Oppression Through Ignorance.
Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts. Ps. 119: 134.
"And if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Romans 13: 8.
Adapted from the writings of President Asa Mahan
OUR first thoughts of oppression towards mankind usually suggest the more extreme types. We are more inclined to think of slavery or severe forms of authoritarian physical abuse rather than the more civil and disguised forms of oppression. It is hardly necessary to presently expose the more obvious kinds of oppressions that history has revealed and is abolishing in her course of progression. It is our desire to presently examine the very nature of each man's value and the more common oppressions against him, of which a large majority of mankind is still enslaved. As we shall see, this slavery is owing to an ignorance of its existence, an ignorance of its extent; and is continued by many efforts of such oppressors to keep their people as ignorant of this as possible. Criminals well know that the best way to further a crime is to keep the population as ignorant of it as possible--especially with those they steal from. Much of mankind is so kept in ignorance from the fact and extent of the theft against them in the various subtle relations of real and apparent authority. Although they often feel the effects of oppression against them, they have not yet classified it as such. Often people are too proud to admit that they could have been so abused or ignorant of such manipulations against them. Thus this evil goes on uncorrected, and man is left, either as the afflicted or hopeless victim, or a revengeful malicious disciple. These evils destroy all the good to be given in society and prevent advancement of true religion. No doubt this was the very cry of the Psalmist above--that he may be granted this true freedom. It becomes necessary for us then, to understand how to:
Without suggesting any humanistic or selfish approach, How shall we seek to remove the oppressions that "stain the world"; or at least recover from the oppressions we are presently enslaved to, or formerly wounded by? Presently I can only propose the following brief outline for these immense and delicate questions:
I. The Nature of Man imposes the Duty to Respect Ourselves as God does. 2.
II. This leads us to see the Duty to Respect every other Man as we Love Ourselves. 6.
III. Authorities are established out of this realization and only for the Good of all People. 8.
IV. When Government becomes Oppression the Dignity of the People is Lost. 12.
V. The Way of Escape Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 18.
I. The nature of man imposes the duty to respect ourselves as God does.
"I have done justice and righteousness; do not leave me to my oppressors. Be surety for your servant for good; Do not let the arrogant oppress me." Ps. 119: 121-2.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matt. 22: 39.
WHAT was it in the Psalmist that made him plead for such goodness to be given from our Lord? What is man that he instinctively expects others to treat him as they ought to treat everyone else? Notice our second text, how our Lord also confirms this natural instinct by instructing us to love ourselves as our neighbor. These facts and questions are at the foundation of all our relationships with God and man; and if we go wrong here our lives will work us and others great misery and ruin in application to the principles believed.
Man, as a part of the physical world is an animal of very little significance, and has but a common value with beasts, and the other products of the soil. Even though he is superior to those in his understanding, this gives him only a higher external value in price, when brought to the market along with other cattle, and sold as goods.
But man considered as a person, that is, as capable of religious and mental reasoning, is exalted beyond all price. Because of this, he can not be used as a mere means to his own or to other persons' ends, but must be esteemed as an end in himself. He is invested with an internal dignity (an absolute worth,) which compels reverence for his person, from every other finite intelligent (person) throughout the universe, and is entitled to compare himself with all such people, in the sense of regarding himself as their equal. Man, as an intelligent being, is not a means to be used by another, but an end (which is to be sought for its own sake). In this light each individual of the race is to be contemplated.
That which distinguishes a rational being (capable of reasoning) from all others is, that he may, and should be to himself an end, in the same sense that any other, and every other such person is. Man, for example, may make his own character, his own nature, and his own well-being an end, in the same sense that he can that of any other person. In other words, he may choose, and use means to secure the perfecting of his own character, his own confirmation in virtue, and his own well-being, in the same sense, and in the same manner, that he can those of persons around him. We can therefore see that all our duty in this life does not only pertain to other people. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
There are, on the other hand, duties peculiar and specific, which man owes to himself, duties which would obligate him, even though no other being than himself existed. There are duties also which he owes to himself as the result of his existence, as one inhabiting the realm of ends that exist under heaven:
1. Let us consider then, in the first place, that every person should consider himself as an end in himself. We should be fully confident in this with regard to all our acts and mental states of a moral character. Man should thus respect himself, and all other people, in the judgment of his own, everyone else's conscience. "For this reason do I exert myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men." Never was a greater or better thought, or rather intention announced by a person. The idea behind this, which overshadows all others, in the human intelligence, is the idea of duty. Therefore to stand fully approved, in the judgment of our conscience, is the great need and duty of all people. Every man should propose to himself to stand thus approved as the law of his existence and entire activity. Let us consider another duty to self.
2. To establish and confirm in ourselves the principle and habit of self-control, is another end which every individual should propose to himself as an end of his existence in relation to himself. Each department of our mental nature has its appropriate sphere in relation to every other. The Intellect presents those ends (goals) towards which all thinking should be directed (the law of God: love to God supremely, and man equally). The appropriate function of the Will is to hold all departments of our nature under those goals (ends), while it devotes the entire energies of our being to accomplish them. In the different states of the sensible department of our being (Sensibilty), all good or ill, happiness or misery is experienced. The different states of this sensibility, are excited immediately in the presence of the objects they feel, and drive the Will to seek present gratification regardless of all natural or moral consequences. When the goals which the intelligence affirms we ought to pursue are present to the mind (Rom. 7:22), it often finds itself strongly pressed in the opposite direction (Rom. 7:23), by the impulses of the sensibility (the Flesh) demanding immediate and present gratification. Self-control implies the continued submission of all such impulses to the goals under consideration. He that most fully accomplishes this idea attains to the highest elevation to which humanity does or can reach. "He that controls his own spirit is greater than he that takes a city." To reach this high pursuit should be one of the first and great ends of our existence.
3. Another personal end which every person should propose to himself, is the full experience in his own character of the idea of mental independence. In all our opinions, judgments, and courses of conduct, we are continuously subjected to two distinct, and opposite kinds of influencerespect for what is in itself right and trueand feelings of prejudice in ourselves, and considerations of worldly interest, together with public opinion outside of ourselves. Mental independence consists in the fixed habit of forming all our judgments, on all subjects alike, and in ordering all our conduct, from internal respect for what is in itself true, and good, and right, regardless of all other considerations and influences. To generate and confirm such a habit for the purpose of fully experiencing in himself such a great idea, should be one of the first personal ends which every man should propose to himself. To do the opposite, humanity finds themselves in its lowest forms of mental degradation.
4. The harmonious development of all our powers, mental and physical, as a means of accomplishing the purposes of our existence, is another end which every one should propose in relation to himself. Each person was created for a particular area of activity. To the appropriate fitting in of that area, a continued and harmonious development of all our mental and physical powers is demanded. Through the Intelligence, mind was made to converse with all truth. Through the Sensibility it may become a blissful partaker of the blessedness which the knowledge of the truth was designed to give. Through the Will it may direct its immortal energies for the experience of those high ends, in the accomplishment of which it finds its destiny. No department of our nature experiences its goals and ends, but upon one condition, that it receives its appropriate development. Self-cultivation then should be an end which every one should propose to himself, as one of the great ends of his existence.
5. Another object which every one should propose to himself as an end, is to render himself in all respects, to himself, and consequently to others, worthy of esteem. To make it an object to acquire esteem is one thing. To aim to render ourselves truly deserving of it, and that as a sacred duty which, as rational creatures, we owe to ourselves, to God, and to the world, is quite another. The attainment of this end will be an object which every wise man will propose to himself, as one of the essential aims of his existence.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Phil. 1:27.
7. Self-knowledge should also be one of the fixed personal ends of every intelligent creature. To know what we are, what we have been, and what we ought to be, to understand distinctly what our powers do, and can do, is necessary to the appropriate fitting in of the areas of existence and activity to which God through Providence has assigned, or may assign us. Thus to know ourselves will be our steady aim, if we follow the leadings of true wisdom. (see Proverbs 1-4)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you. Ho. 4: 6.
8. The correction of all habits and tendencies in ourselves which incline us to the evil and from the good, together with the development and confirmation of others of an opposite or good character, should command our special regard, in all our personal ends and aims. In everyone, strong tendencies to evil do exist, and happy is he whose will has not developed, and to a great extent confirmed the habit of submission to such tendencies. Self-correction and Self-improvement, consequently, become one of the first duties which we owe to ourselves. Then to develop and confirm in ourselves all tendencies and habits of an opposite nature, should command an equal regard.
Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4.
9. Finally, in all our personal ends and aims, we should contemplate ourselves as the sons and daughters, not merely of time, but eternity, and educate ourselves accordingly. This indeed should be the supreme personal end of life.
All these and more are duties we owe to ourselves under the command of our Lord by the way He made us, the positions he placed us under, and in the comprehensive command to love our neighbor as ourselves. It should be seen, and will be enlarged in the subsequent headings, how any unlawful hindrance of these personal duties by any other authority is oppression. Implied in this is the idea that every person has God-given rights.
The idea of Rights.
We are all familiar with the expressions that individuals and communities have rights, that such rights are invaded or trampled upon, and that rights ought to be respected, and guarded from invasion. The question is, what is the meaning of the term rights when thus used? I answer, When an individual comes to have such a relation to any object or interest that it can not be withheld, or taken from him without guilt on the part of the perpetrator, the same individual has a right to such object or interest. This is what we mean by the term rights.
Foundation of Rights.
The foundation of such rights next demands consideration. All things in the universe around us exist as a means to an end, the good of sensible beings. The simple fact of the existence of any real need or capability to receive good in any creature, entitles him to the possession and enjoyment of the object or objects adapted to meet that demand of his nature. This blessed truth is the basis of true satisfaction and relief. Again, every being of worth is entitled to have their created needs met by their Creator unless higher interests in himself or others overrule that right. Life, for example, is to man a good. This fact entitles him to the existence in the universe around him, and because it is good in the best possible way consistent with higher interests than himself (God and the rest of His kingdom).
Relation of Right and Duty.
The existence of a right in any individual creates an obligation on the part of other people, not only to refrain from its violation, but to use all proper means to put the same person in possession of the good to which he is entitled. Right and duty are correlative or dependent terms, and imply each other. That which we are in duty bound to render to others, they may claim of us as a right. That to which by right we are entitled from others, they owe to us as duties.
Governments formed out of these Rights.
1. We are now prepared for a clear statement of the object of government, in all its legitimate forms. I use the term in its broad sense, as including all legitimate forms of government, human and divine. The end of government is to enforce duty, guard and protect rights, and advance the individual and public well-being, by all lawful and practicable means. Each special form of government has an area peculiar to itself. The end, in all its forms is one and the same. Government, in none of its legitimate forms, destroys any one right of any one individual, but guards and protects all alike.
2. The true idea of tyranny and oppression next claims our attention. Any form or measure of government which deprives the individual of any form or degree of good, to which, by right, he is entitled, is tyranny and oppression. Government, in all such instances, is not only perverted from its true ends and aims, but has placed itself in the relation of direct antagonism to them. It is then one of the most terrible curses that can possibly be inflicted upon humanity.
We shall look further in the nature of government and oppression below. But before we do so, there is a need to further develop the basis for that kind of unselfish love towards every neighbor that reveals the depths of wickedness found in all forms of oppression and manipulation of authority.
You shall love you neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Romans 13: 8-9.
Do not let the arrogant oppress me. Ps. 119: 112.
UNDER the pressures of oppression, each one of us understands our essential worth as humans and we instinctively cry out to, at least, impartial humanity for help. Not only do we cry out for help but we insist that justice be given to us. And if the situation presents itself we instinctively expect such people who have the power to help us to be under the obligation to do so. Once again we want to look into the basis of these instincts to properly determine the extent of our obligations towards our neighbor and the limits of regulation the different kinds of authorities can properly have on us.
The duties which we owe to our follow men are general and particular; duties which we owe to man as man considered merely as a reasonable being and those which arise from the particular and specific relations existing among different members of the human family. To the former class attention will be directed.
Contemplated merely as a reasonable being, each member of the human family has claims upon us of infinite weight. In examining such claims, we will only partially consider the relations which each member of the human family sustains to us, contemplated simply as a man and some of the general duties resulting from these relations. We cannot here expound upon the duties we have based upon the character of anyone.
I. In regard to the general relations existing between us and our fellow men, the following may be specified as of fundamental importance.
1. The fact that every member of the human family is destined to an immortal existence after the termination of this earthly scene, a state in which there will no doubt be an endless progression of his faculties and susceptibilities.
2. That every such being is destined in that state to the enjoyment or endurance of an inconceivable amount of happiness or misery, which depends upon the present possession of a righteous or unrighteous character.
3. That the natural character of man while unchanged, makes it impossible for him to enjoy the reward and happiness of holiness, and exposes him to the endless wretchedness of unrighteousness.
4. That men are now under a remedial (reformatory) system, designed to renovate their moral character, free them from the consequences of past guilt, and introduce them into that state in which they may enjoy the rewards and blessedness of moral purity.
5. That their eternal destiny depends upon their being brought under the renovating influence of the remedial system during their present state.
6. That we are placed in such relations to our fellow men, that we are exerting, and must exert an important influence in the formation of that character upon which their eternal destiny depends.
7. That each individual of our race is presented to our contemplation, as capable, in his present sphere of existence, of a vast amount of both mental and physical enjoyment, as capable of the same good in kind, as we ourselves are. We can not but recognize every kind of good to them as just as valuable in itself, and consequently as demanding the same regard from us, as good to ourselves. Such are some of the general relations existing between us and our fellow men.
Duties resulting from such relations.
1. The object of chief and supreme regard with us, in respect to each individual of the race, should be the idea of immortality, which it is his high and solemn destiny to realize. The conscious presence of powers and susceptibilities destined to endless growth and expansion, in a state of moral retribution (exact rewards), a state of inconceivable blessedness or misery, demands of us an interest which we have no right to indulge towards any other object. All our plans and purposes in regard to our fellow men should have a supreme reference to this overshadowing reality.
2. It should be our fixed and controlling intention, to exert our influence to the utmost extent, to prepare each individual to experience his high destiny in a state of perfect moral purity and blessedness. "That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." This an inspired apostle announces as having been the supreme law of his entire activity, an end which no one can fail to make a similar law of his own existence, without infinite guilt.
3. It should be a fixed intention with us, never, for any considerations whatever, to lessen the virtue, or further the corruption of any human being. No evil, actual or conceivable, is so great an evil in itself as sin. Nor is any evil so great and fearful in its consequences. This is a fact which every person can not but recognize. To encourage an individual to violate the law of God, is to induce in him, as we can not but know, the total and sum of all evil.
4. As we are bound to value the virtue, and resulting blessedness of man, above all finite considerations, precisely the same estimate should be placed upon all instruments of virtue within our reach. Every person would be guilty of infinite wrong, who should fail to use the means of preventing wrong, or advancing right, within his reach.
5. The idea of the future in respect to man should, by no means, occupy our exclusive focus. In respect to all necessities alike, physical and mental, we should regard ourselves as consecrated to one end, the filling up of the entire measure of human happiness. Love manifested in respect to the physical or temporal necessities of creatures, does not stop with such needs, but should always also be regarded as a means of spiritual good. Kindness to the needy, in relation to present necessities, is one of the strongest influences that can be exerted to win them to right character.
6. All our relating with our fellow men should have its basis in the principles of the most perfect reciprocity (do to others as expected to self). To place any human being out of this circle, is to affirm of him the lack of the essential elements of humanity. In other words, it is to affirm that he is not a human being. Hence we are never to permit ourselves to do any thing to him which we may not properly will that all men should do to us, in similar circumstances. This is to be the law of our entire activity in relation to our fellow men.
III. Authorities are established out of this realization and only for the good of all people.
He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones. He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. Pr. 14: 29-31.
Masters give to your servants that which is just and equal;
knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Col. 4: 1.
WE have seen thus far that the nature of each man is such that all men ought to value it as an end in itself and not as a means for personal gain. In the first chapter we saw how this forbid man to dishonor and corrupt his own person; but rather he was obligated to develop himself to his highest capacities and thus to fulfill his God-ordained destiny. In the second chapter we saw how he had no right to discourage or defraud any man of experiencing his highest attainments in moral and mental culture; and that each man was responsible to promote as best he could, the highest well-being of every neighbor as if unto himself. In this chapter we wish to focus on one of the most important means which God has given us to protect the value that each man has in himself, and the collective value that every circle of organized relationship has.
The fact and necessity of Government.
Because of the complexity our nature, the fact that there is more than one man, and due to our many limitations, God has made us in His image and given us the need and obligation to "rule" ourselves and His creation (Gen. 1:26-28). We have seen above that the end of government is to enforce duty, guard and protect rights, and advance the individual and public well-being, by all lawful and practicable means. Let us now consider this more specifically to learn not just whether governments ought to be, but which governments are real, how far is their dominion, and to what extent can they expect to rule us.
Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority expect from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, and avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Rom. 13:1-4.
Every law has two elements in it, a precept and a sanction. The precept commands, or rather is a command: the sanction enforces obedience. Of course law always implies a lawgiver. In the lawgiver the two elements above referred to are united, that is, the right to command, and the right to enforce obedience by rewarding the obedient and punishing the disobedient. The right to command and to enforce obedience, always must be in the same power. The actual use of these rights constitutes government. Governments are various, and used for various purposes, as the government of God, and lesser authorities, such as civil and family governments, and the law-giving power in our own bosoms. The duty of the subject to submit to the authority of government, of course implies in government the right to command, and enforce obedience by appropriate sanctions. Now rights and duties originate in certain relations apprehended by our Reason, in such relations all government has its foundation, its right to exist as government. When these relations are apprehended, the existence of government appears fit and proper; in other words, the right to control on the part of the ruler, and the duty of obedience on the part of the subject, are necessarily affirmed by the reason.
Real Foundation stated.
We now come to the inquiry, what are the relations, in view of which reason affirms the right of control on the one hand, and the duty of obedience on the other. These relations are and must be in all instances one and identical; because the same things are always affirmed: right on the one hand and duty on the other. Government of every kind, it should be kept in mind, is in all instances a means to an end. The moral correction and well-being of the subject is the end; government is the means to that end. Whenever and wherever government is seen to be a necessary means to the end above specified, its existence is demanded by our reason, and the obligation rests upon those who have the right kind of power to do it to give existence to government. Government then, has in all instances, its foundation in one relation, and in that one exclusively. What is that relation? I answer: The relation of dependence. Whenever one being has such a relation to another, (no matter how the relation came to exist,) that without controlling him, he can not do him the good which love demands, the right and duty of control exists on the part of the former, and the duty of obedience on the part of the latter. These rights and duties are necessarily affirmed by the reason of the ruler and subject, whenever these relations are apprehended. This I conclude from the following considerations:
1. Every person is bound to will his own highest well-being, and the means necessary to that end. Of course he must, when authority is seen to be that means, affirm the duty of those who have the power to use it, and his own duty to submit.
2. Whenever and wherever this relation is apprehended, the rights and duties under consideration are, as a matter of fact, affirmed. The child for example, when it has apprehended merely this one relation, recognizes in the parent, the right of control, and in itself the duty of obedience.
3. Wherever these relations are perceived, these lights and duties are affirmed, not only in the perceived absence of moral goodness, but in connection with the worst moral character. Whatever the moral character of the parent may be, the child recognizes its obligation to respect his authority as a parent, and to render obedience as such, whenever it is perceived to be consistent with what is in itself morally right.
4. These rights and duties vary as this one relation varies. The child remains subject to parental authority, while this relation continues, and ceases to be thus subject when this relation ceases. Should the parent become dependent, so that his highest good requires that the child should exercise control, the right of control would, according to the leadings of the everyone's conscience, rest in the child. Such facts undeniably show, that, in this one relation all government has its foundation.
5. If the well-being of the universe could be (a thing impossible,) better secured without the divine government, than with it, reason would affirm, that it ought not to be used, even considering all the other relations existing between God and his creatures. The government of God is not an end, but a means. God does not govern merely for the sake of governing, but for the highest good of the universe. If the use of government was incompatible with this end, God would not have it. To suppose the opposite would imply the absence of wisdom and goodness both, in God, as sovereign of the universe. Because the universe hangs in entire dependence upon Him for the accomplishment of the wisest and best ends, therefore He has established the government He now uses over it. It is the perception of this great truth on the part of all pure beings, which occasions the universal praise, "Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
6. I may add, that whenever this relation of dependence is not supposed, these rights and duties are never affirmed, whatever other relations may exist. However wise and good and powerful any being may be, no reason can be adduced from these perfections why beings equally wise and good and powerful, should be subjected to his authority.
The relation of ruler and subject, whenever, and to whatever extent the relation of dependence exists, is sanctioned by the demands of universal reason. I am sick, and in a state of total ignorance in respect to the nature of my disease and the appropriate remedy. A friend is by, who understands both. What relation does reason affirm ought to exist between us under such circumstances? Certainly this: ignorance ought to be controlled by wisdom. The more perfect the subjection, the more perfect the conformity to the demands of the reason. So also of the well-being of the subject. Inasmuch, as not only health will be sacrificed, but peace of mind, by the opposition of the will to the reason. The above illustration is equally applicable to every case coming under the relation of dependence, actual and conceivable.
We see under what circumstances, and to what extent, and in what form, government ought to exist. Wherever the relation of dependence in any form exists, there is a demand for government in some form. The nature, form, and limits of the government are to be determined by the nature and extent of the relation. Here we have the meaning and application of the command, "You, all of you, be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility."
Reason to obey NOT in the command as mistakenly believed
We notice a common mistake: that the command of government is the reason of our obligation. The command of God, it is said, is not the indicator or revealer of what is right in itself, or of what is demanded by the relations of creatures. Instead it is supposed to create the right. That this position is wholly wrong in any government I argue,
(1.) From the fact that on this idea we have no standard by which to determine how proper any command is but by the command itself. With what propriety could the affirmation be made, "The law of the Lord is perfect?" If the mere will of God not only makes the law, but makes it right, such an affirmation is without meaning.
(2.) When we suppose any authority to command what we judge, and necessarily judge to be wrong, disobedience becomes a duty in the judgment of all people. (Acts 4:19-20.)
(3.) The character of every government is necessarily determined by the nature of its laws. The government of God is no exception to this principle. This shows undeniably that the mere will of God does not make the right, for in that case we should have no standard whatever, by which to determine whether the divine government is wise and best or not.
(4.) God submits his own laws to this test.
When commands are really binding on us.
From all this we see when it is that the commands of any lawful authority are binding upon us.
(1.) When it requires what is right in itself (no command is binding us to sin).
(2.) When it requires that which it is not wrong for us to do. This is not a sin for us to do but only an inconvenience, and the loss to self in obedience to authority is less evil than resistance would be. Example: Christ paying taxes. (Many people sinfully mix up these ideas and excuse themselves from inconvenient duty--supposing such to be sin to them. They give themselves no room for self-denial; and as their hearts are really selfish, it is evident why they consider any crossing of their desires as the right to resist.)
7. We see the bearing of the existence of government upon human liberty. Every government which in the best manner, answers its end, secures to the same extent the perfect freedom of all its subjects who submit to its authority. That man, and he only, is perfectly free, who does at all times what his own reason tells him to be right. He is a slave, who obeys any other impulse in opposition his reason. When the reason affirms the necessity of government, and the duty of subjection to its authority, such subjection is the perfection of freedom. The opposite is servitude or subjection to blind impulse.
8. The appropriate characteristics of tyranny. A government which exists not for the good of the governed but of the ruler, is tyranny. Subjects cease to be subjects. They become things.
9. Slavery for example, is not a government. It has no rulers nor subjects. It has simply owners and things. It is therefore the perfection of tyranny. There are no redeeming qualities in it.
But in all governments founded upon the above relations of real dependence, and conformed in their action to its demands, there is the highest security given to all the rights and interests of the subject. Hence the universal tranquillity which results under such a rule. The annihilation of government is the destruction of this tranquillity.
The existence of such government secures the public peace, by securing the universal love of, and respect for justice and order itself. When justice is unprotected, it is always confounded with the opposite of justice; or rather, all distinction between right and wrong seems to be annihilated. But when government throws its broad protection around justice and purity, then, and then only it is, that justice and purity become visible and distinct to all minds, and are loved for their own sake.
It can thus be seen that governments are a God-given necessary means to the highest well-being of the human race individually and collectively. But what happens when the balances are perverted and the leaders make laws consulting only their own will? Does a God-given leadership mean every law given is from God and thus binding? And what shall we do when 'the powers that be' are really not 'ordained of God' but are slavery? These most trying questions will be investigated under our last headings.
"Render to all what is due them."
IV. WHEN GOVERNMENT BECOMES OPPRESSION DIGNITY IS LOST.
Thus says the Lord God, 'Enough, you princes of Israel; put away oppression and spoil,
and execute judgment and justice, stop taking away the rights of My people,'
declares the Lord God. You shall have just balances. Ezk. 45: 9-10.
And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. Acts 3: 17.
WHEN government is no longer necessary because the relation of dependence ceases to be, or if the end of government is no longer to enforce duty, guard and protect rights, and advance the individual and public well-being, by all lawful and practicable means--when these vital ingredients are utterly missing, government becomes a useless tyranny. When only some of these necessary ingredients are lost or perverted, authority becomes oppressive. Oppression is not so much the continuance of government when there is no need for it, but the "unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power" for selfish ends.
Few men are morally prepared to have power over other people without the overwhelming temptation to "lord over them" just as they formerly lorded over their own bodies without dignity and self-control. Young men are rarely prepared to be righteous leaders of their own homes, and "if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?" or larger bodies of peoples? The bible reveals just what it takes to be a leader, and it is only natural to expect oppressions and manipulations to flood every kind of authority when people are chosen or self-elected who do not measure up to God's requirements.
We naturally expect that what has gone into a leader is what will come out of his rule. What he failed to value before, he will continue to neglect after he has been given power. And what shall we expect from this generation of leaders when the professing church largely doubts whether anyone can actually live as honorably and holy as God expects such candidates!
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or combative, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3: 2-7.
As every one of Paul's letters was inspired by God, we have the full assurance that each one of these required qualities is essential to proper leadership. "He who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten" the kind of "calling" God accepts. Again, what will be the result of such disobedience when we set up men who lack these qualities--but oppression in one form or another. If he is not "above reproach" he will surely disgrace his people in a similar way; if he is not first a "husband" and leader at home what kind of experience has prepared him for the leadership of many souls? if he is not "temperate" he will vex his people with excesses; if not "prudent" then he will be wasteful; if not "respectful" he will be sure to be generally oppressive in many ways; if not "hospitable" he will be a cold leader; if not "able to teach" there will be no telling what he will come up with. The man must have fully mastered self-control in himself and his family "with all dignity" or he will be ruined by his people, or will ruin them with excessive force and manipulation. Everyone is well aware of what takes place in millions of homes across America, where Daddy's home is in chaos, and he has to resort to much yelling, bribing and even violence to gain some authority and order. Such men are not ready for such a sacred office, and could only do worse if the members and importance of his rule increased.
Do not envy the oppressor, and do not choose any of his ways.
For the devious are an abomination to the Lord; but He is intimate with the upright. Pr. 3: 31-2.
The ways of an oppressor are in clear distinction from those of the upright leader. A good leader will be familiar with and have ample time to fully divide the truth and concerns of his people. The oppressor will apparently not have the time for such things and will have to resort to fallacy, smooth words, and emotional appeals to take care of his people. The good leader will want to further each subject of his rule in every way, by faithfully seeking out and using every wise means possible for this universal education. He will not be satisfied with their dependence upon him but will use the best means to advance every member till the state of that body will need less and less of him. This kind of government will produce loyal members, multitudes of useful souls, and each man will be ready to lead when Providence so calls him to office. Not so with the oppressor, he has not the time, patience, interest, or grace to even think of such a possibility among such people that do not even trust him behind his back. He can hardly imagine what would happen if the people were educated enough to see all of his mistakes and manipulations of them. Thus the tendency of oppressive rule is that it makes the people more dependent upon the leader, or at least his system of ideas, and that almost no one will be ready for leadership (and none will be able to replace him). He has trampled on their rights in numerous ways, by perpetually keeping them uncultured and complacent with his fancy. Such people, because of the continual overwhelming pressures to keep them in the system, hardly see how much liberty they have been deprived of. And over time they come to think that their way of life is all that God has for them!
The bondage of oppression gives no freedom.
As fashioned by our Creator, each individual is possessed of certain fundamental needs, needs which must be met, or misery is the result. When these needs are met, the mind is in a state of blessedness, or of well-being. In the universe within and around us, realities exist adapted to meet these needs. For this reason alone, they exist and are brought within the sphere of the mind's activities. To act freely and without restraint to attain such sources of good, is the undeniable right of all humanity. Now when the mind is permitted, without hindrance or restraint, to use its powers for attaining such needs, it is then in the enjoyment of freedom or liberty, according to the true idea of the term, as we are now considering it. Whenever it is forcibly restrained from the use of its needful activities for the experience of well-being, then its liberty is invaded. It is in a state of slavery or bondage.
The right of man to liberty then, is the same as his right to direct his activities, without forced restraint, for his own well-being--a possession and enjoyment he was created to have. Any power, aside from God's providential limitations, which tries to restrain these natural activities when seeking such well-being, is oppression, or tyranny. When man falls under the control of such power, whether with or against his own choice, he is then in a state of servitude. And when he does not realize it, he is in the lowest state of deception and manipulation. He is ignorant of the oppression against his own calling and dignity.
Fundamental Needs in the idea of Liberty.
As mentioned in the first and second chapters, each man and woman has a precious worth and internal dignity in their being which makes them an end to be chosen by themselves and others. The complexity, and eternal progression of their makeup, together with their ability to make real choices reveals why they are thus a worthy end to be chosen. It also reveals the fact that they have many needful goals that they must have the liberty to fulfill in themselves or they will ruin the "talent" that God intrusted them with and find themselves accountable for such waste. We will now examine a few of the most important needs or goals, while considering how oppressors unlawfully hinder them:
1. The full possession and enjoyment of the duty of self-control. There is a law in our freedom which is in relation to all objects of choice: Our Will must make its choices in full harmony with the internal value and usefulnesss of the object, as estimated by the mind, even though there may be contrary impulses in our flesh. When the Will so acts, and all impulses of the flesh are held in full subjection, then the mind enjoys liberty in the fullest and best sense of the term. That the mind should be thus free is one of the fundamental demands of our nature. Almost no feeling of wretchedness is more deep and thorough than that which results from that sense of mental and moral corruption coming from the enslavement of the Will to the bodily cravings. When any propensity (craving) in our body thus subjects the Will to its own impulses then it has reduced the Will to a state the opposite of liberty, that of slavery. If we have established this form of government in our own bosoms, then we are our own oppressors. If our parents have not been temperate and self-controlled, then by their examples and encouragement they have made us our own oppressors (which is an indirect form of oppression). And if those Stewards of the gospel, entrusted with the charge to "feed My lambs", have failed to seriously enlighten on self-control and temperance and to rebuke self-indulgence, they too are guilty of a neglect amounting to oppression.
2. Mental independence is another fundamental demand of everyone's mind requiring attention in connection with our present investigations. That our minds should freely and without restraint, think and discover truth in all its forms, and that it should be free to hold its honest convictions on all subjects when thus formed, is one of the undeniable rights, and changeless necessities of our immortal nature. In actually doing this the mind is free. Any 'authority' or influence tending to enchain or restrain thought in its researches for truth, or to suppress the full and free expression of all honest convictions in respect to it, is the enemy of liberty, and acts only to reduce humanity to the most degrading forms of servitude. Numerous pressures are placed on people to just "submit" to the ideas and commands suggested by authorities. People must have the freedom to think mistakenly and come to their own conclusions without the pressures to accept ideas before they can under- stand their truth. Any such pressure is forcing people to be prejudiced against the truth; and this is not only oppression but the deepest deception anyone could ever encourage.
3. That each person should possess the right to enjoy and control the fruits of his own activity is another fundamental demand of the nature of all people. There is almost no conceivable condition in which mind experiences more deeply, a sense of being personally undervalued, or feels more crushingly the weight of the grinding heel of oppression, than when they are, in any form or degree, forced into the relation of "labor without wages." "Man's inhumanity to man" can hardly devise more odious forms of invasion of undeniable rights than this. There are many men who put themselves under their own oppression by insisting that ministers should not be salaried, even though the apostle wrote an entire chapter on the need and right for such. In most cases, the people who supported such unwise agreements, eventually in turn receive their own oppressions from their oppressed minister (and there are few exceptions). God expects every man to reward every other man according to his labor when the opportunity arises:
Render to everyone what is due them. Rom. 13:7
4. I remark finally, that there are important needs and rights of every mind relating to government and the arrangements of society. Government, with all the arrangements of society relating to it, exists, as we have seen, simply and exclusively as a means to an end, which is the highest good of the people. Every government then, in all its forms and arrangements, should be based on one reason and one only, the common and highest good of all the people. Under such a government the people are free. Under every opposite form they are in a state of servitude. This one great idea is now laboring in every mind, and it will never rest till it witnesses the full reality of that idea. Wherever it is seen that any arrangement of society exists for any other end, the person knows, and can not but know, that his sacred rights are outraged. And this sense of personal wrong and outrage will ever stir him to action, till those rights are vindicated; or it will break him down and bring him into the most abusing bondages and prepare him to receive any idea or manipulation.
Many have a warped view of authority and think that since people need to be ruled in some ways that extra authority or rules in their lives is good. Thus they heap up extra rules which they know deep down are not really necessary for the person 'under authority.' Yes they do suppose extra rules are necessary because they think more authority is better, but the specific rules or expectations commanded are not believed to be necessary for the person who must submit. For example, they might deliberately seek to interrupt their young children when deeply engrossed in their favorite play, and call them to immediately leave their activities and come to them for no other reason than to train them to submit. It is true that child is thus trained to be more dead to his own interests and awakened to his authorities'. This has the appearance of good training, but there are far worse consequences. For the child either resists partially or fully and is punished for it, or he obeys and discovers that there was no real good reason why he was called. Such parents suppose the child does not understand what is taking place. But the child, even though he is not able to explain the process, understands to some extent and feels that his own interests are worth little to his parents, and that they have many rules that have no apparent reason for existence but to trouble him in his most delightful moments! In truth, when this happens many times the parent has more concern for their own authority than the child's happiness. This will be the impression on the child no matter how many gifts and kind words are given to him. Instead the child should have been honored in his little activities, as God does with ours, and "gently entreated" to come; and only when there was a higher need that made it necessary to so interrupt. There are plenty of such opportunities for such expectations that even God has not found it necessary to so artificially regulate us. But such arbitrary (needless) rule is as revolting as the feeling one would have if they had a wonderful meal prepared for friends and family, and while sitting down to eat God commanded them to fast for no reason but for submission's sake. To suppose God is in this business is to fundamentally err in our estimation of Him. To suppose any other 'authority' guilty of this arbitrary rule is to cause us to rightly abhor its judgments and distrust its intentions. The above child will grow up to have a legalistic and senseless-submission relationship with their parents, and will go through many similar oppressions because the parents have not understood that basis for government and that the propriety of each command is for the good of people and not just the authority's benefit.
Tyranny of Public Opinion.
Public opinion often presents itself as the enemy of liberty. Each person stands responsible for himself at the judgment of the everyone's conscience, and especially at the great judgment, for his opinions and conduct. The decision there, will not turn upon the question what his opinions were, but what was the spirit under the influence of which they were acquired and held. To experience that divine ideal of character, "the noblest work of God," an individual must perceive realities within and around him, for the simple purpose of knowing them as they are, of having his internal convictions all determined by this sacred respect for truth, and of reporting to the world his honest convictions just as they lie in the interior of his own mind. His aim will be not to think with, or against the public view, but to think truth itself. No idea will then be received or rejected because it is old, or because it is new, because it is in favor or disfavor with the public. One consideration and one only will determine his convictions in respect to any idea submitted to his judgment, the weight of the evidence by which it is sustained. (See Pr. 1: 20-33)
Now public opinion ought to demand of all, supreme subjection to the principles above stated, and to scold none for holding or avowing any opinions which do not imply the absence of heart-integrity in their formation. But how often does this mob rule of public opinion, instead of supporting the rights of all individuals thus to think and judge and speak, manifest itself as a more deadly enemy to free independent thought than the Inquisition. A man must hold what has come to be received truth, "asking no questions for conscience sake," or be marked as the enemy of truth itself. Such is the tyranny of public opinion. The individual who bends to its sway, subjects himself to a form of bondage in reality more servile then he suffers who, against his will, bows to the degradation of "labor without wages," and what is worse, submits himself (what the so-called slave does not,) to such degradation, with the loss of his good character.
Tyranny of Party Organizations.
The remarks made above, in respect to the tyranny of public sentiment, admit of such a ready application to that of party organizations, that little in addition need be said on the subject. Each party in church and state is commonly ruled by a public feeling within itself. The standard of worth and of preferment among them, is not free independent thought, but the most absolute submission to party ideas and measures whether right or wrong. Such influences tend to but one result, the annihilation of independent thought and action, the division of mind from the principles of truth, justice, and real need, and its submission to the most degrading slavery. The most important question with us in respect to any given idea or practice should be, not what party has adopted it as an article of their creed, but what are its real merits. The individual that would prefer real worth to position with people, that would stand approved at the judgment of his own, and that of the everyone's conscience, and would pass unharmed through the great ordeal, must adopt this principle as the undeviating law of his entire activity.
Any form, arrangement, or measure of government, which deprives any one individual of any sacred right, which cuts him off from any source of good which is the appropriate object of human activity, or which is not demanded by the common rights and interests of the entire body, is, as we have seen, oppression. Among the various forms of governmental oppression, the following may be referred to as demanding special attention.
1. The only relation of master and servant permitted in the church, was a relation the same as that which God has with people. "Knowing that you have a Master in heaven." God no people void of personal value in themselves. He uses the services of no one without rendering to him "according to his work." Everyone must do the same to every other man.
2. While those who were held in bondage by unbelieving authorities upon other principles, were required to obey them, "that the word of God and his doctrine might not be blasphemed," all such servants were expressly required to free themselves, if they could: "If you may be free, rather do that. Do not be the servants of men." 1 Cor. 7. God is thus utterly opposed to the kind of religion and leadership that makes its people slaves of men who must 'submit' to arbitrary (needless) rule because the powers that be think this is best.
3. Laws and arrangements which interfere with, or tend in any form to suppress the exercise of free thought and free speech, in respect to all subjects pertaining to human interests, rights, or duties, public or religious. No man has a right to form his opinions on any subject under the influence of a dishonest heart. With the motives of men in the search of truth, however, it is not the right of civil government to interfere. Any thought which government has no right to restrain in the inner being of the subject, it has no right to prohibit the free speaking of, when such speaking does not harm the sacred rights and interests of others. If government should attempt the suppression of certain forms of religious or political opinions, if it should place individuals holding such opinions under disfavor or penalty, or should give special privileges to, or confirm its gifts to those holding other opinions, what is this but persecution for, or an oppressive tax upon, thought itself? If there is any thing which mankind have a right to enjoy without pains and penalties, or taxation even, it is the right of thought and speech. Oppressors do not encourage, but actually condemn, honest and independent thought by making many wonderful speeches about the need for unity of mind, conservation of values, and a simpler lifestyle. The people are usually comforted with letting their leaders do their thinking for them. But the time will come where a good number of them will eventually be obviously shorted, and they will come face to face with the utter arrogance, manipulation, and ignorance with which their leaders have always been oppressing them. Who knows what they will then do.
Let us remember that an honest leader has nothing to fear about the discovery of truth:
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not unruly or accused of rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not contentious, not fond of corrupt gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1:5-9.
V. The Way of escape through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 7:24-25.
But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Ps. 9: 7-9.
The Lord is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land. O Lord, You have heard the desire of the oppressed; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that the man who is of the earth will no longer oppress. Ps. 10: 16-18.
WE have all found ourselves under oppression in some form and to a greater and lesser degree. Each man has his earliest memories of being under the oppression of his appetites; and it is only when the law of God is fully developed in his mind against such unlawful submissions that he is awakened enough to be ready for conversion to Christ Jesus the Lord. This was precisely the apostle Paul's experience as outlined in Romans chapter seven. The goodness of the law was compared to the habits of his inner man and it revealed a selfish bondage to lusts that made him want to resist and escape. But no matter how resolved he was to obey this higher law of God in his mind, he found himself in continual bondage to the old oppressor which he could not depart with. Obedience to law could not save him from the bondage of sin and death until he first let go of his old tyrant and found suitable help.
Most people never realize their own bondage to their flesh enough to seek freedom enough to find it. People are usually too proud to admit the depth of their sin and the wickedness of their submission to unlawful indulgences and rules. They are kept by others and keep themselves in ignorance as even Saul was. The body of this paper was for the purpose to encourage people to really consider these matters in order to be saved from their sins. The first condition to freedom from any kind of unrighteous oppression is to look at the facts and relations as they really are under the law of God. We will forever deceive ourselves if we pretend things are really not as they are. We will never see them as they really are and escape them if we do not honestly examine them (in the way Proverbs 2: 1-12 show us) with the law of God. When this is properly accomplished then we will see our frightfully lost condition, and then only will we be ready for the Good News of salvation. Do men ask for a physician if they think they are not sick? Neither can any man truly embrace Christ if he does not come His way.
When Saul had come to this place under the continual torment of his own bondage, when he had really seen how enslaved he was to his tyrant, and saw no hope in himself or in any other, then he was ready to receive the Gospel and it was apparently at that point that he found Him by surprise.
If we have found ourselves in this same slavery, either with our own flesh, or with some group of people, we will never find real peace with God until we refuse to overlook the unrighteous ideas and practices that are against His laws revealed in His word and our consciences. Once we then fully admit the problem, then we must fully abandon any unlawful attachments with any Tyrants. People are usually willing to renounce the rule of the Evil One in their lives, but rarely will they make such an ending with their own Flesh. And fewer still will seek to end the unlawful bondages with men. But if by God's grace His law has fully awakened you to the point that you really see your need, and you do not brush it off as lesser than it really is--and keep yourself in continual oppression through ignorance--then His Gospel stands waiting for your and Jesus Christ is right at the door--not far off from any one of you.
But as long as you continue to work within the tyrants system, as long as you try to set up God's laws in his territory, you will have not only continual resistance, but continual failure. We are not suggesting the overthrow of any lawful governments here, nor governments that make great mistakes and have many evils. But if you try to obey the law of God at all times you will find that oppressors will not give you the liberty to do so. They will trample on your rights; but you must obey God's law and be ready to give up your submission to the oppressor. People err in this and try to please both parties without making clear distinctions. But God has no room for this in His kingdom. In no point can he accept such deals with sinners. "A kingdom against itself will not stand."
People try to work within this oppressive system and "imagine a vain thing" that they can obey some of mans laws and some of God's laws. But as said above, God cannot walk in this at all, and they will find themselves in twice the bondage they were in before they knew God's law. For now they have two masters whom they cannot obey fully. Thus, unless they repent of the old nature, they often despise the law of God and imagine that no one could ever obey it. They see it as so very demanding and no matter how strong their resolving to obey, they never can do so fully. And everyone knows of many who at this point have either forsaken religion entirely or adopted the compromised and deluded religion that supposes that the Christian never has to or can obey the law of God; and is still safe to live under the old tyrant of the Flesh. The same suppose that Paul is speaking of the Christian's present experience in Romans chapter 7 and not his pre-converted state.
All these mistakes could have been avoided if these souls were informed of the real nature of things. If we read the entire book of Romans in its proper order and context we could never imagine such strange ideas as this. People pass over the first couple of chapters too easily and do not see themselves really guilty as sinners. Instead they suppose that sin is normal. So by the time they read the seventh chapter, if they have even read the preceding chapters at all, they are relieved to find the apostle apparently just as they are. But if they had seen their true guilt (chpt. 1), understood that it ought not to be (chpt. 2), seen its just damnation (2-3), understood its remedy (4-8), they would have not misunderstood the Way of salvation. They would have understood that salvation is actually from oppression and not from the knowledge of it or in oppression itself. "Are we to continue in sin?" (6:1-2)
People have not clearly read Romans 8: 2-6 while they think that they either cannot obey the law of God or that they are free from the requirement. But before they concluded this, years of submission to needless laws made them supposed that the law itself is the answer and so they just tried to obey it. They did not understand:
"The law of the Sprit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." Rom. 8:2-6
The first English bible of the great Reformer William Tyndale in 1534 added a more appropriate paragraph to the end of Luther's Preface to the book of Romans which will clear up the misconceptions above referred to:
Now go to reader, and according to the order of Paul's writing, even so do thou. First behold thyself diligently in the law of God, and see there thy just damnation. Secondarily turn thine eyes to Christ, and see there the exceeding mercy of the most kind and loving father. Thirdly remember that Christ made not this atonement that thou shouldest anger God again: neither died He for thy sins, that thou shouldest live still in them: neither cleansed He thee, that thou shouldest return (as a swine) unto thine old puddle again: but that thou shouldest be a new creature and live a new life after the will of God and not of the flesh. And be diligent lest through thine own negligence and unthankfulness thou lose this favour and mercy again.
Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless. Who among us can lived with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with the continual burning? He who walks righteously, and speaks with sincerity, that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding of bribes; he who stops his ears form hearing about bloodshed, and shuts his eyes form looking upon evil; he will dwell on the heights. Is. 34: 14-16.
Before we conclude this paper a word must be said about what we should do when we discover that we have been deceived and oppressed. We would caution against prejudice and slander against such oppressors. There will be a temptation to see more evil than is really there once it is seen to be seriously alarming. We are not justified to suppose evil where we have not solid evidence; nor to revenge: we must "nor follow any of his ways." Care needs to be taken to not seek the overthrow of governments when they rightfully should exist, even when they have made mistakes. Our parents mistakes and unrighteousness, and Ceasor's against Paul at the time he wrote Romans, did not mean that the governments in those times were not "ordained of God." But if any commands of such people go against our real rights as humans and the clear commands of God, they are not only void of authority, but make our disobedience to them our duty (or we sin).
And now, you who are oppressed: look to Jesus Christ as your True Master and Redeemer. He has given you the Deliverance through the true knowledge of Him. Remember your privilege is your duty to God. Take hold of His promise to you:
Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things; who have said, 'With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?' 'Because of the devastation of the oppressed, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,' says the Lord; 'I will set him in the safety for which he longs.' The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them; You will preserve him from this generation forever. The wicked strut about on every side when worthlessness is exalted among the sons of men. Psalm 12.