The Implications of a Monarchy

The Implications of a Monarchy October 18, 2023

The Implications of a Monarchy

The Implications of a Monarchy

Even though I have moved beyond Christianity and have doubts about God, especially as expressed in the Desert Religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), I still am fascinated with Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that he was perfect or even that our accounts of him are 100% accurate, but I can find virtue in some of his teachings and way of life.

One of the ways that people describe Jesus is to use the term, King. From way back in the early days of Israel’s history, they longed for a monarchy. The first one was Saul, and then there were bad and good kings, exile, and captivity, but always a desire for a ruling figure, especially a military leader.

I believe this is why the writers of the New Testament felt license to include these titles, like the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Even in Western politics, we hope for this John Wayne type of leader who will establish order and rule us righteously. Donald Trump was elected because he was a bully, but what Donald Trump wanted was to be king (or emperor).

People claim that Jesus was the one righteous, eternal king, but so far, even his homeland is one of the most unstable places on earth. Claiming that he will make things right sometime in the future avoids the issue and doesn’t address the fact that millions and millions of people suffer every day. If he is king, then his Kingdom has not been very effective. If he is the prince of peace, why can’t we even elect a Speaker of the House from the party that claims to be on His side?

Here are a few reasons I don’t like the idea of a king.

The Implications of a Monarchy

1. They take from the poor and give to the rich.

To understand this, just take the example of Robin Hood, who stole from the rich, gave to the poor, and was considered a criminal. In a monarchy, the average person is considered unimportant in comparison to the common good or the wishes of the king. The common good is often considered last because the king is right, and what they say is what we must do.

A part of us, as humans, think this is what we want as long as it’s working well for us, but what the king wants is always superior to the needs of the people. And the longer the monarchy exists, the worse this problem becomes.

2. The monarchy abuses its power

The Commonwealth of Great Britain is a great example of how when a group becomes powerful, they assume they can take what they want from whoever they want. At least 56 countries can attest to the domination experienced by the monarchy. Lord Acton, an Englishman, said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

“But Jesus was different than that!” I hear what you are saying, and I couldn’t agree more. His life was not about abusing his power; he told his followers not to “lord” over people.  Modern-day religion is very similar to a monarchy in that pastors and theologians see themselves as the ruling class serving a king and exercising the authority they receive from him. The result is widespread abuse and corruption.

3. No Accountability

Kings are not usually held accountable for their actions; their authority is inherited or acquired through force or the promise of future punishment. Do I have to explain how this relates to Western Christianity and its disregard for decency and human rights?

There is an epidemic in the United States inside of organized religion where popular and celebrity leaders are quickly forgiven or given a pass on many of their egregious acts. As the “ruling class,” they can justify it because they believe they are right and God (the King) is on their side. If that king genocides people, condones slavery, abuses women, ignores suffering, and forces his will on people, then their actions are acceptable and not to be challenged.

4. Inequality

This point has already been drawn out in the paragraphs above, but let me make another point. The promotion of hierarchy, because it creates inequalities, automatically causes the inevitable fall of the people or deities at the top of the pyramid. Prove me wrong—who is a worse Father than the god of the Bible? Who killed more people indiscriminately than this ruler? Who set up these hierarchies that have consistently failed the leader’s injunction to love our neighbor?

5. The Need for a Mediator

When we experience a person or a deity as a king, we open the door to a lack of representation and direct communication. Politicians love to brag that they are connected and in communication with their constituents because they’re trying to be adequate representatives of their electorate. However, deities or hierarchical leaders are, by nature, separated from the general population. God or Jesus can’t be in a relationship with us if there are mediators between us, such as pastors, bishops, and popes. When we talk about Jesus as a friend and king, we distort the nature of our relationship. Kings are not friends with peasants.

As I’ve said before, if you choose to stay within Christianity, that is your business. I aim to share what I discover and see if it’s helpful for you.

Sadguru is a Yogi and the founder of the Isha Foundation in India. When asked recently about his title, he quickly diminished it and said it is for the people, not himself. He prefers the title of Yogi, a person proficient in yoga. If Jesus existed, I believe his understanding of himself would be more like a Yogi and less like a king.

Be where you are, be who you are, be at peace!

Karl Forehand

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Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Out into the Desert, Leaning Forward,  Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart, The Tea Shop and Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity.  He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast and community.  He is married to his wife Laura of 35 years and has one dog named Winston.  His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply! You can read more about the author here

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