Today, whenever anyone talks about applying God’s law to civil affairs, folks oppose saying there should be “separation of Church and State.” It is true that there should be a separation of Church authority and State authority, which I will address later, however this is not usually what is intended when people say this. Usually what they actually mean is there should be a separation betwixt God and the State. This is utterly false. Not only should God be acknowledged in State affairs, but it is His law which ought to govern the very structure, means for representation, and legislation that the State enforces.
He gave us His model for civil government in the Hebrew Republic, which is contained mostly in Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. His word states, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” There is no light in those who do not speak according to the law God gave to the Hebrews. Thus, when we hear civil magistrates speaking things like, “spread the wealth (by taxing the productive to death),” “you can’t legislate morality,” or even “the Constitution is the final authority,” it is an evidence there’s no light in them. How? Because the law of God has something to say, and as a matter of fact, gives us specific rules about taxes, how to administer sanctions, and what system of government we ought to have, but they ignore it altogether and instead settle for autonomy.
What does God say about taxes? In I Samuel 8:15-17 when Samuel describes the tyranny the Hebrews were going to bring upon themselves by putting a king over them he says,
“And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.” (emphasis added)
This passage, showing how tyrannical Saul was going to be, says he will tax the people 10%, which is the amount God requires from His people. So, if God only requires 10%, what makes the State think they have the right to take more than He?
The Bible gives very clear direction as to how the State should administer sanctions in Exodus 21-23. For example, what ought to be done to thieves? Are they to pay the government for a crime they committed against an individual? Or if
the thief ends up in jail, should the victim be the one paying to keep him fed and jailed? What do the scriptures say?
“If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep… for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. ” (Ex. 22:1, 3, 4).
God’s law says how the State should govern. There should be no separation between God and the State. The Civil magistrate is to be learned in the law of God:
“And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: ” (Deut. 17:18-19)
This does not teach a separation between God’s law and the civil magistrate. There should, however, be a separation of Church and State spheres of authority. The Church is not to take upon itself the administration of criminal sanctions; that is the State’s job. The State is not to take upon itself the education of the populace; that is the Church and the Family’s job, nor excommunication, for, that also is the job of the Church. They have their respective spheres of authority, and thus, are “separate” but they are to work together to maintain an equitable society.