Missing the Point in Madison

"We're giving out students a lesson in Democracy."

That's the way one Madison, WI teacher explained his calling in sick the last several days. His actions, couple with thousands of others have effectively shut down the public schools. Considering [the performance of Dane County school children][students], it's somewhat surprising that anyone noticed they were gone. Still, one can't help noting these "sick" teachers are healthy enough to crowd into the Capital Rotunda and protest. If you've never tried it, all that shouting is hard work. Undoubtedly Madison taxpayers wish these "sick" public employees would put that sort of effort into actually instructing students.

But Madison teachers aren't the only ones AWOL. Under the *"take my ball and bat and go home"* rubric of political science, Wisconsin Democrats have fled, not only the statehouse but the [state as well][Wisconsin]. So have [Indiana Democrats][Indiana]. Ohio Democrats were evidently [considering the same plan][Ohio] but scraped it when they realized it wouldn't work. Those Democrats that remained in Wisconsin contributed to the goal of elevating civil discourse by wearing orange shirts and shouting at Republicans.

As one might expect, late-night comedians and political pundits of all stripes have been having a field day with the spectacle. Talking heads have droned on *ad nauseum* concerning the respective benefits and drawbacks of unions. Budget numbers have been crunched, polls have been taken, elections past and future have been considered, but all of this ***completely misses the point.*** 

Ask the wrong question and you're sure to get the wrong answer. The world asks questions like "is this good policy?" or "how does this affect me?" or "what kind of political hay can we make out of the standoff?" The question that *should* be asked isn't a particularly difficult, yet it is one that is routinely ignored. Here is the question that no-one seems to ask:

"Does this please God?"

For the answer one must, as always, turn to the Scriptures. God has much to say about government and those who serve in it.

In Romans 13:1-7, Paul states,


Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (NIV 84)

Several principles can be derived from this passage.

  1. Everyone (not just believers) have the obligation to submit (not just obey) the governing authorities. Put another way, it is incumbent upon all people at all times, not merely to subscribe to the letter of the law, but to place their will under the will of the government. If this seems too harsh to you, remember that Nero was in power when Paul penned these words (winter 56-57 AD) although admittedly he wasn't as wicked at the beginning of his reign as he was at the end.
  2. It matters not whether the individual legislators are Democrats or Republicans, the mere fact that they are in such positions of authority means they were placed there by God and, as a result, are worthy of respect, not only from the public but also from each other.
  3. The fact that the Governor has the authority to send the police after absent lawmakers (the authority which prompted the Democrats to flee an area outside the Governor's jurisdiction) proves those playing hooky in Illinois (while nevertheless getting paid by Wisconsin taxpayers) are acting sinfully.
  4. Prov 12:22 instructs "The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. As a result, teachers (or anyone else for that matter) claiming to be sick (when they are not) for the purpose of missing work are lying, an activity which the LORD detests.

As I view the situation, the Democrats and Union organizers are the guilty ones, or at least more guilty than the Republicans. That's not because the Republicans have the better legislative agenda or are right on the subject of collective bargaining. On these topics I remain mute. No, it is simply because of the lying, the rebellion against the established order, and the disrespect shown toward their fellow legislators and the Governor that I make this judgment. 

I personally can't see any other viewpoint as being at all godly that doesn't, at the very least, include these conclusions. And if all the pundits fail to recognize these biblical truths, they're simply missing the point.