Majority Rule Has Never Been the American Way, and It’s Not Jesus’ Way Either

Some might say that in a democracy the majority rules. Those in the minority can only hope to convince enough people to agree with their position so as to become the majority the next time.

That might be how it is in a strict democracy, but the United States is not a strict democracy. It’s a constitutional democracy. Despite what the majority desires, if the desire conflicts with the U.S. Constitution the majority will not get what it wants. It is up to the government to enforce these constitutional fetters on majority rule. As James Madison said:

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”

At no time does the Constitution allow the government to become “the mere instrument of the major number.” Free speech, freedom to practice your faith, the ability to assemble together with those you choose, these are all rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

The First Amendment also guarantees the right to “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” often a grievance regarding the denial of a constitutional freedom. The burden of deciding those petitions – and ordering redress if necessary – often falls to the Judicial Branch, with both federal and state court judges telling the other branches to provide that redress by way of actions often contrary to the will of the majority.

Yet doing so is, again according to James Madison, the best way for both the majority and the minority to enjoy their freedoms:

“Equal laws protecting equal rights; the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.”

The rights guaranteed to all people are the rights guaranteed to each individual, and a right denied to one is an assault on all rights enjoyed by everyone.

God tells us not to allow such assault to go without redress:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.
(Proverbs 31:8-9.)

The way of Christ is the way of protection of the downtrodden, those unable to speak for themselves. This is the way of God for all his people, regardless of politics, regardless of being in the majority or minority.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21.)

The way of Christ is to redress wrongs and bind up wounds. Walk in it.



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5 Responses to Majority Rule Has Never Been the American Way, and It’s Not Jesus’ Way Either

  1. Pastor Bob says:

    Hair Split time: “It’s a constitutional democracy.” we learned in High School Civics it is a REPRESENTATIVE Democracy.

    Should be a republic, and a Constitutional Republic.

    the ending was a better “Super Tim” moment!

    • Tim says:

      Yes it is a representative democracy (most of the time) and a constitutional republic, but it is also a constitutional democracy in the sense that I used the phrase here. All are true. But the concept of a representative democracy does not rule out true majority rule, which is why the different concept of constitutional democracy is the more accurate way to describe what we have in the US when it comes to explaining why we do not operate under a true majority rule..

  2. zechariahzavid says:

    Great article. It is good and necessary that democracy has these constitutional boundaries because otherwise society would descend into chaos, anarchy, mob rule, corruption and injustice. As I believe in a pre-millennial eschatology I believe the day will come when Jesus will return and reign as the king (not president or prime minister) of the entire world. In that time it will not be a majority rule at all, but it will be a perfect rule. As Jesus is all-knowing, wise, compassionate, kind, merciful and just, it will be the only perfect government the world has ever seen. I agree that majority rule is not the way of Jesus.

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