God or Government? A Man-Made Deity

By Cliff Springs

God or government?  It’s a question that I think we as a nation must ask ourselves as we stand at the crossroads of decisions that will have historic impacts on the very nature of our country for a generation or more. 

Although I admittedly lean toward less government, I don’t hate government—I just believe that it functions most efficiently and effectively in a smaller form.  Lately, however, with the struggling economy and high unemployment it has become clear to me that many of our citizens view government (perhaps subconsciously) with reverence usually reserved for our Creator.  Not as a holy entity and not as a source of salvation, but certainly as the all-powerful provider here on this earth.

Consider the cultural shift over our nation’s two-hundred-thirty-three years of existence.  When this great country was founded, the majority of our founding fathers were practicing Christians while others professed a faith in a less-specific higher power.  They convened with prayer, proclaimed His name in our founding documents, and wrote specific restrictions on federal powers in order to preserve religious freedoms.

For the better part of those 233 years, the federal government provided very little to the average person on a daily basis outside of military protection.  Our citizenry had not been trained like Pavlov’s dog to look to Washington D.C. for solutions to every dilemma life throws our way.  With the institution of Roosevelt’s New Deal, thus began a perpetual slide toward dependence on the largest bureaucracy the world has ever known.

As the earthly federal father has grown in size and power, our faith in and dependence on our Heavenly Father has ebbed.  Reliance on faith and family in hard times has been usurped by colossal federal programs designed to provide various forms of safety nets to protect us from all of life’s ills.  We as a nation have been taught that there is an enormous, benevelent being to which we must sacrifice in order to enjoy the fruits of its generosity–and that being is not Holy or eternal.

I’ll use the health care debate as an example.  I’ve heard universal health care repeatedly described as a basic human right.  Why is it a right?  Who bestowed that right?  If that question offends you, please set aside your inability to rationalize life’s unfairness for just a moment and try to grasp the bigger picture of where this thought process has taken us.

Life isn’t fair.  It’s not.  Never will be—at least not from our limited human perspective.  When Job, a righteous man in most every regard, suffered misfortune, tragedy, and the loss of his family, he understandably questioned how God could allow such unfairness.  Job got more than an earful of enlightenment about the perfect sovereignty of the Creator of the universe.  While we are free to question Him, we will never understand the entirety of His ways.  Life isn’t fair.  It is human arrogance to assume we can effectively mitigate it.

In the old days, most towns and villages had a town doctor.  His job was largely one of combating various forms of infection and repairing trauma (broken bones, stitching wounds, etc.).  Can you imagine Laura Ingalls’ family on Little House on the Prairie going to the town doctor and complaining that someone else in town should be obligated to pay for the treatment they were receiving? 

No one had to be told that life was unfair.  Everyone’s burden was their own.  Now don’t get me wrong—I’m all for a community rallying to help their fellow man, but that’s voluntary.  Universal health care requires the significant confiscation of funds from one person to pay for another.  But I digress… this isn’t about health care financing.  Health care is just my vehicle for making my point about God and government.

The 20th and now 21st centuries have brought about tremendous medical breakthroughs that have given rise to the belief that science will one day be able to treat just about anything.  It is only during the last 60-70 years of social security, welfare, Medicare, and payroll deductions that the collective perspective has suddenly begun demanding “rights” that must be paid for by someone else.  As our belief in science and medical miracles has usurped our faith in Divine intervention, we suddenly have decreed that perpetual access to modern medical marvels is now a basic human right.

Our founding fathers declared that our rights were endowed by our Creator.  Demanding “rights” that cost money is a rejection of that wise understanding that was so very clear to the authors of our Constitution.  Rights now appear to come from courts and bureaucracies and legislators—a sad and horribly misguided new form of religion. 

As the economy tumbled in 2008, how many of us looked to Washington D.C. for answers?  The difference (at least one of many) in this new federal religiosity versus faith in the one, true God is that government is created by man.  Mankind is inherently and irreversibly imperfect and anything created, operated, and dependent on mankind will inherit this congenital flaw.  The bigger and more complex mankind’s creation the more rife with flaws and failures it will be.  This brings me back to my initial point that government functions most efficiently and effectively in a smaller form.  We’re so far beyond that point now that I’m almost certain that we can never return to where things should be (as far as the size of government).

Now let me take this religious analogy a step further.  My fear and a fear shared by many—as evidenced by the furor expressed in town hall meetings across the country—is that he who provides gets to make the rules.  This is not hard to understand.  I provide for my children and give them rules that they must obey.  The bank provides money that we borrow and rules that accompany the dollars.  God provides salvation in exchange for our denial of self and acceptance of Him. 

With each and every provision demanded of our government, we also are forced to accept rules and conditions that continuously encroach on our freedom to live life as we choose.  If universal health care is implemented, it will undoubtedly come with strings attached.  What we eat, what we drink, what we do, and where we go will all become subject to regulation.  These aren’t miniscule options of life that we must surrender—they are the very nature of who we are and the lives we choose to live.  When those decisions are abdicated, what freedom is left?  Again, I’ll remind you:  those regulations will be designed and implemented by your fellow man—people who often have horrible struggles managing their own lives, but who believe themselves capable of managing yours.

Will you choose to worship the alcoholic?  The philanderer?  The thief?  The tax evader?  The liar?  Mankind creates the rules of healthcare.  Mankind has built the monstrous bureaucracy that is our federal government, and mankind’s flaws will continue to infect it.  Why do we insist on making it bigger, giving it more power?  Like the idols of Baal worshipped in the Old Testament and the Tower of Babel climbing into the sky, mankind continues to foolishly believe it can construct its own gods.

Sadly, far too many have been converted to the new faith.

–CS

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