Why Is the Perfect Government So Elusive?

by Steven Britt Estimated reading time: 6 minutes. Posted on 27-Nov-2017
The search for the best government has occupied mankind for thousands of years. And still, no one would ever call any of the systems in place today ideal.

Philosophers come up with utopian ideas, promising a better society. With all of the effort that’s gone into this problem, why can’t we put together a government that everybody is happy with, let alone one that’s perfect?

It turns out the reasons that no one can agree on or execute a perfect government are very basic.

Human ideas about government clash with God’s way

Libertarianism and communism are two government systems on opposite ends of a spectrum. Most modern governments fall somewhere in between.

Libertarians embrace individual freedom as the highest priority. They argue that the government should only serve to enforce agreements between people and prevent people from forcing their will on others.

In the extreme, libertarians may argue that no government is necessary. The private sector could maintain security better than any government, they would argue. They base their ideas on “natural law,” which defines right and wrong based on whether an action violates the rights of someone else. Otherwise, anything goes.

But the Bible advocates laws that extend beyond natural law. Any enforcement of God’s laws that reach into someone’s personal life would be unacceptable in libertarian thought.

No human government escapes this problem, because human beings generally rely on our own understanding instead of God’s.

Libertarians suggest that each person should be his or her own ultimate authority. But God requires absolute submission to His authority. (It should be noted that some libertarians accept divine authority in their own personal lives but do not believe that what people think about this should be imposed on others, particularly by state power.)

On the other end of the spectrum is communism, which seeks to enforce equality of wealth by limiting individual freedom. This is done primarily by taking money from people who have and giving it to those who have not. As Karl Marx put it, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Many communist philosophies are explicitly atheist. They argue that religion makes people accept inequality and the suffering that comes with it. And other communist ideals further violate the values found in God’s Word.

In purest form, communism would abolish private property and money. Instead, everything would be owned by the government and shared evenly among the citizens. (Although, as we have seen from 100 years of communism in practice, the communist ruling elites inevitably enjoy special privileges and a far higher standard of living than their countrymen.)

God’s laws do support a “social safety net” for the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Leviticus 19:9-10). Yet this was apparently a voluntary personal obligation, not a system enforced by government authority—or forced redistribution of income. Instead, it appears that people not following their duty might face community censure and would have to answer to God. We should also consider that the Bible repeatedly shows that it is God’s pleasure to bless certain people with abundance, especially those who are generous toward others. This is a problem for communists, since God doesn’t evenly distribute wealth or abilities.

Yet Paul taught that “[God] has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Romans 9:18). That teaching conflicts with the central message of equality found in communism.

Boiled down to their essence, both communism and libertarianism are fatally flawed. In both cases, the problem stems from not accepting and valuing the standards of God. No human government escapes this problem, because human beings generally rely on our own understanding instead of God’s. Any perfect government must be compatible with God’s Word, but the philosophies of this world are at odds with the Bible in one way or another.

The heart of man is corrupt

Even if a government is well designed, it’s still subject to human nature. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Every human government is subject to the leadership of fallible men. As a result, corruption has ravaged every government in history.

To limit the damage of corruption, modern governments divide power by checks and balances. But ultimately, even this does no more good than putting a Band-Aid on cancer! Even in democratic governments, leaders are not chosen for their integrity or righteousness, but for their ideology.

Even if society did elect godly leaders, they’d still be mere human beings, subject to human weakness. However, God has a plan to establish a perfect, corruption-free government that will finally help enforce peace throughout the world!

God’s plan for perfect government

God does have a plan for perfect government over the entire earth. What does it entail? Notice these three passages of Scripture:

• Revelation 11:15: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever’” (English Standard Version).

Other verses confirm that Jesus will literally rule over human beings on the earth (see Zechariah 14:16-19; Revelation 20:4-6). He will take over all nations for their ultimate good. Government will no longer be the business of men giving in to corruption, greed and just plain bad ideas. Instead, Jesus Christ and His perfected followers will reign over the earth with holy, righteous character!

• Isaiah 2:3: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

God’s system will be based on His laws—there will be no more squabbling between men over what’s right or wrong, fair or unfair. Shortsighted philosophies will no longer exalt their proponents’ favorite values above all others. Everyone will be subject to the best possible set of rules for a healthy society.

• Ezekiel 11:19-20: “I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”

God’s Spirit moves people to obey His laws, and Joel 2:28 reveals that God’s Spirit will be given to everyone. Jeremiah 31:33-34 confirms that everyone will “know the Lord” when Christ reigns as King. Not only will the government be free from corruption, but the people will be inclined to live righteously, treat each other fairly and deal honestly, like never before seen in human history!

Notice that while God’s government will serve to enforce, it’s really the change in the heart of man that will bring peace on earth. Perfect, righteous, holy character is what will make lasting peace. Given the track record of man’s governments, this revolutionary change can’t come quickly enough!

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