Piecing Together a Biblical View of the State, Part 3

There is one further argument in favor of the state that I want to address. Because it doesn’t relate directly to either of my previous two posts, I treat it separately here.

Supporters of the state often point to Genesis 9. For context, recall that this chapter recounts events that immediately followed God’s destroying of all life on earth in the flood. God had promised to never again destroy the earth with a flood and he was setting out the terms of that Noahic covenant. In Genesis 9:5-6 (KJV) we read:

And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Genesis 9:6 is frequently cited in support of capital punishment. I won’t delve into that debate here other than to note that there is a debate about whether these verses are meant to describe the world as it is or whether they are meant to prescribe certain conduct. For the sake of discussion, I’ll assume the latter (since that is also the interpretation that seems to support the state).

In looking at these verses, however, consider to whom God is giving these prescriptions: there are only eight people on the entire face of the planet. God gave instructions to and for the family. To the extent that these verses are God’s commands for men to execute those who take human life, the command was clearly given directly to Noah and his sons. God made his covenant with all mankind that day, but it’s clear that he did so within the context of the institution that he had already created: the family.

I understand that there’s an argument to be made that the state should really just be understood as an extension of marriage and the family (which are undeniably God-created institutions). That conclusion, however, can’t be supported with nothing more than these two verses from Genesis. The modern nation-state seems to me to be so unlike the family as God created it, that to say that a simple extrapolation is all that is necessary to justify the state’s existence seems to me to be a somewhat untenable position.



Filed under Worldview

4 responses to “Piecing Together a Biblical View of the State, Part 3

  1. Great point here. I agree. What do you think about John Frame’s discussion of this point?


  2. Pingback: Thursday Thought: Piecing Together a Biblical View of the State, Part 3 | Reason In View

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