What do you think the role of government should be? That is a BIG question with a LOT of answers. Most likely, your answer will be determined by your political persuasion. The Libertarian ideal is a highly limited central government with minimal intrusion into the lives of everyday citizens. Pure Libertarians value a government whose primary role is protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Some Libertarians border on anarchists, advocating for the dissolution of the State all together.
The other extreme of the political spectrum are those who advocate a very strong central government that closely monitors the affairs of its citizens, limits their freedoms, and is in charge of the day to day operations of the society. Whenever someone is accused of being a socialist, it is because they believe the best form of government is the one that has the most control.
In between the Communist State and the Libertarian Anti-State, you will find most people. And while we may all have our own opinions about this particular issue, especially as it is hashed out in the public square of our nation today, it would be wise for us to consider the fact that God has already established His divine plan for government. Before we form our opinions based on political persuasion, we would do well to form our opinions based on what God has already said. Remember, our first loyalty is to Christ. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:16, “We have the mind of Christ.” This means that what He says in His Word is the most important guiding principle of our lives.
So, what does God say about government? Peter has some very interesting words for us today and they are perfectly relevant to the conversation going on in our own land. In 1 Peter 2:14, Peter says that the main role of government is to punish evil and praise good. Paul affirms this in Romans 13. Simply stated, it is the government’s job to ensure that a virtuous society can flourish.
One could easily make the case that this seems to be the intent of the Declaration of Independence when it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Though imperfect men, our Founders understood something of God’s intent. So, they structured a government that was accountable to the people and limited in scope. Those powers not given to the central state were left up to the states and municipalities to decide.
Our great problem today is that we no longer have a clear understanding of virtue and evil in our culture. Things that God has said are evil are now being considered permissible – even preferred in some respects. A government cannot do its God-ordained function if it embraces moral relativism because evil is no longer identifiable. As Christians, we must recognize the dangerous ground in which we live, but still strive to be good citizens. There may in fact come a day when the state not only sides with evil, but requires evil of its citizens. On that day, our citizenship in this sphere will be revoked because our number one allegiance is not to the United States of America, but to the Kingdom of God! While we may honor the emperor as Peter says, we must always remember that we surrender to the KING of KINGS and the LORD of LORDS.