By Beth Groh
That’s the question posed last week when considering how we view a sweet little newborn baby.
As heartless as it sounds, the Bible tells us “sinful” is correct. Thanks to Original Sin, man has carried around that sinful nature like a sack of rocks.
Why is that question important? Our answer reveals our worldview. And our worldview dictates our outlook, interpretations and expectations for everything from our faith…to our family life...to even our system of government.
Last week, we looked at the “Big Picture” issues surrounding the sinful-versus-innocent question.
Today, we’re going to focus on the implications for our nation…and how exploring this issue reveals a lot about the very foundational structure of our Constitution.
Our Founders seemed to know intuitively that man is indeed sinful and would thus govern in a corrupt manner. Thanks to King George III, they knew firsthand that power vested in a monarchy could easily lead to tyranny. They also knew that power left solely in the hands of a 51% majority could also become a ruthless ruling mob.
That’s why they carefully crafted a republic that diffused power from a large—and potentially overreaching—national government. Instead, they vested power closer to the hands of common folks through state and local governments.
Translation? Man is full of “mischief,” or sin. So the Constitution was meant to be a “restraining order” on a government run by sinful man. It established so-called “negative liberties” intended to prevent the government from gaining too much control.
In short, the Founders believed God gave men rights—they’re not given by the government. Government is a guard of those rights, not the giver.
In his first Inaugural Address in 1801, Jefferson explains that limited role: “[A] wise and frugal government...shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
Now let’s look at the contrasting worldview—typically, that held by those who could see a baby as innocent, not sinful.
The very innocent-nature of a child stems from a belief (or at least, hope) that man has a shot at once again reaching that state of perfection. That’s a humanist worldview, because power—and wisdom—ultimately lies in the hands of man.
In that worldview, it’s very reasonable to strive for an ideal system of government since man can progress (or evolve) into a higher state over time. Many liberal politicians in our country call themselves Progressives, because fundamentally they believe that an evolving/Progressive government should provide our basic needs and create a safety net for citizens from cradle to grave.
The Constitution—much like the Bible—is therefore considered an evolving document, always subject to man’s interpretation as his knowledge and world expands.
Progressivism only works, though, if citizens are dependent upon the government—through social programs, entitlements and regulations that govern everyday lives at work, home and school.
And the more dependent people are on the government, the less dependent they may feel on God. (Contrast that with Phil. 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”)
How’s that working, from a spiritual standpoint (leaving the financial implications aside)?
Just look at Europe… and Canada… Since the socialist safety nets have grown in those Progressive-minded governments, has the influence of the church grown? Or sharply declined? Certainly church attendance has plummeted, but more importantly the influence of Christian faith has dwindled.
Is that happening in America? You be the judge. And think about that the next time you look at a precious baby. As you weigh “innocent-or-sinful?” consider the implications that answer has on how we view our faith, raise our children and even govern our lives.