Ethics: Government and Citizenship (Part 5)

America is rare. Few countries in the history of the world have afforded so much opportunity to its citizens to select its leaders. This brings much responsibility. It is said that a lady asked Benjamin Franklin “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” The response, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” James A. Garfield said, “People are responsible for the character of Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities… If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.” The Bible reads, “unto whomsoever much is given of him shall be much required (Luke 12:48b).

Principles by which to vote.

1. Character does matter.

God’s instructions in selecting Israel’s judges: “You shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness…” (Exodus 18:21).

God’s instructions in selecting church leaders: (a) Elders—“not a novice” (1 Timothy 3:6). (b) Deacons—“let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless” (1 Timothy 3:10). Both of these verses teach that God wanted these men to have a proven track record.

2. Respect for God should be considered.

God’s instructions in selecting Israel’s judges: “You shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God…” (Exodus 18:21).

We should want leaders who understand that they are accountable to a higher power, the Almighty God. This accountability is emphasized in the Biblical record: Exodus 23:6-7, “You shall not pervert the judgment of your peer in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and the righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.” 2 Chronicles 19:6-7, “take heed to what you are doing for you do not judge for men but for the Lord… Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you…” Psalm 82 reminds judges that one day they will themselves be judged. All men, small and great, are accountable to Him (Revelation 20:12).

3. Desire for and discernment of truth is important.

A good leader will not surround himself with sycophants (“yes men”) who will tell him only what he wants to hear. “Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right” (Proverbs 16:13). “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6; also see, Proverbs 26:28; 29:12).

4. One should care for the poor and weak of society.

David said of Solomon, “He will judge Your people with righteousness, And Your poor with justice… He will bring justice to the poor of the people. He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor… For He will deliver the needy when he cries, The poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, And will save the soul of the needy” (Psalm 72:2, 4, 12, 13). Also read, Psalm 82:2-4.

5. Judges should be fair.

Judges should not favor the rich over the poor, or the poor over the rich (Exodus 23:3, 6; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:18-19; Psalm 82:2-4). Judges should “judge righteously” (Proverbs 31:9). “The idea of impartiality in the law, exemplified by statutes of justice blindfolded, implies that particular results for particular individuals and groups are to be disregarded when dispensing justice…… (It should not say B.H.) ‘First tell me who you are and then I’ll tell you what your rights are’” (Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice, p. 186).

Judges should not take bribes (Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; 1 Samuel 8:1-3, 12:3; 2 Chronicles 9:6-7; Proverbs 17:23; Isaiah 5:23; 33:14-15; Amos 5:12), neither should other officials (Proverbs 29:4). The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) should be applied.

6. Law-makers should make just laws.

Laws should be made for the good of society (Romans 13:4) and not for some self-serving interest, or to commit legal robbery (Isaiah 10:1-2 cf. Matthew 7:12).

7. The Government should protect its citizens.

Concerning the kings of old: (a) David said, “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land” (Psalm 101:8 ESV). (b) Solomon would, “Save the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight” (Psalm 72:13-14 ESV). (c) “A wise king winnows the wicked and drives the wheel over them” (Proverbs 20:26 ESV cf. 20:8).

Government is to be “God’s minister to you for good … an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rev. 13:4). While it is true that it may not be feasible or even possible to make laws against every sin, governments should be striving to protect citizens against violence and molestation.

8. It’s not “the economy stupid”.

The economy should not be all that matters. The physical conditions of Israel improved under Jeroboam II, yet God wasn’t impressed (2 Kings 14:23-29). The Bible records “he did evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 14:223-24). Mussolini made the trains run on time. Is such all that matters? “Better is a little with righteousness, Than vast revenues without justice” (Proverbs 16:8).

Having said this, a good ruler will consider economic issues. It was a burdensome tax rate that led to a revolt in the days of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12). Unwise economic policies hurt people. Millions have even died because of such.

9. Does the candidate value God’s design for the home?

God designed the home (Genesis 1-2). It was set up with one man and one woman.

There is an all out assault against God’s plan occurring today. Some would redefine marriage to include two of the same-sex. If this is allowed, then polygamy will not be far behind.  There are some advocating group marriages .

10. Does the candidate value the sanctity of life?

The ethics of abortion and euthanasia were earlier studied. The position of our politicians on those issues could become much more important under a national health care plan.

11. How does the candidate view man’s relationship to the environment?

Does this one understand that we are to be good stewards? Does this one understand that God has given man dominion and use of His creation? Does this one understand that man is superior to animal?  These are questions to ask.

12. Reflect upon the following passages:

(a) “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice: but when the wicked bear rule, the people moan” (Proverbs 29:2).

(b) “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).

Don’t leave God behind at the polls.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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