So What's This All About?

In case you didn't know, I'm in the multi-year-long process of posting a Christian devotional at the TAWG Blog. The TAWG Blog is, and always will be, mostly apolitical. For the most part, Bible-believing Christians will find little to disagree with there. But I also firmly believe that God's word can--and should--inform everything in life, and this should include politics and popular culture. How should we vote? How should we respond to hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment, taxes, and other issues? Which party, if either, is closer to the Biblical ideal? Tony Campolo and Ron Sider, Evangelicals whose political leanings are on the Left, have made the case in several of their writings that God wants his followers to vote politically on the Left more than on the Right. At times, some of them have gone so far as to equate voting on the Left with obedience to Christ, either subtly or not-so-subtly contending that the converse is true as well: If you vote Republican, you're sinning against the Savior.
I don't agree. I think that to the degree they actually resort to the Bible, they're misinterpreting it. With a whole bunch of caveats, I think politically conservative positions are a lot more compatible with the Scriptures than the Leftist positions.
Just to clarify, I would never accuse people who disagree with me--especially siblings in Christ--of what they accuse me of. I don't judge my own heart, much less anyone else's, and I don't equate political disagreement with theological fidelity to God. I have no reason to doubt their love for the Lord and "for the least of these," but I believe that they're sincerely wrong.
So there are two main purposes for this blog. One is to make a case for my political beliefs based on Scripture. The other is a bit more vague, basically to work out my political beliefs and figure out what's based on Scripture and what's based on my own biases. I certainly don't have all the answers. Some of this stuff I'm still figuring out. And I'm certainly open to correction. As long as you make your case civilly and based on Scripture, feel free to make a comment, and I promise I'll post it and consider your arguments thoughtfully and prayerfully. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn a little something from each other.
May God bless our common striving together towards both the "little t" truth and "Big T" Truth. Our watchword here is a line from C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle: "Further up and further in!"

P.S. -- Below on the left is "Topics I've Covered" which lists everything I've posted topically. It's come to my attention that some people would like to see everything just listed for them. If that's you, you can get it here. Thanks to my friend Stephen Young for the tip!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two And A Three-Quarters Cheers: Children or Adults?

            As you read this blog, you might notice that I harp on the “bad” side of government. I honestly don’t believe that most government officials are bad people, in the sense that they’re trying to oppress me and take away my rights. I don’t foresee us being arrested in the middle of the night and herded into camps anytime soon. But I do see the “nanny” state intruding into my life and interfering with it and big and small ways. Specifically I see it interfering way too often in the free market system (FMS), when two or more participants want to make a free exchange. It looks at one or more of the participants in this free exchange and decides it’s going to step in for someone’s “own good.”
            Keith, what about the big bad corporations? Don’t we need protection from them? Of course we do. I have no problem with appealing to government when one or more parties have resorted to force, fraud, or theft. That’d include breach of contract. So if a company has its own private security force move in with machine guns and force someone into doing something (which you see all the time in movies), that’d be the time for the government to intervene.
            But here in the real world, most of the time it’s not an issue of the company forcing anyone to do anything. The consumer freely makes some bad decisions, and the government steps in to protect the consumer from himself. Or it steps in to protect a business from the consequences of its own bad decisions.
            When people talk about corporations “oppressing” people, I have to ask, “How?” As conservatives love to point out, Bill Gates might hate me personally with every fiber of his being, he might have a picture of me on his wall just for practicing his dart-throwing--but he has absolutely no control--not one thin dime--that I don’t give to him. Hate Wal-Mart? No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head and forcing them to walk thru its doors, much less buy anything.
On the other hand, the government can force me to do things. It does have guns which it’s willing to use when it deems necessary. And not to be melodramatic, but the 20th century had over 100 million people murdered by bad government. Not an outside government invading in wartime and killing a lot of people. No. Communism alone—not including the Nazis and other bad actors—murdered around 100 million people of its own citizens. 
Does the Bible say anything about this? Well, there are some foundational truths to take into consideration.
1)  According to the Bible, we’re all created in God’s image/likeness, but that image is scarred and even wrecked by sin. However you come down on the issues of God’s sovereignty vs. human free will, everyone who believes the Bible admits that to some degree we’re able to make choices. Of course, the problem is that we make bad ones.
2)     As such, we’re responsible for the choices we make. God—to some degree—allows us to make bad decisions and will one day hold us accountable for them.
3)      This human condition is universal. You have never seen a government, a business, a family, or a church which isn’t affected and infected to some degree by sin. That’s because all these institutions are just groups of people, each of whom is a sinner.

If you believe in the above statements, then I submit that the FMS is the best economic system which takes these biblical truths into account.
            I can see objections now: “But Keith! If you believe that everyone is a sinner, then we do need to be protected from our choices, don’t we?” I agree. I certainly have made some bone-headed moves in my time, and I could certainly use some protection from further ones. That’s why I’m told to pray “Lead us not into temptation.” My heart is a dry cord of wood smothered in gasoline, and the world is filled with lit matches. I think one of the most underappreciated aspects of grace is not the sins he forgives but the sins he keeps me from committing in the first place.
            But that’s me praying to the Lord. Not the government. The government is not God. It’s not my Savior. At its best it’s certainly not sinless.
            The reason for my title today is because I want to be treated like an adult. I am God’s child. I plead with him to guide me and lead me and protect me, especially from my bad decisions or inclinations. But government is not my parent. 
            And on this issue of protecting us from our own foolish and sinful choices, whom are the Leftists nominating as our protectors? The Lord? Heavenly angels? Um, no. The only people in government are also sinners just like me. So why would I trust them more than myself to make decisions about my own life?
            We protect children from themselves, more so when they’re younger than when they’re older. As a child matures, one of the hardest things a parent has to do is let them make bad decisions and suffer (to some degree) some consequences. And once the child is out of the home, the parent has to “let go,” even if he sees the child making decisions he’ll regret for the rest of his life.
            Quite frankly, those on the Left don’t seem to understand this. Whether they articulate it or not, they see government filling that role of parent or—even worse—God himself in our lives. They might have the best of intentions, but the result is to keep people from becoming responsible adults.
            The FMS treats people as responsible adults. Any other economic system, to some degree or in some fashion, treats them as something less.
            Please keep this mind, since this is so crucial. This twin set of truths should be the foundation for every single one of our “horizontal” relationships: Each of us is created in God’s image, but that image has been distorted by sin. Quite frankly, the FMS is the economic system which is most compatible with this. Any other system—more or less—ignores or denies this.
            So as far as the government is concerned, do you want to be treated like an adult or something else?

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