The New Today

Letters

Perspective on government

Election Day is now at our doorstep. A large percentage of the citizens of this nation are looking forward to casting their ballots for one party or the other.

Each is hoping that their side will win and function in governing the country for the next five years. Much wisdom is needed in the process of transitioning from one government to another. Since only God knows the hearts of men as well as the future we need his wisdom in knowing where to cast the ballot.

God has ordained government for the purpose of managing the affairs of a nation. As Lord of the Cosmos he is a God of order and extends his rule into the affairs of men. Governments function under his Sovereignty. He sets up governments and he puts down governments. In the scriptures human government consisted primarily of monarchies. Kings ruled assisted by their counsellors.

In Israel the kings were required to possess and read copies of the Scriptures for their guidance as rulers of the nation. In the Torah are outlined the constitution and laws given by God to the people of Israel. Besides, God gave them prophets who functioned as God’s spokesmen to the king and to the nation.

Nathan and Gad served in that capacity in the reign of King David. Hence, the prophets warned the kings when they were violating the principles of the Torah, the word of God. Some kings listened to the prophets as Hezekiah did with respect to Isaiah but this was not the case with Jehoiakim in relation to Jeremiah.

In the New Testament the nation of Israel was under the power of Imperial Rome and was not an independent political entity. The Caesars controlled the affairs of state. Even capital punishment was administered by the occupying powers. On account of their rebellion the Chosen People were placed under the heels of an idolatrous power which did not recognise their God YHWH.

God was judging his people by means of a foreign government. Whether or not a government feared or revered God, Christians in the 1st century as well as in other times were required to obey rulers and governors. However, their obedience stopped at the point where the government required them to act contrary to their convictions. In a toss-up between God and Caesar, God came first.

It does not matter if the government was a monarchy or a dictatorship “the powers that be” are ordained of God according to Romans 13. But “the powers that be” are not superior to God. Government de jure (according to law) or government de facto (by other means) is ordained by God depending on the existing circumstances of the people. God gives the kind of government a people’s need at certain periods of their existence.

We, in this country have had our taste of government de facto during the era of the PRG, a government which tried to attain the status of government de jure by establishing People’s Laws.

Government and politics belong together because politics is the science of government. Political science is the study of government. The word “politics” comes from the Greek word for city, “polis.” Politics had to do with what went on in the governing of a city, the affairs of state.

The Greeks dwelt in cities such as Athens, Corinth, Sparta, and Thessaly. These cities were independent entities but cooperated in times of national emergency such as foreign invasion of their native land. They even fought themselves at times on account of rivalry as was the case between Athens and Sparta.

The Greek cities operated on the basis of democracy which is the reason most people would agree that Greece was the cradle of democracy. Generally speaking, this form of governance allowed for free speech, free enterprise, and the election of public officials by means of the popular vote or ballot.

Democracy is the more widely preferred form of government because it does not fetter the human spirit and promotes free enterprise and equal opportunities for all. Logically, the kind of democracy practiced may vary from one country to the next. Even North Korea passes as a democratic republic.

Some countries have gone so far as to embrace Democratic Socialism as Jamaica did under Michael Manley in the 1970’s in order to harness the benefits of two political positions. Even China sees the value of blending communism with capitalism, an economic system which is democratic in character. Perhaps this has become the new synthesis in the dialectic process.

As we face the polls on June 23 we need to bear in mind certain fundamental principles to guide us in the voting process. These are: (1) the responsibilities of government, (2) the qualifications necessary for running a government, (3) the ability of a party of individuals to function in a political role. In other words, can this party run the country according to sound political principles? Can the party provide the nation moral leadership? Is the party capable of filling its declared manifesto?

Government is primarily responsible for maintaining law and order and to ensure the general security and prosperity of a nation. A government should promote justice or righteousness and peace thereby creating a context of security and entrepreneurism. Governments should ensure that the proper environment exists for the kind of economic activity which would promote the general well-being of the people.

We should never vote for persons purely on the basis of charisma or in the hope of personal gain. In the matter of voting the head must rule the heart.

In speaking to his congregation during an election year an American preacher cautioned that policies must preempt personality.

As you vote, ask God for wisdom and bear the welfare of the nation in mind; respect the right of others to make their own decisions. Be generous if your party wins but gracious if it loses. As the school song of my alma mater, GBSS says, “The prize to the one who earns it.”

After all, somebody or party has to win. Let God determine the results. Look to God and not to the government as your source of supply and security. Governments come and governments go but our God reigns forever.

Alfred Horsford