Thursday, July 2, 2009

Government and Tyranny

A cyber-friend who goes by the handle of One Salient Oversight has done me the kindness of answering one of my posts here in the comments section of that post. Since he is quite possibly my only reader at this point, and since my response to his comment became quite lengthy, I have opted to bring it out here to the front page. OSO is an Aussie, a nice guy, and a guy who knows how to disagree graciously. I hope I can return his graciousness and that we can both profit from our discussion.

OSO is a big-government liberal and our disagreement concerns the nature and purpose of government.

First let me quote him, then I'll respond.

OSO wrote: One counter-argument from the top of my head concerns sin. Sin affects both the individual and the community. To argue that the Biblical direction is more individualistic is to argue that the sins of the many outweigh the sins of the few (in a per capita sense). I would argue that sin affects both equally.

That's not my argument. My argument is that because of our sin nature, power tends to corrupt. I firmly believe the maxim: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Though there are exceptions to the rule, history is replete with individuals who sought power for power's sake so that they could use it to tyrannize others. Give sinful man that much control over others and he tends to abuse it.

Think about it this way. Government is only necessary because of sin. Before sin, there was no need for the ten commandments. Man had God's law written on his heart, he obeyed willingly. When men sin government becomes necessary in order to execute justice and this is government's primary purpose.

The founders of our country believed this for they wrote about a Creator who had endowed us with certain unalienable rights and then they went on to delineate government's responsibility in protecting those rights. Government is about protecting the individual's liberty so that he may live free and be judged by God for how he lived in that final day. Every man's life is his own and he is responsible to God for how he lived it. It is imperative, therefore, that he be free to live that life as his conscience dictates and be judged by the just judge of the universe in that final day.

But, I've strayed. The point is that because of sin, men who have power tend to be corrupted by it. Governments, in reality, serve to perpetuate their own power and increase it. Governments never naturally shrink, they naturally grow.

Why is it that you think that you know better how others ought to live their lives than they do? And if you do, what gives you the right to enforce your viewpoint on them? You can, and should, seek to persuade men. You can, and should, take moral stands and proclaim truth and righteousness. But when do you get the right to enforce your viewpoint on another via the sword?

It is Charles Spurgeon who is credited with saying "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." This is why the marriage of church and state is a great evil. It does not make Christians of men, it only makes hypocrites and increases rebellion. Men who are born of God worship him freely.

We have every right to persuade men to come to Christ. We have no right to enforce our theological viewpoint on them. By the same token, we have every right to persuade men to give to the poor, but we have no right to reach into their pocket, take their hard-earned money, and give it to someone who has not earned it. If your name is not Government, that is called robbery and will get you in jail. Why do we think a crime can be made into a virtue by majority vote?

If I have money beyond what I need for my family, money I have earned by my labor and God's grace, and God gives me opportunity to give to another who is in need, and I do so, that is a virtuous act. God is glorified in that. But if I then go to my neighbor and by threat of physical violence compel him to give of his means to help someone else's need I have committed a grievous sin, a crime. But this is what socialist government does.

If I don't pay my taxes the government will put me in jail. But what does the government do with my money? It redistributes it to others. Gone is any virtue in my giving . . . because I was forced. Gone is any choice I had in where and how and to whom I should be charitable. Gone is my expendable income and any opportunity I might have to actually help others whom God might send across my path.

And what right do others have to tell me what to do with my money anyway? More to the point, what right does any given majority have to enforce its viewpoint on any particular individual on how he ought to use his money to help others? This is tyranny. It is the opposite of liberty.

Here's what the majority should do. It should seek to peaceably persuade others to commit acts of virtue freely, after having practiced those virtues themselves. Gone is the greedy, corrupt, wasteful, power-mongering middle-man called government. Intact is liberty. Intact is genuine charity. Intact is justice. Socialism destroys all three.

I have rambled on so far that I have forgotten my original point, but I think it was this: men are by nature corrupt, therefore their power over others should be very limited and very local and they should be held very accountable for their use of that power. The larger and more centralized a government is, the less it can be held accountable and under control.


BaileyMan said...

Wow Spurge. Well said. Where have you been? Have missed your entries. Hope you are well. Drop me a line brother.

James Spurgeon said...

I'm back on-line and I'll be around some. Mostly I'll just be reading other people's blogs, but I plan on posting here from time to time as well. Married life is treating me well, but also keeping me busy. I see you haven't posted in a while either. Drop me a line.