Viewing Relationships Through Covenantal Eyes

A Continuing Series on Resisting Injustice

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” – Psalm 90:2.

In the previous article, we explored why many Christians are blind to government injustice. The primary reason is the church’s neglect of using the whole counsel of God’s Word for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” Christians must be “thoroughly equipped” (2 Timothy 3) to recognize and challenge injustice in all areas of life, particularly when it comes to the actions of our rulers. In this article, we will examine the first of three principles, viewing our relationships through covenantal eyes, that can better equip Christians to recognize and oppose government injustice. 

God is the uncreated Creator of all things. He owns and is sovereign over the world and those who dwell therein, and as such has the sole right to determine how we must live. As His creations, man cannot be properly understood apart from two facts revealed by God in the Dominion Covenant, also known as the Cultural Mandate, in Genesis 1:26-28: 1) we are made in God’s image and 2) we are to have dominion over all the earth. Among other things, what we learn in this passage is that everything individuals and institutions do in this world must be viewed through our covenantal obligations to God, which include the directions He has given us and the purposes for which He put us here.

Gary North explains it this way: “Covenant theology is inescapably dominion theology. God has placed on His people the moral requirement of transforming the world through the preaching of the gospel. He has also given mankind the tools of dominion, His laws.” (The Dominion Covenant – Genesis, xvi). Many Christians ignore this covenantal aspect of our relationship with our Creator when considering the biblical approach to political or cultural issues we are facing. Which in turn causes them to narrowly apply God’s Word to the public square and fail to recognize injustice in the actions of our rulers. 

One example of this is the biblical evaluation of the size and scope of civil government. This is a broad category, including taxes and spending, regulations, corporate welfare, etc., which involves a determination of whether our civil rulers are staying within the boundaries of their scriptural mandate. Looking at this from a covenantal perspective, the first principle is that God is sovereign over civil government, thus civil rulers may not usurp His authority. We also know that they constantly attempt to do so (Acts 12:21–23, Daniel 4:30–31). The second principle is that Christians, because they are made in God’s image, are required to resist the efforts of civil authorities that attempt to take His place: “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:19-21). We cannot apply these principles to our relationships with our rulers if we simply hunt and peck for individual Bible verses on civil government. 

Christians’ evaluation of the public square extends to civil rulers attempting to take over God-ordained roles in society; when they do, we must again resist. Accordingly, parents must stand firm when the government attempts to indoctrinate their image-bearing children in public libraries and public schools (Proverbs 22:6). Parents resisting under these circumstances might reject certain events or curricula, withdraw their children from institutions, or even attempt to eliminate the institutions through political means.

The evaluation of eliminating civil government institutions must include the concept of biblical limits on taxes and spending. Pastor Douglas Wilson explains that governments attempt to rival God through taxes and spending in three ways. First, when government demands a share of people’s income equal to or larger than the tithe (10%) that God requires of us. Second, when taxes are levied to fund functions that God does not authorize the civil government to conduct. This calls for an entire article of its own, but I’ll suggest here spending that violates biblical principles might include individual and corporate welfare that take the place of charity and voluntary market spending, respectively. Certainly, government spending to support David French’s drag queen story hours would be out of line. Third, Wilson says, governments seek to rival God when they tax in ways that are not “lawful and in accordance with the established constitution of the people.” For instance, nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it authorize the federal government to spend money on education or welfare; taxes that support today’s annual federal spending exceeding $2 trillion in these areas may be considered suspect.

Returning to the theme of injustice, any attempt to rival God along these lines would mean that taxpayers are unjustly forced to pay taxes. Some Christians will argue that we cannot cite a chapter and verse that places these limits on taxes and spending, such as “though shall not provide welfare to the poor through the government,” but an understanding of the covenantal relationship of God to civil government and the rest of society provides a clear path toward making these arguments.

If the church were to speak out against the injustices of governments seeking to supplant God in these ways, Christians would become more aware of the injustices originating from government and the best ways to tackle them. Today, most Christians are playing whack-a-mole with seemingly unrelated effects of governments’ playing God: pornography in school libraries, government-imposed health care, the loss of interest for most American savers, higher costs of living, etc. Viewing these problems from a covenantal perspective provides a basis for concerned Christians to take more comprehensive approaches toward dealing with “big government,” such as defunding entire bureaucracies rather than tackling rogue programs one at a time.

People would be shocked by how their lives would change if taxation and spending in America was constrained by the covenantal understanding suggested here. It would seem as if God’s curse on the ground (Genesis 3:17) had been lifted; in part this would be accurate. Jesus is making all things new (Romans 6:4, Revelation 21:5); reversing the Adamic curse is part of that. Yet high levels of taxation and regulation amplify the curse as we attempt to extract from the ground what is needed to sustain and improve human health, welfare, and expansion. Expanding liberty and reducing these burdens would bring a hint of the pre-fall Garden scent to our lives and culture.

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Bill Peacock

Bill Peacock has worked in and around Texas government for more than 30 years combining his passions for theology, economics, and public policy. He writes on these issues at

2 thoughts on “Viewing Relationships Through Covenantal Eyes

  1. Unfortunately for Peacock, there is nothing in the New Testament that supports his, or Gary North’s, interpretation of the charge that God gave to Adam. In fact, if we look at the Old Testament as showing a veiled look at Christ and the New Testament showing a clear look at, then both Peacock and North are making a similar mistake that dispensationalists make when they insist on their literal interpretation of the Old Testament to dominate what the New Testament can say.

    But even if one wants to go to the Old Testament, what is said in Genesis is said to all people as represented by Adam, not God’s chosen people. And the dominion charge given to Adam was not over people, but over the natural world given by God. After all, God specifically lists what man was to have dominion over and his fellow man is not one of them.

    What do we have that specifically lays out the covenant that government is to follow? We have nothing really. The covenants given to Israel have been fulfilled by the New Testament. And it is the New Testament that tells us how to relate to the government and others. And nowhere in the New Testament is it said that God’s people are to take dominion over others. Rather, we are called to serve as Jesus served. We are prohibited from ‘lording it over others.’ We are told to leave behind those who don’t listen to our message. We are told to teach and preach the Gospel. And so not only are we never told to dominate over others, we are told to do the opposite to a large extent.

    That would make this cultural mandate as Peacock and North understand it to be not just an unnecessary burden to our consciences, the mandate, again as Peacock and North understand it, tells us to act in ways that go against the New Covenant as revealed in the New Testament. The specifics of what government can and cannot do and demand is not, to a large extent laid out. Governments cannot tell us to disobey God. Governments must provide a general justice for the people where God’s people live as exiles. Governments are to take up the case of the poor if we want to carry over what is said in Jeremiah 22. But are Christians called to seize or use government so they can dominate unbelievers? That is only not in the New Testament, it’s against what the New Testament teaches us.

  2. Wonderful brief article: the covenant applies to government and taxation, not just the subjects of baptism.

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