Monday, November 30, 2009

God and Secular Government

Introducing scripture into any argument centered on using the coercive hand of secular government is dangerous. What is characterized as scripture is not the same for everyone in a multi-cultural society such as America. Whether or not what one set of scriptures says is okay for secular government to do is just in the eyes of the true God, promoting those actions diminishes your objections of the promotion of like actions by those who believe in the divinity of a different set of scriptures. Let's think about it.

Assuming its accuracy, this 2-part article written by Gabriel Fink uses the Book of Mormon to show that God has authorized a limited form of secular government, as well as some coercive taxation. Now, I accept the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and assuming these scriptures have been interpreted correctly, I accept as well that God has authorized limited government and coercive taxation. But this does not move me to promote limited government and some coercive taxation. Why?

Just because God has authorized limited government and some coercive taxation, that does not mean that we must have limited government and some coercive taxation. All it means is that those who seek to have limited government and some coercive taxation are held accountable to God to not overstep the limits that he has authorized. Think of the Sabbath. We have been commanded to observe it and keep it holy. We have been authorized by God to hold at least one day as the Sabbath. This is the minimum. Could we reserve more than one day for Sabbath observance, so long as it did not interfere with everything else we are commanded to do for ourselves and family? I think the answer is obvious. The standard is one day and we are accountable to God to observe at least one day. Likewise with government.

According to Fink's interpretation of the Book of Mormon, we have been authorized to setup limited government and some coercive taxation (I have no concerns about his interpretation at this time). But this is merely a standard that cannot be surpassed. His authorization does not mean that we must have limited government with some coercive taxation, or even that it is what is best for everyone.

I said above that promoting secular government based on scripture diminishes one's objections to the promotion by others who follow another set of scriptures (or even interpret differently the same set of scriptures). This is true because promoting secular government based on scriptures "opens the flood gates," so to speak, for all to do the same. Not everyone's collection of scripture (now or in the future) authorizes the same type of secular government and coercive taxation. Some could even authorize unlimited government and taxation. Either way, what's involved is force. That should be remembered as we battle to setup the type of secular government our respective Gods have authorized. Secular government is necessarily established and maintained by the sword. Is this really a worthy cause?

Or should we instead focus our scarce energies on "striking the root", ie. the institution known as the state?

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