argue that he is closer to a consistent Christian worldview than any of the other candidates). But what I want in a president more than anything else is someone who will truly respect his duties and limitations as governed primarily by the Triune God and secondarily by the Constitution, who will not allow himself to be seen as the “most powerful leader in the world”, who will eliminate and deconstruct more than he builds and enlarges, and who governs with an eye toward history more than an eye toward progress. A president who plays his role well does not have to be perfect. He needs to be wise and humble. That is the wisdom of the system of checks and balances put into place by our founders.  That is the wisdom of our all-wise God who blesses us with a Christian faith that permeates all three realms of government: the home, the church, and the state. We as His people must know the important role we play in each area as we seek the rule and reign of Christ over all things. 

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