Please Help Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians
<< BreakPoint Daily Commentary

Thoughts on the Government Shutdown

Back in 1992, Chuck Colson recorded a BreakPoint commentary about government gridlock. Now, gridlock in general is of course a lot different than a shutdown. But I think a lot of what Chuck had to say still applies today. See if you agree.

Here’s Chuck, from way back in 1992.

Now that President Bush has suffered his first veto override, here's betting we will hear even more complaints about government gridlock.

President Bush blames it on a Democratic Congress that won't pass his initiatives. Governor Clinton promises he'll solve gridlock if elected. And Ross Perot says when he gets under the hood, the engine of government will hum along without a creak.

Now, it's true that our government is slow and unwieldy at times. But is government gridlock necessarily a bad thing?

If you think about it, the only thing that happens when government is gridlocked is that it doesn't pass as many laws. The White House and Congress each set up barriers to keep the other side from getting their legislation through. Well, if you say this is bad, you're really saying we need to unclog government so it can churn out more laws, more quickly.

But does America really need more laws?

Every law Congress passes puts one more restriction on what private individuals and groups can do. Every decision Congress makes means one less decision people are free to make on their own. Every bill allocating money to some worthy project means there's less money in your pocket and mine to allot to our own worthy causes.

In short, pretty much every law Congress passes takes power out of private hands and puts it into the government’s hands.

The only people who could be in favor of this are those who don't trust private agencies, like families, churches, and businesses — people who think government is the solution to all our problems.

Well, our Founding Fathers didn't think that. They realized that an ever-expanding state could become a threat to liberty. And so they decided to build barriers into the system right from the beginning — to prevent Congress from passing laws in a casual manner. They designed the system so that Congress is held in check by the President, with his veto power. And in turn the President is held in check by Congress. Checks and balances prevent any one person or group from holding absolute power.

You see, the Founders weren't concerned about government gridlock; they were concerned about excessive government growth and power.

The system they set up may be inefficient — bills may be held back while people argue and debate them. Congress and the President may have to work out compromises. But the alternative is to get rid of the checks and balances, and then just let a single group in government make all the decisions.

Whenever power is concentrated, it may be more efficient, but it inevitably spells trouble, and even can easily lead to tyranny.

So the next time you hear people complaining about government gridlock, don't be taken in. Ask them which they prefer: a system of checks and balances where power is spread out among all the branches of government — or a system that concentrates power in a small group?

Do they prefer a system that gives freedom to private agencies, or one where the government makes all the decisions for them?

Then you might be able to tell them that the frustration of gridlock is just one of the prices we pay in order to enjoy a free society and limited government.

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Publication date: October 14, 2013

More BreakPoint Daily Commentary Articles