What do think of when you hear the word “democracy”? It is a popular word these days in any corner of this globe on which we live. How do you envision a democratic nation working? Do the Church and State need to have close relations in order for democracy to prosper? Or, can you exclude the Church from the affairs of the State and still see long term prosperity? Growing up as a citizen of the United States of America I was always taught the importance of democracy both in the public education that I received as well as from my parents and family members. I remember being proud of being an American and having the freedoms that went along with democracy. I also remember being taught about the importance of God by my family yet there was almost no emphasis placed on God from the public school education and democracy seemed to be separate from God because He was not needed in a system where the rule of law was the final authority. I was taught that democracy without God was possible and I believed it because there was no alternative presented. To reinforce the previous statement, many people would claim that Church and State must be separate, implying that the Church/God had no real role in the affairs of the State. As long as there was the rule of law and we the people made the rules and enforced them then society would prosper. I never thought of the implications that went along with the rule of law without having to answer to God for your actions until I began to study the relationship between Church and State in a democracy. Also as a student, I read and studied Magna Carta yet none of my teachers or any of my fellow classmates made the connection between the statements of Magna Carta and the teachings of the Bible. Only after I finished my education and began studying this subject on my own did I see how many of the great statements of Magna Carta have their foundations in the teachings of the Word of God. Since I am a citizen of the USA, I am also very interested in the United States Constitution and its origins, along with the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. From studying in school, I learned that many of the statements found in the US Constitution have their foundations in Magna Carta. It was again, only after I began to study the subject on my own did I realize that the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence were all written by men who respected God, as well as understood the important role God would play in a thriving democracy. In this paper I would like to demonstrate the important relationship that the Church and State must have in order for a democracy to thrive and prosper, by showing the clear connections between the great documents that help construct a thriving democratic State; Magna Carta, the US Constitution along with the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, and the Bible, the foundation of the Church.
In any prosperous and thriving democracy there are several important factors that must be present to encourage the citizens to obey the law and live in harmony with one another. For example, the first factor is that human life must have value. If human life does not have value then the State or society will not promote equality among the people. Under clause number four in Magna Carta, we find the following phrase,
“that without destruction or waste of men or goods”.
Wasting men’s lives has no place in a democracy and the idea of every life being valuable has its roots in the Bible. God makes it very clear in Genesis chapter nine and verses five and six:
“Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”
The Church must work together with the State in order to ensure the fact that the citizens of the democracy understand the value of each human life. Magna Carta, pulling from the Bible’s teachings encourages the Church and State to work together for the good of the people. The Declaration of Independence, which of course led to the US Constitution that traces many of its roots back to Magna Carta and the Bible teaches the same when it claims that
“all men are created equal”.
The first objection that comes to mind when one mentions the Church and State working together for the good of the people is “separation of Church and State” (which is a misquote of Thomas Jefferson). Jefferson actually wrote,
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”
The point of the above mentioned quote is not to keep the Church out of the affairs of the State as some try to claim. The statement is made to keep the State from running the Church, as was the case in England. There is no indication that this statement was meant to keep the Church out of the affairs of the State. The people of the State make up the members of the Church and they are encouraged to be involved in the daily activities of the State. We have already seen how important the role of the Church is in helping the State implement the idea that every life has value and this is seen both in Magna Carta and the US Constitution. If the citizens of a democracy do not value human life because God requires it from them and they respect Him then people will only refrain from abusing life because of the fear of getting caught. If they no longer fear getting caught then they will not respect and value life equally and the democracy will suffer instead of prosper.
A couple of other crucial factors in a thriving democracy are the importance of punishment of crimes and anti-corruption, which once again joins the Church and State together in teaching the people and implementing that teaching for the good of the citizens. Not only does the Bible teach that life is valuable, it also teaches that crimes will punished accordingly, explaining what the punishment is for individual crimes. This same idea also appears in Magna Carta under clause number twenty,
“A freeman shall not be amerced for a slight offense, except in accordance with the degree of the offense; and for a grave offense he shall be amerced in accordance with the gravity of the offense . . .”
As it can be clearly seen, crimes must be punished and the punishment must fit the crime. The Bible gives a specific account of the punishment fitting the crime in the Old Testament book of Exodus in the twenty-first chapter with verses twenty-three through twenty-five:
“But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
The eighth amendment of the constitution of the US states,
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”.
All three documents reach the same conclusion; the punishment shall fit the crime and the crime must be punished.
Anti-corruption is crucial and ties back to the previous two examples; the value of life and punishment of crimes. When life is not valued and crimes are not punished properly then corruption thrives because corruption is both taking advantage of your fellow man (whose life you do not value) and the result of crimes not being punished properly. The Church must once again work hand in hand with the State in order to combat corruption. The Bible, Magna Carta, and the US constitution are strongly against corruption for the good of the people. In Magna Carta under clause number thirty-five we find the setting of standard measures, which only makes sense when trying to avoid corruption. Clauses twenty-eight through thirty-two deal with anti-corruption policies and then in thirty-five the standards are set. It is not hard for one to make the connection between the two. The Bible also teaches about anti-corruption, especially in the area of weights and measures. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus the nineteenth chapter and verses thirty-five and thirty-six:
‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity. ‘You shall have just balances, just weights . . .
If the Church is completely removed from the State then people learn how not to get caught in their evil ways instead of doing the right thing for the good of others because God commands it.
As one can see, removing the Church from the State will only contribute to the decline of the State while if the Church and State work hand in hand for the good of the people then the democracy will prosper and thrive because the individual people prosper and thrive. I agree with the idea of separation of Church and State as it was meant to be understood, that is, the State has no right to control the Church. In other words, there should never be a State run Church. I do agree with the fact that the Church and State must work hand in hand for the good of the people and prosperity of any democracy. I would encourage all the members of churches to be actively involved in State affairs so that the values of God that are found in His Word would be spread to all the citizens of the State, bringing prosperity to the State and protection to the people. The citizens of the State must appreciate and value life, know that crimes will be punished accordingly, and learn to combat corruption so that law and order will be kept and peace will reign. These three things will come about when people study the Word of God and apply It to their lives because It is the foundation for a prosperous society.