All Have Fallen Short: Option Three
Christian thoughts on governance and society
III. To understand the third view (hopefully one that leans neither to the left nor the right) I want to step back in time a bit and consider a matter of faith, specifically the Christian faith. (Atheists, please hold your breath for a minute. It will soon be over).
The Christian God does not coerce anyone. Christ invites us into his way, to follow after him, but he does not compel. Clearly, he does not appreciate anarchy as the flood attests. Clearly, also, he is not a fan of tyranny (coercion of the masses) as Babel shows. Truly, if anyone or anything could be tyrannical, God is it. But God is no tyrant and neither is he an anarchist. He proposes a definite way in Jesus Christ, and invites us to partake.
How is this relevant?
Simply this: The way between tyranny and anarchy is one that must be chosen. People can be free to choose, and free to live, but only up to the point where they choose to restrain themselves. This is called liberty and it is quite distinct from freedom.
Christians understand liberty when they live free according to the freely chosen restraints of their faith. Such people strive to be morally upright and positive, contributing members of society. Such people work, understand the value of work, and try to make enough so there is some to share. Such people are guided by love for neighbor, and while none may be perfect, all know the direction and what ought to be.
On such people there is little or no need for tyrannical restraints. Information can flow, freely, when guided by ethical considerations. Is this a positive thing for our children and a benefit to our society? That is all we need to ask.
Education can be education and does not have to be indoctrination. Children can learn what it means to be a positive, contributing member of society and what liberty (being free to choose their own path and future) is all about. We used to call this civics. And parents can sleep nights without worrying that some teacher or principal or school board is trying to sneak in some hidden political or ideological agenda.
Commerce can be set free to function without undue regulation or restraint when people uphold honesty and fair dealings as the ideal. Yes, there will be criminals. There probably always will be criminals, non-conformists and anarchists, but depending on the offense, there will be sanctions running the gamut from ostracism to life without parole. Generally, the criminals are just that: criminal, and the public should not all have to suffer because of them. People can still function despite the occasional bad apple when honesty and fair dealings are the expectation.
And then there is this: People bearing arms is not a problem when the people live in liberty. It is only a problem for tyrants. Then, the way not to be ruled (have rights infringed upon) by an unelected class of bureaucrats (government unions) is to keep government small. In truth, the smaller the better. Only what is necessary to promote (not create) domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and, well you get the idea.
America, they say, was guided by Judeo-Christian values since its beginning. Given the fact that Jews in America made up such a small portion of the population, it is not unfair to call this a Christian nation – or it was once. It also was once called by another name: the Great Experiment. You see, not giving in to anarchy or tyranny is a balancing act – like trying to walk the fence posts that divide the two yards. There is always the danger of falling off. This act had never been tried before……….
For me, I appreciate God’s approach. People are not coerced or compelled, but invited to enter in. There are standards and rules after a fashion, but they are to be taken internally, not imposed from without. These internal standards guide people in the way of liberty. Surely, there must be enough government to maintain peace and security, but that’s really it. After that, I would rather be free. We can all be free if we can just get back to the place where we love our neighbor as ourselves; even if we don’t do it perfectly.