As I dig further into the issues surrounding the corruption of things such as the family, I’ve found an interesting facet of what God has laid out. For lack of a better term, God has instituted a separation of powers in His ordained governance.
We can see these things in both the Old and New Testament. In Israel when they came out of Egypt (for instance), God ordained a civil government (Moses as head), and a priesthood (Aaron as head). Naturally, the family was ordained much earlier. Each of these have separate intended functions and are best left alone by the others.
The Family (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:23)
The family is the most elemental governance. Man as husband and father, wife as helpmeet and mother, children under subjection to their parents. It can be argued that the chief mission of the family is to multiply and raise children up in the Lord:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:27-28)
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)
The Church – The Keys (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
The argument can be made here of both the Church and the old Hebrew priesthood. Here, this governance concerns itself with moral matters before God. This is the group that is to transmit the Lord’s will and uphold it before others. A part of this involves action, in terms of separation from the flesh and the world (Romans 6:12-13, 7:18-24, 8:13; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Peter 5:8-9), and move towards Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15) Both groups are identified as priests, which is consistent with the function of the Church:
it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses. (Leviticus 10:9b-11)
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
The Civil Government – The Sword (Matthew 26:52; Romans 13:1-8; 1 Peter 2:13-16)
This is what most people are familiar with as national, state, and local governments. The appropriate function of the national government is order, as illustrated:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:3-4)
He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. (2 Samuel 23:3b)
In short, a good government is to encourage what is good and be a terror to the evil. Most notably, this function avails itself in the punishing of wrongdoers. If one murders someone or robs someone by due witness, the civil government steps in to deal with the issue.
Where the Conflict Begins
What is notable throughout history is where the different “governments” clash – great evil results from it. There are a number of examples in Scripture of how to deal with these conflicts. Daniel and his three friends are most notable. They disobey the civil authority because the civil authority has usurped God’s proper place in demanding worship. The divine right of kings began with the Babylonians, was adopted by the Romans (Acts 17:7) and has extended to relatively recent history. This divine right of kings has extended into the Church as well, where the Church effectively becomes an organ of the State, there to represent the State instead of God.
In addition to the State-Church, the Church-State has existed in history through the Roman Catholic Church. The divine right of popes led to the power to anoint kings who were mere vassals to the pope. When a church entity attains the power of civil government, it becomes a terror to all in its effort to support all its dogmas by the sword. (The reaction to this period was so extreme that many State-Church situations came about to respond to it.) Godly love goes by the wayside, as well as legitimate faith (true renewal can not come by another, by force of arms or any other method – Romans 12:2. We are not to be conformed, but be transformed), and holiness. Free conscience and conviction are of God (witness how God Himself deals with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6-13, also see Romans 2:15-16), torture and death is not. More martyrs were produced in this period than any other in the history of the church.
Then as chronicled many times on this blog, the State have made assaults on the family of varying natures. The Church has intruded upon the family as well in different ways over history (namely influence via the different feminist movements). A modern Churchian example of this is the children’s church, where families abdicate their responsibilities to bring up their children in the Lord to the Church, and fathers are ultimately are never coached by the Church to be ministers in their homes.
One of the reasons why I wanted to deal with this material is to provide background to some previous material. It is well to note that the doctrine of separation of church and state was born out of the lessons of this history, as well as much of the Bill of Rights. This will be of concern for some planned future material.
There have been many conflicts throughout history between these three entities, which have shaped much of history. When one usurps the authority of the other, only problems result. When one abdicates its responsibility to the other, problems result. It is always best to leave them separate. When morality is allowed to be dictated by a single party to his own whims without checks and balances, wickedness always results.