Christian Politics and the Purpose of Government

QUESTION: Christian Politics – The Purpose of Government

ANSWER:

According to the Biblical Christian worldview, human government was instituted by God to protect our unalienable rights from our own selfish tendencies (Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:1–7). Human nature is capable of both vice and virtue. We know our tendency to infringe on our neighbor’s rights in an effort to improve our own life. Therefore, we know government and political systems must exist to protect our rights and to keep our evil tendencies at bay. Protecting human rights of life, liberty, property, work, rest, worship, a free press, etc., from those who would diminish them means promoting justice. E. Calvin Beisner says justice and truth are interrelated, for justice is the practice of truth in human relationships; he concludes, “[J]ustice is rendering to each his due according to a right standard.”1 The right standard is God’s moral order, which is based on the very character of God. This standard insists that the innocent citizens of society be protected from evil—rapists, murderers, child molesters, thieves, liars, drug runners, sex traffickers, dishonest tax collectors, adulterers, etc.

Christian Politics – Justice is the Reason for Government
Christians see justice as the principal reason for the state’s existence. The Christian view of justice is founded on a belief in God as the absolute guarantor of our unalienable rights. Thus, promoting justice becomes more important than any other aspect of government. R.J. Rushdoony is correct in his assertion that whether we “can vote or not is not nearly as important as the question of justice: does the law leave [us] secure in [our] governmental spheres, as an individual, a family, church, school, or business?”2

Government, therefore, has limited responsibility. The state must never assume the responsibilities of other institutions, including those of church and family. The church’s responsibility is to manifest God’s love and grace on the earth. The family’s responsibility is to manifest God’s community and creativity, including procreativity. These three God-ordained institutions—government, church, and family—are limited by their own definition as well as the definitions of the other two. Because government is an institution of justice, not of grace, community, or creativity, it should not interfere with freedom of religion, attempt to dispense grace through tax-funded handouts, control family size, interfere in the raising of children (including their education), or control the economy. Government has its role, and it should allow other God-ordained institutions the freedom to perform their roles as well.

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 E. Calvin Beisner, Prosperity and Poverty: The Compassionate Use of Resources in a World of Scarcity (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 45.
2 R.J. Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1978), 239.

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