In Genesis 3, man and creation were cursed because of sin. This curse brought forth pain in childbirth, strife in marriage, weeds in the fields, and finally death. Paul declares that the entire creation was subjected to the curse —
(Rom 8:20-21) For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
When Jesus returns, the curse will be reversed.
(Rev 22:3) No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city [where the saved live after the Judgment], and his servants will serve him.
And Paul teaches —
(1 Cor 15:24-26) Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
See the connection? Death came with the curse, because of sin. Christ will defeat death at the end of time, right after all government has been destroyed.
Now, until then, what do Christians do about death? Do we try to defeat it? No, rather our work is to relieve suffering. We can extend life and ease the pain of dying, but we cannot defeat death. That is not our job. Rather, we work to make death less bad.
And what do we do about the weeds that increase the labor of the farmer? Do we destroy all weed species? No, but we are happy to work to reduce the damage done by weeds and reduce the labor required to feed a family. We work to make things better.
And what about the pain of childbirth? Do we end the pain? No, rather, we help mothers so that the risk of death in childbirth is greatly reduced (which I think is the worst part of the pain) and we help mothers by helping relieve the pain. But we’ve not yet defeated the pain of childbirth. We just make the pain of childbirth better. [The word translated “pain” in Gen 3:16 also includes the idea of sorrow.]
Just so, what about strife in marriage? Well, I’m confident there will be strife in marriage until the end of time, but until then, Christians work to heal marriages and prevent strife. Ending strife is beyond what we can do in this world, but we can certainly help make things better until the next world arrives.
Now, in each case, the only real way to utterly defeat weeds, birth sorrow, and marital strife is to stop growing crops, stop having babies, and stop getting married. But in this life, that’s impossible. After Jesus comes, I imagine things will be different (Mark 12:25).
Just so, for now, the government is necessary but has an inevitable tendency to seek the place of God — routinely insisting that loyalty to the state should be higher than loyalty to God. Government is often the source of oppression to the poor and the weak — even democracies do this. The Pope is right about this. But government is necessary despite its inherent imperfections.
When Jesus comes, we won’t need government anymore, and we’ll be glad to be rid of it. Until then, rather than leaving the battlefield, our job is to make government better. You see, if we simply disassociate ourselves from the government, we’ll have lost any influence on it and so not only won’t make it better, we’ll make it worse — which is to aid the enemy, isn’t it?
I mean, death is God’s enemy. Do we therefore withdraw from the battlefield and refuse to do anythign to make death less evil? Or do we engage death to mitigate the evil in this age?
Just so, it seems to me that we should get our hands dirty resisting the wickedness in government and seeking to encourage whatever part of government is good. After all, the only way to utterly defeat the wickedness in government would be for there to be no government, and that won’t happen until Jesus returns.
Until then, we do what we can to reduce the sorrow caused by the Curse, pushing back the frontiers of the Curse, until Jesus can come and finish the task. Utterly.