Small or Big Government: What Do You Think?

East Front of United States Capitol

The American public is polarized into essentially two views of government, those who favor small limited government and those who favor big government. Often the polarized view emerges from emotion, a gut sense, or what has been learned or propagandized by the media, politicians, or the educational system, rather than thoughtful investigation and contemplation. The differences are actually quite simple but nevertheless profound and life-changing.

Before comparing small government and big government views, first, consider the Old Testament precedent well known to the American Founders. The Israelites were ruled directly by God for over 400 years from the time of Moses until the time Saul was anointed king by the prophet Samuel. A series of judges resolved disputes among the people. When Samuel grew old, the people demanded a king “…to lead us such as all the other nations have.” [I Samuel 8:5 NIV] During prayer, the “Lord told him (Samuel): ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king, but me. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.’” [I Samuel 8:7-9 NIV] Samuel told the Israelites:

This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day. [I Samuel 8:11-18 NIV]

The people refused to listen to Samuel who again took their demands to the Lord. Then, “The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” God had effectively said, “Be careful what you ask for.” What was the result? With the exceptions of several periods of captivity, the Israelites were ruled for the next one thousand years by kings. Following the disobedience of King Solomon, Israel split into two nations, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. Readers of the Old Testament commonly and somewhat loosely refer to the “good kings” and the “bad kings” of the period. The good kings, “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” The bad kings, “did what was right in their own eyes.” The so-called bad kings dominated the more rebellious Israel. Judah experienced a mix of good kings and bad kings. Clearly, replacing God as the ultimate loving King with a long series of self-serving, self-indulgent men as kings had devastating consequences for the Israelites.

The nature and hearts of people have not changed. From the time of ancient Israel until the present most nations have been headed by kings or king-like dictators. But something changed. In modern times there was a tectonic shift in at least a portion of western civilization. Many groups migrated to the shores of North America seeking to exercise the freedom given by God to worship Him in the manner they chose. They were fleeing king-worship and king subjugation. As the Revolutionary War approached, a common rallying cry, passed up and down the eastern seaboard by the Committees of Correspondence, was, “No King but King Jesus.”1 The colonies and later the United States were blessed by God in extraordinary ways ultimately producing the world’s highest standard-of-living and the best quality-of-life.

5 thoughts on “Small or Big Government: What Do You Think?

  1. Yes, we long for the freedom our Constitution offers, but like so many other countries, we are headed to socialism and beyond…and we’ve done it to ourselves. We have abandoned our Bible based foundation and our Constitution and given in to entitlement.

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    1. Yes, Betsy, we have done it to ourselves. Keep following this blog and later the book and you’ll find that virtually every social controversy and family issue is traceable to Christians and Jews not living the live God intended. Here’s the deal in short form:

      1. Properly understood, the holistic Christian life is the most exciting life in the universe.
      2. Yet, outsiders frequently view us as judgmental, narrow-minded, dupes.

      What’s wrong? We have paid a devastating price for that dichotomy. It is the source of virtually all national cultural controversies and issues plaguing the American family. Most believers don’t understand the first statement, at least not beyond a shallow intellectual assent. Consequently, we present an image that to outsiders ranges from boring to horrifying.

      Many Jews and Christians have lost their way, because—for most or all of their lifetime—they have been caught in the crossfire between two opposing mutually exclusive worldviews. Of course, the two incompatible worldviews are 1) the Judeo-Christian worldview—God exists and is interested in our personal affairs and 2) the evolution-rooted humanistic world view—God does not exist. In the broadest terms, the Judeo-Christian worldview encourages people to love others before self. The evolution-rooted humanistic worldview proclaims self before others, i.e. “survival of the fittest.” Nevertheless, when viewed holistically, every family and national cultural controversy becomes a no-brainer in favor of the Biblical standard.

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  2. Priscilla Sackett

    Lloyd, you make so much sense! It’s a shame that much of what you espouse is so far removed from what we are living today, without such guidance in our lives.

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    1. Thanks, Priscilla. A line in an old song says, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” Together we can be that spark. There are still far more than enough people who claim to be Christian to dominate the ballot box. Sadly, most have no clue as to how to cast what the Founders called a sacred vote. How about if we, as a country, required people desiring to vote to take the same civics test given to people about to become naturalized citizens? (Thank you Tom Tancredo for the suggestion.)

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