Scott Tibbs

Limited government and the depravity of man

By Scott Tibbs, January 13, 2023

One of the more disturbing trends over the last eight years is that many Republicans and conservatives have started drifting away from limited government and started demanding that Republican elected officials "do something with their power." Much of the debate is not about whether government should address something at all, but which side of a policy will benefit from expanded government action. This is a dangerous trend for a nation that was founded to protect individual liberty against the encroachment of the state.

To be sure, we need government to exist. The Bible is clear that the civil magistrate exists to punish the wicked and protect the innocent. This means harming others by committing crimes like murder and theft should be punishable by law. Government acts as a minster of God for our benefit. Remember, the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 13 while Israel was under the heel of the brutally oppressive and murderous Roman Empire - a regime that is far worse than anything we see today. Government is not a "necessary evil."

But with that said, Christians should remember the principle of Total Depravity. We are all slaves to sin, and the blood of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can liberate us from that slavery. Government is necessary, but is also run by people who are sinners by nature and by choice. Every time you give government more power, you can be assured that sinful men will abuse that power. Often, that power is abused in the opposite direction than was intended. We have government above us to protect from the depravity of people around us, but we have limits on government to protect us from the depravity of those in authority over us.

But the reason government is so powerful today is the weakening of mediating institutions. A powerful government is not needed in a nation of strong families and churches. We can work on moving government in a more libertarian direction, but when the church and family fail to do their jobs the state needs to step in. When that happens, it is not with a firm but loving hand, but with a sledgehammer. This is why reform begins house to house, church by church, from the bottom up. Libertarianism as a governing philosophy only works when communities and families practice and teach self-discipline.

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