Daily we are seeing an aspect of human nature lived out that was long ago defined in the Bible. It is variously called the Old Sin Nature, the Adamic Nature.

The premise is human nature is basically corrupt. A result is a tendency for people to seek to gain an advantage over others. That is not all bad, but self-interest causes some to seek to gain power by claiming to want what is best for people.

I am thankful there are many who control this tendency in their lives and seek to become self-sufficient and truly seek the welfare of others. That was the norm in the founding of our country. A few weeks ago, the 400th anniversary of the first assembly for democracy at Jamestown was celebrated. Those brave souls risked their lives to escape the oppression of governments corrupted by the Old Sin Nature. The settlers sought freedom from oppression. Ignored by many today, the primary oppression they sought to escape was oppression of religion. The settlers rapidly sought a system of democratic government based on self-government. This ultimately led to a republic form of government.

One hundred and fifty-seven years later, following the example of those who came before them, representatives from 13 colonies officially declared their independence from their oppressors. This experiment in self-government had seldom been tried historically. It was a tenuous experiment in light of the fact human nature tends to seek an advantage over others.

Under this new form of government, individuals assumed responsibility for their own welfare. Families sought to meet the needs of their own members. There was no government designed to provide for them. The people enjoyed a new freedom from government, knowing a government big enough to give you everything was large enough to take everything from you.

Those founders were sensitively aware that human nature would tend to overwhelm self-governance. Thomas Jefferson said to James Madison, “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural: and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.”

Looking at many of our cities proves him to be a prophet. A large segment of our society has abandoned self-support and become dependent on the government. The masses tenting in the streets of our large cities and desecrating public property are demanding provisions from the government.

What is a tendency of the Old Sin Nature? It is to seek authority and advantage over others. How is this often done? By claiming that what they propose is for “the good of the people.” In reality, it is their self-advantage they seek.

Under that cover they propose providing for those who have abandoned self-responsibility. Those who have abandoned self-governance tend to support and vote for those who promise to give them the most. They claim the Constitution tells us what the government can’t do, but it does not say what the government must do. They assert the government must provide free housing, free education, free health care and numerous other benefits. That is exactly opposite of what the founders sought. They wanted a government to provided them the right of freedom and self-governance. Such a government is to be desired. To maintain it a self-governing citizenry is needed.

The root of the problem is the Old Sin Nature. The cure, repentance, a change of heart from what is a growing tendency in America.

The Rev. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

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