The ‘Well-Being Check Up’ Tennessee Needs

Aug 21, 2020 by David Fowler

Well-being Check Up Tennessee
Last week, Tennessee’s Commissioner of Education released a child well-being toolkit that government officials were to use to “ensur[e] that the needs of Tennessee children are met during and after extended periods away from school.” The next day, the Governor rightly instructed the Commissioner to take it down and promised to release a “better” version. In the interim, all of us would be well-served by conducting a well-being check on our government.  
In commenting on the initiative, I do not condemn the motivations of those involved with the creation of this program. There are many parents and guardians who depend on the educational system (public and private) to care for their children during the day because any number of other things have come to stand in the way of them doing so themselves.
Consequently, subjective feelings of compassion for the well-being of those children rise up in us, recognizing that whatever “fault” the parent may play in the child’s circumstances, it is not the child’s fault. The child shouldn’t lack or be “punished” because of said circumstances.
In these situations, though, our subjective feelings of compassion must be measured by an objective understanding of what really is compassionate. 

The Challenge Faced by All of Us, Especially Politicians

The challenge for the person seeking to do what is objectively (truly) compassionate is that we live in a world in which subjective (internally-focused) feelings and perspectives are the presumed barometer of truth. Therefore, objective views related to compassion and its administration are often seen as being hateful, mean, or even bigoted by those who view those two things subjectively.  
I know this subject-object concept is big, but we all really know what it is. We’ve lived it.
I suspect all of us can remember an instance in which we thought our parents were being too strict, mean, uncaring, or unfeeling toward us. That is what I mean as subjective — looking at things only in terms of myself, as the subject of the act. However, in retrospect, maybe decades later, we’ve come to see the fruits of our parents actions and can understand that, objectively-speaking, they did the right thing. This is what I mean by objective.
Consequently, the focus of our attitudes, thoughts, and actions should be on the “fruit” they will  ultimately produce. But this is particularly problematic for politicians, because trying to do what is objectively right in a subject-oriented world tends not to curry favor with subjective-oriented voters.

The ‘Fruit’ of Misguided Compassion

In thinking of this “fruit,” I am reminded of these words from the prophet Isaiah, which have haunted me since I first began to consider running for office 26 years ago. They are as true now as they were then:
Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, therefore you will plant pleasant plants and set out foreign seedlings; in the day you will make your plant to grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; but the harvest will be a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow.  Isaiah 17:10-11 (NKJV)
Notice what is said and you’ll understand why the prophets were hated and often killed, and why those who call for an objective understanding of what is compassionate are still hated by the subjective-oriented among us.
First, when we forget God and leave Him out of the planning and planting equation, we will, by force of necessity, come up with our own plans and ways. For example, in the 1960’s, our nation began to wage a “war on poverty” by means of federal government intervention.
Second, we will work and tend our own plan, and it may appear to flourish.
Third, a plan without God as its source, means, and end will end in “ruins” and produce a “day of grief and desperate sorrow.”
This last statement is nothing other than what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 11:36: All things come “from” God, come “through” God, and come back or are directed “to” God. God, by definition, is the center and focus of all things, and to turn from that objective truth as the point of all evaluation is for us to turn away from love and goodness in their very essence.

The Application to ‘Child Well-being’ Plans

What does this mean in terms of Tennessee’s child well-being checkup plan that is under revision?
It means, first and foremost, that it is time we give thought to what God says the function of civil government is: justice measured by objective standards. Civil government is designed as an instrument of force for the execution of civil justice. See Romans 13:3-4.
Law is never seen in Scripture as an instrument of mercy, let alone grace, and to use law as such is objectively wrong. Not my opinion; the Apostle Paul wrote Timothy, “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8, NKJV).  
In other words, law can be used in ways that are contrary to  God’s intention for and design of it, and that’s what the Jews got wrong about God’s law. Law does not, and cannot, save anyone from themselves or the causes of their present circumstances. 
Misuse of the law—making civil government the instrument of compassion—is the principle on which the well-being checkup rested. And God’s word says it will, in time, produce bad fruit, a “heap of ruins.” The current state of the family compared to God’s design for it reflects the ruins our past and on-going misuse of law is producing.

Getting an Objective Perspective on Well-Being

For over 50 years, civil government has tried to use the law as an instrument of compassion, mercy, and grace to “save” those who have received “from” God a situation we have decided from our subjective point of view that He was wrong to give them. However, we seldom consider the possibility that “through” that situation God intended to point them and others “to” Him as that objectively true and real good that transcends and makes, by way of comparison, all the world has to offer nothing but rubbish. 
This is what the Apostle Paul was saying in Romans 11:36 about from whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, and it is what he said in Philippians 3:7-9 where we read:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.
It would be interesting to see what God might do for the greater good if all of us could see past our subjective point of view and look to Him to understand objectively what is good for us and what civil law is for. 
If that is what we pursued, He might just heal our land of our increasingly singular subjective focus on ourselves. That focus will eventually produce “a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow.” 
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

Subscribe to Email Updates


Donate to FACT

Make a Donation