In the dark days after the planes hit, the late political theorist Jean Bethke Elshtain mused to a friend, “Now we are reminded of what governments are for.” Sept. 11, she forever after insisted, made plain that “the primary responsibility of government is to provide for basic security – ordinary civic peace.” This responsibility is a divine mandate, emerging both from our created capacity as dominion-bearers as well as from the sovereign’s vocation of the sword. “This does not mean,” Elshtain cautioned, “that every government and every public official is godly but, rather, that each is charged with a solemn responsibility for which there is divine warrant … a political ethic is an ethic of responsibility.”

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