The Kingdom of God is the precinct in which its citizens interact with each other and outsiders per God’s will. So, as Christians, how does God want us to act both to model and to implement His Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven”?
Implementing the Kingdom of God “on earth, as it is in Heaven” is more than an enterprise of personal transformation. It is also an enterprise of transforming the society in which we live to reflect its values.
Here we intend to analyze how Christians caring for others and desiring to transmit God’s blessing to as many people as possible, through lives that embody Biblical ethics and justice, can transform not just the lives they touch, but civilization itself.
First, we will review the principles of the Kingdom as revealed to us in the Bible. Then we will ask how they could be applied both personally and societally, to transform society into something much closer to what Jesus had in mind.
Principles of the Kingdom of God
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Phl 2:4, Ja 2:14-17, Lk 6:31).
- It is to be sought by us preeminently (Mt 6:33); seeking its manifestation in the world is to be our foremost intention
- Don’t show favoritism (Ja 2:1-4, Lev 19:15); deal justly and equitably with all (Mi 6:8, Ps 106:3, Zec 7:9). Life in the Kingdom is blind to societal distinctions. (Gal 3:28)
- Use your resources for His purposes in His Kingdom (Acts 20:35, Heb 13:16, 1 Jn 3:17)
- Care for those in need (as if they were you, or, indeed, Christ) (Mt 25:35-40, Pr 11:24-25, 1 Tim 5:8, Pr 3:9, Ja 1:27)
- Be wise/shrewd in your dealings with “the world” (Mt 10:16, Lk 16:8, Mt 7:15, 1 Thes 5:21, Ro 12:2). Trust, but verify.
- Take responsibility for yourself (Gal 6:5-10, Job 19:4, Pr 28:13)
These aren’t just a list of bullet points of “do’s and don’ts”. These are concepts reflective of an attitude of devotion to the things of God: care for one another, equity in dealing with others, true justice for the innocent and the guilty, acting on a heart for those in need, and a recognition that the majority in the world don’t share these values. Most are not intuitive. And, none of them can be done naturally by us. They’re only possible under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God.
But the question I want to ask is: How could we institutionalize these patterns of behavior into our societies? And what does the world look like if we do?
In what follows, we’ll explore the application of Kingdom principles into some broad sectors of what passes for our current, “civilized” society, drawing distinctions between current standards, secular practice, and those we’re taught they should reflect. Along the way, we will uncover and point out some “meta-principles” that the mishandling of our responsibilities in key sectors of our society has exposed.
The practice of societal support for the care and rehabilitation of the “disadvantaged” has been institutionalized by the government in the United States mainly since the “Great Society” initiatives of the 1960s.
What many moderns don’t know is that up to the early 20th century in America, the Christian Churches had perhaps the central role in providing care to the sick[i] and “disadvantaged” – the poor[ii], widows, and orphans[iii]. The term “Little Sisters of the Poor” wasn’t simply a joke punchline. It was an expression of a committed approach to activism by the church in caring for society’s disadvantaged, one by one. And, importantly, such care included work to redeem the afflicted back to as close to wholeness in society – sustenance, rehabilitation, training in work skills, education, etc. – as possible.
So what did we replace these works of the church with? We replaced them with unaccountable “welfare” bureaucracies, and the transfer of taxpayer monies to them and their clients without concern for the extent to which their efforts were effective in redeeming/healing their clients.
What is particularly catastrophic about its results is the decimation that has been wrought on the black community. Of course, Lyndon Johnson didn’t intend for his “Great Society” to produce this result. But the system the “Great Society” produced, entirely ignorant of God’s Kingdom principles, has produced it. What principles does it self-evidently violate? Let’s see:
- Justice is not dispensed evenly (no favoritism) for all involved: Men – the fathers — are inexplicably untouched by their actions.
- Kingdom results (i.e. applying the Golden Rule in seeking the best for all) are not managed for: To achieve the best for your clients, you have to manage your welfare delivery system to produce them[iv].
- To manage for Kingdom results you have to have measures of those results – “Quality Factors” – to guide a relentless improvement in the results it produces. How could this current system be reformed to better embody Kingdom principles?
An important sub-category of these “disadvantaged” is single mothers — 50% of all welfare recipients[v]. The government provides dozens of individual assistance programs to these people[vi]. The result? What these programs through their incentives have created is devastatingly presented in this article (among many others) that describes the decimation of the nuclear family, society’s only reliable natural factory of a whole, capable, stable, productive citizenry. The percentage of (primarily female-led) single-family households within the black population today is a staggering 72[vii]%
Men who impregnate single women are currently completely exempt from any consequences of their actions. We don’t have time here to dive back[viii] into the devastation on the children of single-parent households; crime and serving jail time[ix],[x], the likelihood of failing/dropping out of school (2X)[xi], and becoming a user of drugs[xii]. Restoring some semblance of child-raising partnership in the currently female-led households seems an obvious goal.
We have to ask: what would happen if, once a single mother brought a baby to term, the father’s DNA was sought that matches the offspring? (This could be via CPS-initiated warrants, if necessary.) Once the father was identified, the couple could be given a choice: a) get married[xiii] and support the child or, b) enforce child support payments from the absent father until the fathered offspring reached 18 years of age. Fathers who took option (b) and failed to pay would face the same consequences as divorced fathers who fail to pay their court-assigned child support payments.
This change would have several positive effects:
- The incidence of out-of-wedlock births would go down as their cost to the potential fathers became a reality.
- Fewer single-parent children would similarly reduce the incidence of school violence and delinquency, and crime in the community, and mitigate the endless cycle of the welfare system producing more afflicted people than it redeems, who then end up as new welfare recipients.
Until illegitimate pregnancies cost the responsible man something, nothing will change, and, with the government assuming financial responsibility, families will continue to be decimated, especially among the black community. There is simply no moral excuse for continuing to administer a system that statistically condemns thousands of children every year to a life of suffering and failure.
Today’s welfare industry is implemented via government grants and contracts ultimately to a myriad of private, independent contractors. What must change in this system is the criteria by which these grantees (including the states) and contractors are selected, and subsequently evaluated. There must be clear and unambiguous Kingdom-based goals and quality factors expressed in the guidance given to these states and private companies that make it unequivocal that they will be deemed successful when God’s principles are produced in their policies and their results. These “quality metrics” might include such things as:
- % of single-parent households
- Number of children per single-parent household
- Truancy rates of students
- Academic achievement of students
- Drug use incidence
- Training achieved and competencies demonstrated
- Rates of arrest, incarceration, recidivism
- Unemployment incidence; Employment rate within a targeted community
- Percent of household income from government programs (financial dependency)
Once welfare organizations have demonstrated their success at achieving sought-after “Kingdom” results, they would be certified as such (subject to periodic audits of their results). Certification would do two things: 1) make them a preferred provider in future grant/contract awards, and 2) make individual contributions to them fully deductible as tax credits.
The problem is not in identifying what will make the system more effective at achieving Kingdom goals. The problem, as noted previously, is recognizing that the current system is fatally flawed and deciding to fix it. We’re nowhere near this happening, as this hymn to single parents and the system that produces them, makes painfully clear.
Extending the Kingdom Personally
We must note that an institutional welfare system, even if reformed along the lines we’ve proposed, does not relieve us as individuals from extending our care and our time and resources to aid those in need – our “neighbors”. As noted above, this practice is an overarching theme throughout the Bible. Before there was such a thing as government welfare, Christians were caring for their neighbors in need, and groups of Christians organized into churches founding and running orphanages and hospitals[xiv].
Care for one’s neighbor is the commanded vocation of every Christian. Too few of us, however, take it seriously enough to do it but we instead make excuses to ourselves like: “we pay taxes for that”, and similar. It’s unfortunate for these people that they don’t realize the joy and fulfillment they’re missing.
How could Kingdom-based principles be instilled in the economic policy of the US? The only way this can realistically be achieved is if those writing our financial and economic-policy laws are themselves committed to Kingdom goals.
Our economic policy is largely reflected in our tax code. Its established principles are; to tax the wealthy progressively more than the poor and provide special benefits to those who (after having successfully lobbied/donated to congressmen) are singled out in tax law for special treatment. Both of these principles violate the Kingdom principle of showing no favoritism in your dealings.
Reforming the Tax Code
How does one restore some semblance of justice to this economic system? Wouldn’t a flat-tax law, along with the elimination of all but a few, targeted, Kingdom-supportive tax credits and deductions (e.g. charter school credits, donations to certified welfare organizations and charities) restore some level of justice?
The biblical prohibition against favoritism is designed to prevent privilege from being given to the well-off (in deference to their status and influence). So, it’s possible that, rather than a comprehensive flat rate for all, there would be a similarly equitable two-tier adaptation that provided a lower flat rate for those below some minimum income level, to make it easier for them to feed and support their families.
One of the things we know about those who are privileged under the current system is that they would do whatever they could (more lobbying; more campaign donations) to preserve their favored status. So, we might need a constitutional amendment for this proposal to stick. We should not underestimate the power of this system which is predicated on a quid-pro-quo between lobbyists/donors and the congressmen serving them in their committees that write the tax code.
Once implemented, the only tax-code change year-to-year would be to establish the new flat rates, not to craft increasing benefits for specific corporations or groups.
How to Reform Education?
No, I’m not here going to advocate for teaching the Bible in public schools. That’s as likely to happen as the huge majority of secular atheists suddenly deciding that they need to live for Jesus.
But, some reforms could be implemented.
Department of Education Reform
What would happen if we limited the functions of the Department of Education to just grant distribution to local schools, and not teacher’s unions? The goal should ultimately be to achieve 100% local control by a local school of its curriculum and its funding from locally-generated revenue (remember small-town school bond issues on the local ballot?). Then eliminate the Dept. of Education altogether.
While it isn’t a Kingdom principle, per se, local control and local funding of schools provide the most engaging environment for a community to become intimately involved in the education of its children per its priorities. Laundering income taxes through the Federal bureaucracy and feeding it back into metropolitan-sized school district bureaucracies removes essentially all accountability from those bureaucracies. Parents feel helpless because they are.
The Kingdom principle involved is just a corollary of “take responsibility for yourself”. There’s no way people can take responsibility for themselves or their education if they’re prevented from doing so by a faceless, uninterested, and unresponsive bureaucracy full of ideological, ill-trained robots seeking a comfortable, well-paid, anonymous existence[xv].
Meantime, how about insisting that school board members for a local community’s schools actually live in that community?
Today’s college freshmen have grown up showered with the affirmation of their worth and goodness, irrespective of what they have accomplished themselves, or have been responsible for producing. We – our culture – have insulated them from the realities of the requirements of everyday life – of getting up every day and attending to the requirements of their job/employer, whether they want to or not; of paying the bills they have incurred of their freewill, as they come due; of seeing to the needs of those in his/her family – food, shelter, medical care, times to play together (vacation) as a family. There is simply a multitude of requirements on adult members of a society that are not present for those less than 19 years old.
If we, as a culture, no longer want to expose kids to competition and failure, perhaps we should simply prescribe their service to their country. Here I take as my model the Israeli Defense Force[xvi] and its (nearly) universal conscription of young adults 18-29 years old to serve either in the Defense forces, border patrol, post office, or as prison guards.
Something is very maturing about living life in the military, subject only to your CO’s demands, and responding to those demands without question or complaint. It has a profound effect on building one’s sense of responsibility for himself.
If as a society we returned to universal conscription for people between 18-29, we would have a completely different cultural outcome for our young adults who are just starting out. True education comes in many different forms, and for some, by completely different means.
Or, how about returning to teaching the virtues; the Great Books; an honest treatment of Western Civilization and American history? Until fairly recently, we as a society took the development of Western Civilization as, on balance, a good thing. It produced the Christian Church. It produced the Enlightenment and the Renaissance. It produced breakthroughs in biological understanding and resultant medical treatments, and breakthroughs in our understanding of the physics of God’s Universe.
Now, however, the education system is doing its best to ignore these things and instead focus on the indoctrination of the social dogma of the progressive elite. This can be fixed when we, as its victims, take responsibility for ourselves and work to put an end to it.
Once again, we’re just suggesting common sense be applied. When’s the last time you remember reading about the veneration of the trans-gender lifestyle in Goethe or Dante or Aristotle or Kant? When’s the last time you read of the virtue of restricting freedom of speech in Doeskievsky or Plato or CS Lewis or Shakespeare? They’re not there. Why? Because until the degeneracy of the current generation, they were seen as self-evidently unvirtuous. The entire heritage of Western Civilization up to the present was to venerate and aspire to virtue — in music, literature, the arts, and in everyday lives. Why – on what possible society-enhancing premise — would we suddenly decide to venerate degeneracy?
I think the simplest overhaul would be to comprehensively implement the principle that the funds allocated for the education of a child (i.e. taxes) are assigned to the child, to use wherever s/he chooses to be educated, rather than allocated to school districts – so-called “backpack funding”. So, if the child and his parents elect to have him educated in a school that refuses to teach Critical Race Theory and gender fluidity, they could.
This would have two beneficial effects. First, the child and his parents could choose the highest-performing school available to them. Second, low-performing schools would either improve the quality of their product, making it attractive as a choice, or gradually go out of business. Both are good things for the benefit of all people (except, perhaps, Ph.D. education bureaucrats and teachers’ unions).
Anyone who has studied the subject even a little will conclude that the capitalist system offers the best economic advantage for the most people. But they will also acknowledge that left unchecked, it can produce what can only be described as a vastly disproportionate benefit to the unconstrained capitalist. Yes, s/he risks their resources, so yes, they should be rewarded when they succeed. The question is: “to what degree”?
Society can’t regulate the character of capitalists, but it can say something about how he is incentivized to deploy his, and his company’s, capital.
Incentivizing Capitalism to Build the Kingdom
As suggested above, any contribution to any certified “Kingdom” charity organization would be treated as a tax credit. Capitalists inclined to reduce their net income, and thus tax bill, would therefore be encouraged to donate a significant proportion of it to such a certified organization.
It’s worth mentioning here that corporations are already morphing from purely economic machines, benefitting only their executives, employees and shareholders, into “socially-conscious” agents within society. This is the whole foundation of so-called “Environmental, Social, and Governance” investing. Corporations, and their investors, are supporting various “causes” financially.
The problem with the current situation is that their ideas of “socially-responsible” actions include any Tom, Dick, or Harry having a 501c3 organization with whatever “socially-conscious” goals, most of which are anti-fossil fuel production, “carbon-neutrality”, diversity, “equity”, or whatever other social goals are popular among the elites. But these things are all secular ideology-driven.
There is no “Kingdom” filter applied to tax preferences for such grants/donations. These proposals would reform this situation.
A fundamental failure of the current foreign policy of the US is that there is negligible follow-up on the foreign aid we dispense[xvii],[xviii]. This, unlike the foregoing problem areas, is purely a procedural problem, not one of motivational integrity (though certainly the entire organization responsible for foreign aid would need some “values” training 😉 ).
We, having expressed our national “concern” for a nation or foreign cause through publically announced aid, just don’t care whether it ever is used for the purpose for which it was solicited, and we gave. It’s all about “showing” our concern. It’s all about making political points. It has nothing whatsoever to do with actually helping people. This should be the simplest of our litany of problems to correct.
Dispersing Kingdom Principles Abroad
What would be the result if we established a group of auditors within the State Department to follow up and closely audit the disposition of aid distributed to foreign nations? What if we made it a criminal offense to dispose of these resources contrary to their stated purpose? What if we extradited suspected offenders to the US to stand trial? This, again, is simply common sense.
We can only scratch the surface of the pervasive scourge of secularist, disingenuous societal goals and policies our national community currently endures. But there is a solution, however self-evidently difficult it will be to see its implementation realized.
The solution is fairly simple. The people responsible for defining and executing these policies have to change – either within themselves or by replacement. This will only be possible if we, the ones being subjected to the maw of faceless secular ideology, stand for nothing less.
After publishing this piece I came across this article from which the following, concluding quote struck me deeply:
“What could happen if a group of men and women awoke from complacent slumbers, provoked and sent forth with God’s own jealousy into a community? If more professing Christians felt triggered by idols and shared a “divine jealousy” for the church (2 Corinthians 11:2)? If we obeyed Paul to “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Genuine love. Genuine abhorrence. Genuine clinging to what is good, stirred by God’s own zeal to do what is good.
With these, under the blessing of God, the world can yet again be turned upside down.”
[i] The Christian Origins of Hospitals – BibleMesh
[ii] Christianity – Property, poverty, and the poor | Britannica
[iii] Christianity – Care for widows and orphans | Britannica
[iv] Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. – The W. Edwards Deming Institute
[v] 24+ Welfare Statistics – 2022 Update | Balancing Everything
[vi] Most Helpful Government Assistance Programs for single moms | Grants for single mothers (singlemothersgrants.org)
[vii] 72% Of Black Kids Raised In Single Parent Household, 25 Percent In US (newsone.com)
[viii] A Christian’s Response to Cultural Marxism
[ix] The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community | The Heritage Foundation
[x] Single-Parent Families Cause Juvenile Crime (From Juvenile Crime: Opposing Viewpoints, P 62-66, 1997, A E Sadler, ed. — See NCJ-167319) | Office of Justice Programs (ojp.gov)
[xi] How Broken Families Rob Children of Their Chances for Future Prosperity | The Heritage Foundation
[xii] (PDF) Family Structure and Adolescent Drug Use: An Exploration of Single-Parent Families (researchgate.net)
[xiii] The Bible’s solution to an unmarried girl and man engaging in sex was to immediately enforce their marriage. Young Israelite men grew up knowing this “Law”, and so behaved accordingly.
[xiv] A History of Charity and the Church
[xv] Education Majors in College: Larry Arnn Is Right about Education Majors | National Review
[xvi] Israeli Defense Service Law – Wikipedia
[xvii] The poster child for this problem currently is our support of Ukraine’s resistance against the Russian invasion. There are reports that officials in the Ukraine government are selling the military equipment we’re sending to them for their own profit. But our foreign aid history is full of such atrocities.
[xviii] Foreign Aid and Corruption: Anti-Corruption Strategies Need Greater Alignment with the Objective of Aid Effectiveness — Georgetown Journal of International Affairs