“Politics is the art of the possible.”
Otto Von Bismarck
The above quote actually makes a lot of sense. After all, you could run for office on the promise to decrease the effect of gravity on the Earth but you won’t get very far if you did. Generally speaking political parties stick to what they consider to be possible solutions to the world’s problems. And what are these problems that politic parties try and solve?
Broadly speaking they are: justice issues: crime, sentencing, illegal immigration and illegal trading. Then there are economic issues such as ‘inequality’, poverty, the business cycle, unemployment, inflation and debt. And finally there are social problems: health, welfare, education, family breakup, drunkenness, obesity, smoking, etc, etc, etc.
In fact, the Labour government has pursued the standard socialist policy of trying to use the state to solve an ever increasing number of problems.
There is a fundamental problem with this. No, there is a glaring hole in the reasoning behind the government trying to solve so many problems. And this logical flaw is summed up best in Romans:
“As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."
"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know."
"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Romans 3 v 10 - 18
This is a Biblical description of the natural man in his fallen state. It is a description of you, me and every other human being on this planet. It is only in God’s common grace that we do not display these traits all the time. But our raw, basic, instinctive being is geared towards sin.
This then is the flaw: Politics attempts to solve a supernatural problem with a natural solution.
Let’s deal with the two parts of that statement separately.
The supernatural problem
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 3 v 23
Sin is humanity’s supernatural problem. When Adam sinned he bought the curse of sin upon the entire human race. And at the root of sin is the fact that we fall short of the glory of God, we fall short of obeying his commands, sin taints every single part of us: body, mind and soul.
As sin is against a supernatural being – God – then so is sin a supernatural problem. We have all ‘turned away’ from God. The evil in this world is a direct result of man’s decision to turn his back on God.
A natural solution
Politics attempts to deal with the outworking of this supernatural problem of sin. Politics looks at the direct result of sin: poverty, suffering, illness, family breakdown and various other economics problems and Politics says: “I can solve this!”
The arrogance! To think that man can magic away the effects of sin through establishing a government. No amount of democracy will ever rid this world of sin. Politics tries to solve a supernatural problem with natural solutions.
No wonder governments fall, no wonder democracy is called that god that failed, no wonder poverty still exists in this world, no wonder the UK is such a mess. Politics tries to achieve the impossible.
So, what is the solution?
Our supernatural problem requires a supernatural solution. All of us are sinners which means God will punish us with an eternity in Hell. But he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross in place of ours sins. That whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Our problem is that we have turned our backs on God and the solution is that God will bring us back to him in repentance and faith.
What implications does this have?
Let us say that everyone was to become a Christian. Would this solve the world’s problems? Well, no, it won’t. Christians are still sinful therefore the consequences of sin would never disappear in this world. In saying that, it would help, a lot, an awful lot.
Indeed, I would go as far to say that what every country in the world needs is not a new political party, not new laws, not increasing state power but a larger and more active Christian workforce.
Will these problems ever go away?
Yes, one day Jesus will return and draw all to him on the day of judgement. And then the Earth will be destroyed and:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21 v 1 - 4
And in this new earth and heaven then all the problems of this world will be gone. There will be no sin. Imagine that? A world with no pain, no suffering, no poverty and no hurt. A world of God and his people, saved by grace and not by works.
Politics is the art of the possible. Yet nothing it seeks to achieve is possible. It is doomed to constant failure for sin will never be solved by any solution from man!
For me, this truth acts as the starting point for my support of limited government (i.e. the state only does national defence and upholds the law). Anything beyond that is never going to work - the problems which arise as a direct consequence of sin will never be gone.
The best government a country can hope for is one that obeys the laws of God. Beyond that the extent to which these problems is firmly in the hands of the individual. If the individual follows God’s commands more and more then the problems associated with sin will start to decrease (although never go away).
The question I asked myself is this: can the government force people to follow God’s law? In a manner of speaking it can through its enforcing of law and order. But socially and economically speaking it cannot. For the state cannot enter into the mind of the individual and make him less inclined to sin! Only God could work such an act. No tax will stop drunkenness, no law would prevent sex outside of marriage, no legislation would prevent homosexuality. And economically speaking then markets are a accumulation of individual decisions so the state cannot do much there!
Therefore, the state should exist to uphold law and order for it can do that. Anything else should be left to the individual and his conscience. Everything else should be left to the individual and the commands of God. For politics is the art of the possible and so much of what is tries to do is impossible.
Politics attempts to solve a supernatural problem with a natural solution.