When I think about late night talk shows, I admit having enjoyed some of David Letterman’s “Top Ten” lists. It can be pretty funny. When I think about whom to vote for, I’m mindful that God has given us his “Top Ten” list, too. Having a list saves us a lot of time trying to read through the whole Bible and figure it out for ourselves. And for me that “Top Ten” list provides some insights into what I should look for in a candidate.
God’s “Top Ten” list is, of course, the Bible. It’s been said that the first five commandments relate to man’s relationship to God, a “vertical” relationship. The second five relate to man’s relationship to his fellow man, a “horizontal” relationship. In my first post on the subject of what I’m looking for in a candidate, I basically talked a bit about a candidate and the first five commandments. This time I’m going to focus on the second five commandments.
If God is a God of order, then I take it that there must be some reason God made the first commandment dealing with our relationship with one another, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land.” If so, I believe that reason is the fundamental importance of the family relative to the stability of a culture.
In the Garden, God created a man and a woman and put them together in a relationship we call marriage—husband and wife. And He gave to them the responsibility to reproduce and to tend and cultivate the Garden—essentially the work of building a civilization, a society.
God did not create lots of people and establish a civil government though I guess He could have and then charged civil government with the responsibility to make sure the earth society was properly developed.
And God did not create us unisexual or self-reproducing. Instead, He made a man. He made a woman. And He required the two of them to bring about reproduction. That is what God called good. That’s God’s created design for the family. And that’s whom God put in charge of the task of continuing to fill and to develop his original creation.
Which Government Is Best
What this means to me is that a candidate needs to understand that the primary form of government rests upon the ability of an individual (not civil government) to govern himself or herself and upon familial government. Dysfunctional families tend (except for the grace of God) to produce dysfunctional individuals. Dysfunctional individuals can’t help but produce dysfunctional civil governments, educational systems, judicial systems, etc.
Defending and Promoting Families
It also means to me that a candidate must be willing to speak up for and in defense of the family unit as God designed it. And while I don’t expect a candidate to talk about God at every stop like some preacher, I do expect him or her to talk about the fundamental importance of the family. Failure to do so would, of course, disqualify a whole lot of candidates because most of them think such talk is not politically popular. And, for sure, the media will hate them. But if a candidate is willing to talk about the family and marriage, it tells me that person may understand ultimate accountability and may understand where their values come from. And it sure shows the courage of the person’s convictions in the face of a hostile culture and media.
Does a candidate have to in every context use “Bible words” in discussing the value of the family? No (see last week on that subject), but if a candidate doesn’t ever bring up the family at all, he or she just may not understand what’s No. 1 on God’s list of top five things on the “horizontal level.”
Not understanding the importance of the family can also affect how they view important things that affect the culture and families like:
- the rights of parents to control the education of their children,
- various asserted “homosexual rights,”
- pornography and adult businesses,
- marriage and divorce reform, and, yes, even
- welfare and taxes.
Welfare and Taxes?
Sure. A candidate who doesn’t understand the primacy of self-government and familial government may say he is for limited government and say he is for lower taxes, but he may just be saying so because that is what people want to hear nowadays. Okay, let’s be charitable. It could mean the candidate has just never connected the dots between the strength of the family and the size of civil government. But the truth of the matter is that strong families allow civil government to be smaller.
Undermining the family and undermining individual responsibility through governmental policies forces the government to step in because someone or something must provide order if we are not providing it for ourselves. I avoid like the plague a candidate who says the civil government needs to avoid “social issues” or describes himself only as a “fiscal conservative.” They have a different Top Ten list from mine.
What to Look For?
- As indicated above, does the candidate ever talk about the importance of the family and marriage or say much about its importance on his literature or webpage?
- All the candidates want to improve education, but do the programs a candidate advocates take away parental responsibility, or treat children as if they belonged to the state? Yes, the state has an interest in the next generation—but in their ability to preserve and govern the state. That’s not the same as trying to “raise” or “parent” a child or do things for a child that parents need to do for their children.
- Do they sound like “big government” even if the end is good? The end does not justify the means, and if it’s government, then it’s more of your money, too.
- Does the candidate value home education, and how much, if any, do they want civil government to control it?
- Does the candidate support or oppose expansion, promotion, or protection with respect to the “social issues” mentioned in the bullet points above? You might want to check our upcoming voter guide for this question. And, if currently elected, what does the candidate’s record reflect on these issues?
- Is the candidate’s marriage apparently solid, and do his or her children seem to respect and honor their parents even if the children have made their own different decisions about how to live their lives?