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When Government Proposes to Control Our Words, the Church Ought Not Be Speechless
God created three institutions for the betterment of society. And to each He gave a specific function.
God created the family for the propagation of life. He created government for the protection of citizens. And He created the church for the proclamation of the gospel.
A society will be healthy to the extent that each of these institutions functions effectively.
Strong families, competent governments and vibrant churches are the three-fold cord of prosperous communities.
Disfunction occurs when one of those components ceases to operate effectively – whether through family breakdown, government corruption, or a church that becomes lukewarm or apostate.
Chaos occurs when one of those institutions usurps the roles and responsibilities of the others and starts to operate in areas for which it was not intended.
You’ve probably heard the term “nanny state”. It’s a term of derision used to describe a government that has taken upon itself decisions that would ordinarily be made by families.
For instance, parents tend to get upset when the local school starts teaching their kids about gender fluidity. People instinctively understand that it is the role of parents - not a stranger employed by the State - to talk to children about sex.
Or what about a church that goes beyond teaching family life principles and starts directly interfering in people’s relationships? When that boundary is breached, the church devolves into a cult.
We could spend hours talking about various Popes in the Middle Ages who spent more time politicking than preaching – even commanding armies - and, as a result, impoverished both the church and the broader community.
For a society to prosper it not only needs strong families, competent government and a vibrant church; it needs family, government and church to stay within the limits of that for which they were intended.
During the pandemic Australia wrestled with two significant problems. The first problem was Coronavirus – a disease that originated in China and that was allowed to spread around the world by the Chinese Communist Party.
The second problem, which in my view was much bigger than the first, arose because of the government’s response to Coronavirus.
Western governments tried to control a virus that originated in China by employing methods promoted by China and, as a result, the whole world now looks a lot more like China – an authoritarian regime.
In attempting to manage the pandemic, our State and Federal Governments massively overreached. And they have never apologised for it.
They usurped the authority of the family and of the church, trampling civil liberties, destroying trust, and breaching the good faith necessary for a free society to operate.
When the State determined who could or could not visit our homes, as it did during the pandemic, it had moved well beyond the bounds of its authority.
When the State dictated who could or could not worship in church, as it did during Covid, it assumed authority it was never meant to wield.
And when the State mandated, as it did, that perfectly healthy people needed to undergo a medical procedure or else lose their freedoms, it became a danger to the very citizens it was intended to protect.
When the government seeks to control every area of life – including even your home life and your spiritual life – we call it totalitarianism. The totality of our lives was monitored, regulated and subject to the State. But worse, we were denied control over even our own bodies.
In truth, government overreach had been going on for years before Covid. The so-called nanny state had gradually undermined family structures; and anti-discrimination laws had already imposed a new morality that undermined the church.
All of this has happened incrementally, and so most of the State’s encroachments have been met with little more than a shrug.
Sure, some people got upset over this issue or that, but they were generally dismissed as overly excitable types who needed to worry less about politics.
The result has been that both the family and the church now stand severely weakened right when we need them most - to stand against government overreach directed toward individuals.
The big question confronting us right now is not one of whether to be vaccinated or not vaccinated but, rather, whether government should be allowed to determine what is true and what is not.
The Albanese Government’s proposed misinformation laws would give them power (through ACMA) to compel social media companies to remove comments they deem untrue.
The government announced this week that it would consider an exemption for religious organisations. How generous. How benevolent. How evil. It is not the government’s place to hand out exemptions as if free speech is a gift they choose to bestow on deserving groups.
It concerns me that the church seems to have nothing to say about this.
The church failed to defend an individual's bodily autonomy against the power of the government during Covid. And now has nothing to say about an individual’s right to free speech.
Preachers say, we don’t want to get involved in politics.
Imagine their surprise when they discover bodily autonomy and freedom of speech are not ideas that arose from a government. They are divine rights communicated in Scripture. (Big hint … this is why these rights are common only in Western countries founded on a Judeo-Chrsitian ethic).
Incidentally, this is why so many Christians are confused about cultural issues. They are highly motivated but poorly educated; hugely inspired but barely instructed.
If the church will not defend freedom of speech, who will? Your child’s school? Your teenager’s university? The media? Big tech? The entertainment industry? Corporate bosses?
And if the church will not speak out, what bulwark is left between an individual and the all-powerful State when the next “for your own good” mandate is issued? As it surely will be
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