Saturday, February 09, 2008

History of Human Government (18) - Democracy

The modern view is that democracy is the ideal form of government, but it does not get a good press in the Bible. The biblical evidence is that when the people joined together to make a unanimous or majority decision, they usually got things wrong. Here are some examples.

Even when they could see into the promised land, the people voted against going into it.

That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt". (Num 14:1-4, 26).
The people wanted to elect a leader to take them back to Egypt, because they thought that obeying God would be too tough. This is typical of democracy. People will rarely vote for a tough option, even when it is needed. They will generally vote for the option that produces the most comfort.

Gideon understood this problem well.
The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you" (Jud 8:22,23).
This is a good example of democracy getting things wrong. The people voted Gideon for president, but that was not God’s will. Gideon understood the issues better and reminded them that God was their ruler.

Jesus was crucified by a democratic decision.
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified (Matt 15:15).
The representative of the evil empire wanted to set Jesus free. However, he agreed to put the decision to a vote, and Jesus was sent down. Democracy perpetrated the greatest injustice that has ever been done by sentencing the only perfect man to death for crimes he did not commit.
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge….. because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children (Hos 4:6).
Given that democracy gets things wrong so often, it is hard to understand why Christians are so enthusiastic about democracy.

Christians have tended to recommend democracy as a political solution, but there is no biblical reason for this enthusiasm. People power leads to oppression because the crowd is usually wrong.
Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd (Ex 23:2).
We should be careful about recommending a system that does not have God’s approval. Just as a thorn bush cannot produce apples, a system where man establishes the laws, can never advance the Government of God.

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