Jonathan Boucher was a Loyalist cleric, Anglican and friend of George Washington. Gregg Frazer, the author of a recent book on Loyalist sermons during the American Revolution, quotes and summarizes one argument of Boucher’s 1775 work “On Civil Liberty” in the following paragraph:
According to Boucher, an “all-wise and all-merciful Creator” established patriarchal rule over man in light of man’s “unruly will.” God clearly made man to be social, but He knew that men could not live together without the restraint of law and government. Not only does patriarchal government have the “most and best authority of history…to support it” but it also is “by far the most natural, most consistent, and most rational idea.” This system is the most natural because the “first father was the first king” and “kingdoms and empires are but so many larger families.” Boucher suggests that “the first man, by virtue of that paternal claim, on which all subsequent governments have been founded, was first invested with the power of government.” Inferring the law from the practice, he concludes that “it was thus that all government originated; and monarchy is it’s [sic] most ancient form.” He also points out that patriarchy “always has prevailed, and still does prevail” among both the most enlightened and least enlightened peoples. Patriarchy is the most consistent and most rational system because in every country, “the ignorant are more numerous than the wise.” Because this is the case, it is never wise for the safety of the country to depend on the determinations of the ignorant majority.
–Gregg Frazer, God Against the Revolution. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2018. p. 81
I find it hard to argue against this reasoning. Most of us here would agree that civil authority is established by God. Most of us would agree that civil authority is civil fatherhood exercised by civil fathers. If Adam was the first father of us all, it makes sense that he was also the first civil father, the first king.
My difficulty here is that a social contract/compact theory seems much harder to prove, prima facie, from Scripture. I have Locke’s Second Treatise on my shelf, unread. I shouldn’t say more until I read it. Let’s say for the sake of argument that good Christians in the past have successfully and biblically argued for social compact theory.
Yet, it is much easier and natural and obvious to prove patriarchy from Scripture. If nations are larger collections of families, then setting up fathers of fathers, or kings, makes sense. The fact that monarchy has existed all over the world for centuries upon centuries is proof for it being there from the beginning. God the Father made the world to reflect His Fatherhood. Patriarchy is baked into reality. Try to eliminate it and it comes back in another form.
You could argue that monarchy, driven out of the American republic, has returned in the forms of the imperial presidency and the untouchable, appointed-for-life Supreme Court. The anticipated response is that neither of those two things are in the Constitution. Fatherhood is nevertheless real, and people all over the world in every culture have a strong drive to give honor to a national father. Is it evil or inevitable?
Even if you put forward social compact theory, civil government retains its fatherly role. Locke and patriarchy are not necessarily incompatible.
It’s hard to read the historical books of the Old Testament and not naturally conclude that the reigns of David and Solomon were the golden age of Israel, the standard by which everything that came before and after is measured. That implies that monarchy, while not prescribed by Scripture, is also given an honored place in Scripture. God gave Israel a righteous king to lead her into greater glory and picture the King Who is to come. The covenant with David is an eternal covenant fulfilled by Christ. Deuteronomy 17 laid out the rules for how a king was to rule, not absolutely, but according to God’s law. Note that God, in His law, worked with the peoples’ natural desire for a civil father, rather than have grace destroy nature. God works with the grain, rather than against it.
You could say that it is improper to have a king, because only Jesus could be the perfect king. How does this reasoning not also apply to fatherhood? My father is imperfect, therefore my only father is Jesus and natural fatherhood is meaningless. Grace destroys nature.
Lots to think about.