Christians and Government
Judge not lest ye be judged. Be ye kind. Be a good Samaritan. Turn the other cheek. Love one another. These are only a few of the scriptures that are so often mentioned by professing Christians who are asking to be disqualified from jury duty for religious reasons.
As a district judge in Texas, I was told by such people that they could not ever be on a jury and judge a case because they were Christians. That is what caused me to wrestle with the issue as a Christian judge. Now that I am a member of Congress, this way of thinking still persists simply because people have been mis-educated as to the nature of our United States government.
Yes, I do believe that all of the verses so often cited are absolutely accurate and true. But, they are intended for use by INDIVIDUALS seeking to humbly imitate “the divine author of our blessed religion,” as George Washington put it. In fact, he added that we must do so in order to have any chance at having a “happy nation.” Romans 13:1-4 discusses the government’s role. “If you do evil, be afraid,” because the government is God’s minister to punish evil.
It is anticipated that in an orderly society, there must be a government of some kind. A good government keeps its country protected, fighting when necessary to do so, while also punishing evil conduct, and not punishing good conduct.
In Matthew, Jesus himself said if a person says “Raca” he must answer to the courts. His point was ultimately about God judging the heart. Nonetheless, he anticipated that there should be crimes for which the perpetrator must answer to governmental authority in order for life to proceed in avoidance of anarchy. The Old Testament reveals that God was going to provide that orderliness in Israel through judges until the Israelites demanded a king like everyone else had.
No question, even before the American Revolution, there were efforts at creating a government of the people. The American model contemplated in 1776 was different. As the founders projected, they had within their grasp what philosophers had only dreamed of. They had a chance, an opportunity if they would seize it, to govern themselves. Sure, England had a parliament, but it also still had a very powerful, unelected king. Yes, Rome had a senate during its greatest days, but they had an undemocratic Caesar.
The American founders’ dreamed of a government in which the PEOPLE themselves were exclusively the government. The PEOPLE would hire and fire servant workers to carry out their will. The PEOPLE would be the masters, and the hired representatives would be the SERVANTS—call them “public servants” if you like, but that is what they are supposed to be.
There is a reason the Latin words, “Annuit Coeptis” are on the Great Seal of our country directly above the representation of the all-seeing eye of God. When the founders adopted the Great Seal, which is found on the back of one dollar bills, they were so excited with what prayer had wrought, they wanted the notation that: “He (God) has smiled on our undertaking.” That is what it means.
One of the founders’ proudest accomplishments was a government that had so many checks and balances that it would be difficult to overstep governing boundaries. Since they did not trust the hired help to restrict themselves in making laws only as directed by the people who hired them, they created not one body of representatives, but two.
The second body would not be merely be socially elite figures, but would have full power to stop the larger body from making laws it did not agree with. In fact, the second body, we know to be the Senate, would be SELECTED by the state governments to insure that the larger body didn’t go off on a tangent and pass laws that would take away the states’ authority which was ultimately protected in the 10th Amendment.
If a federal senator ever did try to take away a state’s rights, that senator could be, would be, hauled back to the state and replaced by someone who was not complicit in big federal government usurpation. The founders’ idea was to keep as much power locally as possible while still allowing enough power at the federal level to increase chances of protecting all the states from enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Over the years, the method of selecting senators changed with the 17th Amendment, and the check on federal usurpation was gone. So the federal power jurisdiction exploded. There are some wonderful suggestions on how to get it back under control, but that is not the purpose in this article. The PEOPLE are still supposed to be the masters, and the elected representatives are supposed to be the servants.
Consider yourself as having started a major business, then you hire people to do a job at your business. Now picture those you hired not wanting to do the job for which you hired them, then hiring dozens more people and delegating to them their job and allowing them to make all the rules. Then those you have never met hire even more people with your money and they too do not produce anything.
Those newest people then are given the authority to tell everyone else what they can or cannot do. They begin bankrupting your business because you have more people delegating and regulating than you have producing. You would fire those original employees and get someone who would streamline the business and make it efficient and effective in doing what it was supposed to do—wouldn’t you?
Well, the truth is that we have NOT done that. Instead, we have continued to hire people to run our country who continue to hire others who have made the government such a behemoth that it has taken on a life of its own. Not only have we not fired and rehired better servants, most of us do not even show up to make such hiring decisions on what we call “voting day.”
Most of us do not show up at the meetings to create an orderly society through punishment of those who do evil, called jury duty. Most of us also do not push to have our co-owners hire good people by endorsing and urging that good servants be hired, called supporting good candidates. And most people certainly don’t dirty their hands when they could do the job better than those they hire, called running for office.
That’s right. YOU are the government! You are God’s minister to punish evil and reward good conduct. But, too many Christians have refused the figurative “sword” or the power that in this great country, this little experiment in democracy as a republic, is supposed to be held by YOU. You are the one God has ordained to run the country, but you haven’t even participated. So your employee staff has far too many who do not do what they were hired to do. And that means, for your inactions and omissions as an employer, you are getting exactly the kind of government you deserve. That is the old adage: “Democracy insures people will be governed no better than they deserve.”
That is also why we have penalties for societal good things like marriage (the income tax “marriage penalty”) and for 45 years we have rewarded having children out of wedlock instead of helping incentivise such women to finish their education. It is why we have a death tax that says you were too successful so we must take 55% away and give to the government. It is why people have in the past been threatened with removal from low-rent government housing for saving too much money for a down payment on a home. We punish good behavior too often and reward potentially hurtful conduct. It is also why we passed a Wall Street bailout to reward uncontrolled and irresponsible greed. It is also why TARP has not already been repealed, since it would mean admitting that maybe those who voted for it, including Republican leaders, had made a mistake.
So, as unpleasant as it may be, far too many of the employers, We the PEOPLE, have been lazy and apathetic which has caused we the people to get what we deserve. But it is high time the people of this country started deserving better. It is time that the PEOPLE as rulers in this land started exercising the God-given power in this country by voting, by serving on jury duty, filling appointed positions when called upon, by supporting the best candidates, and even by running for office. It is high time that we gave God something to smile about again. Just be assured, we get what we deserve in America for a government, for better or worse.