Copyright © April 19, 2011
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Biblical Teaching on Family Government and Conscience
Prior to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, man and woman were co-regents. Neither ruled over the other. After the fall, God established family government. He said to the woman: “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee (Ge. 4.16). The Bible teaches that the husband is to be the head of the wife (1 Co. 11.3; Ep. 5.22-26; 1 Pe. 3.1, 5-7; 1 Ti. 2.11-15), and children are to be instructed and led by the parents (Ex. 20.12; De. 6.6-7; 11.18-21; Pr. 4.1, 2, 10, 11; Ep. 6.1, 4; Col. 3.20). Parents, not the state, are to care for their children: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Ti. 5.8). Even an infidel has a love for his children placed there by God (Mt. 7.9-11). God desires that man satisfy his sexual desire only in marriage. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20.14). “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Co. 7.2).
God desires parents, not civil government, to provide a God-centered education for their children:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (De. 6.4-7; see also, Pr. 4.1, 2, 10, 11; 5.1, 2; 22.6; Ep.6.4).
After the fall, God gave mankind a chance to be directed by his conscience (an awareness of doing wrong), still to be individually controlled only by self-government (no civil government). God had told man, prior to the fall, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof [of the forbidden fruit], then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Ge. 3.5). After man ate the forbidden fruit, God told them, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Ge. 3.22a). Dispensationalists usually refer to this economy as Conscience, the title being taken from these verses:
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Ro. 2.14-15).
Section III, Chapter 3 of God Betrayed defines and analyzes Dispensational versus Covenant Theology and future articles on this blog will examine these theologies as well– See Endnote below for more information on God Betrayed and other books.
The Holy Spirit also strove with man during the days before the upcoming flood: “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Ge. 6.3).
God gave mankind certain responsibilities:
“During this stewardship man was responsible to respond to God through the promptings of his conscience, and part of a proper response was to bring an acceptable blood sacrifice as God had taught him to do (Gen. 3.21; 4.4). We have a record of only a few responding, and Abel, Enoch, and Noah are especially cited as heroes of faith. We also have the record of those who did not respond and who by their evil deeds brought judgment on the world. Cain refused to acknowledge himself a sinner even when God continued to admonish him (Gen. 4.3, 7). So murder came on the scene of human history” (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), pp. 52-53).
In the story of Cain and Abel, we see that God still did not allow civil government (direction and control over man by man). After Cain killed Abel, the Lord told Cain, “And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth” (Ge. 4.11-12). Since Cain feared that “every one that findeth me shall slay me” (Ge. 4.14), God said, “… Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him” (Ge. 4.15). The Supreme Ruler of the universe was telling man that he had no authority to rule over man.
At the flood, God delegated to man the authority to rule over man under God because man had demonstrated that since “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Ge. 6.5), “all flesh … corrupted his way upon the earth” and the earth with man guided only by his conscience became “filled with violence” (Ge. 6.12-13). Sadly no nation has ever ruled under God for any extended length of time. The next article will begin the biblical based study of civil government.
God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.