That, in fact, is our nation's story. Our founders and many of our nation's church leaders argued that the King of England had lost his right to govern them because he was abusing his power. This was a crucial issue to our forefathers. They accepted the teaching of the Apostle Paul that government is a "minister of God ... for good." Its purpose is to punish evil and to reward good. So they created a new government to fulfill this God-given purpose, but they dispensed with the idea of divine right to rule and invested in the governed the right to choose their government.
Their idea was radical for its day. They even wondered if it would actually work. But they trusted God to guide in the affairs of men, and they trusted the people to choose well. Today our nation is a testament to their trust in God and the people. The United States of America has become the envy of most of the world, and the democratic form of government is now the most popular form of government in the world.
But democracies are only as good as the people who are chosen to govern. If the wrong people gain the power of the civil authority, great damage can be done. What happens when the governing authority begins to reward evil and to punish good? It subjects itself to the judgment of God. History is filled with the evidence of God's judgment on nations for their failure to honor Him with their laws. When nations begin to reward evil and punish good, watch out.
But who ultimately is responsible when the governing authorities no longer honor God through their administration? In a democracy, the people are responsible. After all, the governing authorities serve by their permission. This is why it is so important for everyone to make sure to vote on Nov. 6. I know there are no perfect candidates. There never have been and never will be. You know that, too. But we don't have the luxury to sit it out. We have a responsibility to help our government fulfill its God-given task. Whether or not it achieves that task is ultimately not the responsibility of those who are chosen, but of those who do the choosing.
Barrett Duke is vice president for public policy and research of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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