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Democracy and the Depravity of Man

By John Stoos
February 01, 2001

"Gore won the popular vote by more than 300,000 votes and yet George W. Bush will be president because of an outdated provision of the Constitution. This is a tragedy for the country. Where is the outrage? Why aren't the people showing more concern? This isn't democracy." 
— Gus Lovett, Sacramento Bee, letter-to-the-editor

The 2000 elections give us the opportunity to teach a whole new generation of Americans that they live in a republic as opposed to a democracy. This is important, because it is the difference between having liberty for all lawful citizens and subjects or suffering under the tyranny of the majority. I know that this always comes as quite a shock to folks like Mr. Lovett and others indoctrinated in our government schools and swayed by the popular culture, but we should remain quite thankful that our Constitutional Republic has survived once again.

These lessons learned about politics on the streets and news channels in 2000 should also be instructive to many of our modern churches. There was a major theological reason that our Founders chose a Constitutional Republic over other forms of government such as a type of monarchy, but especially a democracy. At the time of our nation's founding, almost everyone affirmed a critical Biblical doctrine that many churches today try to keep hidden away like the crazy aunt in the attic: The Depravity of Man.

Your friends with whom you share this article will be asking at this point, "What on earth do you mean by the depravity of man and what does it have to do with politics?" To find out, we will consider some important passages from the Scriptures and what some of the Founders had to say about democracy.

Total Depravity
The Bible presents quite a different picture of the nature of man than we get in today's self-esteem movement, most corporate training seminars, certainly what is presented by the popular culture, and sadly even what is often taught in many modern churches. The Bible presents man as a special creation of God, made in His image, but seriously changed after his Fall in the Garden of Eden. Consider these words about the current state of man from Romans 3:"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Or how about what the prophet Jeremiah had to say in the Old Testament, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

The Bible does not mince words about the state of man, because God really meant what He told Adam in the Garden about how making the wrong choice would bring death for him and his race. The Founders also understood that even the redeemed of God still struggle with the old nature while they await their physical death or the Second Coming of Christ. As the Apostle Paul shared in Romans chapter seven, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."

Political Implications of Total Depravity
So what are the practical implications of this for civil government? The Founders were right when they said that having a pure democracy when you have only fallen creatures to choose from for citizens can only result in a sophisticated form of mob rule and the trampling of the rights of the minority in short order. Here is a sampling of what has been said about democracy:

  • Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people. — Oscar Wilde
  • A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. — Alexander Tyler
  • A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. — Fisher Ames
  • The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating, and short-lived. — John Quincy Adams
  • A simple democracy is one of the greatest of evils. — Benjamin Rush
  • Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth. — Noah Webster

A firm belief in the depravity of man is why the Founders gave us many of the structures we see in our civil government: The separation of powers, checks and balances, and super-majority votes on some decisions like amending the Constitution. It is why we elect representatives rather than having direct votes and why we have two houses in the legislature with one having equal representation from the various states. And of course, the big focus of the election of 2000: the electoral college to select the President rather than by a straight popular vote.

Without the electoral college, all future presidential campaigns would focus only on New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles to win. For example, take just New York City out of the mix in the 2000 election and Mr. Bush wins the popular vote. The electoral college ensures that the rights and choices of those living in rural areas are balanced with those who live in the major population centers.

Our Republic has survived eight years of Clinton-Gore, the media-driven election campaign of Gore-Leiberman, and even the post-election assault by all those lawyers! One political cartoonist put it well when he showed a team of surgeons operating on the Constitution with one of them saying, "He's been punched, mutilated, stapled, dimpled and chadded, but wow, what great vital signs."

However, with the evil of abortion-on-demand and other godless actions today, Americans must wonder how much longer God will stay His hand of judgment. Therefore, I hope and pray that all those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes will set themselves like flint for the work of building God's church, raising strong families, and being faithful to His calling in their lives. As a result of the closeness of this election, I trust they will also have learned anew how important it is to vote and participate as the Lord gives opportunity in our civil government.

Finally, it is not that the Democrat-socialists never have any good ideas. Consider what Mary O'Friel said in that same letters-to-the-editor section of the Sacramento Bee: "I will not vote again unless the Electoral College is eliminated and the president is elected by popular vote." Perhaps there should be a national campaign encouraging all Democrat-socialists to take such a pledge, which would give us a little more time for some repair work and the building of the next generation of godly citizens.


Topics: Biblical Law, Conspiracy, Constitution, The, Culture , Dominion, Government, Justice, Reformed Thought, Theology

John Stoos

John Stoos is the pastor of Church of the King, www.COTKS.org, and the director of Cherish California’s Children, a pro-life ministry that provides literature for sidewalk counselors across the county, www.CherishCA.com. John also served as Chief Consultant for State Senator Tom McClintock for ten years and continues to advise qualified candidates running or serving in public office. John and his wife, Linda, live in Sacramento where they enjoy their six children and soon-to-be twenty-one grandchildren! John can be reached at (916) 451-5660 or [email protected].

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