Self-Government and Civil Society
Good evening. Thank you to the organizers and to all you folks who took time out of your busy schedules to attend. Thank you to Vicki Gunn, our Executive Director and to the Ontario Provincial Council for arranging for this series of meetings across this great province. Thank you to all the Electoral District Association officers and directors hosting these meetings and to my billeting hosts and drivers who have been so gracious to share their homes and make sure I am delivered from place to place. We at the National Board really appreciate the work being done throughout Ontario. I also bring greetings from Northern BC, from my wife and family there and from the board and members of the Skeena-Bulkley Valley EDA. Our members there take a tremendous interest in all CHP activity across the country and every one of them would have loved to be here tonight to meet you and talk with you about your work in this area.
There are 308 ridings or electoral districts across Canada and the people in each of those districts deserve to have a CHP candidate representing them when they go to the polls. They deserve to have a person and a party that will stand up for their families, their beliefs and their freedoms. And they deserve to send that person to Ottawa to represent them in the House of Commons. The unborn deserve to have a person like that---a person of character and conviction, a person of courage and humility---who is willing to take the abuse in Ottawa and take the abuse in the media to defend the right to life. The only way they can have that representative---first at the polls and then in Ottawa---is by the sacrificial labours of the local men and women who serve on your electoral district association boards.
That's why I take my hat off to these selfless volunteers. Some of them have been serving in the trenches for a very long time. They've given of their money. They've given of their time. They've been to the conventions. They've run as candidates. They've put up signs. They've written letters to the editor and they've heard over and over and over the disheartening and discouraging comments from friends, from family, from neighbours---"Oh that little party? The CHP? You'll never get anywhere! Why don't you just give up?" But these men and women have not given up. They haven't given up because they know something that the world doesn't know: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Faith is the evidence of things not yet seen."
If we only believed in the things we could see, Alexander Graham Bell wouldn't have bothered to dream about the telephone. If we only believed in the things we could see, Henry Ford wouldn't have invented the automobile. If we only believed in the things we could see, Thomas Edison wouldn't have kept going through 100 failed experiments until he finally invented the light bulb.
If it takes electoral success to qualify for further service, why did Abraham Lincoln keep running for office? He lost more often than he won. If it takes legislative success to justify the expenditure of energy, why did William Wilberforce keep introducing his bill to ban the slave trade in England? He did that every year for 19 years with no success. But the 20th year his bill was passed. Did he quit then and rest on his accomplishments? No, he spent the next 26 years battling slavery itself and won the victory 3 days before he died.
To achieve any significant goals in the world of politics, we must be willing to work. We must be willing to wait. We must be willing to be wounded and suffer loss and perhaps even to die trying. Only then will we demonstrate the will to win. There are many ways to lose. There are many hindrances and distractions. But there is one characteristic without which we cannot win. Some call it resolve. Some call it discipline. Some call it faith. Some call it perseverance.
It is that quality that advances the battle after a heart-wrenching defeat. It is that quality that summons courage by an act of the will and calls into being things that are not as though they were.
Across the country, men and women, young people are rallying to the CHP---to our message, to our principles, to our values. In many cases, peoples' interest has been piqued by a particular issue, like abortion or marriage or taxes or government spending or concerns about the environment, energy, jobs, freedom of speech, private property, the list goes on. A smaller number recognize that all of these issues are really the symptoms of a deeper disease---the departure from a biblical worldview.
The topic I've chosen to speak on tonight is "Self-Government and a Civil Society". Before we begin, we shall have to define our terms. Before we do that, let's listen to some wisdom from King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs:
Pro 16:32 "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who rules his spirit is better than one who captures a city."
So if our goal is a civil society, what do we mean by "civil society". In preparing this talk, I found there are whole organizations devoted to the concept of "civil society" and there are books and philosophical works on that phrase. In short form, "Civil society" is composed of the "totality of voluntary civic and social organizations and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society."
So if we understand society to be the organized interaction of individuals through functional groups and behaviours, I would like to focus on the definition of the word "civil"…it simply means "not rude"
"Civility" - politeness: the act of showing regard for others
"Civility "- personal habits and attitudes that are conducive to social harmony and group well-being. ...
"Civility "- an individual act or a manner of behaving which conforms to social conventions of propriety
All of us long for a society, a community, a nation, where the individuals who make up that society behave toward one another in a way that is not rude, in a manner that shows regard for others, in a manner that is conducive to social harmony and group well-being and where those types of behaviours and those types of attitudes conform to social conventions of propriety---in other words, where such behaviours are Normal.
How do we get there? Do we do it through the ballot box and political struggle? Do we do it through lobbying and education? Do we do it through soapbox evangelism, inner-city missions and acts of charity? Do we do it through prayer and fasting, personal piety and inward transformation? I'm going to suggest that we must use every legitimate means within our power to transform our society, that those efforts must begin with personal transformation but they must not end there. I'm going to suggest that the biggest challenges to societal change lie between our ears and within our ribcage.
The writer James tells us that it is harder to tame the tongue than to tame any wild beast and that if we can learn to control our tongue, like one steering a huge ship with a small rudder, we will be able to direct the impact of our lives and reach our destination. For us in the CHP, our destination is the Destiny of our Nation.
So as individuals within society, in what kinds of ways do we need to rule our spirits?
A "Civil" society requires moral restraint.
Civil society requires Fiscal restraint
Civil society requires Sexual restraint
Civil society requires Consumption restraint
Civil society requires Anger restraint
Civil society requires Time restraint
Civil society requires Speed restraint
Civil society requires Noise restraint
Civil society requires Pollution restraint
I believe the most important level of government for any individual is self-government. Self-government requires self-restraint. Self-restraint is a gift from God but---like faith and repentance---it is a gift that needs to be exercised, watered, nurtured and cared for, by you and by me.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is within you." "The government of the principles of the kingdom of heaven is within you." We can complain about the federal government (and we do), we can complain about the provincial government (and we do). But what are we doing about the government over which we have complete control---the government of our heart, soul, body, mind.
The Word tells us to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice". The Word of God tells us that we are responsible, we have dominion, we have government over our eyes, over our hands, over our thoughts. As individuals under the authority of God, we are told to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
The good news is that, while we are commanded to take dominion AS IF we alone were responsible, we are NOT alone. Hebrews tells us to "Run the race surrounded by witnesses"---in all cases and at all times, we are encouraged to speak and act and vote and walk as if we were surrounded by a crowd, which indeed we are. A crowd of witnesses. Who are these witnesses?
There are those witnesses who have gone before, who have paid the price, whose trust we cannot in good conscience betray. As the poem Flanders Fields so eloquently says: "To YOU from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to lift it high. If YOU break faith with us who die we shall NOT sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields…."
There are those witnesses who live beside us in our day. They see our conduct, they hear our words. They look to us to set the standards both in our personal lives and in our public involvement in the marketplace and in governance. They want to know that what we say is true. They want to know that the hope we talk about will not disappoint them, will not fail them. They want to know if we believe in Almighty God and His Provision and Protection enough that we base our daily decisions on His Promises. They long to know that our God can satisfy us in a world crying out for more.
And there are those witnesses yet to be born. Our children and grandchildren are silent witnesses of our lives, our deeds and our words. Like the apostle Paul, speaking of himself as "one born out of due time", those yet to be born will witness our deeds in the records of history and will honour or judge our actions in the wake of their logical outworkings and their results---within our lives, within our families and within our nation.
Besides human witnesses, we stand at all times under the watchful eye of God, the faithful witness who sees---not as man sees---but who sees all things clearly and who has promised us wisdom for every decision if only we will ask.
Living then in a glass house where every action and motive is transparent we have every reason to refuse the evil and choose the good. We have every reason to speak truth to our neighbour and righteousness to our nation. We have every reason to govern and rule our spirit through the grace given to us by God and then to allow His Spirit to rule our emotions, our tongues the work of our hands and the steps of our feet.
When we are walking in that confidence, in that authority, in that conviction---our words will have weight within our communities, our deeds and our reputations will go before us and prepare the hearts of our fellow-citizens to receive our counsel…to receive the wisdom that comes from above. We will sit with the elders in the gates and councils of the cities of this land, in the legislatures of this land in the House of Commons and the Senate of this land, in the boardrooms and classrooms and newsrooms of this land. We will speak a word and---like a small rudder steering a large ship---we will see laws changed and institutions changed and behaviours changed and attitudes changed.
We have often been told by those who resist our message, by those who resist our moral positions: "You can't legislate morality" and in one sense, they are right…because:
The laws of a nation cannot produce and are no substitute for a moral society and a community of people committed to the well-being of their fellow man.
People will not be consistently compelled to be 'moral' if they do not believe they are accountable to a 'higher authority' - namely, God.
You see, if we only depend upon an external law, we will need one policeman for every citizen.
If we only depend upon an external law, we will need one judge for every policeman---and who will judge the judges? Because policemen and judges are also sinful, self-centred men. If our laws are only the thoughts of men's hearts, codified and enforced, then they have no eternal foundation and the men and women living under those laws understand them to be meaningless, capricious and unenforceable, because we cannot have a policeman on every corner.
Technology has given us more freedom and more responsibility. But it has not given us more reason to obey the law. It has released into the hands of sinful men the tools of depravity. Pornography, identity theft, plastic explosives, abortion by a pill, biological warfare, nuclear warfare. Technology has given information and forced decisions where none were before required---end-of-life decisions and beginning of life decisions---with in-vitro fertilization, genetic modification, ultrasound and other pre-birth testing---with life support technology, drug therapies and changing demographics. If the internal controls are lacking, if there is no moral fibre, no conscience to guide a man or woman or child in the privacy of their own thoughts, there is no outer mechanism that can compel righteous behaviour.
Laws passed to control a society gone astray are clumsy and brutal. The enforcement tools become oppressive and invasive. Also more distant and remote from the user. The policeman's night stick, once used only in close and violent encounters has been replaced with the taser which has been used pre-emptively from a distance and with little risk to the user; personal eye-contact by trained personnel to assess motives and levels of trust is being replaced with full-body scanners; personal accountability to a pastor or priest on matters of morals has been replaced by the clumsy actions of the internet police. Public standards of speech---once respectful and tasteful---are now assessed by human rights adjudicators, themselves lacking any absolute guidelines and so they shift the focus to defend instead that which is sinful and harmful.
A society, however, with shared values, based on eternal realities---that is God and his Word---has some chance of approximating the ideals of the Word. When all share the same concept of a moral and acceptable lifestyle, than every deviation from that stands exposed and the natural tension of peer pressure is to restrict behaviour that is contrary to the eternal statutes of God. An example is abortion---if unwed motherhood were understood to be less desirable than married motherhood and if there were no quick fix---(after all, abortion is only the desperate act of a person wishing to avoid consequences or to conceal the violation of her own body)---if that would again become our shared national consensus…If adolescent sex were no longer defended as a "natural behaviour" or a "right" to be protected…If other alternatives to abortion were promoted and supported--teen pregnancies would again become far less frequent and abortion would again become rare.
If homosexuality were understood by all to be shameful, unhealthy and wrong, those enslaved by it would not flaunt their deviation from the standard but would restrain themselves and limit their exposure in the public eye.
When Pierre Elliott Trudeau said famously that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation it was, in part, an acknowledgment that the state has no legitimate and practical way of controlling what goes on in the bedrooms of the nation. If men and women will not control and restrain themselves in private, neither can the state. The end result of Trudeau's horrible experiment on the Canadian people has been that what was once restricted to the bedroom is now flaunted in the boardroom, the classroom and the living room as so-called entertainment. Instead of a few individuals violating their own consciences in private, we have an army of aggressive perverts violating the innocent minds of children and teens in an ever-bolder attack on the values that shaped this nation.
What am I saying here? I'm saying that:
Laws cannot make us good.
Laws cannot make us bad.
Laws reveal the state of our hearts.
Laws reflect the state of the nation.
That is not to say that we do not require good laws. That is not to say that bad laws (or the absence of good laws) do not affect us. That is not to say that the pursuit of access to the council chambers, of town offices and legislative assemblies and the halls of parliament is not important. If I believed that…if you believed that…we would not be here today.
When the hearts of the people of the nation reflect God’s heart, our laws will reflect God’s law. That is why some Christians draw back from public service and political activity…why they have abandoned that field to the world. They say that evangelism is the only thing that will save our society. They say that prayer and personal witness are the only things that will change our society. They are close to right but they are not right.
They are right that without Him we can do nothing but they have forgotten that with God all things are possible.
They are right that unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that build it but they have forgotten that the Lord calls workers to participate with Him in this building.
They are right that personal free will is a principle and every soul will make its choices before God but they have forgotten the solemn mandate that God has given to parents to train up their children according to His ways.
We have a responsibility to our children. And we have a responsibility to our neighbours' children. It's one thing to take up the role in our own homes as Prophet, Priest and King but if we do not take our places in the gates of the city and become defenders of our neighbours' children and our neighbours' best interests, neither will we be able to defend the interests of our own children and grandchildren. While our responsibilities begin in our own lives and in our own homes, they do not end there. In the book of Esther, the noble Queen Esther was warned that if she failed to act on behalf of the larger community, she could not expect to retain her own life or security. The same is true for us. We cannot huddle inside our homes and churches while the world outside lurches towards anarchy, tyranny and despair.
Our children were not meant to be a sacrifice to Moloch. Neither were the children of our neighbours. Our children were not meant to be an experiment in social engineering. Neither were the children of our neighbours. We cannot escape the responsibility to exercise self-government, self-control, godly wisdom and personal piety in our own lives. But neither can we ignore our responsibility to be salt and light and to manifest that same godliness and wisdom in our families, in our churches, our communities, our workplaces and in all levels of government in our great nation.
Canada has a great destiny to fulfil. She will not find her purpose unless the people of God find their courage. Like Esther of old, you have been placed on the stage of human history "for such a time as this." Take up your cross. God will give you a crown. Take up your sword. God will be your shield. Break up your fallow ground and plow in hope. God will give you a harvest. Because of your integrity, because of your self-control, because of your self-government, your children will speak with the enemies at the gate. Your children do observe your walk. Your children do observe your many sacrifices. Your children will be like arrows in the hand of a mighty man and they will accomplish more than you can imagine as they live out the faith, the self-discipline, the self-government that you have modelled and as they bring that faith to bear in their own homes, their own workplaces, their own churches, their own city councils and in Ottawa.
The Scriptures tell us that the government will rest upon His (Jesus') shoulders. What government? Ottawa? Toronto? I believe ALL government. In our Lord's day, His disciples saw that even the winds and the waves obeyed him. Spirits are subject to him. In Him the universe and all matter is held together and functions according to His law. A day is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let it begin here, in our hearts. If he is to rule the nations…if He is to rule this nation, let it begin here, with self-government. God's Word says that if we are faithful in the little things, He will entrust us with more. If we are faithful within our own daily decisions, within our own families, within our own cities, He will entrust us with more. He will entrust us with nations. He will entrust us with Canada.
CHP Membership---Bringing the Principles of Self-Government to our Nation
All that I have been sharing so far, having to do with your own personal walk and faithful obedience within the spheres of responsibility with which God has entrusted you is pointing to an action or a course of action as it relates to CHP Canada.
God said to Joshua: "Every place upon which your feet shall tread---I have given it to you." I always thank God for allowing me to tread on new territory, a new city or province and to declare His sovereignty and His dominion in that place. You, the children of the living God, are like the arrows in the hand of a mighty man. You are the ones who will speak to the enemies at the gate. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords has work for you to do---work prepared for you from before the foundation of the earth. He put you into a family and a community and a church and a city and into a workplace and into a nation---for such a time as this! When you walk into a grocery store or into your workplace or into a polling booth, you are bringing the kingdom of heaven with you. You are bringing your witnesses with you. And you are bringing the presence of the living God with you. God wants you to leave His fingerprints on everything you touch. Your family, your church, your city, your nation and your generation!
Why do I mention all that in the context of membership in the Christian Heritage Party? Because I believe that CHP Canada is uniquely positioned in our generation to bring Godly principles to bear on the decisions being made in Ottawa that affect your family, that affect your church, that affect your livelihood, that affect your freedom.
While the enemies of freedom and justice and purity talk long and loud about the separation of church and state, they are even now busy imposing their religion of secular humanism on our society. They are busy teaching the catechism of secular atheistic godless humanism in our public schools---schools you pay for! When you pay income tax, the state is taking your hard-earned money to pay for abortions, to subsidize gay pride parades and to grind your fellow-believers through the meat-grinder of the human rights commissions. Your taxes are being distributed---against your will---to the NDP and the Bloc and the Greens and the Liberals and the Conservatives to help them with their advertising campaigns…$30 million every year. Over the past year, Canada went $54 Billion further into debt. Your children and grandchildren will have to pay that back with interest.
There is one party willing to stand up to the bullies, one party that is willing to speak to the enemies at the gate. One party that is prepared to defend innocent human life at all stages. One party that will speak about the supremacy of God enshrined in Canada's constitution. One party that will apply God's economic principles to achieve a debt-free Canada. One party that will tackle the thorny issues of immigration, religious freedom and environmental stewardship free of hype and hypocrisy. One party that will protect your freedom to speak and worship and witness according to the dictates of your conscience. That party is the Christian Heritage Party of Canada.
And in order for the Christian Heritage Party to fulfill its destiny and accomplish its goals and impact this nation, we need our members to exercise their own self-government, their own self-discipline---including in the area of membership growth and development. We need to grow. We need to build. We need to have electoral district associations in every riding. We need to have candidates on every ballot paper. We need to have letters to the editor in every community. We need to have campus clubs at the universities and youth groups in our schools. We need CHP Canada to become a household word and the people of Canada need to see what we see---a growing, vibrant CHP, bursting with energy and ideas, full of hope and enthusiasm---ready to govern and ready to serve!
All of this is possible…but none of it is possible without you! God has entrusted YOU with the keys to our electoral success. Yes we have a great leader--- a humble man, a practical man, a man of prayer and devotion. Yes, we have a wonderful national board---committed, dedicated, sacrificing themselves for the good of the party and the good of this nation. But the leader can only be in one place at a time. The president can only be in one place at a time. Your local leaders, your membership directors, your candidates and board members are all limited (like we are) by time and circumstance. To achieve the kind of membership growth we need, we need each one of you to become a membership agent. Right now we are ADDING members to our list and the list is growing. But if every one of you would find one new member, two new members, we would be MULTIPLYING!
Every one of you has family, friends and neighbours---down the street, in another town, in another province. And those people like you. Those people have confidence in you. Those people trust your judgment. Those people want to see righteousness restored in Canada. And those people are waiting for you to tell them about the CHP.
If you're here and you're not yet a member of CHP Canada, I would ask you to take out a membership tonight. If you're here and your membership is expired, I'd ask you to renew that membership tonight. If you have children at home, 14 years and older, please make sure they are on our membership list as a part of your family membership. And I would ask every one of you to make sure when you leave tonight that you have 2 of our new membership brochures to take home with you and prayerfully consider---whom do you know that might not yet be a member of CHP Canada?
Many people in Canada do not vote. Most people in Canada never join a political party and many of them will never know how crucial their membership could be to the future of this country unless YOU explain it to them.
I like to tell people: "If you're willing to stand alone, one day you won't have to"
When you exercise your self-government, setting an example of holiness, purity, justice and self-sacrifice, you will draw others to the cause. Please, may each one of you continue to be a beacon and a voice for the truth in every area of life, including the political life of this nation.