As you might already know, voters in North Carolina will go to the polls in four days to cast their ballots for something more than rubber-stamping Mitt Romney’s eventual November defeat. We will be deciding whether or not we want our state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The biblical case for marriage being between one man and one woman has been made again and again. It’s clear from Genesis 1-2, from Ephesians 5, and a million other places. Many try to explain away what the Bible says, but what the Bible actually says is indisputable… indisputable for any true student of God’s word, and perhaps one day I will do a full treatment of the issue on this blog.
However, in this particular post I do want to address one argument I have seen on Facebook and other places from people who hold more libertarian views of politics and government. The argument is a familiar one and goes something like this: “The government has no business in my bedroom and so it has no business defining marriage or preventing anyone who wants to be married from being married, no matter to whom it may be.”
Now, let me be clear. I probably have more libertarian tendencies than the average conservative. Of course the government has no business being in my bedroom. However, going beyond that, I believe the libertarian argument fails the test of Scripture miserably.
In a longer passage on the Christian’s responsibility to the government in light of the mercies God has shown us through the gospel (Rom 12:1-2), Paul writes of the government in Romans 13:4a, “for it [authorities, i.e., the government] is a minister of God to you for good.” What this verse says very concisely is that it is not God’s purpose that government be a completely passive player in the affairs of men.
Now, do not read what I have not written. I believe that the government oversteps its bounds in countless ways, many of which are immoral, practically all of the time. For example, we have a welfare system that does provide to those in need but in such a way that it actually produces dependence on the government and ends up ensnaring many of those who receive it. So yes, the government is way too into our lives, but that does not mean there is no place for the government to step in and punish evil (as in the case of murderers, thieves, and other criminals – again, read Romans 13). It also doesn’t mean the government is wrong to promote that which is good. Paul seems to state that it is actually the government’s responsibility before God to do so.
And God has already decreed what is good. It is the government’s duty to be a minister for good. Therefore, while the government is very imperfect and, in fact, executes evil policies a great deal, that does not give the Christian the right to oppose the government when it is attempting to do something in line with the precepts of God. To the contrary, whenever Christians see the opportunity for its government to be a minister for good, we not only have the right to support the advance of that good, but the duty to do our part to see that the good be brought about — especially in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
I don’t like the government in my life. I think the sixteenth and seventeenth amendments should be repealed. I think Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are unconstitutional. Don’t even get me started on the “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” Affordable Care Act (which even the Obama campaign is now affectionately calling “Obamacare”).
But when we, the citizenry, and moreover, the Christian citizenry, see an opportunity for the government to not merely promote, but put in its constitution something that God Himself has called good, and something that God instituted to reflect the very gospel of His Son Jesus Christ, then we have the privilege and responsibility to vote for it. The old libertarian “get the government out of my life” argument falls short of what we find set out for us in Scripture.
If you a North Carolina voter, vote FOR Amendment One on Tuesday.