Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Restraining Evil

The accepted wisdom says that we need government to restrain evil. I see many statements that go something like this:

This is a sinful world. Without government, we would end up in anarchy. God instituted governments to restrain evil.
These kinds of statement usually make a nod to Romans 13, but they never do any detailed analysis of what this passage actually means and they never give much thought to what is meant by “government. Going from Romans 13 to saying that God instituted government to restrain evil is a big jump.

The reality is that kings and governments often advance evil. The Kings of Israel constantly went off the rails and led their nation into evil. I can think of plenty politicians and presidents in the twentieth century who gave evil a big hand along the way. We need to give this more thought.

The bible actually teaches that God gave the law to restrain evil.
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers (1 Tim 1:8-10).
Paul lists some of the most evil categories of people he can think of; murderers, adulterers, perverts, slave traders. These are the people we want restrained. Paul’s answer is that the law is for these people, and not for their enjoyment. If God’s law is applied, the evil people we fear will be restrained.

Applying the law, needs some judicial institutions, but these could be quite different from modern governments. One thing is clear. Restraining evil does not require or justify all the paraphernalia of modern government.

God gave the law to restrain evil. If we do not start there, we may end up in the wrong place.

1 comment:

Chris Ortiz said...

God bless you, Ron. Keep up the good work. A fine blog indeed!

Chris Ortiz
Chalcedon Foundation