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Character Counts in Civil Government


In election years we are sometimes told that we need not be concerned about the moral values and conduct of candidates for public office. But since God ordained the existence of civil government (Rom. 13:1), let us consider what God's word says about the character of rulers.

Consider Proverbs 29:2. "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan." Clearly, it ought to matter to the citizens whether our public servants are righteous or wicked. Consider some specific issues.

Is abortion righteous or wicked? Should our rulers permit it or oppose it? Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things that are an abomination to God. This includes "hands that shed innocent blood." Who could be more innocent than a little baby? But unborn children are babies according to Luke 1:41,44. Should not our rulers therefore protect the lives of innocent unborn babies?

Is homosexuality righteous or wicked? Romans 1:26-28 discusses men who leave the natural use of the woman and instead burn in lust for one another, men with men. The passage says this is against nature, shameful, and vile passion. Verse 32 rebukes people who approve of those who practice such things.

Is adultery righteous or wicked? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 lists several acts that are "unrighteous." Both adultery and homosexuality are in the list. Clearly then a righteous ruler must be faithful to his marriage vow to his lawful spouse and ought to encourage citizens to likewise keep their marriage vows.

Is lying righteous or wicked? The list of abominations to God in Proverbs 6:16-19 also includes "a lying tongue" and "a false witness who speaks lies." What then should citizens think of a ruler who repeatedly lies to them?

The people of this country have every right to expect rulers to practice moral decency and to make laws that protect those who are upright from those who are wicked (1 Peter 2:14). When rulers are not righteous, we have every right - by civil law and by Divine law - to express our "groaning" and to work in upright ways to select rulers who are righteous (Ephesians 5:11; Acts 22:25-29; 25:10-12).

For more information on this subject, please visit our Bible Instruction web site at www.gospelway.com/instruct/ and study our in-depth articles there about human relationships and proper treatment of other people. 


(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2/2001

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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