By Selwyn Duke
Many seem to worship government nowadays. They've come to regard it to be a panacea; yes, no matter what the problem is, government is thought to be the answer - this is why it's gotten so big. It now tells us in some measure how to run our businesses, rear our children and protect ourselves in cars and on bikes. We have programs offering free tattoo removal, subsidies for mohair producers, counseling for emotional trauma and pop-psychology that is supposed to make youth feel better about themselves. We have a tax code that is more voluminous than the Bible and which serves to apply pressure on people to act in ways that are deemed to be beneficial to society. In keeping with this, while we deny the existence of sin we levy exorbitant "sin taxes" on socially unfashionable vices; in fact, some years back a couple of college professors went so far as to propose that we tax fat-laden foods highly to discourage their use. The fact is, it's hard to find a problem for which a law or government program hasn't been proposed as the solution. And why is this so? Why is it that as time wears on an increasing number of people, when hearing about a problem, have come to exhibit the knee-jerk reaction whereby they say "what's the government going to do about it?" Well, a clue can be found in what it is they expect the government to do: they expect it to mitigate human frailty - to perfect the human condition. Curiously, this is what people used to expect God to do.
We all know the human condition needs to be improved - we know mankind needs help. And when we need help, we instinctively look for someone who is better at or more knowledgeable about the thing we need help with. If a student wants help with his math, he'll seek the tutelage of one who is superior to him in that subject. If we want help improving our skill in a sport, we don't ask a man on the street, we look for someone who has achieved mastery in it and is adept at relating the necessary concepts. So it is with the human condition: people look for help from those they consider to be superior in that regard. This desire is what has caused people to seek the counsel of sages - and fall for the charlatanry of gurus and false prophets. It's what has created a billion dollar market for self-help books, tapes and seminars. It's why some believe in space aliens: they vainly hope that at the eleventh hour enlightened benefactors from the great beyond will swoop down and save us from ourselves. And it's what drives many of us, at one time or another, to attempt to transcend the material world and ascend to the heights of the spiritual. And, it's the reason a believing Christian will give for why Jesus came into this world: to free man from sin.
Of course, this looking heavenward for deliverance from pain, privation, persecution and shortcomings is nothing new. God is not just one who is superior, but by anyone's reckoning a superior being, so there could be no better source to implore for help. This is why primitive pagan civilizations would entreat their gods to provide rain and vanquish foes - it's why they would even go so far as to sacrifice young virgins on a bloody altar. This barbarity was brought to an end by Christian civilization, which preached that there was in fact a God of salvation who would attend to our woes - but He was a loving God who didn't demand blood. He not only doesn't ask that we sacrifice our bodies for him, He sacrificed His body for us.
So, this had been the understanding of Christendom for more than a millennium: that there IS a God who we can beseech for help, and that He provides grace that can enable us to win the battle of the flesh and the spirit. We believed that with His help we could mitigate human frailty - perfect the human condition. We might have asked "what would Jesus do?" or, "what would God have us do about it?" That was our instinct, for God was, to use the phrase that is so fashionable nowadays, "our higher power." But that was then and this is now, and now is a time in which we are bearing witness to what happens when a people strays from its Christian foundation.
You see, you can dispense with the knowledge of God and His values, but you can't dispense with the human weakness that drives people to Him once you do so. And because of this weakness, this imperfection, people will still look to a higher power for aid. But when they believe there's no God, no higher power beyond this world, they'll instinctively look to the highest power in this world: government. When they don't believe in God's power, they'll seek governmental power; when don't think that God's laws and grace exist and can ameliorate the human condition, they'll look to government laws, mandates, regulations and programs to serve that end. When they can't ask God to take over their life and lead them, they'll be likely to ask government to do so. When they won't ask that question, "What would Jesus do?", they'll be likely to ask, "What will government do?" When they don't believe in THE Savior, they'll eventually try to turn government into A savior. This leads to an ever-expanding government, in a never-ending and futile quest to make a worldly institution powerful enough to take the place of He who is all-powerful. This is why one of America's founding fathers said, "If people are not governed from the inside by Jesus Christ, they'll be governed from the outside by totalitarianism." And trading the big "G" for the little "g" is a terrible trade-off, because the former gave us free will, whereas the latter seeks to limit the exercise of that free will. And that is the sad consequence of this denial of the one who made us, for God hath the power to heal and free - the surrogate god called big government only harms and binds.