Governments play a crucial role in the organization of society. Monsma (2008) state that there could still be some government even if sin were not in the world. Biblical concepts have a contribution in what the bible says regarding the role of governments with regard to natural law, inalienable rights, the separation between sin and crime, separation of the church and state, and federalism or covenant.
Inalienable rights – God created humans in his own image and likeness and granted them some natural rights and powers that can never be taken away. These are known as inalienable rights. Fischer (2013) argues that these rights are inherent in an individual’s personhood and they cannot be taken or given away. They comprise of the right to property, life, and liberty. Therefore, the government has no basis of invading such rights.
Natural law – In this, the government is expected to exercise its authority as God would wish since the laws made by man are derived from God’s commandments and laws. The aspect of natural law entails the standard platforms where the right and wrong can be gauged. Through the Ten Commandments, God gave out his laws which should be used as the standard for governments to create their own laws to govern them. The natural law is founded on the aspect that the right and wrong cannot change and this fact should be used as a guiding principle in the formulation of laws (Fischer, 2013).
Separation of church and state – When Jesus Christ was sent into the world to save men, he did not need a political might to develop his kingdoms. His powers worked in collaboration with the power of God and the Holy Spirit (The Trinity) to redeem the church. The church and state are separate institutions that protect liberty as well as the freedom of conscience. The nature of the Bible also encourages us to share power among different elements of authority within society (Fraser, 2016).
Covenant/federalism – Government authority is given by God and can sometimes be limited with the directives of Gods. Federalism was created to effectively check on the brutal nature of the hierarchical bodies evident in the ancient world. According to Weingast (2014), the arrangement where the state and national government share authority, they are all accountable to one another, and they cannot transgress the responsibility or authority of another.
Sin/Crime distinction – A crime of any kind is considered as a sin. A sin is an act or thought that is against the will of God. Sin destroys our relationship with one another and with God. All crimes are sins, but not all sins are crimes. Crime, on the other hand, entails unlawful acts that put the liberty, life, or property of other people in jeopardy. Crime is punishable by the state or civil government (Beznosova et al., 2015). Some sins are out of the reach of the government hence can be handled by the church, family, and are subject to punishment by God.
The policy issue I have chosen to discuss is the school prayers. The US Supreme Court ruled that the official public school’s prayer days violated the constitution because it infringes on the Establishment Clause. According to the Supreme Court, the prayer policy violated the provision of the Establishment Clause since the prayers were written by public officials to manifest religious beliefs (Lofaso, 2009). Bible principles stipulate that every person should be given the opportunity to act freely and not coerced in any manner (Kraft & Furlong, 2018). Holding prayer days are like dictating what the students must do, but prayer should be done out of free will.
The Constitution grants all the branches of government (Executive, Judiciary, and Legislature) enumerated powers. The role of the Legislature is to create laws. In Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, all legislative authority will be vested on the Congress. Within the federal government, Congress is the most powerful branch because they are given the authority of making law and setting the budget. The executive’s powers are cautiously limited and accurately defined in the Constitution. For instance, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, conduct foreign affairs matters. The role of the judiciary is to interpret the laws created by the legislature. These branches work in a manner that none overpowers the other. There is a balance of power.
In week 1, we discussed Judo-Christianism, modernism, and post-modernism world views. In the Judo-Christianism, God is perceived as personal and infinite, an entity that is the truth and possesses eternal value. As a result, Judo-Christianism defines government role as limited and self-governing in the sense that humans are not perfect; therefore, they cannot be trusted to be entirely rational. According to modernism, believing in God is a superstition that should be abandoned in support of science, technology, and logic. Unlike Judo-Christianism, this worldview encourages an expanded role of government to help solve the problems of its people. In postmodernism, universal, objective truth is rejected. This worldview refutes the existence of God and criticizes views that stipulate the world is an impossible place. Since there are no universal truths, there are only small truths for specific societies or groups, and they are often subject to individual perception. These small truths are the ones that should be considered by policymakers and governments. This worldview differs from modernism in the sense that it introduces reductionism, chauvinism, and dehumanization.
Beznosova, J. et al. (2015). Crime and Punishment, Sin and Retribution: From the History of Religious and Legal Traditions of East and Wes. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 6(6 S2), 662.
Fischer, K. (2013). Biblical principles of government.
Fraser, J. W. (2016). Between church and state: Religion and public education in a multicultural America. JHU Press.
Kraft, M. E., & Furlong, S. R. (2018). Public policy: Politics, analysis, and alternatives (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Sage Publications. ISBN: 9781506358154.
Lofaso, A. M. (2009). Chapter two: School prayers. Retrieved from http://religioninthepublicschools.com/downloads/Religion%20-%20Ch2%20-%20School%20Prayer.pdf
Monsma, S. (2008). Healing for a broken world: Christian perspectives on public policy. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN: 9781581349610.
Weingast, B. R. (2014). Second generation fiscal federalism: Political aspects of decentralization and economic development. World Development, 53, 14-25.