Biblical Guidelines in chosing a Candidate for President Print
Written by Calvin Fox   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 19:23


For several months now I have been searching the Word to find God-given Principles for my self and, hopefully, for others as well to guide us in how we chose a Candidate for President this very confusing and conflicted year.  I have found the study fascinating, but also very complex.  Here is a Summary so far.  I know the issues people "on the street" talk about have to do with jobs, credit, debt and taxes- the fall-out of the "Great Recession" and how to recover and "get back on track again- Economics.  Of course there are many other Issues, from Immigration to the War on Terror and trouble in the Middle East- Foreign Policy.  But, underneath all this debate is a more fundamental one:  what is to be the purpose and extent of the Federal Government in our lives.  Connected most often with that Topic is another: Human Rights.  What are they and what does Government have to do with them? My previous study about Human Rights began with a search for what the Bible teaches on the subject.  I did find relevant texts, but I came to realize that Scripture is far more interested with Human Responsibilities than with Human Rights.  Therefore, I start this present Paper with what the Bible teaches about Human Responsibilities.  [Note: I use the Historical-Grammatical, "Common Sense" Method for interpretation of Scripture. I seek to understand God's Original Intent in the Text.]

Universal Human Responsibilities according to the Bible

The 10 Commandments spell out universal Human Responsibilities

1.  All owe God their allegiance above all else.

2.  All  owe honor and respect to what belongs to God (His Name, Creation, Sabbath and Law)

3.  All have the responsibility to both work and to rest periodically

4.  All owe their parents honor, respect and [while living at home] obedience

5.  All owe respect to the life of others. We are each our brother's keeper.

6.  All owe fidelity to their spouses. All must respect the marriage vows of others.

7.  All owe respect to the property of others

8.  All are responsible to be honest with others and to never slander them

9.  All are responsible to stay out of other people's affairs (respecting their privacy)

In Sum: God, Family, Work and Property.  There is an essential Corollary: If people are to fulfill these Responsibilities they must have the following Rights.

Summary of Human Rights according to the Bible

1.  The Right to Worship the Triune God and honor and respect His Name and Day  [This is not 
the “establishment” by Government of any specific organized, institutional Religion or Church]

2.  The Right to Live.  Every person has the Right of self-preservation.  No person has the right to
deprive another person of their life or of anything essential to living and must be treated
accordingly

3.  The Right to Marry and produce children.  Husbands and wives have a right to the fidelity of
their spouses and the Right to have and educate their children together.  Note that the Biblical
Family is also an extended, cross-generational one

NOTE:  That Marriage is between men and women exclusively is based on the Biblical definition of Marriage, which, in turn, is the Biblical prerequisite for procreation.  By that definition (Gen. 2:18-24, Matt. 19:4-6), homosexuals do not have a God-given “right” to Marry.  [Civil Unions is altogether another matter]

4. The Right of Parents to be honored, respected and obeyed by their children.  Children
have the right to provision, protection and education by their parents while under their authority.

Extended family members have the right to shelter and support from their Family in times of  
disaster or extreme hardship. 

5.  The Right to Work and to periodically rest from work.  Everyone has the Right to work, i.e.-  
to work for the development, procurement and distribution of the necessities needed to
sustain life, for self and for others

6.  The Right to private ownership of Property (the fruits of one's labor)

7.  The Right to personal Privacy

8.  The Right  to a fair and honest Trial for all who are accused of crime

Human Rights and the Function of Civil Government

The Founders repeatedly appealed to the Concept of Natural Rights, as well as to the Bible and  a long Tradition of (primarily English) Common Law for their arguments for Independence, the Constitution and its first 10 Amendments (the Bill of Rights)   Government can not enforce or regulate Personal Responsibilities; but it can and must preserve and enforce Human Rights based on Natural Law and Scripture. That is it purpose. And of course, it must not change or over-ride these universal Rights.  All specific Legislation, Laws and Policies must be measured, supported or rejected,, as much as possible, according to this Standard. 

In order for every person to have a realistic opportunity to actualize their Rights, there must be Freedom (Liberty).  All human beings must have religious, political, economic and social freedom, as well as personal safety to enable them to exercise these Rights and Responsibilities.  It is the God-given function of Civil Government to make it possible for citizens to do that- to secure and preserve these Freedoms- the freedoms to Live, Worship, Marry, have Families, Work and own Property and to be treated with Respect and fairness. 

It is the purpose of the Constitution to tell the Government how it shall do that. The Constitution was a conservative document, written and intended by the Founders to be procedural, concerned with structure and process.  It was adopted to govern Government, not the People.  It was not intended to be an instrument to change Society and to attain Social Justice or to create a particular kind of Society.  The latter are the functions of Family, Church and School, none of which is mentioned in the Constitution..

Individuals must enter into a Social Contract with each other, as well as with their Government, for mutual benefit.  More than Government, "Community" is essential to maintain and enjoy Human Rights which are essential to fulfill Human Responsibility.  But this means all members must willingly accept limits on their individual rights (but not their God-given Responsibilities) and their freedoms for the common good.  Living for the "Common Good", in fact, is a very fundamental Biblical concept.  Family, Church, Community and State take precedence over the individual. This is important to the Founding Fathers as well. The "Happiness" which people have a Right to pursue as their goal in life is not a personal one, but comes to those who live in right-relation with God and Neighbors in Community.  The Founders also strongly believed that private ownership of "property" was the anchor for Community, because it made the owners interested, responsible share-holders of their Community (thus originally, only property owners could vote).  Many of the organizing Documents of the Period used the word "property" instead of "Happiness".

Resources:

Mayflower Compact

The Pilgrims modeled "Community by Covenant" and expressed the purpose of Civil Government in their Mayflower Compact.  [Note: This is the way they also organized their churches, being convinced that it is Scriptural -see Matt 18:15-20]

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, ...Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, ...a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Preamble to the US Constitution

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. 

Note that the Constitution carefully enumerates the Powers of the Federal Government-

"The enumerated powers are a list of items found in Article I, section 8 of the US Constitution that set forth the authoritative capacity of the United States Congress.  In summary, Congress may exercise the powers that the Constitution grants it, subject to explicit restrictions in the Bill of Rights and other protections in the Constitutional text. The 10th Amendment states that all prerogatives not vested in the federal government nor prohibited of the states are reserved to the states and to the people, which means that the only prerogatives of the Congress (as well as the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch) are limited to those granted by the Constitution of the United States.

[BUT] Historically, these powers have often been expanded to include other matters through broad interpretation of the enumerated powers by Congress and the Supreme Court" - Source: Wikipedia

The 2 Classic Positive Texts in the NT re Civil Government

Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4 for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, busy with this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due,

1 Peter 3:13 For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, 14 or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.

These texts are clear that Government itself is instituted by God to serve Him and People.  It has the Right to be supported by taxes, but the texts above do not define the "good" and the "bad". Therefore, we must decide on other Biblical grounds what they mean.  Many texts in Scripture warn of Tyrants and Totalitarianism.  Many texts describe good Kings.  The latter are those who obey God's Law. The Bible makes it clear that the Citizens must resist and work to change or even overthrow any King or Government that fails in its purpose. 

Practical Application to the United States Today

The major problem with applying all this today is simple.  Most people reject both the Bible and the concept of Natural Law as external authorities on the subject of Human Responsibilities and Rights.  Second, definitions of the Rights listed in the Founding Documents are disputed and many new Rights have been added through the years. The common definitions of all these Rights depend now, not on original intent, but on popular support ot usage, as well as on legal decisions of the Courts.  The Biblical Christian knows this up-front while still promoting the Bible and the Founding Documents, pursuing "original Intent" in both.  In practice, in our contemporary, pluralistic Society, seriously separated from the 18th Century and no longer secured and united in its core values, Biblical Christians must compromise and vote for those candidates at every level of Government that most closely agree with and support Biblical Standards.  In the current nomination process, this means we should support candidates that advocate Government that will promote Freedom of Religion, Pro-Life laws (from conception to death), Traditional Marriage, sanctity of traditional Family, locally controlled public schools, Legislation that encourages Work and Business, Private Property rights and a fair (just) judicial system. 

In addition, I would add that acceptable Candidates should support Biblical Principles of Money Management, which means good stewardship of resources, limited and balanced budgets, controlled spending and affordable debt. In Foreign Policy, desirable candidates will not pursue unjust wars or support unjust and oppressive Regimes.  It is also a given that a potential President be a man of sterling character and trustworthy (a righteous and godly man, although not necessarily a Christian. 




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