Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Fear of Authority and Anarchy

I think most of us are haunted by one or the other of two opposite fears. Or sometimes a mixture of both. One is the fear of authority. The fear of someone bossing us around and telling us what to do. Particularly if that person is harsh and unreasonable and not really interested in our welfare. I think that conspiracy theories and government paranoia thrillers originate in this fear. We are afraid a heartless despot is really in control of our life. But there is a powerful and opposite fear of anarchy. A fear that all the protective sanctions of society are in danger of breaking down or already have broken down. There is the fear that there is nothing to protect us from people behaving in a lawless or harmful manner. This view can advocate strict order in society and see any departure from that order as a serious danger.

While both of these views are unreasonable extremes, the answer is not to pooh-pooh both and claim that there are no problems and everything is okay. There have been cases of serious abuse of authority, and the evils of totalitarianism are very real. Also, there has been real suffering in times of anarchy, when some catastrophe has caused society to break down. We are sinners and capable of considerable evil (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). Rather, we need to remember there is a God who loves us (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:6-8; 1 John 4:9,10), and if we put our faith in Him, He will bring us through the difficulties we face and use them for our benefit (2 Corinthians 4:17,18; Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20). Therefore, we can trust Him, whatever other people may do (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 37:1-6; 147:10,11). There is, I think, a proper balance between freedom and authority that is hard to maintain. But totally giving in to fear on one side or the other only gets in the way.