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The Word on the Week

Democracy

I think it was Winston Churchill who said “Democracy is the worst form of government with the exception of all the others”! It is founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, who vote for them on the basis of their stated views.

We have been able to avoid the grosser sins of widespread vote rigging, or the more brutal treatment of the military regime in Myanmar where Aug San Su Kyi has to be kept under house arrest to prevent her party getting into government. However the power vested in our representatives, once elected, can be engineered to ensure their continuing in office, irrespective of the people’s wishes.

Shades of this were seen in the Banking Reports where, over a lengthy period, government appointed watch-dogs forgot to bark. The environment in which they were kept was not conducive to the sound of barking!

The leader of the “Greens” barked at the Catholic Church to be quiet about the Civil Partnership Bill and advocated they stick to “spiritual matters”. Perhaps he forgot that most people get married in church taking their vows before God. In fact the Bill he is promoting is designed to get gays to the altar although that’s the last place most of them would have in mind.

His colleague in Cabinet, Dermot Ahern, on the same subject is reported to have said “he would not allow his religious beliefs to cloud his judgement”. Clearly he is not influenced by the Bible which prohibits the practice he is legislating for.

It may seem strange to some to find that democracy is not in the Bible! Stranger still for our government to find it written, “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God”. (Romans ch.13V1). This does not mean that they are to act like God but that their authority comes from God. This in turn makes them accountable to God and for this good reason we are called to pray for them.

The problem today is unbelief. Rulers do not behave as those who have to give an account to God. Therefore there is no fear of judgement from a heavenly court but only an earthly one – and they think they can handle that! The Psalmist put it so well,

“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared”.

And that healthy fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom for all who believe both leaders and those they lead.