How many times have you heard that expression or even spoken it yourself? Invariably, every time someone uses it is because someone else has done something which the speaker disapproves of and would like to see legislated against, outlawed, prohibited, and punished.
I want to take a few minutes and engage you in a little introspective exercise. There is only one rule: Be honest with yourself. Absolutely, truthfully honest.
How many of you believe that you, personally, need government to control and order your life? I’m not talking about government controlling anyone else, only you. Do you need government to tell you how to live your daily life, while you are interacting with those around you, while you are conducting business? Do you need government to tell you to do what is right? If you do, then I would ask you to raise your hand high so that everyone else can see it. Do not raise your hand if you are able to govern yourself, but only if someone else must do it for you. Come on, now, let’s see those hands.
Hmmmm! That didn’t work so well.
OK, then, let me rephrase the question. What about the person next to you? Do you think he or she needs government to force them to do the right thing, to keep their emotions and actions in check? Please raise your hand. If the person next to you is your spouse, then you are excused from answering. We don’t need WWIII to erupt because you are being absolutely, truthfully honest. Discretion is the better part of valor.
OK, then, what about somebody on the far side of the crowd that you don’t like. Or maybe someone on the other side of the county who identifies with a political affiliation you don’t approve of? What about someone who lives in California? Mexico? Russia? Anywhere in the world? Do you think that they need to be governed, controlled, regulated, restricted, taxed, identified, harassed, jailed, or killed? Please, raise your hand. Put it right up there. You’re being honest now, aren’t you? Show everyone where you stand.
The fact of the matter is, that if I was to ask anyone, anywhere, these questions, they would respond in the same way. I, personally, do not need government. I, personally, do not need to be controlled. I can live my life responsibly in the way I should without outside interference or directive. But they do and I will do whatever I can to make sure that they get the government they need AND deserve.
One rule for me and another one for thee.
This, my friends, is hypocrisy. It is arrogant, proud, self-serving. It is visiting evil on others who have done no harm to you. It is an attitude which transcends borders. It is ubiquitous. It causes conflicts. It creates divisions. It must stop and it must begin with us.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” — Gandhi
We are all flawed human beings and are no different than anybody else in that respect. If we can govern ourselves, then we should be willing to admit that everyone else can govern themselves. Furthermore, if we love our neighbor as we love ourselves, then we ought to allow them the freedom and opportunity to govern themselves without any interference on our part.
Now, I will say that there are those who DO NOT control themselves and must be punished because they act aggressively toward others. However, it does not follow that because someone in south Detroit, Chicago, or Timbuktu shoots and kills someone else, that you must give up your gun rights. Does it? Instead, the proper response to this would be to charge the offender with murder and remove him from society in some way while leaving you alone to manage your own affairs. Right?
If this is true, then why shouldn’t this principle be applied across the board, to fit every situation in life? It could be if enough people were willing to live that way, but deep down inside all of us is the craving and desire to control others. If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that and then take the steps to overcome that evil within us. It would be a matter of simply adhering to that one-sentence bit of wisdom spoken 2000 years ago: “Take the beam out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of mine.”
In fact, I am certain that one of the earliest recorded effects of sin, as a negative consequence of Adam and Eve eating the apple in the Garden of Eden, is that all of us have a deep-seated wish, a craving, a longing, to control everyone around us. Whether we admit it or not, each of us is guilty.
“To the woman, He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception. In pain, you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” (Genesis 3:16)
Now, everyone has their own peculiar method of interpretation, so this could mean that she simply wants to be near him, either physically or emotionally, or both. It could mean that she wets her panties whenever she thinks about him. It could mean any number of things, but the best explanation I have ever seen is that she wants to control him and is unable to. Perpetual frustration. Ooooh! That man!! Instead, within their relationship, he has the responsibility to keep her in check, difficult as that is at times. If this is true, then the result of taking one bite of an apple has been unceasing conflict between men and women ever since, both trying to rule and control the other, both trying to gain the upper hand.
According to the New Testament and the Christian religion, Jesus the Christ restores us to the ideal of Eden, definitively at salvation, progressively throughout our life, and finally at our graduation into His presence at death. If this is true, then one of the things which is corrected is that ingrown desire to control others. The attempt to control, to rule, to order stems from a flawed, twisted nature which is straightened out and aligned through Christ. Man’s selfish nature sets up governments everywhere, not to control himself, but to control others. Jesus sets us free to control ourselves and, paradoxically, the closer we come to the truth of this matter, the less we have need to control others.