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Ethics and Social Order
By: David Deschesne
Fairfield Journal, July 4, 2007, p. 4
When God created man
and gave him free will, he set free a monster.
Man, having the freedom to do what he wants, has the freedom to do good
and equal opportunity to do bad. The
reason for this free will was to allow for love, which can only be obtained for
one by the conscious and freely-given decision of another.
God could have programmed us all to serve and love Him, but that would
have been meaningless. Surrounded by
automatons doing only what they’re programmed nets no emotional gain to either
party and squanders energy into a void of non-emotion.
man has the freedom to love, he also has the freedom to hate.
Aquinas says “good is what the appetite tends toward.”
Therefore, if I like pizza, it is good - to me.
The antithesis of good is bad, but that doesn’t always make bad evil.
It is good for the lion to eat the gazelle, since he derives much-needed
nutrition from it, but it is “bad” for the gazelle from the gazelle’s
point of view. God has a way of
always working things out and making good come from evil.
man has the freedom to do good or evil to his fellow man, he also has the
freedom to follow God’s plan or not.
1 Samuel, Samuel placed his sons in control over his people.
His sons turned away from their father’s ways and began to lust after
money, bribes and perverted judgments. The
Lord was using this to teach the people who refused to turn to Him in prayer and
obedience in order to perfect their life of Faith.
However, the people didn’t want to trust God.
They demanded a “king” like all the other nations.
They wanted a king to make them feel comfortable, safe and secure.
What they didn’t realize is that a king, being just a man, not being
led by the Lord, will be worse for them than what they had under Samuel’s sons
who were used by the Lord for His ends. Led
by the Lord, the new king will inflict the same on them as they had before
because the Lord is trying to work something out in them.
because a person is king or leader, doesn’t automatically make him good.
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “Social peace and order are established by a
dominant group within some level of community; and this group is not exempt from
the corruption of self-interest merely because the peace of society has been
entrusted to it.”1
Niebuhr is essentially stating that just because we empower a person with
a badge, black robe or other symbol of authority to keep the social peace,
doesn’t mean that person will automatically become good, decent and not
susceptible to bribes or indecent alliances with corporate boards to the
detriment of society as a whole. They
are, after all, only human.
Apostle Paul in Romans 13 states every soul is subject to the power of God and
those who resist that power are resisting God.
The legitimate higher powers we are to submit to according to Paul are
“ministers of God’s word to thee for good.”2
goes on in Hebrews to say, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit
yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that
they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable to you.”3
These people who “watch for our souls” and are “ministers of
God’s word” are not a secular government that has turned its back on God,
they are those in the community God has brought forward to lead and guide His
people according to His word. We
are thus commanded to follow those who follow God as His “minister” - His
A government comprised of men and women is as
much obliged to follow the submission mandate in Romans 13 as those they serve.
However, “the state is always tempted to set its majesty in rebellious
opposition to the divine majesty.”4
monarchies and aristocracies have always lived on the fiction that they exist
for the good of the people, and yet it is an appalling fact how few kings have
loved their people and have lived to serve.”5
government which has turned its back on God, no longer allows the teaching of
His word in its schools, no longer allows His commandments to be posted in its
courtrooms, no longer allows His symbols to be displayed on the public way and
whose money no longer conforms to His “just weights and balances” mandate,
have relinquished their position of divine authority as “ministers of God’s
word to thee for good” and have become nothing more than an illegitimate band
of ruffians. God allows this
to happen to a people or nation who has chosen not to follow His word and will.
The United States is a good example.
Looking around, one sees debauchery, corruption of morals, lack of
interest in God’s word and many people turned to their own way.
Is it any surprise then to find our own government, a very few within it
notwithstanding, has become a band of criminals as much as our common street
in Samuel’s day, we keep looking for another “king” or president to rule
over us without realizing that won’t fix the problem until we all as a nation
first get right with God. As frail
humans, we seek peace and security in a hostile world.
Rather than running to God, as they should, most people turn to man and
give up their God-given security to that end. Most will never see the error of
their ways, for; “It takes strenuous efforts to arouse the public.
Only spectacular evils are likely to impress it.
When it is aroused, it is easily turned against some side issues or some
harmless scapegoat. And, like all
passions, it is very short-lived and sinks back to slumber quickly.
Despotic governments have always trusted in dilatory tactics, knowing
well the somnolence of public opinion.”6
says on the subject of liberty and
security, “The classes which prefer liberty to security are those which
already have a high measure of security through their social and professional
skills, and who do not like to have their economic power subjected to political
power. The classes on the other hand
which prefer security to liberty are on the whole devoid of special skills and
therefore individual securities; and are exposed to perils of a highly
integrated technical society, and therefore fear insecurity more than they fear
the loss of liberty.”7
all faith in man for safety and security will cause one to loose all of his/her
liberty. Man is a horrible creature,
subject to a fallen, sinful nature and is to never be fully trusted.
Niebuhr says, “the same radical freedom which makes man creative also
makes him potentially destructive and dangerous, that the dignity of man and the
misery of man therefore have the same root.”8
God’s will according to his Divine Word will net us good government and be a
shield to the most evil in society who wish to subvert it.
There will always be tests imposed by Him in order to see if man’s free
will keeps him with his Lord or not, but operating in Faith in our Heavenly
Father guides and protects from the negative forces of evil that perpetually
encompass us about.
a nation looses its sight of God’s plan and begins to go its own way, the
corrective hand of the Lord will proportionately increase its vice and misery as
a shepherd’s staff and dog guide the sheep back onto the right path.
“Everywhere life is delivered unto death because it is ensnared in
self-delusion and practices every evasion rather than meet the true God.”9
Once back on the path, the sheep finds relative safety and security under
the shepherd despite the evils surrounding it.
Societies, like sheep, go astray and believe they are safe in the
wilderness being led by a company fellow superior sheep which they have elevated
to the status of their authorities, instead of following the one true shepherd
who is the First Source and Center of all authority and creation.
1. Christian Realism and Political Probelms,
©1953 Reinhold Niebuhr, pp. 127-128.
2. Romans 13:4
3. Hebrews 13:17
4. op. cit. Niebuhr, p. 115
5. Christianity and the Social Crisis,
Walter Rauschenbush, ©1911 MacMillan Co., p. 87
6. ibid, p. 260
7. op cit. Niebuhr,
8. ibid, p. 101
9. ibid, pp. 113-114