What Does the Bible Say About Good Government, and Why Does It Still Matter?
Why Dispensing Justice and Promoting Healing Are the Government’s Biblical Obligations, or
What Does the Bible Say About Good Government and Why Does It Still Matter?
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
For this week’s commentary, I want to write about why president Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan is so important, and what the Bible says about that. There is hardly a more controversial political battle in America today than that swirling around the role of government. The ideological sides have lined up, and the arguments rage about the size of government: How big or how small should it be? But I want to suggest that what size the government should be is the wrong question. A more useful discussion would be about the purposes of government and whether America is fulfilling them in a Christlike manner. So let’s put the politics to the side for the moment and look at what the Bible has to say about government, justice and healing
The words of the apostle Paul in the 13th chapter of Romans are perhaps the most extensive teaching in the New Testament about the role and purposes of government. Paul says those purposes are twofold: To restrain evil by punishing evildoers and to serve peace and orderly conduct by rewarding good behavior. Civil authority is designed to be “God’s servant to do you good” as it is written: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from the fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (Romans 13, verses 3–5)
The True Role of Good Government
Today we might say ‘the common good’ is to be the focus and function of government. The Declaration of Independence defines this as being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson famously…