Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Biblical Checklist for Government

This was a letter submitted to the Letter to the Editor of the Elko Daily Free Press that they printed. I thought I would go ahead and also put it out as a blog post. [Note: This was written for an audience that is different from my normal blog audience so biblical references are omitted.  Also, this is not a complete discussion since it is written for both Christians and non-Christians.]
An Open Letter to All of Our Politicians:

There has been a lot of discussion about recent comments made by Mr. Jim Wheeler (R-NV State Assembly) with respect to his 'obligation' to support whatever his constituents may want, regardless of his personal feelings--even if it meant voting for slavery. (See Nov. 4 article in Elko Daily Free Press)   I believe lost among the uproar is an underlying issue that has and continues to influence the increasing dysfunctionality of our governmental system.  It is the issue of dogmatic ideology.

I believe in ideology--just as the framers of our Constitution did.  I also take a "high" view of the Bible, believing it can provide guidance in these particularly turbulent times.  A few of the guiding principles from Scripture that I believe can be useful:

• Government (and public policies) should pursue justice.  This means that the government has responsibility to address evil acts, to protect its citizenry from oppressive acts of government and others,  and to address social/economic conditions that unjustly limit people in their actual opportunities to live lives of freedom and responsible action.

• Government (and public policies) should always seek the common good of society as a whole.  This means that public policies should put the well-being of the whole of society ahead of certain narrow segments of society (whether those segments are regional, ethnic, economic, religious, or racial).  When all individuals are provided justice, then the common good is advanced.

• Government in and of itself is not evil (even though it can be used for evil purposes). In fact, Scripture says that it is God-ordained.  God says it is part of His plan to provide order for society. But in carrying this out, recognition must be made that this role is active yet limited. Social groups and institutions--especially the church and the family--are also part of God's plan for ordering society.

The Bible has many other things to say about government and public policies.  But in reviewing these three principles above, one can see how there has been significant breakdown in the practical outworking of these principles in modern day politics--and the result has been chaos. 

The comments by Mr. Wheeler seem extreme, but they are indicative of an underlying value that a politician will say and do anything for a particular constituency (otherwise, he or she won't get re-elected). We are far down this road--and the future of properly functioning government seems particularly bleak (which, by the way, is not the first time in our country's history).

My urgent appeal to our elected representatives, our political parties and movements, and to the people who are responsible for electing those individuals--Stop! Reassess and adjust your underlying values, political positions, and strategic initiatives.  Be an ideologue--but use the above three principles as a foundation.

John Schmidt
Spring Creek

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