The Case for a Strong Government14.09.10
Aired on September 13, 2010
Narration by Emily Bolinas
THE CASE FOR A STRONG GOVERNMENT
In our last editorial, we spoke about government at its minimum. Today, we focus on government at its maximum, playing a bigger role.
Besides justice, one aspect of the authority God gave earthly rulers is the promotion of the welfare of those who are least and last in society. Psalm 72, a prayer for the kings of Israel, includes the wish that the king would help the “widow and the orphan when they cry out.” Some Christians take this to mean that a complex society sometimes demands that governments should take on the roles of taking care of the poor and providing for citizens’ welfare. Even if other groups are involved, there is a case for the government providing affordable health care for its citizens on a larger scale, for instance.
The demands of justice sometimes mean that the government has to interfere in the way societies or businesses work. Regulations to limit unfair trade practices for example, are ways governments try to ensure that everyone has a fair chance of attaining self-sufficiency and God-given dignity. One can point to the prophetic appeals to rulers in Israel to oppose injustices in society as proof that such measures could be under the purview of government. Also, a strong government can defend freedom, especially for those who are religious or ethnic minorities.
This shows that the Bible is multi-faceted when it comes to showing how the state should behave. It is clear that it holds the state accountable for two main concerns: justice and the welfare of all, especially the poor.
A ‘strong Republic’ requires the ability to punish wrongdoing, both of the weak and the powerful. Otherwise, it is a soft state.
Also, governments are called to uphold the common good, and redress social imbalances. The state deserves support in doing so.
In complex modern societies, it is inevitable that government grows into a large and impersonal bureaucracy. But given our culture, a model of government that takes seriously what is local could well be the ideal. We were, like Israel, a group of tribes before being united into a nation-state. We are just learning to be a nation, while we have no trouble being face-to-face communities, identifying with our home province or town. Unfortunately, both our local and national governance are monopolized by ruling elites. Family dynasties continue to rule.
We must find a way of making government strong enough for those who are weak, powerful enough to enforce justice. At the same time, we must see to it that government is owned by our people, and is responsive to the needs of our local communities.