Government in Australia

Have you noticed that most people don’t know anything about the Government processes that are their birthright? Though the subject is given cursory attention at schools most people never come to grips with much more than the facts that they vote for Government officials.

Government of any land is a complex matter, but it must work on the basis of some underlying principles or a pattern. While I am no expert on the subject, I have some notions about the underlying principles, so let me share them with you to stimulate your thinking.

If you think you have a better grip on the process than I do, let me know, so we can all work toward a better appreciation of what our forefathers passed to us.

Some Home Truths About Government

Australia’s forefathers, in creating the model for government of the nation they left as our inheritance, were aware of some home truths about government. History reveals that power hungry people will fight with their own people, even their own siblings or parents, in order take the reins of rulership.

Julius Caesar became Emperor of Rome by taking power to himself. Shakespeare’s play captures the human tension behind the issue of assumption of power. Centuries later, the Battle of Milvian Bridge enabled Constantine to take the role of Emperor by conquering others who could compete with him for the throne.

Jewish history tells of families and siblings who were murdered to allow such people as Athaliah (2Kings 11:1) to grab the reins of power.

A similar situation occurred in ancient Abyssinia (Ethiopia) after the time of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Judith, the wife of a provincial leader, attacked the royal city of Damo and killed the royal princes, numbering about 400. She then took the throne for forty years and passed it to five of her descendents. After that the original royal line was restored.

Got the picture? People lust for power and will use violent means to take it illegitimately.

Protecting Future Generations

The Australians who created the structure and shape of the new-born nation sought to protect future generations of their children, grand-children and so on. They did this by creating a structure of shared authority and checks and balances, to frustrate the plans of those who might wish to take over the country.

Sadly, most Australians do not know what the threats against them are, or what protections have been created to safeguard them. In such a situation it is easy to whittle away at the good and godly inheritance the Aussies have been given. At some time in the future an ignorant generation of Australians, looking only at some short-term interpretation of their nation and their inheritance, will vote to destroy the protections which they have been given in trust.

What our forbears created for us and passed to us is supposed to be protected by us and passed, undamaged, to future generations. But we are already seeing ignorant Aussies keen to throw it away, without the slightest notion of why it is valuable.

Each successive generation is being led a further step closer to throwing away the structure of our nation, for something they know little about. Very few, if any, have invested the amount of research, thought and national dialogue which went into crafting the Australian Constitution in the late 1800’s.

A Thumbnail Sketch

The nation of Australia was created from two general groups: the States; and the People. People carry personal authority based on Natural Law. The States carried authority vested in them under Maritime Law, when they were created as British colonies. Australia became a nation by the confluence of the agreement of the majority of the people, but only if they also represented all the States.

So the populace of Australia, and each State within Australia, united into a union for common benefit, or Common-Wealth. Thus we became the Commonwealth of Australia.

Each State was to remain an autonomous entity and manage its own affairs. The Commonwealth was not for the detriment of the existing States, but for their better good by cooperation with the other States.

Certain, limited responsibilities were assigned to the Commonwealth, Federal Government, but others were preserved by and kept to the States. The Federal Government could not pass laws to be forced on the States. The Federal Government could not take power from the States or force its dictates onto the States.

The Federal Government, then, had two houses of Parliament. One, the House of Representatives, represents the popular vote of the people, for the people’s choice of a representative in the National interest. The other house, the Senate, comprises an equal number of representatives from each of the States, to protect the rights of the States and to provide a check and balance to the populist ideas which may come from the House of Representatives.

A Protector of the People

With all of that in place, there is yet another layer of protection for the Australian people. That protection is provided by our Governor General. No law can be made binding, whether it comes from the House of Representatives or the Senate, unless it is signed by the Governor General.

The Governor General stands in the place of a Ruling Monarch. The Kings and Queens of Britain cannot hold office until they had sworn themselves to be bound by the Law of God and commit themselves for the good of the people.

The Governor General, similarly, is under the same regal responsibility, to uphold Divine justice and Godly standards, especially in the protection of the people.

In practice, a Governor General should send back to the Parliament any law that they see as not good for the people. They are our Head of State and the final protector and protection for the people of Australia.

That is why Sir John Kerr was within his rights to sack the Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam back in 1975. As Governor General he was responsible to protect the Australian people. Note that the ruling by the Governor General to dismiss Gough Whitlam was not deemed illegal. It was not overturned. It did not have to be authorised by anyone outside Australia, such as the Queen of England or the British Parliament. The Australian Constitution gives the Australian Governor General the final authority as the effective Head of State of the Nation.

However, even though the Governor General is Australia’s Head of State he or she cannot assume power to their self. We are not only protected from the Parliament, we are protected from the Governor General!

The Lucky Country

One of the things that make Australia a “Lucky Country” is that we have the best out of other people’s experience. While America struggles with multiple, competing technologies Australia, as a late comer, could select the better options and avoid the quagmire or mistakes other nations get bogged in.

This is what happened when Australia’s leaders crafted the Australian Constitution. They were able to take the best of the American Constitution, Canadian Constitution, British System, and so on, with the benefit of hindsight as to how those legal structures worked.

Every Australian citizen is blessed with the world’s best Constitution. But they are ignorant of it and so will be sorely tempted to destroy it through lack of knowledge. Please do your bit to help each Aussie understand how blessed they are with the nation which their forefathers built for them and entrusted to them.

Government of God via the Conscience

This is the third instalment in a discussion on the Government of God, reflecting Paul’s description of God’s authority hierarchy in 1Corinthians 11:3.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3

We have already noted that God is actively involved in human experience by His personal intervention and by His prescribed authority structures. God’s government is centred in 2 key locations, the throne and the home. It is both divine and domestic.

Direct Government

God’s Government over human experience is remarkably direct. Rather than having to work through a convoluted infrastructure of multi-layered levels of authority, people are subject to immediate accountability before God.

God exercises this government by His personal claim over the hearts and lives of each individual. Each person has a personal account with God and either qualifies for God’s blessings and graces, or for God’s judgements.

God’s Word, the Bible, is given by God to guide the actions of men and to lead them into a blessed relationship with God. Parents are to teach godly morality to their children, instructing the heart of the child and disciplining the actions of the child, so the child obeys God and glorifies Him through their whole life.

Human Conscience

A primary personal mechanism which God uses to exercise His government over the individual is the human conscience. Our conscience alerts us to our actions and attitudes which are not pleasing to God.

Humans are expected to understand truth and to come to their own convictions about that truth. As sovereign entities answerable directly to God it is an immoral action to demand that a person violate their conscience. This is the reason why the right to object to an imposition, based on conscience, is enshrined in the law of many countries. The right to engage in ‘conscientious objection’ is acknowledgement of the divine significance of the human conscience.

For example, a person may believe that it is evil to kill another, even in warfare. When their civil government calls on them to take up arms they may object that they could not pull the trigger as that would bring them under God’s divine judgement. In such cases, once the person has been able to prove the vitality of their conscience, they will be assigned non-combat duties.

Divinity of Human Conscience

Human conscience is not respected because of its human value, but because of its divine merit. The issue in a case of conscientious objection is not how well the person will sleep at night. That is simply a human consideration, like “do you like this or not?” If a person’s conscience will simply make them feel uncomfortable then that is just human self-indulgence.

Human conscience has its greatest validity when it brings a person into conflict or relationship with God. When conscience causes a person to experience a breach of fellowship with God, then the government of God is relevant to the issue.

If a person is ordered to lie, steal, cheat, kill or commit sexual sin then the person’s moral conscience before God is threatened. They cannot do those things in all good conscience because they will experience moral guilt which will separate them from a moral and holy God.

The Conscious Human

I heard some people discussing their conscience recently. A lady said that she could not endure a certain process being followed because her conscience would not sit right with it. The other person said, “Yes, isn’t conscience a miserable thing?” They were both recognising that they were restrained and motivated by their personal conscience. Others might have happily allowed an injustice to be perpetrated but these two people could not sit by and allow that to happen.

Sadly not all humans are conscious of their conscience. It is possible to abuse the conscience, and even to so abuse it as to stop it from speaking up about moral issues. Some people act as if their conscience did not exist. This is most likely because they or others have violated their conscience and it has become seared, or calloused, so that it is no longer tender and sensitive to godly morality.

“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” 1Timothy 4:2

The Inaccurate Conscience

Conscience is a powerful tool in the government of God. God is able to direct and restrain people through their conscience. Since people are directly accountable to God it is important that their conscience is alive and tender.

However it is possible for our conscience to be inaccurate. We may have be given social or religious programming which makes us feel guilty about things which are not an offence to God. This is where parents, religion and the culture are accountable before God for their abuses of the conscience of others.

God is supreme, including supreme over our conscience. This is why the Apostle John says that even if our conscience accuses us we may not be guilty. He points out that God is greater than our conscience.

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” 1Jo 3:20

This is an important point, because evolutionists and sociologists suggest that religion evolved as a response to the human need for such things. However John points out that God’s primal existence is supreme over the inner motivations of man, including man’s conscience

The Violated Conscience

One of the important processes in assisting people is to show them how to resolve their violated conscience. Sometimes this involves showing them that the things over which they feel guilty are of no moral weight before God’s throne. If God is not condemning them then it is a tragedy that they should live as if condemned.

Families, cultures, governments and religions impose protocols and expectations on people outside of God’s moral requirements. Failure to meet these expectations can effectively separate people from God because their conscience condemns them, even though God does not.

Where people have been out of order and violated God’s moral requirements it is our privilege to bring them into God’s presence to repent of their sins, putting their trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for absolution of their sins. In that process we restore the primal relationship, that of God and His created child.

The Gospel is therefore part of the Government of God, because it is able to restore people to a right standing before God. No civil, religious or domestic process can do this, just the prescribed application of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.

Government of God Expanded

God’s government over the lives of men is a key truth which will help us navigate through the confusion and competing claims for the hearts and minds of men. Yet that government is not readily understood and so I continue here a ramble through some of the elements of that government.

God is in Control

Deists think of God as a dispassionate and disengaged deity who initiated life but will not interfere with human existence. I am a theist. I believe that God is, as the Bible teaches, actively engaged in the issues of each of our lives.

The Bible reveals that God is in control of all that impacts us and has the power to totally transform or destroy our lives. He responds to our hearts and our prayers, giving us what is appropriate based on our walk with Him.

God is not only in control in the form of an external and interested personality able to impact our lives, but He is also in control via His prescribed order, which He has designed and instigated because it is the functionally effective form of government.

So, both by His sovereign power to intervene and by His prescribed order for mankind we have what I refer to as the Government of God.

Divine Hierarchy

Part of God’s prescription for human government is the hierarchical authority structure He prescribed for our good. God has set in place an order of governmental authority in the form of hierarchical authorities who exercise authority by being under the authority above them.

This divine hierarchy is explained by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth. In 1Corinthians 11:3 Paul points out that God is the ultimate authority figure, with Christ under Him. Man is under Christ and the wife is under the authority of her husband.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3

Insights from God’s Hierarchy

This hierarchy reveals that God endorses and prescribes structural authority. People are not to be a law unto themselves but are to be under authority. But the authority over them is also to be under authority.

The only ultimate source of authority is God. Despotic leaders, corrupt administrators and evil parents are out of step with God’s authority structure, since they are not acting according to the will of God. Those expressions of government, global or domestic, are outside of or in violation of the Government of God, because they have refused to come under God’s authority.

God’s government of mankind not only has God as the supreme authority but it also has the home as the prime component. Every individual home is a direct expression of the government of God. The hierarchy in 1Corinthians 11:3 does not mention any form of civil government, but it leaps straight from heaven to the home. God’s concern for the government of human life is a combination of the divine and the domestic.

Two Important Thrones of Government

A person who wishes to exercise government over the affairs of this world has two important arenas in which to operate. There are two thrones of authority magnified in God’s authority hierarchy (1Corinthians 11:3).

God’s throne in Heaven is the ultimate place of authority. Anyone who wishes to exercise any role within human government must bow the knee to God and Jesus Christ. All other authority springs from them. Anyone who wishes to exercise authority independent of God and Christ must engage in borrowed authority or exercise illegitimate authority over people.

The dinner table is the place of that other throne. The domestic home, under the headship of the father in the family, is the other central place of authority. Anyone who wishes to exercise authority over the affairs of men must be sure to find their place in the domestic home, either in submission or through appropriate carriage of their responsibility.

That is not to say that every husband can rule his home as he chooses. That man only has authority in his home because he is under God’s authority.

A man who will not exercise godly authority in his home, being personally under God’s rule, is disqualified from leadership. He has rejected the government of God. A woman who refuses the authority of her husband is disqualified from leadership. She has rejected the government of God.

Civil Government

The absence of reference to civil government in God’s authority hierarchy is not a mistake. Civil government is a servant to God and man. When civil government interposes itself over the lives of people, without full divine authority to do so, it is evil government.

Civil government is described as government which rewards the good and punishes evil people. When civil government functions as an expression of God’s father heart toward humanity and God’s holiness upheld by man, then it is good government and part of the government of God.

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” The Apostle Peter 1Peter 2:13,14

Civil government is also a servant to the man as he leads him family. Good civil government will support the authority of the father in each family, as the head of his home. It will support that man and provide the resources which God the Father would give to His children to empower them to build strong families.

Kings or Consensus?

Civil government can be exercised by monarchs on a throne or elected representatives in a council, or by village elders and other expressions of administration. When that civil government (no matter how it is structured) functions in support of God’s throne and the domestic family it is a good government, whether it comes from the king and his minions or by social structures with elected officials.

Much discussion is made regarding the relative merits or evils of monarchs, dictators, village elders or democratically elected governments. If the Government of God is in place then the distinctions betweens there structural systems becomes less significant.

Ruling the Human Heart

Note that God’s authority is not expressed in the form of instant judgement. Lightning does not strike every blasphemer on the spot. Adulterers, thieves, liars and murderers are not immediately condemned by God.

Human government often seems much more responsive in dealing with evil than God appears to be. This is because God has assigned humanity the task of administering this expression of His government. It is also because God speaks into human lives via the human conscience.

Conscience

Human conscience is an expression of God’s government over the individual. Our heart condemns or approves our actions and thoughts. And so this will be an area of investigation in a follow up posting on the Government of God.

Unseen Authority

I have often struggled to comprehend authority that is not explicitly displayed. And so I have a problem truly understanding the operational authority in a situation if it is unseen. Yet in our lives much of the most important authority we will employ or be subject to is unseen.

I discuss this reality in helping husbands work through issues with their wife. In my recent trip to Europe I applied it for the first time to assist a young mother work through issues with her children.

Let me explain what unseen authority is in practice and how you can tap into it.

Enforced Authority

When we see authority enforced we tend to think of it as having bearing in a situation. If a sign says, “Do not walk on the Grass” and yet everyone does walk on the grass we see that the authority behind the sign is effectively non-existent.

When we see a security guard checking everyone and causing people to be detained and blocked from entry then we think of the authority as being effective.

This is what I mean when I say that we tend to respect authority when it is explicitly displayed. When we do not see an explicit display we tend to think of the authority as being of a lesser quality.

Unseen Authority is Real

While some forms of authority appear to be ineffective they can still be very real. Their reality may become apparent at some later time when recourse is finally applied. This is the case with God’s judgement of man’s sins. Many sinful people live all their life without any apparent recourse or judgement for their actions. But on the day of God’s judgement there will be a very evident display of the power and relevance of His authority.

But unseen authority is also real in other ways as well. Consider the authority which a patriarch has in passing down a family blessing to his children. In the case of Isaac, son of Abraham, the man was old and blind when it came time to pass the blessing. Isaac was of no economic value, having past his usefulness. He was able to be fooled by his wife and son.

Yet this useless old man had unseen authority. There were many things that Isaac could not do. He certainly could not have physically thrown his weight around and given us an explicit display of his authority, but he carried authority none-the-less.

The Unseen Transfer

When Isaac put his hands onto Jacob’s head he transferred the most potent family blessing in human history. Yet it was not charged with Hollywood effects or tinctured with electronic thrills.

The authority that flowed through Isaac was unseen and the transfer that came to Jacob was also unseen. And in just the same way there is an authority which we can employ that is just as invisible, but also just so powerfully effective.

Headship is Unseen Authority

What the Bible calls headship is actually invisible authority at work. It may or may not be seen in some explicit display, but it is equally as real either way. The problem that many people have in coming to terms with this unseen authority is that it is ‘unseen’ and they tend to think that authority must be demonstrated to be real. I hope I have at least opened your perspective a little on that score.

When the Bible teaches that parents have authority over the children and that the husband is the head of the wife these expressions of God’s authority (the government of God) are profoundly real, even if they are impossible to see with the naked eye.

The headship that God assigns is so powerful that it remains in force even when those who should be under that headship are in rebellion.

Did you get that? Headship and authority from God is so real and enduring that not only does it not have to be visible but it can even appear to be contradicted.

The Persistent Unseen Authority

For example, consider a man whose wife has chosen to leave him and live in a separate dwelling. As far as the visible expression of his authority over his wife is concerned it is nonexistent. So what is the reality?

Let us assume, for the purpose of this example, that the husband goes to God in prayer and tells God that the wife is no longer under the husband’s authority. The wife believes that to be true and so does the husband. But what does God say?

Imagine God calling the angels over with the record books to check the matter out. In God’s files what is the record of the authority over the wife? 1Corinthians 11:3 says that the wife is under the husband’s headship. Now the wife has decided to leave the husband. Did the wife’s action change God’s reality? That might best be answered by considering the question, “Is the authority assignment in God’s hands or man’s?”

The Government of God is determined by God and all the authority He assigns is as He assigns it. Mankind is not given the ability or authority to mess with God’s turf. So the authority given to the husband is persistent unseen authority. It persists even in the face of the wife’s rebellion against it. It is not authority based on explicit display, but on God’s supremacy.

Applying the Unseen Authority

In further posts I plan to elaborate on how I apply the truth about unseen authority into the circumstances of the marriage and parenting. Suffice it to say here that once we understand the persistent quality of God’s assigned authority we are better equipped to use that authority, at least before God’s throne, even if the people who should be under that authority have rejected it.