This article was originally published in the Kinston Free Press January 14, 2015.
Written by John C. Nix
When our country declared independence from the British in 1776, there was still much work to be done in setting out how our country was to be governed. We had just severed ties with a monarchy and our new form of government was yet to be determined. Our forefathers were wise to the ways of tyranny. They knew that liberty was only preserved through sacrifice and vigilance.
Perhaps the most well-known lines from our Declaration of Independence is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness …” What a powerful sentence! That declaration states that we are all free to live and pursue our dreams.
In the very next sentence, our framers stated, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …” This tells us that our government was formed by men and it is by our consent as citizens as to how we do business.
In other words, the government works for us, the people, not the other way around.
Samuel Adams was known as the Father of the American Revolution. After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he was quoted as saying, “We have this day restored the Sovereign, to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and … from the rising to the setting sun, may His Kingdom come.” It is clear that our nation was formed as a Christian nation and our rights come from God, not from government. This is the resounding theme throughout the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution that came later.
So if our rights come from God and we are free to do as we wish, what is the intended function of government? From an article published in The Mandate dated April 22, 2008 By Stephen K. McDowell & Mark A. Beliles, James Madison, the fourth President of the United States and “Father of the Constitution” established five functions of government in the preamble to the Constitution. This, mind you, was over 225 years ago and still rings true. One reason is because they are all biblically sound.
1. To establish justice — Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:14, the government is to punish evildoers and protect those who do right
2. To insure domestic tranquility — From Paul’s prayer for government in Timothy 2:1-2 — “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity”
3. To provide for the common defense — The protection of innocent human life — the provision of an army for protection from external threats
4. To promote the general welfare — Romans 13:4 says that civil rulers are servants “to you for good”
5. To secure the blessings of liberty — Blessing are a gift of one’s Creator, not a privilege granted by government. These blessings include life, liberty, and property. It is clear the founders intended for our government to protect, not to provide
These are the functions of government as set out using biblical principles by Christian men for the good of the people. In short, it is our job to provide for our families by producing or bartering for food and goods. It is our job to protect our families from domestic dangers and to provide ample safety for our families.
Not only is it our job but it is our God-given right. It is the job of our government to provide those things we are unable to provide for ourselves. Infrastructure like sewer systems, roads, fresh water and police protection would be examples of government functions.
We should not forget that our rights come directly from God. There is no government that can give you your right to life, to liberty, to pursuit of happiness! Those things come only from God. I conclude then that government’s function is one of service not of dominion over its people.
It is intended to serve the good of all her people.