This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on March 15, 2021
If you are a regular reader of my articles, you know that I am a bit of a political junkie. Part of that is my job, as a pastor, is to be somewhat informed. That means I read a lot. I have found that the easiest way to take in that much bad news is to look for trends. Since we all understand that the modern media exists to create the story rather than report it, it is only in the recognition of patterns that we can really discern the truth. One pattern that I have observed over the past few months is the lack of grey area when it comes to what the legal system can do. I alluded to this in last week’s article where I asked can something be right but not required by law.
To take this observation to the next level, we are forced to consider the purpose of the three branches of government. In its most basic function, the Legislative branch debates and passes the laws, the executive branch enforces the laws, and the judicial branch interprets the law. The problem that comes from this system is that the legislative branch moves very slowly. It is like a glacier except slower. That is because before a law is ratified, there is much debate and examination of the law to make sure it is in accord with our constitution and our values as a people. It can take years to get a piece of legislation signed into law.
On the other hand, the executive and judicial branch function incredibly quickly. The executive branch is enforcing laws every minute of every day. The judicial branch also makes determinations about the applications of laws every day. This means that there is a tremendous amount of frustration with the legislative branch since it moves so much slower than the other two branches.
What we all need to keep in mind is that the legislative branch moves so slowly by design. That is the branch that keeps the other two branches in check. The vast majority of issues in the world need no laws. What the legislative branch does is it prevents the government from weighing in on everything. If there was no legislative branch and the government could function as fast as the executive and judicial branches can go, we would have laws about everything on earth. This is why executive orders should be rare because they circumvent the process. They allow the government to weigh in on issues which it was not designed to have any opinion at all.
The reason we don’t want the government to have an opinion about everything is it prevents people from thinking on their own. If we just wait for the government to tell us what to do all the time on every issue, then we have no personal responsibility in the choices we make. It also means that when we make a mistake, the government has to bear the consequences. When you remove personal responsibility, you immediately lose two things: morality and freedom.
If there are never any consequences, then you have no reason to do the right thing in any situation. If you want to lie, cheat or steal, who cares? The government will just go and make everything right again. That is what we saw with the rioting last summer. It didn’t matter what was destroyed or stolen, the government would put it all back. No one was personally responsible for their actions and morality was completely lost.
On the other hand, if some outside force assumes all responsibility for our actions, then that outside force will get to have some control over our actions. Just like a parent has control over a child, any time an outside force has responsibility for you, you are not free.
This is why we need the legislative branch. In the deliberation and debate, we get to realize the line that we do not want our government to cross. The legislative branch shows us where the government can do good and where it has no business. The danger we run into today is that we have bypassed the legislative branch completely and that is why the government has completely overrun its boundaries and gotten into areas where it does not belong. The conversation is always on what the government could do and we never have conversations about what it should do (or more importantly, not do).