The Optimistic Christian
Government at the End of an Age
Nevertheless, an arm of the same British government—the National Health Service's agency in northeast London—recently bought advertising time, with the British taxpayer's pound, on a channel that features radical Islamist clerics, one of whom advocates death for homosexuals—trenchantly and often. (The others advocate, among other things, abuse of Jews.)
These things, too, are inevitable, if government is given a charter to adjudicate all of the people's moral disputes, and pick "winners" based on narrow, single-issue criteria. Eventually, the people will be treated unequally—foolishly and inconsistently—by a law so intricate and multifarious.
A third interesting data point intersects with these more recently reported events. In a GQ interview published in November, author Michael Hainey asked Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), out of the blue, how old Rubio thinks the earth is.
There's no wrong answer to this question, since none of us knows how old the earth is. There are only answers that seem more or less probable to us. The fact that this question is a political litmus test is a testament to the incorrigible foolishness of mankind. There is, quite literally, nothing the U.S. government can do about the age of the earth. Making proclamations about it, or laws based on assumptions about it, would be even sillier than the pope dividing the earth between Portugal and Spain in 1494.
Human government was never very impressive, and it is no more so today. It consists of flawed, limited people who've been given a potentially dangerous authority to make decisions for other people. That's all it is, and much of what we see around us now is evidence of its unvarying tendencies: not merely to overspend, but to overregulate, overreach, and overpromise.
America's federal debt of $16.3 trillion is now greater than our annual GDP; Britain's debt is about 67 percent of her annual GDP. Yet our two nations continue trying to put government in the place of God, using it to punish or reward the people for their attitudes about moral issues, and seeking superficial vindication for a particular set of attitudes, through government's favor and official pronouncements.
We humans were designed to need an arbiter and a vindicator, and if we will not have God for these roles, we will make up our own surrogates. The tragedy is that human government is so awful in the place of God. It can't vindicate everyone; it must pick winners and losers. It decides narrowly, ignorantly, and arbitrarily, whereas God is constant and all-seeing. God's justice never conflicts with itself, nor is His righteous law suspended for a bribe. God teaches us to operate on principle, whether we are being kind and tolerant to others or tithing to Him for the relief of the poor. God builds mercy into His law; man is always afraid that mercy will be unsatisfactory to one constituency, or justice to another.
We really must, as a people, rise above the reflexive government-worship into which we have sunk in the past century. Government cannot make anything right or wrong; it can only decide what to punish or reward. Government most certainly cannot arrange for us to love and care for each other; all it can do is run up horrific debts in a series of highly corruptible attempts to simulate love and care. Human government is a pathetic second-best to God's provision in terms of vindication, justification, love, and happiness.
I believe that this will become plain to millions of people in the coming years, and that the 20th century's great romance with all-powerful, ideological government will be exposed for the hollow mistake it has been. In a sense, we have made modern government a Tower of Babel. It is due to collapse—to lose its privileged place in the vision of the people—in somewhat the same manner as sclerotic monarchies and empires a century ago.
Governments will remain, of course. They are necessary. But the premise of modern ideological government will be revealed for what it is: a false god, and a weapon against us, one used to indenture us and blind us to the truth.
J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval intelligence officer and evangelical Christian. She retired in 2004 and blogs from the Inland Empire of southern California. She writes for Commentary's CONTENTIONS blog, Hot Air's Green Room, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.