In a recent post, I predicted that my God’s Law and Society channel on YouTube would get noticed fast and fan a smoldering controversy into flames.
Today, I noticed that a libertarian same-sex marriage advocate, lawyer, and university professor had written a blog entry on the fact that I had put these videos on YouTube. This guy knows more about theology than the average Christian, but it is difficult to tell exactly where he is coming from except that he thinks we advocates of God’s Law in civil politics are “scary.”
This is the best thing he says about us:
These Christian Reconstructionists, like many of Muslim fundamentalists, are not stupid people; these spokesman are well-educated, well-spoken and quite Biblically literate. They simply differ in their “literal” interpretation of the Bible with those other Protestant fundamentalists who have made their peace with liberal democracy and interpret the Bible to no longer require the execution of homosexuals, adulterers, recalcitrant children, and those who openly worship “false gods.”It’s interesting. None of the “Christian Reconstructionists” interviewed in the God’s Law and Society video told us that they held the view that God requires the execution of these capital offenders mentioned here. Steve Schlissel explains that even in Old Testament times, with the exception of murder, these were probably the worst case offenders that received the death penalty. We see in several passages in 1 and 2 Kings that homosexual temple prostitutes were banished rather than executed. King David was pardoned by God himself. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery. And so on.
What we do believe is that God’s Law is just. If God commands execution for a capital crime, then it is a just punishment. We can’t be squeamish about these Old Testament capital laws. This is what our God commanded.
Now whether our society today ought to enforce these laws “lock, stock and tablets” is another argument. There has been a change under the New Covenant regarding certain Old Covenant Laws. Every theonomist we interviewed agreed with this idea. I have always found it strange that people who are opposed to Christian Reconstruction always jump to the claim that we want to stone incorrigible children. No Reconstructionist has argued that we ought to do that.
God’s Laws are the basis for just civil laws. In fact, all conservative Christians are theonomists to some degree. If you think rape ought to be severely punished on the basis that it violates God’s Law, then you are a theonomist. If you believe that we ought to look to the Bible as a model for reforming the humanistic mess that we are in today, then you are a theonomist of sorts.
But the point here is that in biblical case law scenarios, punishment is never rigid. The only exception we are not allowed to make is for premeditated murder.
I found your channel by way of the Positive Liberty Blog, which I occasionally read. I am a regular reader of Ed Brayton’s blogs, all of which can be found at scienceblog.com’s “Dispatches from the Culture War”. Thank-you for putting these videos up on YouTube, there has been a dearth of CR content available to study so it is much appreciated by me, though I must admit that as a secular libertarian (emphasis on small l), you folks scare me.
Howard Philips 4 of 4 video was quite surprising to me in regards to your cause’s objectives regarding the delegation of federal enumerated powers via our federal constitution and his claimed support of strictly limiting those powers. It was my understanding that CRs want to implement their understanding of God’s law in American society as a matter of law and policy. Mr. Philips’ points in this particular video could have been made by a Christian Libertarian, even going so far as stating, “This is not moral imperialism; this is liberty”. Mr. Philips claims appear to be contradictory to my assumptions regarding CR’s objectives in general.
For example, how do I reconcile Mr. Philip’s claim “We want the federal government to be limited to its delegated enumerated powers” with, for example, your cause’s professed desire to use government power to deny gay people their individual, equal rights? I’m particularly concerned about the government denying gays the right to exercise their liberty and contract/property rights in terms both with their spouse and with their spouse’s children, along with their childrens’ equal protection rights.
My understanding of the founding American ideal of liberty is that “the people” reserved our rights with the exception of strictly enumerated powers we delegated to government upon ratification of the Constitution, mainly to leverage the power of government to protect individual rights. We further protect these rights by way of a very unwieldy constitutional amendment process and the creation of a judicial branch which Hamilton and Madison structured primarily to protect Americans’ individual rights from the temptation of tyranny from both the executive branch (imperialism) and the democratic legislative branch (Madison in fact believed tyranny of the majority was a equal threat to monarchial temptations by the executive and why he architected a republic). I’ve found that an excellent source for describing the original meaning of these founding ideals are best explained in libertarian constitutional scholar and author Randy Barnett’s The Lost Constitution; Barnett also argued Raich v. Ashcroft in front of SCOTUS. Of course notes on the constitutional debates, the 1st Congress records, and The Federalist are the primary source material; Barnett does the work of finding them.
It was my understanding that CRs did not support equal rights for gays or their children for religious reasons; particularly in the areas contract, liberty, and property rights . Mr. Philips’ words appear to contradict my assumption on your cause’s position. Which is correct?
Thanks for making your position quite clear. My previous assumption that CRs are a scary bunch was reconfirmed in your reply.
If I were to assume your position as stated in your reply to my post is equal to Mr. Philips, than CRs do intend to have the government determine what our rights are, the opposite of what the founding framers intended and the reason for the IX amendment along with the general framework of the Constitution itself. Your statement also directly contradicts Mr. Philips' statement that "We want the federal government to be limited to its delegated enumerated powers" since you would have the government decide what is a right and what is, in your words, “bondage”. I'll assume Mr. Philips was attempting to deceive his viewers based on your reply; i.e., that your objective is to have a CR government determine what you believe God granted us in terms of rights - so much for religious freedom, individual rights, and equal protection. For gays, given certain phrases in the OT, I can see your group would threaten their very right to life as well.
While many of the videos you put up on YouTube attempt to soften the concern most Americans have when they are exposed to your group's intentions, your reply to me in my post makes it quite clear that Americans who value liberty should regard your group as the moral equivalent of any fascist or theocratic group who prefer some form of authoritarian rule over liberty.
You can count on me to speak frequently and often in defense of American founding ideals and communicate how different your group's political agenda is relative to our framer's founding ideals and how dangerous it would be to the "least among us" if a CR-controlled government were implemented.
The God's Law and Society video is not an attempt to "soften" this view. See the Steve Schlissel interviews for instance.
The homosexual community goes into St. Patrick's cathedral in New York City and tosses condoms. They mock fornicate every year in their wild lascivious parades in front and they are not touched. But Christians that protest at abortion clinics are arrested and hauled off to jail. Tolerance always has limits. Tolerance is always religiously informed and we are not working in a tolerant system.
In the public square, there will always be one religion governing what is permissible and what is impermissible. If it is not the Christian religion, it won't be a religiously neutral government. It will be a government that is advocating another religion.
This idea of religious neutrality is not true to our founding. We had explicit statements in various state constitutions, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, where there were references to the Christian religion as being the one that is protected in the land.
In fact, there were restrictions of office bearing, that you could not be an office holder in a state unless you held to the Christian, and more specifically the Protestant religion, that you held to the Creeds in regard to the confession of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and that you believed that the Bible is the Word of God and infallible. If you didn't believe that, you couldn't be an office holder in various states.
Re your statement insinuating that I claimed that government grants us our rights and your stating I’m wrong on that point. In no way did I insinuate any such thing. I am very clear that Americans reserved their rights when we ratified the Constitution. In fact, I even stated in my original post, “the people” reserved our rights with the exception of strictly enumerated powers we delegated to government upon ratification of the Constitution, mainly to leverage the power of government to protect individual rights." It was Mr. Philips statement supporting the limitation of powers ideal that interested me in your blog because my prior belief was that CRs supported the denial of rights to gays which contradicts Philip’s claimed support to limit federal government power to already numerated powers.
My reference to the IX amendment in my latest post is that Madison was concerned that the creation of a Bill of Rights would provide leverage for “sects and factions” to limit rights Madison and the other founding framers defined as infinite, though not listed in the other nine amendments ratified in 1789. This ideal was not just expressed by the framers, but also in a number of the state ratifying conventions. The IX amendment didn't grant us our rights nor did I insinuate that, it was ratified to continue to make explicit that the Constitution limited government power to its numerated powers given the fact that a few of our rights were now numerated in the Constitution. The effect of the IX Amendment, if properly observed, is that the government has the obligation to find a numerated power that allows a restriction or prohibition of a right to an individual; this is a conservative constitutional concept that condemns the “footnote four” precedent of the liberal FDR court. Maybe Mr. Philips doesn’t know enough about Constitutional Law to understand the impact of what he was saying when he claimed CRs support limiting government power to current numerated powers because he would certainly have to violate that principle to legislate the destruction of gays having rights in America.
Regarding your statement, "Our rights are a gift from God. But God also condemns homosexuality as a sin." Both of your points are religious ideas and certainly not statements of fact that are universally shared; even millions of devout Christians would disagree with the second part of this statement. By reserving our rights each American has what our founding fathers defined as "freedom of conscience". Your position is the very reason our founding framers created a secular constitution, because certain sects’ believers almost by definition claim knowledge through dogma and divine revelation that is motivated to codify discrimination against “the Other” as you so eloquently do in your example here.
Regarding your statements about state power to deny Americans their reserved rights in the antebellum era, especially regarding religious freedom - as an ardent student of America’s founding as well as constitutional law, I’m well aware of the fact that our founding framers didn’t use federal power to protect American rights from state power until the Civil War and after by way of incorporation of the XIV amendment. Not immediately enforcing the Constitution in a manner consistent with the DofI and the Constitution has been a stain on this country that we are still paying on, though I respect that this concession was neccessary to get enough slave states on-board to vote to ratify in 1787.
However by way of the Civil War and the resulting ratification of the XIV amendment, it is now constitutionally clear that states have no power to deny Americans their reserved rights. Did ratification of the XIV amendment immediately end discrimination? Of course not, America’s moral progress has been gradual. So while I’m cognizant of your point that Catholics were deprived of their religious freedom in some states in the early 1800s, that didn’t mean it was consistent with the principles of the Constitution or numerated as a power, it meant our ancestors didn’t live up to the principles we founded this great nation on. though I believe it was a great start with continuous improvement until the 2000 elections – and I’m a libertarian Republican that voted for Bush in 2000.
So while I understand the CR position that religious beliefs motivate you to promote the denial of rights to gays, you certainly can’t implement discrimination against their rights and claim you are using numerated federal powers to deny the children of gay people health insurance or the rights of gays to marry (I understand states regulate marriage, my argument is delegated federal power to protect American rights clearly expressed in the XIV amendment, see Lawrence v. Texas or just read the XIV amendment). Your policy would certainly be consistent with antebellum tyrannical state power objectives, but those powers have been continually eroding ever since the Civil War until recently as many Americans used their democratic powers to institutionalize the denial of rights to gays in the 2004 & 2006 elections. I predict this effort will die out as Federal Courts begin to strike down these new, clearly unconstitutional state laws denying gays equal protection and as younger generations, who don’t share your religious position regarding the treatment of gays, begin to become the majority voting bloc. Gays having equal rights appears inevitable unless of course we see a resurgence in social conservative power that denies people their reserved rights.
Mr. Rogers, I certainly am not attempting to your change your mind regarding the morality of homosexuality, I am attempting to defend my belief that your group can not wrap itself in the American flag if it intends to codify discrimination against gays while claiming this power is constitutionally derived and consistent with the framer’s founding ideals, especially assuming the obligation is on the government to claim a numerated power to restrict or prohibit rights.
"... your objective is to have a CR government determine what you believe God granted us in terms of rights ... "
No, our objective is to obey what is clear and indisputable in God's Law-Word. It is not to play guessing games and legislate our own ideas.
We already know that sodomy is sin, as well as murder, theft, rape and so on. We already know that God commands punishments for those who violate the Law. But we also know that God's plan is forgiveness and redemption. We don't become free by flouting what we know is right and wrong. We become free by experiencing regeneration and the power to govern ourselves so we don't have to live in the bondage of sin.
The general fallacy about Christian Reconstruction is that people think the only way to enforce God’s Law would end up with the Christians killing everyone who disagrees. In fact, we think that obedience to the Law of God is going to come in the long term over hundreds of years and the Gospel permeates the whole world and people are saved. It isn’t going to be accomplished through punishment. That’s the system we have now and it doesn’t work. We want a peaceful Revolution that will overthrow it in the long term.
A biblically ordered society would limit the strength of the state but would guarantee the right of each individual to pursue his God given freedoms within the boundaries that God himself gave. Not everyone would be free to do whatever they wanted to do, but no society allows that. People would be free to obey God and receive the blessings of freedom that are guaranteed as a result of obedience.
Here's one of the paradoxes concerning a "rights" view of civil liberty. Rights are derived from somewhere -- either from man or from God. If we believe that our rights come from the God of the Bible, then we are also constrained in what God says our rights are. We have a right to life, liberty, property and a pursuit of happiness. But there can be no "right" to child murder, adultery, sodomy, rape and so on. Even if we concede that people are allowed to choose what they do in the limited span of their short life in private, ultimately, God is the rights leveler in eternity.
On the other hand, if rights are derived from what man says that rights are, then we either have statism or an amorphous libertarianism. In either case, the authority will come either from a central government, or from mob rule when each person claims the "rights" he sees in his own eyes.
This is how we found a right to abortion, same-sex marriage, a rationale to abolish capital punishment and so on. People decided it must be right in their own minds. It wasn’t in the Constitution. It wasn’t true to our founding. It wasn’t true to the laws of any nation up to that point.
The problem with an agnostic libertarianism is that there is absolutely no higher authority from which to derive our rights. If a regime comes along that decides that an elite has the right to rape, murder, steal from a lower class of people, then the state can grant this right through force. There is no higher authority an agnostic can appeal to except his own puny will. And unless he can match force with force he will always lose his liberty.
As a libertarian, you should be against same-sex marriage on the basis of the fact that it is not about the sacrament of marriage but all about socialist entitlements.
Even in nations where homosexuality was accepted in ancient times, there was no homosexual marriage. Why? Because democratic socialism hadn't been concocted yet. It's only because people understand that they can vote for a tax they can receive the benefit of and don't have to pay for. What they really want is not the right to marry, they want the state to force Christians to pay money to support their lifestyle.
You should be against all entitlements that support people who do not pay for them. There should be no tax law that favors married people over singles. Period.
For all I care, homosexuals can think of themselves as married, sign legal contracts and so on. As long as the sex life of a homosexual is unknown to me, I don't care about it. But they do not have the right to force me to support them simply because they want to flout their desire to sodomize.
The part of the law that God changed by the new testament was eliminating the sacrifice of creatures for sin.
If we don't obey God's commandments, we might have to expect his curses according to Deuteronomy 28.
October 27 A. D. 2007