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Vine & Fig Tree's
Model of Government
|What Needs to be Done
What We Need in a "Well-Governed Society"
Few tasks are more difficult than trying to set down the proper role of the State. The main reason is the rubbery use of the word "government."
Everyone engaged in sociology, political science, economics, and similar studies, is interested in answering the question, "How are Law, Order, Property, Peace, Welfare, and Prosperity maintained in a society or given geographical area?" How this question is answered determines one's definition of "government." All will agree that in order to provide for law and order, peace and prosperity, the following must be maintained by someone:
1. The Education of Children This includes, indeed, has primary reference to, moral education and the development of productive and responsible character. A society dominated by nomads and criminals cannot long survive. An outwardly "prosperous," "conservative" society without moral leaders ("Patriarchs") populated by amoral technicians and worker-drones will merely die a slower death. A society needs many Christians (Proverbs 14:28).
2. Employment and Vocational Training.
3. The Care of the Elderly.
4. Care of the Fatherless. In tragic manifestations of sin in our world, children are sometimes left without their parents. These unfortunate kids must be cared for, just as Godly parents would have cared for them.
5. Care of the Ill and Handicapped. Some people are born or acquire handicaps such as mental defects, physical deformities, or loss of limb. Others acquire terminal, extended, and sometimes painful diseases. These people must be cared for, whether a toddler or a man in the prime of his life. We must not substitute pharisaical liturgy for holistic real-world sacramental foot-washing.
6. Freedom of Conscience. The freedom to Worship and serve the LORD Jesus Christ in every calling and every area of life free from coercion or threats of force is necessary for the health of any society (Proverbs 28:2,16,28, etc.).
If a society is characterized by these attributes, then you have a well-governed society! That society may be small (the Swiss Family Robinson on a desert island), large (the 5,000 members of the Family of Abraham, uncontrolled by any of the nations of Genesis 14), or incomprehensible ("The United States of America"). A well-governed society: that is our goal.
But there is a warped use of the word "Government" different from that above. It defines the government of a society not as the continuous and successful provision of social necessities, but as a name for those who merely promise to do so.
Thus, when we speak of "the government" of the United States, we do not mean the provision of moral education, health, welfare, and freedom by the moral leaders of America, because these things are not being provided for. We mean a group of people who promise to provide government (in the first sense of the word) or claim to be doing so, and extract from the public exorbitant, above-market sums of money for doing so. "Government" in this sense is usually preceded by the article "the", as in the phrase, "Let the government take care of it."
The problem with the second definition of government is that Abraham's society was very well governed (sense 1), but there was no need for "the government" (sense 2). Society under Abraham was "patriarchal," not "political."
Patriarchy: A Well-Governed Society Without "the Government."
As we show in other essays, Abraham exercised hospitality by picking up refugees from the pagan empires around him. He had well over 1,000 people in his "household," only a very few of whom were related by blood. Just as Christ our Captain (Heb. 2:10) and Prince (Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb. 12:2) is also the model for believers (Eph. 4:13), so we are to become captains and kings (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; 1 Peter 2:5,9). We should strive first to lead 10, then 50, then 100, then 1000 (Exodus 18:21).
Who lives on your "block?" A block is about 10 families, 5 houses on each side of the street. If every block had a Godly captain, a patriarch like Abraham, we would have a well-governed society, especially if there were no secular "State" to corrupt the neighbors. Notice how a neighborhood patriarch could begin bringing good government to each neighborhood
1. The Education of Children
Education, in Biblical perspective, is not the memorization of atomistic facts and the ability to regurgitate them on demand. Education is primarily moral; a Biblically educated person has the ability to judge the facts of the world in terms of Biblical Law and to persevere in the wise and faithful application of Biblical Principles to every area of his life, even under sometimes frustrating circumstances. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 commands that children be educated in life, not in institutions, and in the Bible, not the wisdom of man. And this means knowledge of how to apply the Bible and obey its commands, not just learning about the Bible (Jeremiah 4:22; James 1:22; Hebrews 5:14).
A Godly patriarch can not only teach his own children, but those of his block. There are plenty of decent curricula available which make this possible. Training takes only a few months. The parents of each block can be trained. Older, responsible youth can work as teacher's aides. Order How to Become a Millionaire in Christian Education by Ellsworth McIntyre, $10.00 (+ $2.00 S&H) to Nicene Press, 4405 Outer Dr., Naples, FL 34112 (941) 793-4022.
2. Employment and Vocational Training
The "Bar-Mitzvah" (lit., "son of command") has long marked the time when a boy becomes a man; when he has mastered the Law of God and has developed the ability to obey. Armed with Godly character, he is ready for vocational training. While Christians are not required to observe any ceremony, and while they also think in terms of both young men and young women (Galatians 3:28), we must still recognize the need to move from the education of children to the training of young men and women for their roles as husbands and wives and as fathers and mothers; as partners in Dominion. Fathers must be skilled in providing for their Families; mothers skilled in preparing and distributing the provisions God gives the Family. Young women must therefore be taught how to reign as virtuous women and queens of the home (Proverbs 31:10-31; I Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:4-5; Psalm 113:9); young men must be trained to work in some capacity that provides for his Family without compromising his integrity. (Genesis 1:26-28, I Timothy 5:8, and Proverbs 31:15 show that the division of labor is not tight here.)
Specialized training in vocations is best accomplished in household apprenticeships, as we shall show in future essays.
3. The Care of the Elderly
The very old often become physically unable to work to provide for their own needs. Often elderly women will outlive their husbands. It is not desirable that the elderly live alone, especially if they haven't enough saved income to survive alone. Grandparents and the elderly in general need personal care and attention. The Family is God's answer to this problem. Crotchety old folks build the character of Christ in us.
We need good government. The answer offered by the State is to give the elderly a small check, and for families to ignore their personal needs and ship them off to an institution. This is not a Biblical alternative. Those who criticize those who would abolish Social Security as "irresponsible" are themselves worse than irresponsible. They are undermining good government.
4. Care of the Fatherless
The slogan of assembly-line abortuaries, "Every child a wanted child," is tantamount to saying "Death to all unpopular kids!" Because God has a special affection and guardianship over the fatherless, we are to as well (Psalm 68:5; 1 Peter 1:15-16). The Westminster Confession of Faith notes the centrality of "Adoption" as an aspect of our salvation. A well-governed society encourages adoption; "the State" makes it more difficult.
5. Care of the Ill and Handicapped
The handicapped need more than a government check. They are not benefited by the State forcing small businesses to spend thousands of dollars on ramps for places the handicapped never frequent. One of the most vital needs of the handicapped is to accept "unchangeable defects." Bitterness against God frequently arises among those who do not see themselves as beautiful as air-brushed Hollywood celebrities. God presents us with physical needs because while we write a check we can minister to these deeper spiritual needs.
6. Freedom of Conscience
When these social needs are met by that institution called "the State" instead of by Christian patriarchs, that same State uses its coercive powers to trample on true religion, because as James noted (1:27), true religion threatens the monopoly claimed by the State over "government."
Make Your Home a Community Center
This is the advice of the famous "Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts" Seminars, led by Bill Gothard. Now called the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the Seminar gives concrete, practical advice on how you can make your home a community center, including "Five Basic Aspects of a Dynamic Home." A Godly Patriarchy ministers to a neighborhood by being:
1. A Worship Center
A Godly Patriarch can help his neighbors answer the following questions:
2. A Learning Center
The Godly patriarch knows the answers to these questions, and guides his neighbors to the answers:
3. A Hospitality Center
God commands us all to be hospitable
Hospitality helps cure the addictions of modern society. The Godly patriarch practices hospitality, and helps his neighbors understand:
4. A Health Center
The State would like us to think that we would all be sick or dead without its management of our health care. God promises that if we obey His Commandments, "I will put none of these diseases upon thee" (Exodus 15:26). A Godly patriarch teaches his neighbors about good health:
5. A Craft Center
A well governed society correctly answers these questions, and a Godly patriarch helps his neighbors understand:
All of these aspects of a a dynamic home characterized the Patriarchy Abraham, and are necessary for a well-governed society.