In most people’s minds today, the word government means the state and/or the federal government. However, this idea is incorrect and should be rejected as a faulty view of all governments. With the rise of control in the 3 branches of civil government: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial, more and more freedom is being lost in the name of equal rights. Ironic? I think not. Like most governments, they operate like a well-oiled machine. They know exactly what they are doing, and they do it well. As they feed their agenda to individuals, they not only corrupt the system further, but they put a tighter noose around the necks of the people. How does society as a whole fix this? It starts with government. No not the froideur American U.S. Government. Not the school government, or the business-government for that matter. It doesn’t even start with the church or family government. Rather it starts with what each of these other governments are made of, and that is people, individual people with their own goals. The government of one’s own self is the most important government of all. There are three main forms of government; Self & Family, Church, and Civil Government.
The original word for government meant the self-government of the Christian man, which was and is the most important government throughout all history. Self-government is the foundation for a godly, fruitful, and productive life with God. In creation when God created man, he gave him a two part dominion mandate. First, to take dominion over the earth and to subdue it. Second, to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth (Gen 1:28). These are the two God-given tasks man is commanded to execute. If a man fails to carry out and obey these commandments then he is failing in his mandate. Another word for self-government is self-control. A man must be able to control himself if he is to operate properly in the world today. Each form of government, whether the family, church or civil government, is made up of individuals who need to be self-governed. If they are not then that sphere of government will fail to operate properly.
The Purpose of Self-Government
God created self-government. Sadly, self-government is often mistaken for its legal, procedural, or institutional manifestation, such as voting, representation, and the freedom of speech. These are necessary but insufficient conditions of self-government. Many believe that self-government is, a culture of civic responsibility among societies. However, since God is the creator of all, we must look to Him to find the true meaning of self-government. Man does this by acting upon the institutions that God has set forth for all peoples to obey and follow. Mankind’s purpose is to glorify Almighty God and enjoy Him forever (Rom 11:36, I Cor 10:31, Ps 73:25-28, John 17:21-23). Man does this by first, loving God with his whole self, his whole being. Then second, by loving his fellow brethren as he would love himself (Mark 12:30-31). In God’s word, he has said that to love Him means to obey his commandments (John 14:15), this requires government. Thus to obey God is to love Him. The government of one’s self is to obey God fully, in addition, to also treat those around you as you would treat and care for yourself.
The Biblical Self-Governed Man
One does not need to look far to find the ideal self-governed man. The life of Jesus Christ is the only perfect demonstration of a completely governed, sinless, and holy walk with God. Every person today needs to idolize His walk and strive to walk it themselves. There are many men and woman of our past and present who have a very personal walk with Christ because of their self-governance. We can learn something from them all.
The Relationship to one’s Family
The relationship between individuals and their family is important for people to understand, and is misunderstood frequently. Families train individual people to be God-fearing citizens, who then, in turn, raise their own families to do the same. Children are the responsibility of their father and mother and should be trained to be the next generation of fathers and mothers, thus their rearing is one of the most important jobs in the whole world. A Christian family is one that lines up with biblical principles and one in which each member understands and fulfills his or her God-given unique role. The family is not an institution designed by man. It was created by God for the benefit of man, and man has been given stewardship over it. The basic biblical family unit is comprised of one man, one woman—his spouse—and their offspring. The extended family can include relatives by blood or marriage such as grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles. One of the primary principles of the family unit is that it involves a commitment ordained by God for the lifetime of the members. The husband and wife are responsible for holding it together, contrary to the current attitude of our culture which promotes disposable relationships which become multiple no-fault divorces. Although divorce is sought and granted much too easily in our society, the Bible tells us that God hates divorce. Divorce destroys marriages and families. 40 to 50 percent of most marriages end in divorce, this leaves many many families broken and divided. A family cannot function properly if its main cornerstone is broken and crumbled.
What is Family-Government?
Each family is its own government, it is everyone’s first and most important training ground in life. The education of the children is the complete responsibility of the family government (Deut 6:1-7). The most basic element in every family is that the Christian man is the head of his family( Eph 5:23, I Cor 11:3). His responsibility is first and foremost the nurturing and caring of his wife. Then second the rearing up of his children. It is in the home where the foundations of Christian character are laid, and it is in the home where Christian self-government is learned and practiced. Few people today talk about the opportunity and the obligation of having a Christian family in our current civil government. It is so easy nowadays to hand the precious education of our little ones to the care and instruction of someone else. Rather families should desire to teach their children to be the next torch-bearers for their values, gifts, and beliefs.
The Purpose of Family-Government
The family has two main purposes. First, to educate and train, the education of the family is the most important of the three and should be the highest priority in the family’s objectives. The father and mother take their God-given mantel to train their children. Each family has wealth, whether material, spiritual or people. Some of that wealth might be in the amount of knowledge the family has between them all. This includes spiritual knowledge as that is very valuable to a family. Fathers are instructed to bring up their children in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord”(Eph 6:4). A father is also to provide for his family. If he does not, he “denies the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”(1Tim 5:8). So, a man who makes no effort to provide for his family cannot rightly call himself a Christian. This does not mean that the wife cannot assist in supporting the family—Proverbs 31 demonstrates that a godly wife may surely do so—but providing for the family is not primarily her responsibility; it is her husband’s. The woman was given to man for the purpose of being her husband’s helper and to bear children. The husband and wife in a Christian marriage are to remain faithful to one another for a lifetime. God declares equality of worth in that men and women are created in God’s image and are therefore equally valuable in His eyes. This does not mean, however, that men and women have identical roles in life. Women are more adept at nurturing and caring for the young, while men are better equipped to provide for and protect the family. Thus, they are equal in status, but each has a different role to play in a Christian marriage.The people in the family are an asset, and I would actually argue that they are the most valuable of the three asset types.
Second, the family is to expanded its current assets as well as to accumulate new ones. They should always venture to acquire new assets as well, whether through marriage or birth. Both of these add value to the family because marriage and birth are growing the family members (aka assets). The family is responsible for the preservation, security, and safety of its assets. This requires the family to have an understanding for what the family actually owns, controls, and/or possesses. Then take the necessary precautions to keep it safe. Of course, the family should require that all its members be held to a Christian standard of behavior and should hope for everyone to have a personal walk with Jesus Christ. The Bible provides the guidelines for husbands and wives in a Christian family. The husband is required to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and a wife should respect her husband and willingly submit to his leadership in the family. The husband’s leadership role should start with his own spiritual relationship with God and then flow to instructing his wife and children in scriptural values, leading the family into biblical truth.
The Biblical Function of the Family
The concept of family is extremely important in the Bible, both in a physical one and in a theological sense. Family was introduced in the beginning of creation, as we see in Genesis 1:28,
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
God’s plan for creation was for men and women to marry and have children. A man and a woman would form a “one-flesh” union through marriage, and they with their children become a family, the essential building block of human society.
Family members were to look after and care for one another. When God asks Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain’s response is the flippant “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The implication is that, yes, Cain was expected to be Abel’s keeper and vice versa. He was responsible for caring for, protecting, and assisting his family. Not only was Cain’s murder of his brother an offense against humanity in general, but it was especially egregious because it was the first recorded case of fratricide.
The physical family is the most important building block to human society, and as such, it should be nurtured and protected. But more important than that is the new creation that God is making through Christ, which is comprised of a spiritual family, the Church, made up of all people who call upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. This is a family drawn “from every nation, tribe, people and language”, and the defining characteristic of this spiritual family is love for one another.
The Family’s Relationship to the State
The state has no jurisdiction over the education, welfare, and provision of the family. They do not have the God-given ability to authorize any sort of program that each family is required to follow. This is especially true for the education of the children in the family. The civil government cannot regulate, in a biblical society, any aspect of the welfare or training of the family members. The civil government likewise has no right to tax the inheritance or the assets of the family, they claim no ownership of them, and thus cannot tax what is not theirs. The family lives inside of the civil government, thus they are still citizens and subject to the policies of their nation. However, if the civil government prohibits what God commands, or commands what God prohibits, then the subjects of the nation are free to reject the civil policies, even under penalty of law. God’s law is to be obeyed first above all else, thus the obedience of the people to God, is far more important than their obedience to the civil government. Individuals will answer to God for their actions, just as the civil government will, both are subject to God’s law, and both will be judged accordingly.
What is Church-Government?
The church is the body of Christ. It is a living organism that consists of a group of believers that operate as a government with special properties and responsibilities. Church government is a completely separate government that operates with its own sovereignty and its own hierarchy. The church has been given special responsibilities from God that they are required to carry out. Church government is a governing authority because it is instituted by Jesus Christ, and is ruled by self-governed elders. The extent of the church’s authority is limited to only that which the Bible specifies. When the church fails to exercise its biblical government then deadly repercussions are reaped on the surrounding culture. As Rushdoony said:
The church is a government and an important one, not only in its exercise of discipline but in its religious and moral influence on the minds of men. Even men outside the church are extensively governed in each era, even if only in the negative sense, by the stand of the church. (Politics of Guilt and Pity,331.)
The Biblical Function of the Church
The Church cannot ignore the responsibility to reach the lost of all nations. If this is true, we – the individual members of the local church – need to be personally engaged in reaching the lost of our own area, of our own church, and of our own city. How can we desire to reach out to other lost nations if we can’t even look at what’s around us, Jesus commanded us to be faithful in little. The apostles were set aside as teachers in the early church because they had walked with Jesus and because he had commanded them to make disciples. God still calls out and equips people to teach others about Christ. When we “walk with Jesus,” we learn from Him and He commands us to “make disciples”(Matt 28:19) as well. God did not design the Christian life to be a lone, solitary venture. He wants us to encourage one another, enjoy one another, and build wholesome relationships with other Christians. As we grow in Christ, we develop a stronger bond/love for one another and are willing to demonstrate that love in a deeper, sacrificial manner. Linked to that fellowship that grows for others from our love for God, we commit our lives to serving one another.
The early church considered nothing their own and shared with one another as they had the need (Acts 2:44; 4:32). Out of our love for others, we also minister to the temporal needs of others. The church should want to minister to the temporal needs of the lost people in an effort to share the Gospel with those around us that are without Christ. The early church met regularly for the purpose of worshiping and remembering Christ’s death and resurrection. In other words, they gathered to remind themselves what was their purpose. The more we learn about God and His faithfulness, the more we want to express our gratitude. We desire to gather with others to declare our adoration and praise.
The Word of God in Scripture is the only source for all ethics. Human reason, church tradition, and the natural sciences may aid a moral interpretation, but divine revelation, found in Scriptures, is the only true source of ethics. Informed ethical interpretation will carefully weigh the many words of men, both past, and present, but the Word of God must cast the deciding vote. Evangelical’s believe that the Scriptures are the very Word of God, the only infallible and inerrant rule of faith and practice, consequently are the highest authority for both doctrine and morals.
The Church’s Relationship to the state
Only as both the church and the state are carrying out their God-given tasks and circumscribing themselves to what God has declared and ordained, that our nation will know tranquillity and prosperity under God’s approbation. If the church is not proclaiming faithfully the word of God, the civil government will have no purpose. If the civil government is not properly enforcing justice according to the standard God has laid out in his Word, Christ’s church will be first to suffer. One of the many ways the church suffers is through taxation.
What right does the state have to hold churches and their properties “tax exempt?” In scripture we read that:
“The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof; the world and those that dwell therein.”(Psalm 24:1.)
According to this reasoning, it’s God’s right to govern and to tax. If the earth belongs to God, then he is sovereign over it. God is thus the source of all government and all taxation. As Rushdoony said:
The tithe is simply the confession that the Lord is indeed our Lord…..To refuse to tithe is to deny Christ’s lordship, government, and law. (The Roots of Reconstruction, 98.)
By what right then does the state have to tax the church? The state is not our lord or sovereign. The civil government in no way owns a single part of the church. On the contrary, in Isaiah 9:6 it says:
and the government shall be upon (Christ’s) shoulder
This means that the government belongs to Christ, and thus he is sovereign over it. The state is allowed a head tax and no more. To claim sovereignty over the church by taxation and legislation is to deny Christ as Lord.
What is Civil-Government?
There are many forms of government, and each is sovereign within its own jurisdiction, including civil government. Sadly, today civil government claims to be the over-all government. Civil-government claim jurisdiction over private business, our work, churches, families, and even ourselves. By enforcing laws on private businesses, it limits the ability for business to operate properly and causes them to go bankrupt. People are left picking up the scraps of their own labor because the civil government sucks most of it up through taxes. They also limit the church through 501 (c)(3), in fact by including the church in its “tax-exempt” list, they claim ownership of the church and its government. By enforcing numerous laws on individuals in society, it leaves very little freedom for families and individual people to live happily. Because of this, the word government no longer means self and family government primarily and essentially, church second, and civil last; it means the civil state.
The Purpose of Civil Government
To properly understand how much power each government has and is permitted to exercise, we first need to understand where all sources of power are derived from. All power is established by Almighty God, the state is no exception. The state answers directly to God, just as the church, family, and individual people answer to God. Demar wrote:
All authority and its limitations are delegated. No one government can claim its area of governmental authority as ultimate. Neither can any one governmental authority validate or invalidate another legitimate governmental authority. (God and Government, 67.)
God’s law must be the root of man’s law. Lawlessness and transgressions are resistance to God’s power. Civil government is one of God’s divine institutions. It is established by God and is part of God’s government. God created civil government to endorse good by providing environments for its welfare. They do this by justly punishing criminals to prevent further crime. Its fundamental function is thus justice and godly structure. Civil government when following its biblical mandate then it has the endorsement of Christian’s. It is its own ascendancy, just as parents and church elders are the ruling authority in their own governmental spheres. All of these governments are established by God, the only canonical source of authority.
The Biblical Function of Civil Government
From very early in history, there was an understanding that some sort of institution was needed to restrain the violent acts of men. First Cain and his ruinous actions towards his brother Abel. Then shortly after, Lamech commits murder and runs off in a braggadocio fashion. His bombastic story proves the insanity of man’s sin and his violent depravity throughout history. If some coercive actions are not instituted by the civil government, God in His grace will intermediate and control the situation by his own measures. Thus the purpose of civil government is not to control the lives of its law-abiding citizens, but rather to punish its criminals. If criminals are punished in the biblical fashion, then not only will peace rain down on that nation but God’s blessing as well. When a nation fears God, He bestows His favor, and the nation prospers.
All forms of political government; local, regional, state, national, federal, etc., derive their authority from God and not the consent and whims of the governed people. Authority ultimately comes from God, and he distributes power where he sees fit. Civil government cannot give life, it cannot give liberty and it cannot give happiness. It can only enforce its God-given jurisdiction which in turn supplies these things. Now, civil government can and should consult with its citizens, but God is the supreme governance and all jurisdictions report directly to Him. For, The Most High God rules the Kingdom of Mankind and sets over it whom he wills. (Daniel 5:21)
If a sphere of government fails to properly understand the boundaries God has laid forth in His Word, consequences arise. When a man fails to properly follow God’s guidelines for government then he is left to determine in his own heart what is true and good. In his mind he becomes god, he becomes the self-determiner of his own truth. If a man denies God ‘s revelation, then ‘might’ becomes ‘right.’ When the Christian man is not the head of his family, then a decentralization of leadership is spread among the members and they become atomistic, lacking core values and ultimately are only held together by the whims of the members. When churches are void of an unmoving and unchanging finished revelation they become flooded with false doctrines, Christ’s body becomes defiled, and the light of the gospel is hidden. Civil institutions likewise when they don’t follow God’s prescriptions for proper jurisdiction they always become tyrannical. Civil government has never been able to restrain itself from an abusive growth in power outside of Christian moorings.
This is why God must be the source of truth and ethics for all governments. Only under God’s wisdom can a nation and people prosper. God, creator of everything, is Sovereign and LORD over all. He gives power and authority to govern. By following Him, a man or nation will find itself overwhelmed with blessings.
“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. (Deut 28:1-6)