But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.
1 Samuel 8:6,7
I think I heard it in a class while attending Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, that the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship for reasons that are fairly obvious. There is no social confusion, the benevolence of the ruler has everyone’s best interest at heart, and things get done.
Unfortunately there has only been one nation in world history to have ever experienced such a thing. That, of course, is Israel. But it only lasted a very brief time, as depicted in the books of Exodus through Judges. And even though it was the Lord of the universe that was ruler over the nation, Israel never really took very well to God’s benevolence. Look what Samuel says in chapter 7 of this book, after the ark of God had been returned to Israel. “Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Sam. 7:3) A similar statement is made by Joshua after the 40 years of desert wanderings. (Joshua 24:23) In other words all the while God was leading His people and saving their hides the people still carried idols around with them and were still giving half-hearted service to their God! Half-hearted is as good as rejection.
So much for the application of benevolent dictatorship. At least until Jesus returns. Hopefully the Church will honor Him with more dedication than Israel had when He comes back to reign!
After a benevolent dictatorship the next best form of government is a democracy; applied in America as a democratic republic. The Church has something to fear though with this form of government. A democracy is based on the will of the majority. What the majority wants, it can get. One of the roles of the Church in our nation is to be a moderating influence on the public voice for the good of the people, a beacon of light, a preservative of salt. This presupposes that there is a foundation of morality that is understood, not just the Church, but by a vast majority of the citizens. If the majority has lost their moral compass then literally anything goes. The voices raised in favor of things detrimental to good social order would have no meaningful opposition. I think it is generally understood that some past great civilizations were lost this way.
Now, because our society is a democracy all voices potentially have an equal opportunity to be heard. Even extreme views that are antithesis to the good of social order unless constrained by the majority. We are witness today to an increasing vocalization of views and practices that are detrimental to sustaining good and productive order. Such as the prevalence of abortion as a form of birth control, of open homosexuality, just to name two. But we’ve seen that evil can be repelled. A while ago racism was institutionalized in the form of slavery. Christian Churches finally awoke from their slumber and there arose a mighty cry against it. It took some time and a ferocious war in to eradicate the institution, and even longer and more horrible deaths to cripple racism itself, and though it is by no means eliminated it has been greatly diminished.
Decades ago it would have never occurred to most Americans that the things currently eroding the moral climate in this country would have legitimacy in our social structure. Today they are apparently accepted by a majority, if only by silence. And if that acquiescence continues these things that by their very nature are antagonistic to family and society will become pervasive, exacerbating the very real fear that the fabric of society will be rent.
America is not really a Christian nation, but it is a Christianized nation. Meaning there is a foundational Biblical influence in its laws and precepts and the Church is one of the things that holds back the pushy tide of immorality. And now even some Christian Churches are being led by those duped into accepting immorality that is being promulgated under the guise of “equality under the law.” The Psalmist wrote, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” (Ps. 127:1) Yes, even though this is not a Christian nation, this is still God’s world, and we are still His creation. This country should not kid itself that just because we don’t see a pillar of fire at night and a cloud of glory in the daytime guiding us from place to place, that we can escape the effects of a morally bereft citizenry.
But that’s democracy. If the majority want to sell out the country they have that ability if unopposed. If Israel could do it right under the hand of God, it certainly could happen here in the good ol’ USA. Let not God’s people reject Him as king, let Him reign, be a light, be salt in the land. Let your voices be heard! Or it is the jungle to which we will all return.
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]