Weaknesses of democracy

“In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A Democracy will continue to exist until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

“These nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.”

God warned Israel about some of these trends before they entered the Promised Land. He told them not to forget that it was He who had rescued them from bondage in Egypt and cared for them as they travelled through the desert (Deut. 8:1-5). It was He who was bringing them into a land that was rich in natural resources (vv7-9). The temptation for them would be, once they settled in the land and began to work and produce, to come to think that they had their wealth as a result of their own efforts. (vv11-14, 17). If they forget that they owe their rescue, their lives, and their destiny to God, they will perish—sooner-or-later. (vv19-20). They were not ‘free’ to disregard to whom they belonged and to whom they owed their existence. The freedom they were to experience was freedom from bondage and those influences and powers that made them less human than they were intended to be; and freedom to belong fully to God, to love Him, to serve Him, and to live for Him. There is no such thing as being free from all external belongingness. That is how human beings were created. Only God is entirely free.

Satan’s offer to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was that if they believed him about the benefits of eating the forbidden fruit, they would be ‘as God’. That is what human beings have been striving for, ever since: an impossible goal. It is blind human arrogance that thinks it can replace God, either in their own lives, or in society, or in the world.

Democracy that recognises its limitations, and God’s right to rule may be acceptable, but not the democracy that disregards God and demands the right to impose its own standards and values on society. That is plainly rebellion against the Creator of all human beings, whether people choose to recognise Him as such, or not. That is why there is such a concerted effort worldwide to remove the memory of God from people’s lives and from society in general. I have been told that some people in the Czech Republic proudly claim that 80% of the population are now atheists! People are desperate to shed every moral restraint, thinking that they have removed God by their puny decisions. Is this the kind of democracy we wish to impose on Ukraine!

Once people have turned their backs on God, they are on their own. What is ironic is that when people begin to reap the chaos that ensues, they complain, ‘Where is God? Doesn’t He care what is happening?’ or ‘Is He incapable of putting a stop to the hatred, the killings, the evil that seems to reign in some parts of the world?’ If He does not exist, or if He is not necessary when life seems to have no problems we cannot solve, then why blame Him for not being there when we decide we finally need Him?

Democracy that claims that people are the final arbiters of what is good or evil, will surely lead to what Professor Tyler described. On the other hand, democracy that recognises God’s right to rule over His creation, and makes ‘kings and princes’ accountable to Him, is the only form of government that can bring about order and well-being. God said, “There is no peace to the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21), i.e. those who turn their backs on God. God continues to appeal to people to come to their senses and turn to Him in repentance. When addressing Israel in the Old Testament, He said, “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone,… repent and live.” (Ezekiel 18:23, 32). That continues to be God’s appeal to today’s world that is tearing itself apart, yet refuses to come to its senses.