|Politicians or Christian Statesmen?|
by Reed R. Heustis, Jr.
March 5, 2007
|ROBABLY THE THREE most detested and disrespected professionals today are salesmen, lawyers and politicians. Ask any person on the street to rank his five most hated professions. Chances are, he will list all three of the above.|
People detest salesmen because they believe that salesmen will do or say anything to close sales. In their minds, most of what a salesman says is geared toward earning a hefty commission rather than meeting the needs of a customer.
People detest lawyers because they believe that lawyers will do or say anything to help their clients win at any cost. In their minds, most of what a lawyer does is geared toward earning stiff legal fees rather than upholding ethics or standards of justice.
People detest politicians because they believe that politicians will do or say anything to get elected or stay in office. In their minds, most of what a politician says is geared toward building his own political empire rather than pursuing transcendent principle.
Of course, these perceptions are mere generalizations. There are plenty of good honest people in sales and law, just like there are plenty of dishonest people in any other kind of profession. Unfortunately for sales and law though, all too often the bad apples spoil the batch.
However, in the realm of politics, bad apples seem to be everywhere, which is why a distinction must be made between statesmen and mere politicians. While both definitions may be synonymous in that a statesman is "one versed in the principles or art of government," and a politician is "a person experienced in the art or science of government;" a statesman ultimately elevates principle above personal and political gain.
According to Merriam-Webster Online, a statesman is "one who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship;" whereas a politician is "a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons."
The reason why people detest politicians is because almost all politicians are politicians!
Very few of them are true statesmen!
This is precisely what America needs today: statesmen who will put principle above politics regardless of how popular or unpopular the issues may be.
Students of political science quickly learn that there are two basic theories of representation in government. The first theorizes that proper representation requires the meeting of the express will of the constituency. According to this theory, an elected official must constantly make sure that his decisions do not go against the express will of his constituents.
In contrast, the second theory sets forth the principle that the elected official must follow his own understanding of the best course of action. Thus, a representative will vote according to his own conscience even if the will of his constituency expressly takes the opposite approach.
Unfortunately today, American government mainly consists of those who subscribe to the first theory. These are the politicians.
Those who adhere to the second view are the statesmen.
However, statesmen are only as good as their principles. It is possible for a statesman to hold to lousy godless principles.
This is why Christian voters must only support Christian statesmen, not politicians or non-Christian statesmen. Mere politicians are incompatible with Godly government, as are non-Christian statesmen. Much to the chagrin of those who attempt to shut God out of the public square, God ordains the office of a public magistrate.
As summed up in the London Baptist Confession of 1689, "God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end has armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers."
Therefore, a civil magistrate is obligated to conform his actions to the will of God, not merely to the will of the constituents. If a civil magistrate consults his constituency's express will on a certain controversial issue, such as murder by abortion, in order to make his decision, then he is a politician and is totally ineligible to serve as a civil magistrate. In fact, even if this politician voted according to Godly principle on this issue, if his vote depended upon popular sentiment instead of the Word of God, then this politician still is totally ineligible to serve as a civil magistrate!
Likewise, if a civil magistrate conformed his actions to ungodly principle, then he is totally ineligible to serve as a civil magistrate. A civil magistrate is supposed to serve under God, not under some other ungodly source.
In contrast to mere politicians and ungodly statesmen, a Christian statesman will consult his constituency only when the Word of God is silent on a particular issue. Where the Word of God is clear, the statesman yields to God, not his constituency, even if it costs him political favor!
This idea is supported in Blackstone's Commentaries, the law book that was universally accepted in America at the time of her struggle for independence. In his Commentaries, Sir William Blackstone penned:
"To instance in the case of murder: this is expressly forbidden by the Divine.... If any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it, we are bound to transgress that human law.... But, with regard to matters that are... not commanded or forbidden by those superior laws such for instance, as exporting of wool into foreign countries; here the... legislature has scope and opportunity to interpose."
It is a shame that people detest civil magistrates in light of the fact that God ordains the civil magistrate. Then again, people often get what they deserve. If the people continually elect magistrates that derive their principles from the whims of man, then politics as usual is what they will receive.
If people started electing Christian statesmen to office, people will stop detesting politicians.
© AD 2007 The Christian Constitutionalist, accessible on the web at www.ChristianConstitutionalist.com. All Rights Reserved.
Reed R. Heustis, Jr., Esq. is a Southern California native, and publisher of Christian Constitutionalist. A member of the State Bar of California, Reed earned his Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law in San Diego, and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of California at Irvine. Reed and his family are members of a local church affiliated with the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America.
More columns by Reed R. Heustis, Jr.