Saturday, September 12, 2009

John Chrysostom: Government Differentiates Us from Reptiles

If you would prefer, however, let us see the same point being made also in the Old Testament, that it was on account of sin that there was need for this form of government as well. Provoked by wrongdoers, one of the prophets puts it somehow like this, "Will you keep silent when the impious devour the righteous, and will you treat people like the fish of the sea and reptiles, without a leader?" This, then, is the purpose of a leader, to stop our being like reptiles, this the purpose of a ruler, to prevent our devouring one another like fish: just as medicines are the result of ailments, so punishments are the result of sins.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Sermon 4 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 70-71 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator.