The Danger of Democracy City

Some people think that democracy is a Christian concept, but the Bible doesn't explicitly mention it. In fact, one city that was literally called "Democracy City" had such worldly-minded Christians that Jesus Christ had nothing good to say about them. He even said that they made him want to vomit! This ancient city, called "Laodicea" in English, offers valuable lessons to people today regarding material wealth, spiritual poverty and democracy.

How would you feel if Jesus Christ told you that your attraction to material things and democracy made Him want to vomit?

Laodicea was a city of Phrygia, situated on the river Lycus not far from Colosse. It was named after Laodice, the wife of the Greek King Antiochus II Theos. It is mentioned five times in the Bible (Colossians 2:1, 4:13,15 and Revelation 1:11, 3:14).

The city of Laodicea was the home of one of seven churches spoken to in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Democracy City (民主城)

In the Bible and in most cultures, names have meaning. In Greek, Laodicea is a compound of "laos" (a people) and "dike" (law or the goddess of Justice, called Themis in Greek or Maat in Egypt), so Laodicea meant the city (城) where the people ruled (民主) or administered justice. Today, we could call it "Democracy City". In Chinese Bibles it is transliterated as 老底嘉, but it’s literal meaning is 民主城, Democracy City.

Around the year 200BC, Antiochus the Great transported 2,000 Jewish families from Babylonia to Phrygia, which is not far from Laodicea, amd some of them later migrated to Laodicea. The city was wealthy due to its advantageous location on a trade route. However, it was heavily influenced by Greek and Roman religion and culture, so overall, it was a city that had rule of law but followed various Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, including the goddess of Justice, Themis, who is usually pictured blindfolded with a pair of scales in her hand. In other words, it was an idolatrous city which outwardly claimed to uphold justice but that was actually in rebellion against the laws of the Most High God, Yahweh. They made their own laws as they saw fit and allowed sexual perversion, which accompanied Greek and Roman religion.

Themis, the goddess of justice

The Bible clearly states that there is only one God, and we should not worship false gods:

"You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image/statue — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." - Exodus 20:3-6

Although the concept of justice is good and virtuous, we should have nothing to do with pagan gods, and according the the Bible, justice is not attainable unless people fear God and look for eternal accountability for their actions according to the Law of God in the Bible. We can find images/statues of Themis in countries around the world.

A statue of the goddess Themis in Statue Square of Hong Kong

Libertas, the goddess of liberty

Another goddess often associated with democracy is Libertas (自由女神). The most famous statue of Libertas is in New York City, but other statues exist in many countries where people idolize democracy.

The French sculptor and Freemason, Frederic Bartholdi, designed the Statue of Liberty that is in New York based on the concept and financial backing from another French Freemason named Edward Laboulaye. They called the statue "Libertas" and referred to her as the goddess of personal freedom and liberty. However, their idea of person freedom and liberty was to do anything that felt good, including sex outside of marriage. Thus, Libertas was known as the goddess of prostitition and sexual freedom.

Libertas is called Ashtoreth in Hebrew and in the Old Testament’s Greek version (the Septuagint). Ashtoreth was transliterated into the Greek as Astarte, which became the early Greek name for the goddess until it was later changed to Aphrodite. The Hebrew term Ashtoreth was itself a transliteration from the Babylonian dialect (Akkadian) term of Ishtar. Ishtar in the most ancient of times was also referred to by the Sumerian dialect as Inanna or Ninanna meaning "the Queen of Heaven" or "Lady of Heaven." The Egyptians called her Isis. We know from the Old Testament, that Israel sometimes got in trouble with God because they set up Asherah poles (phallus symbols like the Washington Monument) and worshipped Asherah. Such idolatrous practices were normally accompanied by sexual immorality. Basically, people followed animal instinct and became slaves to their sexual desires. This is why Libertas was also called "the Mother of Harlots." Since harlots are often considered to be social outcasts, Libertas was also considered to be the goddess of exiles or immigrants.

A statue of the goddess Libertas, the Mother of Harlots, in New York City

A statue of the goddess Libertas, the Mother of Harlots, in Hong Kong in 2010

One reason that Christianity has been so powerful for 2000 years is that it sets people free from slavery to sin and gave them control over their passions and worldly lusts:

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed Him: "If you abide in my word, you really are my disciples; and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free ... I tell you most assuredly that everyone committing sin is a slave of sin ... Therefore, if the Son should make you free, you really will be free." - John 8:31-36 SCS

Do not love the world, neither the things in the world; if anyone loves the world, the Father’s love is not in him. 16 Because everything in the world—the craving of the flesh and the craving of the eyes and the pretension of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. The world, with its craving, is passing away, but he who does God’s will remains forever. - 1 John 2:15-17 SCS

Thus, do you live in a city that cherishes democracy and also has a lot of sexual activity outside of marriage? Then you may be living in a modern-day Laodicea or 民主城. Democracy and sexual perversion have gone hand in hand for thousands of years. In fact, some people say that prostitution is one of the oldest occupations in the world. Prostitution reduces women to commodities rather than eternal beings who are created in the image of God to love and nurture children and be helpmates to their husbands, who in turn protect them, take care of their needs and love them. The Bible clearly teaches this. Christians believed this until the late 20th Century, and Jews believed this until the Zionist movement of the 19th Century began to make them secular.

The worst church among seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3

Laodicea was the location of a Christian church that was so materially wealthy but so spiritually poor that it made Jesus Christ want to vomit:

"And to the messenger of the church in Laodicea write: These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Originator of God’s creation: 'I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, since you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, even become wealthy, and have need of nothing", and do not realize that you are the most wretched—yes, the most pitiable and poor and blind and naked — I counsel you to buy gold from me, refined by fire, so that you may become rich; and white garments, so that you may be clothed, and your nakedness not be shamefully exposed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, so that you may see. As many as I love I rebuke and discipline; so be zealous and repent! 'Now then, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone should hear my voice and open the door, I really will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. To the one who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.' He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches." - Revelation 3:14-22 SCS

The fraud of democracy

Today, democracy is a concept that is mostly promoted and/or cherished by people in rich countries, and most of them are actually oligarchies rather than democracies, since only a handful of rich people control the actual decisions. When people do get to vote, the candidates are often chosen for them, and representatives often don't really represent the people who voted them into office. The important decisions are left to the shadow government. The politicians up front merely execute the wills of the shadow governments.

Real wealth, power and authority

What can we learn from this today?

The bad news is that we should should feel very uneasy if we are rich materially but poor spiritually and feel an emotional attraction to the popular notion of "democracy," because we might be exactly like the first century Christians of Laodicea and make Jesus Christ want to vomit us! The implication is that we would be separated from Him forever in Hell! Thus, the idea of "moving up in the world" or "fighting for democracy" is not in our best interests.

The good news is that people can rule with Jesus Christ in His invisible kingdom if they submit to Him and His commands now and give up any hope of ruling in this world. Jesus Christ said:

"As many as I love I rebuke and discipline; so be zealous and repent! Now then, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone should hear my voice and open the door, I really will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. To the one who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne." - Revelation 3:19-21 SCS
"Take note, I am giving you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing at all may harm you." - Luke 10:19 SCS

John the Baptist explained it this way:

"A person can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from Heaven. - John 3:27 SCS

Therefore, the choice is yours:

  1. Strive for vanity in your own strength, OR
  2. Humbly accept whatever social status you have and whatever political environment you find yourself in and submit to Jesus Christ and His commands, since He is in control of our wealth and of all government anyway.

According to the Bible, the first choice will lead to great regret, and the second choice will lead to spiritual wealth, power and authority which you can appropriate to do great things for His glory!