If I had the power to make every man obey the moral law and to know they obeyed it, I trust I would not use it, God helping me. Why? The power to change a person’s behavior externally, without a change of heart, or a recognition of hypocrisy is dangerous. Power is as dangerous as love and just as no person should follow the demands of love lightly, so no person should come near power without a recognition of its Satanic dimensions.
The late Malcolm Muggeridge wrote (with a tip of the hat to the Boss for pointing it out):
Finally, the Devil showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said: All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. All Christ had to do in return was to worship the donor instead of God–which, of course, he could not do. How interesting, though, that power should be at the Devil’s disposal, and only attainable through an understanding with him! Many have thought otherwise, and sought power in the belief that by its exercise they could lead men to brotherhood and happiness and peace, invariably with disastrous consequences. Always in the end the bargain with the Devil has to be fulfilled–as any Stalin or Napoleon or Cromwell must testify. I am the light of the world, Christ said; power belongs to darkness. Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), Jesus Rediscovered, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969, p. See also Matt. 4:8-10; Deut. 6:13-14; Matt. 16:26; John 7:7; 13:3; 1 John 2:15-16.
Patriotism as a result must center in people and not nation-states. I hope I would die for the rights of Americans, but not (strictly speaking) for America. Christians wish to be servants and we know that no kingdom in this world can every be the Kingdom of God. We love our people, but we know that our nation-state is never going to be holy.
It is for this reason, I am for small government: any power used is dangerous, state power particular so, and its use must be minimized. yy.
And yet what about those areas, abortion or marriage, where I wish to “legislate morality?” And yet this phrase, “legislating morality,” might confuse affirming Divine standards, which is to give power to God and remove it from our choices, and enforcing those standards.
I favor legislating morally, but a very limited enforcement of morality.
Legislation should reflect morality, but not impose morality. Americans have recognized a key difference between the ideal and enforcing the ideal. An action might be illegal without much policing or power given to government to enforce the law. Particularly as privacy decreases and technology gives humans more power, we must be careful about decreasing penalties for certain misbehaviors and keeping our executive arm weak. As “spy” technology increases, enforcement powers must decrease.
The difficulty is that some power, in home, society, or states, must be used, because of our sickness and yet humanity is so broken that we cannot do safely what we must do. Medical doctors know this truth, if they have any humility, and don’t make the mistake of thinking all Satanic power is political! The doctor decides, and often must decide when the patient is not in a position to consent or choose. Every choice a doctor makes will have mixed motives and perilous pride on the part of the physician.
What is true of medical doctors is true of teachers. We have power, we must use it, and we pray daily: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Too often even the good we do is tainted by the Devil in the details. Is there any profession where Satan stand by us does urge us to legislate and enforce rule by his power?
Choosing not to intervene can be passive aggression . . . and Satanic isolation in a kingdom of self too proud to stoop to help our neighbor. A proud man, wise enough to know the seduction of power
And yet we must renounce the Devil and all his pomps.
We have no real home this side of Paradise and no hope for Utopia. We can help the poor, thunder against tyrants, but know, deeply know, that no use of power against even the worst tyrant is flawless. Every time I use power, I must realize that some of that power was abused.
What is true of a person is true of a nation: World War II was a just war against a vile foe, but it left the Allies with much for which they should feel guilt: mass bombings, racial segregation in US armed forces, the misuse of colonial troops by the UK.
We wait in hope for King Jesus.