SOVEREIGNTY: The Lord, The State, and Parents

"For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king; he will save us."

Isaiah 33:22

For all intents and purposes, parents are the governing power within a home to their children. Parents represent the state, the children represent the citizens. Parents establish rules, and enforce their violation. This type of government is obviously not a representative form of government. Children do not elect their parents. As they grow older, some families hold council to determine policy, but the ultimate legislative authority resides with the unelected parents. When laws are violated, parents are both the executive and judicial power.

John and Jane, parents in the Jones family make a rule that none of their children may be out after 10:00 pm (Legislative authority). Joe, the 16 year old young man sneaks out of the house one night and does not come home until 2 a.m. The parents discover Joe attempting to re-enter the home in clear violation of the established rule (Judicial authority). They immediately ground Joe, and take away several privileges he once had (Judicial authority). As the weeks pass, John and Jane ensure that Joe does not violate his sentence (Executive authority).

The universal struggle for parents is finding balance in their governance. Some parents might try the "less government" approach bordering on democracy or anarchy. Not wanting to offend their children, they have given them complete leeway in their actions. The kids can stay up as late as they want, watch whatever movies they want, play video games as late as they want, and basically do whatever they want. Most people would agree that such children would not grow up to be very productive or disciplined citizens. The fruits of such laissez-faire governance to the child might be lawlessness of the child’s soul or rebellion. On the other hand, some parents might try the tyrannical approach. The rules of the family are enforced through coercion or physical threats. Many activities the child desires to engage in are denied without explanation or debate or reason. The fruits of such domination will either be submission of the child’s soul or rebellion.

Parents are a sovereign power within the home. There are however, many commandments given by the Lord to aid parents in the rearing of children. Perhaps the most important of these commandments are the ones that establish a higher authority than parental authority. Children recognize the sovereign power of parental authority. Parents are physically stronger, and can enforce law. Parents are however imperfect and will make mistakes in their governance. This is where the Lord comes in. The Lord does not make mistakes in his governance, but his immediate power and authority is not as apparent to the child as parental sovereignty. The absolute sovereignty of the Lord can only be taught to a child through parental example. When parents make obeisance to a higher and perfect authority, the children see and recognize this. They see a parent, whom they know to have an immediate and powerful temporal authority, submit to an unseen and apparently lacking temporal authority. This higher power is not immediately seen or comprehended.

When the parent passes on a rule from the Lord, and the child knows the rule comes not from the parent, but from the guidance of the Lord, it will often be easier to accept. The sovereignty of the parent is recognized by the child, because the child knows the parent is submissive to guidance of the Lord. This is why family prayer and family scripture study are critical to the development of children. The immediate temporal authority of the parent is recognized, because that authority is submissive to the highest and perfect authority. The only way the fifth commandment can work is if children know who the Lord is. Man does not submit to authorities which he believes have no power. He cannot submit to authorities which in his mind do not exist.

Every seven years, the Lord commanded all people in Israel, believer and non believer, to gather together and have the Torah read to them. The Torah of course contains the Abrahamic Covenant, the Commandments, and the Law of Israel. The Lord in essence commanded everyone to hear the 'constitution' or law of the land.

"At the end of every seven years... thou shalt read this law before all Israel... . Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land ..."
Deuteronomy 21:10-13

The Law contained the boundaries placed upon man and upon the state. This commandment ensured that the children of the new generation would be familiar with those boundaries or restraints. It cemented in the minds of children (and all others) that the Lord is the supreme authority. Once the children of Israel began to neglect commandments such as these, they forgot the boundaries and restraints. They forgot the Lord, and the god of the state is always ready to take his place.

Parents who fail to recognize the higher authority, will rear children who fear man, not God. Children, who grow into adults fearing man and not God, will find themselves governed by man and not by God. Man fearing children will revere the state (or man). Man fearing children will either believe they are a law unto themselves or they will submit to whoever has a monopoly of brute force. They learned such from their man fearing parents.

God fearing children will grow into adults who submit to God and respect the state. The respect of the state will last only as long as the state submits to a higher authority. God fearing man will not tolerate state infringement upon the sovereignty of the Lord. God fearing man will follow the edicts of the state as the state defers to the sovereignty of the Lord. Once the state begins to infringe, it will seek to destroy its enemies and God fearing man will find himself an enemy of the state. Paul gave warning of such: "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12. The greatest enemy of tyrannical government is the people's adherence to the God of Abraham.

The only way state authority can be restrained is by a moral and God fearing people. The most efficient way a moral and God fearing people can be created is by parental authority that submits to a higher power. Once this chain of creation is broken, it can only be restored by the teaching of the Gospel. Once parents of a society begin to neglect God in their family, with their fellow man, and in their civic duties, the god of the state will rise and supplant the authority of the Lord. The state will become the god of the people. Its temporal authority is immediately apparent and powerfully exercised. The Lord’s authority, by divine design, will not be fully exercised or implemented until the millennium and the Day of Judgment.

In recent years I have heard many people wonder why the Brethren do no speak about the Constitution or oppressive government as often as in the past. I believe it is because such a discussion would be fruitless unless parents first teach their children to fear the Lord. Children must be taught where their rights come from. They must be taught they are stewards of the Lord's property, not owners. They must be taught that if they do not love their fellow man as themselves, they will forfeit their temporal and eternal inheritance. Failure to teach these and other principles will ultimately result in tyranny for themselves or their posterity. The natural result of parents teaching their children to fear the Lord, is to not fear man. The natural result of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is societies which fear the Lord and not man. Such actions will limit the power of the state. Man will not tolerate slavery or tyranny from the state when he knows he is created in the image of God and is ultimately subject to his authority.

“And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me. And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?”
Moses 1:12-13

The declaration of independence acknowledges God as the supreme authority, grantor, and enforcer of inalienable rights. The Constitution was designed to chain man's ability to infringe upon the absolute sovereignty of God. These restraining chains are only as strong as the obeisance man gives to God. God has place boundaries upon man; if those boundaries are crossed man will be governed by man and not by the Law or in other words the Lawgiver. For the state to operate properly and remain constrained, the highest sovereign must be recognized. No government, philosophy or political system can survive in sustained peace without holding as inviolate the absolute sovereignty of the God of Abraham.

1 comment:

Joby, Julie, and Cru said...

I found your blog randomly 6 months ago and have been following your posts since. Thank you for your thoughtful insight.