The following has been lifted from my PhD dissertation, and slightly edited for this blog site. I continue to give thought to some of my earlier ideas, and welcome feedback as I continue to refine them.
As discussed in a previous blog, the state has the God-ordained function of being a minister of justice, “not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Justice is to be defined in terms of God’s Law-Word, and the state is “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer,” i.e. on those who transgress God’s Law (Romans 13:1-7). However, when the state assumes jurisdiction beyond that which God has assigned it, because it bears the sword (Romans 13:4)—i.e. the capacity to inflict sanctions in terms of fines, imprisonment, or even administering capital punishment—God’s people need to be protected from the state because it has taken to itself too much power and authority. To stand between the state and the family, and between the state and the individual, is a legitimate role of the church.
When the church is weak, the Family is vulnerable to the state. I Kings 21:1-16 is a story of the de-capitalisation of a family by the state. At that time the church was nowhere to be seen. It should have been there to defend the family with the prophetic word in regards to God’s Law concerning inviolable land inheritance (Numbers 34:1-29). On the other hand, when David violated a family’s sanctity in regards to his sin with Bathsheba, appropriately, the church was there to pronounce, “You are the man!” (II Samuel 11:1-12:23).
Gary North (1995) wrote: “… the family is a legitimate and necessary institution, but separate from the institutional church, it has been no match for the state in history” (p. 6). Part of the problem is that in more modern times, the church has not insisted that the family pay the tithe. When tithes are not properly paid and then properly administered, the church does not have the financial resources to administer all the proper social functions that God has ordained should be conducted by the church. The state, according to God’s command, should be collecting less than the tithe to administer its God-ordained functions (I Samuel 8:10-18 – in this passage a tenth being given to the state is considered a great judgement upon the people). North, commenting on this writes:
… What are the biblical limits of state authority? …the tithe sets these limits. Civil government at all levels combined is not authorized by God to collect taxes equal to the tithe (I Sam. 8:17). Nothing funded by the state beyond this limit is biblicly legitimate. Taxation in the twentieth century has exceeded this limit by at least three to one in every nation. The modern world stands condemned (North, 1995, p. 6).
God’s condemnation is upon the church for failing to collect the tithe as commanded by Him, and thereby failing to engage in the work that God has ordained for the church. Or, if the church does collect a tithe, then God condemns improper administration of the tithe by spending the full tithe on sanctuary-related activity (such as Pastors’ salaries, building expenses, and other accoutrements to worship), instead of tithing the tithe for sanctuary purposes, and using the remaining nine-tenths for kingdom-oriented activities (such as support of Christian families in the educating of their children). His condemnation is upon the family because by failing to pay the tithe, it has created a vacuum that the state has willingly filled. Filling the vacuum is funded by stripping the family of its assets through taxation. Such assets should be used to capitalize families across multiple generations. The condemnation is upon the state, because by weakening the family, and over-riding a weak church, the fabric of society is weakened which will ultimately result in the state being undone.
It is the church’s responsibility to defend the role of the family (specifically fathers) in the education of the children of the family. However, family heads are accountable to church officers for the way in which they discharge this responsibility. It is not for the state to dictate the curriculum and enforce syllabi upon families. This is a family responsibility. However, families should obtain assistance from the church in this matter, and assistance from church-trained experts in the market place.
North, G. (1995). Baptized Patriarchalism: The Cult of the Family. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics.