The Importance of Getting History Right, Part 9

An Opportunity Seized by Progressives—
and a Turning Point for America

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

Part 8 is available here.

For the last eight weeks, we’ve been discussing several significant events in America’s history and the importance of understanding them in the historical contexts in which they occurred. Was America founded on racist principles? Was the original Constitution of 1787 racist? If not, then why did slavery continue in America for decades beyond the Constitution’s ratification?

exterior_view_of_independence_hall_circa_1770s

Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the 1770s

These have been some of the questions we have considered and endeavored to answer. Our journey has taken us from the Constitutional Convention of 1787, to the Civil War, to Reconstruction and beyond—all the way into the 20th and 21st centuries.

As we examined history, we saw that the Constitution was not racist.  Yet we did discover that one political party has promoted racism. Before, during, and after the Civil War, Democrats, generally speaking, were indeed racists and sought to implement racist policies. Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.


Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.


Just how has it come to pass that most people believe the narrative rather than what history teaches? Actually, with last week’s post, we already have started to answer this question, but this week and next week we’ll seek to answer it in earnest. In these final two installments in our 10-part series, we will highlight two strategies Democrats have adopted in the last 70 years to promote a progressive agenda. Progressives have relied on

1. powerful appeals to people’s emotions and
2. vicious attacks against their opponents.

These approaches largely have worked to further progressives’ aims, and it’s significant that as they have used them, liberals also have employed racism and racist overtones. Their racism isn’t manifested in the same ways it once was, but it is real and destructive nonetheless.

Let’s learn more. To set the stage to consider the first strategy we named—appealing to people’s emotions—we need once again to look back into history.

The First Black Democrat Elected to Congress

arthur_w-1-_mitchellArthur Wergs Mitchell (1883-1968) was the first black Democrat to be elected to Congress. Not coincidently, he was first elected in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression. Mitchell began his political work in the Republican Party but in 1932 switched to the Democrat Party to support the programs of FDR. When he arrived in Congress in 1935, Mitchell declared, “What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.”

As it turns out, Roosevelt wasn’t the first president to take steps to involve government in meeting people’s needs. How much do you know about the era of the Great Depression? Go here to take a brief, 2-question test and to learn some important things about American history you probably never heard in school. Also, you can learn more about Arthur W. Mitchell here.


What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.
—Democrat Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, conveying His desire to assist FDR in passing his proposals—


Mitchell’s statement sounds compassionate, noble, and honorable. Who could argue with it? I will! Before speaking against it, though, I must highlight the era in which Mitchell spoke. The Great Depression was taking a heavy toll on the American people. The average unemployment rate in 1935 was 20.1 percent. People had needs—and those needs were real. We must not minimize their desperate situations.

Government—Not an Effective or Efficient Provider

Even so, I am compelled to point out that it isn’t the primary job of the president, nor is it the main task of the government, to “feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.” What is government’s job? Scripture is clear, but we don’t even need Scripture to understand that government is not equipped or suited to efficiently meet the material and physical needs of its people.

Thus, today, at minimum, government programs that “help” people in need must be reformed. Needy recipients must be encouraged to demonstrate responsibility and to work wherever and whenever possible—even though offering them handouts is tempting from an emotional point of view. Reforms were implemented in 1996, but President Obama gutted them in 2012. Reforms need to be reinitiated.1

Returning to our main point, we must not allow emotions alone to guide us when making decisions that affect so many. It is logical to assume this is one reason Thomas Jefferson warned against ignorance, or a lack of knowledge and understanding (see his statement at the top of this article). Government can’t help the poor without taking resources from others, and we need to use our heads to analyze, not just the impact government programs have on the poor, but also the impact they have on the country itself, and particularly on those who pay for such programs through higher taxes.

arlie-j-hoover-webThe point here is that emotions are a terrible guide. We have quoted the late Dr. A. J. Hoover in previous posts on other subjects (here and here). In a book exposing the weaknesses of various kinds of faulty arguments, Professor Hoover says, “Clear thinking involves many things, but one of the most important things it involves is learning to control your emotions.”2 Hear him elaborate on this idea. Especially today, these statements offer much needed wisdom.

Sometimes even the noble emotions like love, honor, courage, and kindness need to be carefully watched. You commit the fallacy of argumentum ad misericordiam (“argument to pity”) when you make an illicit appeal to the emotion of pity.

This technique of persuasion has long been a familiar practice of lawyers in the courtroom. It is usually employed by the attorney for the defense who ignores the facts of the case and plays on the heartstrings of the jury. For example, he may bring into the courtroom the bedraggled wife of the defendant, followed by his seven pathetic, ragged children. He need not speak any words, for this “body language” says to the jury: “If you send my client to prison, you will make a widow of this poor woman and orphans of all these innocent children. What have these poor human beings done to deserve all this?”

Naturally, the prosecuting attorney will want to remind the jury that there is no necessary, logical connection between the deplorable state of the man’s family and his guilt or the requirements of the law. The jury should not be blinded by the noble emotion of pity in such a case.3

We’ve also previously noted this about government.

Government is inefficient, costly, and has an intoxicating effect on leaders and the public. Government may look like a benefactor, but it can offer only those resources it has taken from citizens and businesses through taxes and regulations. Despite appearances, government is not compassion, but force. Government’s good intentions often have very bad unintended consequences.

And this

The following quote frequently is attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, although no evidence exists in his writings it ever originated with him. Nevertheless, whoever said it was absolutely correct. We need to heed this warning and understand its implications.

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

• From bondage to spiritual faith;
• From spiritual faith to great courage;
• From courage to liberty;
• From liberty to abundance;
• From abundance to selfishness;
• From selfishness to complacency;
• From complacency to apathy;
• From apathy to dependence;
• From dependence back into bondage.

When the people of a nation believe they have a right to government “benefits,” they become intoxicated with everything the government is willing to offer. In turn, those in authority become intoxicated with the power they gain as an increasing number of people become dependent upon them. The more government “gives,” the more beholden recipients become. This is how a nation that began with liberty can be led into tyranny.

The early stages of this process, however, don’t look at all like a journey into tyranny. They may not look that way years or even decades later. Eventually, though, “the chickens will come home to roost.”


When the people of a free nation begin to look to the government to meet their needs, the journey on which they’ve started won’t appear to have tyranny as its destination. The road may not look like a path to tyranny and oppression years or even decades later. Then, when it’s too late, some of the people—certainly not all—will realize they’ve traded freedom for security and now live in bondage to the government.


FDR’s policies often are viewed favorably because of the many ways they seemed to help those in need. In other words, his programs were “compassionate.” Roosevelt was then, and is now, a hero to many. Economist Robert Higgs writes, “Roosevelt, it is said repeatedly, restored hope to the American people when they had fallen into despair because of the seemingly endless depression, and his policies ‘saved capitalism’ by mitigating its intrinsic cruelties and inequalities.”

But wait! Higgs goes on to contend this perception doesn’t fit the facts.

This view of Roosevelt and the New Deal amounts to a myth compounded of ideological predisposition and historical misunderstanding. In a 1936 book called The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, Howard E. Kershner came closer to the truth when he wrote that Roosevelt

took charge of our government when it was comparatively simple, and for the most part confined to the essential functions of government, and transformed it into a highly complex, bungling agency for throttling business and bedeviling the private lives of free people. It is no exaggeration to say that he took the government when it was a small racket and made a large racket out of it.4

As this statement illustrates, not everyone admired FDR during the 1930s.…The irony is that even if Roosevelt did help to lift the spirits of the American people in the depths of the depression—an uplift for which no compelling documentation exists—this achievement only led the public to labor under an illusion. After all, the root cause of the prevailing malaise was the continuation of the depression. Had the masses understood that the New Deal was only prolonging the depression, they would have had good reason to reject it and its vaunted leader.

headshot-bennettYet the masses, in fact, did not understand. In his three-volume work on American History—America: The Last Best Hope—William J. Bennett states that the congressional Democrats who had been elected to office in 1932 on Roosevelt’s coattails were all too eager to pass his policies, and pass them they did. Bennett quotes this paragraph from Samuel Eliot Morison as part of his explanation of the shift of political allegiances occurring against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

A feature of the WPA [Works Progress Administration] which caught the public eye and became nicknamed “boondoggling,” was the setting up of projects to employ artists, musicians, writers and other “white collar” workers. Post offices and other public buildings were decorated with murals; regional and state guides were written; libraries in municipal and state buildings were catalogued by out-of-work librarians, and indigent graduate students were employed to inventory archives and copy old shipping lists, to the subsequent profit of American historians. The federal theater at its peak employed over 15,000 actors and other workers, at an average wage of $20 a week. Under the direction of John Houseman, Orson Welles, and others, new plays were written and produced, and the classics revived.5

Bennett then writes,

iuHere, in a nutshell, we see the origins of many of today’s political alignments. Hollywood, academia, the press, libraries, the public universities—all are inhabited by tens of thousands of people who could trace the existence of their jobs or their institutions to a federal program begun under FDR. By bringing into government a “Brian Trust,” FDR assured the allegiance of what we today call the “knowledge class” to the Democratic Party. One thing can always be assured: If you take from Peter to pay Paul, you can generally rely on the vote of Paul.6

A history website  agrees that the 1932 election brought together a new coalition in support of Democrats. It also included blacks, the country’s other minority populations, and organized labor (see also the last paragraph on the 1936 election in this article). For decades beyond, Democrats would depend on this coalition for many of its wins. Robert Higgs, whom we cited earlier, says bluntly that “the New Deal served as a massive vote-buying scheme.”

The Snowball Effect

Lyndon_B._Johnson,_photo_portrait,_leaning_on_chair,_color_croppedWe see this dependency not just in the Roosevelt era, but particularly during and since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with building a coalition to support a cause, to use taxpayer money to strengthen a political party’s power—and to make constituents dependent on that money in the process—are actions that are especially unethical and wrong. It’s apparent that President Johnson was quite pleased at the prospect of bribing and manipulating voters—especially black voters—to increase his own party’s power.

If you don’t remember or haven’t heard what Johnson said privately about civil rights legislation when he was a senator and about his “Great Society” programs when he was president, you need to know. Go here to read these statements. Also recall the apparently deliberate misrepresentations of so-called black leaders with regard to the Three-Fifths Compromise. In each of these situations, the goal is the same—more power.

The unethical nature of creating dependency for votes is only one problem with government “entitlement” programs. Another big problem is that the stated goals of these efforts never are realized. In fact, since the welfare system was set up, things have worsened for those the system was supposed to help. African American economist and political commentator Walter Williams has rightly declared, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.”


The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.
Walter E. Williams


Yet another huge problem with wealth transfer programs—not just welfare but Social Security and other such programs, is the inability of taxpayers to sustain them as the number of recipients continues to increase. In other words, there’s a snowball effect. In a National Review article, journalist Michael Tanner asks, “How long can a shrinking number of taxpayers support a growing number of beneficiaries?” It’s a great question.

socialsecurityposter1

poster from the late 1930s or early 1940s marketing the “benefits” of Social Security

Advocates of government intervention to meet people’s needs focus on compassion and whether or not the action or the program makes them feel good. Bill Voegeli, the Senior Editor at the Claremont Institute, explains this important dynamic in progressives’ approach to government in this PragerU video.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line. Even though Arthur W. Mitchell, the first black Democrat, was elected and reelected to Congress by narrow margins, his wins reflected the beginning of a change in Americans’ perception about the role of government in people’s private lives. Even more importantly, Mitchell’s electoral contests—as well as Roosevelt’s landslide wins in 1932 and 1936 and his decisive wins in 1940 and 1944—reflected the beginning of a change in the nation’s perspective on rights. The ignorance Thomas Jefferson feared can, to a large extent, be effectively countered when citizens understand the Founders’ views on rights and why that perspective squares with reality.



FDR’s election and his subsequent reelections, as well as Arthur W. Mitchell’s election and reelections to Congress, reflect that the country was beginning to change its perspective on rights. It is critical for us to understand the Founders’ views on rights as well as the new perspective on rights the country was beginning to embrace. Why? The country has fully embraced the revisionist view today, and we need to combat this misinformation with the truth. America’s Founders got it right!



A quick review: To secure rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, government needs to stay out of the way and allow people to exercise those rights; but to secure rights like the “right” to food and shelter, government has to take wealth from its citizens and redistribute it so it can meet those needs.

Aren’t you concerned about hunger and housing? someone will ask. Of course we are! We’re simply saying it isn’t government’s primary role to meet these and similar needs. Please read and review our series on Americans’ posture with regard to rights. This is critical information.


Misinformed and Misled: An Eight-Part Series on America’s Distorted Perspective on Rights


In the 1930s, the 1960s, and beyond, progressives saw a golden opportunity for themselves. Unfortunately, they took advantage of it; and quite frankly, in doing so, they have exploited Americans who already were at an economic disadvantage. Moreover, it is not coincidental that to effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, and liberty, and rights.


To effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, liberty, and rights.


Republicans and other concerned citizens need to call them out, but they know there’s a risk in doing so. They’ll be called racists and practically every other pejorative name in the book.

Next week, we’ll explore this tactic, another manipulative strategy in progressives’ playbook.

 

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

 

Top image: A line of unemployed men waiting outside a soup kitchen opened by Al Capone in Chicago, 1931

 

Notes:

1As an aside, the Bible upholds both hard work and Christian generosity as means to meet the needs of individuals who are unable to work to provide for themselves and their families. When government took over the job of helping the poor, the church stepped away from it. The church should reassert itself in this area.

2A. J. Hoover, Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 67.

3Ibid.

4The statements from Howard E. Kirshner’s book, The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, are quoted by Richard M. Ebeling in “Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part XIV: The New Deal and Its Critics,” Freedom Daily, February 1998, p. 15.

5Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, Volume Three, 306.

6William J. Bennett, America: the Last Best Hope, Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom, 1914-1989, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 114.

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court…Isn’t: Part 2 of 2 Parts

Responding to the Court’s Ruling on Marriage
Part 2: Application—Eight Reasons Why The Supreme Court
Has Crossed an Ominous Line

…This noble doctrine and heritage of religious liberty calls to us…to be the right kind of Christians. Let us never forget that a democracy, whether civil or religious, has not only its perils, but has also its unescapable obligations.
—George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, in a speech on religious liberty delivered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, May 16, 19201

In part 1, we examined Romans 13:1-7 and drew from it six biblical principles relating to the state. Here is a summary of our discussion.

  1. All people are to submit to governing authorities. Christians in particular are to be good citizens.
  2. The state’s authority is not absolute but has been delegated by God.
  3. The government’s primary job is to maintain order by rewarding those who do right and punishing those who do wrong.
  4. Government does not have the authority or the right to promote ideas or actions that are morally wrong or contrary to God’s will.
  5. When government uses its authority to further immorality, injustice, or other unethical ideas or practices, it abuses its God-given power. Thus, whatever is legal isn’t necessarily right. Moreover, whenever and wherever man’s law directs Christians to disobey God’s law, believers are obligated to obey God.
  6. The state wields “the sword”; it has the power to enforce its laws. However, it misuses this authority when it penalizes those who refuse to obey immoral laws. Of all people, Christians must resist this tyranny.

Against this biblical backdrop, let’s now consider briefly the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The state, obviously, is a major player in the debate over marriage and in the implementation and administration of national policy regarding marriage. In the days ahead, the government, especially at the Federal level, will enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling and the implications and policies that flow from it. How should Christians respond?

Dr. R. C. Sproul, founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, along with several of his colleagues, wrestled with this very question on Ligonier’s Monday, July 6 radio broadcast, Renewing Your Mind.2 In addition to Sproul, Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow Dr. R. C. Sproul, Jr, President and CEO of Ligonier Ministries Chris Larson, and program host Lee Webb participated in the discussion. All agreed that the ruling represented a watershed moment for America because it was so horrific and terrible. It was both lawless and unconstitutional, on par with both Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott.3 These rulings appear to be unique American history because they are not just egregious in degree, but in kind; they stand in a class all by themselves. Without doubt, the marriage decision is offensive to God, and He will not ignore it.

32c617d1Dr. R. C. Sproul

The panel’s observations about the nature of the Supreme Court’s marriage decision underscore the need for believers to relentlessly oppose it—even if and even when it costs them dearly to do so.

Here are some of the panel’s observations. Some statements are closer to quotes than others, but each fairly represents the ideas conveyed. Minor edits have been made for clarity.

  1. The marriage decision doesn’t mean a massive shift within the homosexual community alone, but also in the culture at large. Also, it will trigger a shift within the church because of the heavy influence of the culture on the church.
  2. This isn’t just people giving themselves over to homosexuality; it’s also their celebrating it in the streets and celebrating it as a positive good. And it’s the state saying the same thing. This is not just giving validity to homosexual behavior, but it’s creating counterfeit marriage and calling it real.
  3. God didn’t give marriage to Christians or to Jews only. It wasn’t simply a religious group that was singled out to participate in marriage. Rather, marriage was given in creation as God’s law for all human beings throughout time. Moreover, it was defined by Him. The state does not ever have the right to redefine a creation ordinance—an ordinance that has been in effect since the very act of creation and since the very existence of the institution of marriage itself.
  4. The church doesn’t expect the state to do the work of the church, but it does expect the state to do the work of the state. The state, remember, also is ordained by God. Protecting life and protecting marriage aren’t just religious values but humanitarian values. When we say we object to the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples, our concern isn’t that the state has separated itself from the church, but that it has separated itself from God! Since the state is a God-ordained institution, it is doing this to its own peril and to the detriment of its people.
  5. What we’re talking about here is not just a rejection of God as Redeemer or as potential Redeemer. We’re talking about a rejection of God as Maker. This is what Paul warns about in Romans 1 when he talks about homosexuality—but the court went even further than this. This ruling shakes a fist at God and says, “You made all of us, redeemed or not, to be this way (meaning that a man and a woman fit together naturally in marriage), and we’re going to turn this on its head; we’re going to pervert this as heinously as we can. We’re going to celebrate it, too!” This isn’t just telling God, “We know better than You; You’re mistaken and we’re wiser than you.” It’s “This will really tick You off because we hate You!”

Here are some additional observations we can add to the list.

  1. The court not only rejected God, but also set itself up as God.
  2. The redefinition of marriage nationwide gives proponents of same-sex marriage the ability to use the government to force those who disagree with them to participate in their celebrations—against their desires and against their consciences. This is diametrically opposed to the principle of religious liberty on which this country was founded.
  3. The court didn’t bring marriage to same-sex couples; instead, it brought same-sex couples to marriage. In other words, the court didn’t just bestow marriage on same-sex couples that desire it; it brought the characteristics to a same-sex relationship into the institution of marriage, thereby negating those things about natural marriage that make it special. (1) The court severed gender and gender differences from the meaning of marriage. In a practical sense, the institution of marriage no longer is about the dynamics inherent in opposite sex relationships; it isn’t about male and female differences anymore. (2) The court separated procreation from marriage. Marriage no longer is about a relationship that can produce children. This portends ominously for the future of civilization and its youngest and most innocent citizens. (3) The court severed gender from parenting, negating the unique contributions of both mothers and fathers from the family. Marriage and the family are no longer about the special skills and contributions a man can make as a father or that a woman can make as a mother. (4) The court, rather than validating children, has trampled on their emotional needs by depriving many of them of either a mom or a dad. Put another way, the court ignored the needs children have for the protective influence of a father and the unique, nurturing touch of a mother. When a society favors adults’ rights over children’s needs, it has become barbaric in the worst possible way.

In the 1953 biblical epic The Robe (Twentieth-Century Fox), Tribune Marcellus Gallio is the Roman soldier who wins the robe of Jesus when he gambles for it at the foot of the cross (see John 19:23-24). Tribune Gallio eventually becomes a Christian, and his life is forever changed. As a Christian, however, he is seen as a traitor to the Roman Empire. (The early Christians were seen as traitors to the state primarily because they were misunderstood. The misunderstandings, however, were widely believed and acted upon.) At the end of the movie, Marcellus stands before Emperor Caligula. He is accused of treason and is condemned to die, but Caligula gives him a chance to escape the death penalty.

MV5BOTc0NDQ5ODIyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzg4MzgxMTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_

Caligula: Tribune Gallio, you stand condemned to death, but it is our desire to be merciful, to give you a chance to recant your treason and go free. Kneel to us, and renew your tribune’s oath of loyalty to your emperor. Renounce your misguided allegiance to this dead Jew who dared to call himself a king.

Marcellus kneels.

Marcellus: Sire, with all my heart I renew my pledge of loyalty to my emperor and to Rome, a pledge which I have never broken.

Caligula: And the other—Jesus—renounce Him so all can hear.

Marcellus stands.

Marcellus: I cannot renounce Him sire, nor can you. He is my King and yours as well He is the Son of God.

Caligula: And that is your answer.

Marcellus: Yes, sire.

Caligula: Tribune Gallio, we decree that you be taken immediately to the palace archery field and put to death for high treason!4

Was Tribune Gallio a traitor to Rome? No; he fulfilled his God-given responsibilities to his country. Yet he also understood that as a Christian, he had to put his Savior first—even before his country and even before his own life—when Rome demanded he renounce Christ.

While Christians do not yet face death for practicing their faith in America, the cost for being a Christian is rising significantly. Despite the cost, we cannot stand idly by and remain silent when the God-ordained institution of marriage—a picture of Christ and His church (see Eph. 5:31-32)—is being disfigured and mutilated by the state. The Supreme Court really isn’t Supreme. God is, and Christians have the job of obeying God’s verdict rather than the Supreme Court’s.

Won’t you speak up? Won’t you make a commitment to work tirelessly to reverse this horrific ruling? Let’s work together to bring our country back from the brink!

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1http://www.reformedreader.org/baptistsandreligiousliberty.htm

2http://renewingyourmind.org/broadcasts/2015/07/06/a-response-to-the-samesex-marriage-ruling

3http://www.wordfoundations.com/2015/07/17/the-supreme-courtisnt/

4The Robe, Twentieth-Century Fox, DVD, original movie 1953, renewed 1981

http://renewingyourmind.org/broadcasts/2015/07/06/a-response-to-the-samesex-marriage-ruling

The Supreme Court…Isn’t: Part 1 of 2 Parts

Responding to the Court’s Ruling on Marriage
Part 1: Background—Six Things The Bible Tells Us About the State

The supreme contribution of the new world to the old is the contribution of religious liberty. This is the chiefest contribution that America has thus far made to civilization.
—George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, in a speech on religious liberty delivered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, May 16, 19201

Anticipating the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage months before it occurred, a group of well known Christian leaders came together to help the church and individual Christians prepare. The group included Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk, Mathew Staver of Liberty Council Action, Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action, James Robison of LIFE Outreach International, and Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association. They worked together on a statement affirming natural marriage and promising resistance to any ruling attempting to redefine it. To date, over 50,000 concerned citizens and leaders have signed the document.2 The “Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage” states in part,

We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them.…

Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.…

defendmarriage-logo_03-300x64

Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law.

Then the pledge declares:

We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.3

This statement is especially striking. Not only does it underscore the signers’ resolve not to comply with any mandates emanating from a decision redefining marriage; it also points to the Higher Authorities to which the drafters and signers are appealing. These men and women have the right to warn the Supreme Court because they know a Higher Court will have the last word, and its decision already is evident in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,”4 to borrow a phrase from America’s founders. In other words, through both natural and supernatural revelation, the Supreme Court of the Universe has spoken with unmistakable clarity regarding marriage. That Court has jurisdiction over even the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is helpful to remember that the United States Supreme Court has issued a number of terrible decisions in U.S. history. In addition to the marriage ruling, here are three.

  • In the Dred Scott decision of 1857, the court ruled by a 7-2 vote that African-Americans, whether enslaved or free, could not be citizens of the United States.5
  • In an 8-1 ruling in Buck v. Bell in 1927, the court upheld a state law authorizing forced sterilization of individuals deemed unfit, including the mentally impaired. The ruling stated the law did not violate the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.6
  • Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973 legalized abortion in all 50 states at any time during a pregnancy. Both these rulings were determined by 7-2 votes. The debate over abortion continues to rage today, 42 years later.7,8,9,10

These decisions demonstrate that our government is far from infallible—(just in case we need to be reminded). It even can be guilty of egregious decisions and actions, including partiality, injustice, and cruelty.

Someone may ask, “Despite government’s flaws, don’t Christians have a duty to obey the state? Yes, they do. In Romans 13, Paul directed the Roman Christians to be good citizens by obeying civil authorities. When he did so, however, he explained that civil leaders affirm those who do right and punish evildoers. “Do you want to be unafraid of the authority?” Paul asked. “Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same” (v. 3). Peter echoed this principle in 1 Peter 2:13-14. Neither Paul nor Peter indicated civic leaders have absolute authority; the power they have is God-given and God-directed.

Let’s examine carefully what Paul wrote in Romans 13. He said,

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’s sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Here are some of the principles we can derive from this passage.

First, everyone—“every soul” (v. 1)—is to obey the government and be a good citizen. This includes obeying the laws (v. 1) and paying taxes (v. 7).

Second, God has delegated authority to the state. We understand this from phrases like these: “the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (v. 1); “God’s minister” (twice in v. 4); “God’s ministers” (v. 6). Therefore, generally speaking, when we resist the state, we’re resisting God—“whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (v. 2). Paul’s reference to obeying civil authorities “for conscience’s sake” in verse 5 also is an allusion to the believer’s responsibility to God. We are not saying the state is God—not at all. What we are saying is that the state has God-given responsibilities and God-given authority. To buck the state’s authority is to resist the authority of God as administered by the state.

Third, the government’s primary job is to maintain order by rewarding those who do right and punishing those who do wrong (vv. 3-4). (Contrary to popular belief, it is not the government’s job to meet the needs of the people, but that’s another discussion altogether.)

Fourth, while the state has the authority to promote order through laws and public policy, it does not have the right to promote, through laws or in any other way, practices that are sinful or contrary to God’s moral law. How do we know this? Because the state’s authority is delegated by God (see the second point, above). God never would authorize any person or entity to promote anything contrary to His character or His law (the third point).

Let’s put it another way. There is an established standard of right and wrong apart from any laws the state enacts or does not enact. This transcendent standard is established by God, not the state. If government fulfills its God-given responsibility, its policies will be consistent with God’s will. Paul (and also Peter in 1 Peter 2:13-14) wrote of the state’s responsibility in terms of the way God designed government to operate; they did not discuss the many ways in which the state, particularly the Roman government of that day, failed to follow God’s design. Certainly they could have written about this. Consider that Peter was writing to persecuted believers. Despite government’s failures, however, the general principle still applies: Citizens, including believers, are to obey the government and honor civic leaders, doing their part to maintain order in society. Even so, it is abundantly clear that government’s authority is not absolute. What happens when the laws of man direct Christians to disobey God? Keep reading.

Fifth, when the state enacts laws and/or policies that are inconsistent with God’s law, it has violated its God-given responsibility. In this case, Christian people both as individuals and as the church have a duty to confront civic leaders in appropriate ways and to work to repeal bad policy. They always should stand for what’s objectively right, even to the point of disobeying the state if it directs them to do what God prohibits or tells them to refrain from doing what God commands.

Because of the “design language” in Paul’s and Peter’s writings about Christians’ responsibilities as citizens, some have concluded that Christians never should engage in civil disobedience. This is a mistaken conclusion, especially in light of several examples of civil disobedience recorded in Scripture (see Ex. 1:15-22; Dan. 3; 6; Acts 4:1-31; 5:17-32).

Preventing the enactment of laws that are morally wrong also is important, especially in a country like ours where we still can work for peaceful change. Christians are to be informed voters and are to vote according to godly values. Moreover, once the election is over, they need to stay touch with their leaders, working to influence them to do what’s right.

This fifth principle underscores a vitally important truth: Just because something’s legal does not mean it is right. In his insightful book When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, Erwin Lutzer devotes entire chapter to this very point. Lutzer writes,

6fe69e009fda67fb085245ff18fbe8a0

Laws reflect a nation’s priority, agenda, and values. In Nazi Germany, where religion was privatized and God was separated from government, not even natural law was recognized as having validity. When Hitler got the Reichstag to give him the power to make the laws, the laws he made were arbitrary, drafted to fulfill the goals of a totalitarian state. The Nazis proclaimed, “Hitler is the law!” As Goering put it, “The law and the will of the Fuehrer are one.” Right and wrong was determined by Hitler and his cronies.…

After Hitler was defeated, war crime trials were held in Nuremberg to judge the guilt of Hitler’s henchmen. But a dispute arose as to what laws should be used to try the accused. After all, Hitler’s cronies argued, quite plausibly, that they had not broken any laws; their actions were carried out within the protection of their own legal system. They could not be accused of murder because personhood had been redefined to exclude Jews and other undesirables. These men were simply following the laws handed down by the courts of their day. As Eichmann protested before his execution, “I was simply following the laws of war and my flag!”11

511cYS5bZAL

The laws Eichmann followed were divorced from any and all transcendent standards of right and wrong, and this was the problem. As Lutzer explains, “Nazism insisted that ‘it is impossible to measure the laws of the Fuhrer against a higher concept of law because his laws are a direct expression of…volkisch,’” a concept said law was based on “communal life in Germany.”12

This really is quite similar to the fluid and unstable basis for law on which the Supreme Court’s marriage decision relies.13 It reminds us of what we hear so often from the left: “The Constitution is a living, breathing document.” This is maneuvering by activist judges, lawmakers, and other leaders so they can get away with ignoring the Constitution altogether. They don’t like being bound by it, so they say this and then depart from the Constitution’s provisions and guidelines.14 Such actions are illegal, since public officials have a sworn duty to uphold our Constitution, the “Supreme Law of the Land.”

The state’s possession of “the sword” in verse 4 means government has the power to enforce its laws. Because the state bears the sword, it has the ability to use it in ways inconsistent with God’s purpose and plan. The sixth principle is that government’s misuse of the sword also constitutes a violation of its God-given responsibility. In an increasing number of situations Christian business owners are being prosecuted and punished for simply following their deeply-held religious convictions.15 Such actions on the part of the state constitute abuses of God-given power that must be resisted and opposed.

Next time we’ll use these six principles as a backdrop against which to examine the Supreme Court’s marriage decision. Stay tuned.

Part 2 is available here.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1http://www.reformedreader.org/baptistsandreligiousliberty.htm

2http://www.defendmarriage.org

3http://defendmarriage.org/pledge-in-solidarity-to-defend-marriage

4https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dred_Scott_v._Sandford

6https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_v._Bell

7http://www.conservapedia.com/Roe_v._wade

8http://www.conservapedia.com/Doe_v._Bolton

9https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doe_v._Bolton

10http://www.procon.org/headline.php?headlineID=005139

11Erwin Lutzer, When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010), Kindle edition, locations 606,633-638.

12Lutzer, location 638.

13http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/america-punked-on-gay-marriage/

14http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1370086/posts

15http://www.adflegal.org/issues/religious-freedom/conscience

 

Applauding an Illegitimate Ruling and Ignoring a Lawful One

President Obama applauded and celebrated the Supreme Court decision that illegitimately and lawlessly enshrined same-sex marriage into the United States Constitution and forced it on every state in the union. It wasn’t as if the states had been silent on this issue. Dozens of state constitutional amendments affirming marriage as being the union of one man and one woman had been adopted through due process, but the Supreme Court jettisoned these laws, as well as thousands of years of tradition and social policy. We should not be surprised at Obama’s reaction, given the pattern of lawlessness exhibited by this president during his tenure.

How telling it is, therefore—and how consistent with the established pattern—that President Obama and his administration would totally ignore the Supreme Court’s lawful ruling that privately held family owned businesses are not required to purchase insurance policies for their employees that include abortion and abortion-inducing drugs. A July 10, 2015 press release from the Family Research Council states, “Family Research Council (FRC) responded today to a new final rule issued by the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The rule mandates that non-profit organizations be forced to pay for coverage that includes sterilizations, contraception and drugs that have the potential to destroy an unborn child.” Jamie Dangers, Legislative Assistant at the Family Research Council, explained, “The Obama administration is offering a variation of an old accounting gimmick which still mandates that the Little Sisters of the Poor, Notre Dame, and many other religious non-profits offer coverage with objectionable benefits.…Even more incredible, HHS is now applying this scheme to family-owned businesses such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties which already won relief from the government mandate by the Supreme Court. The Obama administration is disregarding the Court’s ruling declaring this mandate a violation of the family owned business’s religious freedoms.”

Let’s return to the marriage ruling for a moment. A wnd.com news article reports that a legal brief submitted to the Alabama Supreme Court “argues there is precedent in the U.S. for a state Supreme Court to reject a ‘U.S. Supreme Court mandate which is unlawful.’… The brief submitted by Liberty Counsel to the state court notes that the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to follow the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in [the 1857] Dred Scott [ruling], which ‘said that blacks were not entitled to full protection as citizens.’”

Do we need to wonder how the Obama administration would respond if the Alabama Supreme Court or any other state Supreme Court, acting constitutionally, were to refuse recognize the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage ruling?

Unfortunately, the lawlessness continues unabated.

Related articles:

Despite Repeated Supreme Court Losses, Obama Continues Fight With Little Sisters, Religious Groups Over Birth Control, Abortifacients

Obama Beats Nuns in Birth Control Mandate Battle; Fight Not Over, Little Sisters Say

Judges: Nuns Must Obey Obama

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Obergefell v. Hodges: Eliminating Freedom in the Name of Upholding It

440px-Supreme_Court_US_2010

It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression…that the germ of dissolution of our Federal Government is in the constitution of the Federal Judiciary—an irresponsible body…working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction until all shall be usurped from the States and the government be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed.
—Thomas Jefferson1

[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government.…and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.
—Noah Webster2

Americans now live in an oligarchy—a form of government that can be described as rule by a few. This is but one of the lessons coming out of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the Court redefined marriage in America to include same-sex couples.

It is helpful periodically to review the various approaches to government. There are five.

  • Monarchy—rule by one, a king
  • Oligarchy—rule by a few, an elite group
  • Democracy—rule by the majority
  • Republic—rule by law
  • Anarchy—rule by none

Note that when the founders of America established this country, they set up a republic. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.3 The meetings were secret,4 so concerned citizens were anxious to know what had happened. Following the proceedings, a lady approached Benjamin Franklin and asked him what kind of government delegates had established for the new nation. Franklin replied, “A republic…if you can keep it.”5,6

In fashioning the republic, this country’s early leaders looked to the Bible and sought to base the structure of the nation’s new government on biblical principles.7 Here’s one example. The men who established this nation crafted three branches of government—the presidency, the Congress, and the courts (executive, legislative, and judicial). They patterned these after God’s multiple roles as king, lawgiver, and judge. Isaiah 33:22 says that “the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us.” But there is more. Recognizing man’s sinfulness and his tendency to become corrupt when given too much power, America’s earliest leaders made the branches separate. The specific responsibilities given each branch and the barriers between them would act to restrain each one and keep it from overstepping its authority.

Sadly, the judicial branch has overstepped its authority on many occasions. Most recently and most ominously, five unelected Supreme Court justices, along with numerous federal judges in lower courts, have overruled millions of American citizens who voted to affirm natural marriage in 39 states.8 The Constitution’s “We the People” has been replaced by the elite few of the Supreme Court. In other instances the executive branch has overstepped its authority, and Congress and the courts have allowed this to happen.9,10,11

As believers and as concerned Americans, we need to understand the fragility of our liberties. Freedom is threatened not solely by arrogant politicians on one side of the spectrum and acquiescent officials on the other, but also by (and this may be even more important) the absence of an internal restraint that used to characterize Americans. Today, society’s rejection of God has removed that restraint, and bitter fruit can only result.

Clayton M. Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts.12 A brilliant economist and as well as a man of faith,13 Christensen offers these insightful observations in a powerful You Tube video. (While he uses the term “democracy,” here he essentially means our republican form of government.)

Some time ago I had a conversation with a Marxist economist from China. He was coming to the end of a Fulbright Fellowship here in Boston, and I asked him if he learned anything that was surprising or unexpected. And without any hesitation, he said, “Yeah, I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.” The reason why democracy works, he said, is not because the government was designed to oversee what everybody does. But rather, democracy works because most people most of the time, voluntarily choose to obey the law. And in her past, most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week, and they were taught there by people they respected.

My friend went on to say that Americans follow these rules because they had come to believe that they weren’t just accountable to society; they were accountable to God.

My Chinese friend [further observed] that as religion loses its influence over Americans, what will happen to democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they too need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws? Because if you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.14

Read that last statement again and allow it to sink in. If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police. The positive counterpart to this truth is that widespread adherence to religion compels people to police themselves, making a free society possible.

Our founders, as well as many of our leaders and statesmen during our nation’s history, understood that devotion to God or “religion” was the only force that could hold both people and leaders accountable to the nation’s laws. Note that leaders, not just citizens, were to live under the law. Read carefully some of America’s statesmen’s words on the importance of religion in maintaining liberty.

Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

  • “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”15—Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
  • “[M]en…will be free no longer than while they remain virtuous.”16—Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
  • “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government…can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppressive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people.”17—George Washington (1732-1799)
  • “Statesmen…may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand….The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.”18—John Adams (1735-1826) On October 11, 1798, Adams also said, “[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”19
  • “Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of free men. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, are incompatible with freedom.”20—Patrick Henry (1736-1799)
  • “[W]ithout virtue there can be no liberty.”21—Benjamin Rush (1746-1814), signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”22—James Madison (1751-1836)
  • “All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the State supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is Religion which must support the State.”23—Robert Winthrop (1809-1894), to the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Bible Society Boston, Mass; May 28, 1849.
  • “The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.”24—Frederick Douglas (1818-1895)
  • “America! America! / God mend thine every flaw, / Confirm thy soul in self-control, / Thy liberty in law!”25—Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929), in the second stanza of “America the Beautiful”
  • “History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”26—Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)
  • “Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first—the most basic—expression of Americanism.”27—President Dwight Eisenhower, 1955 (1890-1969)
  • “You cannot have liberty without faith. You may have tyranny and despotism without it, but not liberty. Because if you dissolve the bonds which faith creates, the government must inevitably move in to create the control which has been lost by [the removal of] the internal Christian self-government upon which the founders of this country based our nation.”28—D. James Kennedy (1930-2007), in a sermon titled “The Bible and the Constitution” preached June 7, 1987

djameskennedy

  • “Does [Justice] Kennedy understand liberty apart from God’s moral code brings on horrors like were experienced during the French Revolution? Does he understand the role marriage and family play in self-governance? Does he have any idea of the kind of world he has insured our children will know?…America was morally adrift long before this ruling. This is the fast-track version of moral relativism as national political, legal, educational and cultural policy.”29—Joseph Farah (b. 1954), founder, editor, and CEO of WND.com

We as believers must recognize these truths if we are to effectively contend for the preservation and, in some cases, the restoration, of liberty and freedom. Most people have absolutely no understanding of the delicate balance between national order and individual liberty. Perhaps no modern observer painted a clearer picture of this balance than Francis Schaeffer.

4dd5883f

In our own country we have enjoyed enormous human freedom. But at the same time this freedom has been founded upon forms of government, law, culture, and social morality which have given stability to individual and social life, and have kept our freedoms from leading to chaos. There is a balance here between from and freedom which we have come to take as natural in the world. But it is not natural. And we are utterly foolish if we do not recognize that this unique balance which we have inherited from the Reformation thought-forms is not automatic in a fallen world. This is clear when we look at the long span of history. But it is equally clear when we read the daily newspaper and see half the world locked in totalitarian oppression.

The Reformation not only brought forth a clear preaching of the gospel, it also gave shape to society as a whole—including government, how people viewed the world, and the full spectrum of culture.…This is not to say that the Reformation was ever a “golden age” or that everyone in Reformation countries were true Christians. But it is clear that through the Reformation many were brought to Christ and that the absolutes of the Bible became widely disseminated in the culture as a whole. The freedoms which grew out of this were tremendous, and yet, with the forms grounded in a biblical consensus or ethos, the freedoms did not lead to chaos.

But something has happened in the last sixty years [Schaeffer’s statements were published in 1984]. The freedom that once was founded on a biblical consensus and a Christian ethos has now become autonomous freedom, cut loose from all constraints. Here we have the world spirit of our age—autonomous Man setting himself up as God, in defiance of the knowledge and the moral and spiritual truth which God has given. Here is the reason why we have a moral breakdown in every area of life. The titanic freedoms which we once enjoyed have been cut lose from their Christian restraints and are becoming a force of destruction leading to chaos. And when this happens, there really are very few alternatives. All morality becomes relative, law becomes arbitrary, and society moves toward disintegration. In personal and social life, compassion is swallowed up by self-interest. As I have pointed out in my earlier books [these statements come from the last book Schaeffer would write], when the memory of the Christian consensus which gave us freedom within the biblical form is increasingly forgotten, a manipulating authoritarianism will tend to fill the vacuum. At this point the words “right” and “left” will make little difference. They are only two roads to the same end; the results are the same. An elite, and authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go into chaos—and most people will accept it.30

We cannot overstate the ominous nature of this situation. While in truth, religion, most significantly Christianity, has provided the basis for American freedom and liberty, today that foundation is being viciously attacked. Furthermore, a new definition of freedom now prevails in society. To most people, freedom is what we once referred to as license. And beyond this, Christianity is being portrayed not as the friend of freedom, but as its enemy.31,32,33,34

Even more broadly, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges sends the signal to all Americans that whatever a person has an urge to do, fulfilling that urge is legitimate and valid—even a positive good. This lie not only falsely legitimizes homosexuality but will falsely legitimize a great deal of additional destructive behaviors and practices as well. President Barak Obama said, “No matter who you are or what you look like or who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”35

Unfortunately, we are not freer under these conditions, because under these conditions, we really aren’t being treated equally. Some are being treated as more special than others; preference is being given to those who engage in practices contrary to God’s law. They even have been given an unfair advantage in that they now have legal leverage to use against dissenters that dissenters do not have, even though the American way is one of free and open debate, with each group contending for its position in the marketplace of ideas. The American people also are being lied to and being led to believe that destructive actions are harmless and even good. Our founders would not be fooled by these lies. They realized the truth of these Bible passages, among many others.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov. 14:34).

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isa. 5:20).

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings (Jer. 17:9-10).

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Still, especially in this environment, we as Christians have a duty to declare the truth and to call America back to God. We must do so lovingly, but also with confidence that the truth is on our side. And we must do so with a clear understanding of the connection between faith, freedom, and stability in society. We do this not for our sakes alone but also for the sakes of the children who will bear the brunt of the marriage ruling.36,37,38,39,40

We also do it for everyone celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, because we realize they actually are sawing off the very branch on which they themselves are sitting.

Eventually, unless America’s course is altered, no one will be free.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Notes:

1http://www.tysknews.com/Depts/The_Law/jefferson.htm

2http://www.free2pray.info/5founderquotes.html

3https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_Convention_(United_States)

4http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/Ftrials/conlaw/convention1787.html

5http://www.whatwouldthefoundersthink.com/a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it

6http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/7631-a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it

7http://www.nccs.net/2003-10-early-americans-studied-the-bible.php

8http://goo.gl/JJN1vy

9http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/07/ted-cruz-releases-definitive-list-of-76-lawless-obama-actions/

10http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-f-will-stopping-a-lawless-president/2014/06/20/377c4d6e-f7e5-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

11http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3304919/posts

12https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_M._Christensen

13https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_M._Christensen

14https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjntXYDPw44

15http://www.dakotavoice.com/2008/07/only-a-virtuous-people-are-capable-of-freedom/

16http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch18s14.html

17http://foundingquotes.com/georgewashington.htm

18http://foundingquotes.com/johnadams.htm

19http://www.beliefnet.com/resourcelib/docs/115/Message_from_John_Adams_to_the_Officers_of_the_First_Brigade_1.html

20http://foundingquotes.com/pathenry.htm

21http://www.partyof1776.net/p1776/issues/Virtue/contents.html

22http://thestoryoflibertyblog.com/2012/06/21/james-madison-and-the-constitution-and-branches-of-government/

23http://www.fortifyingthefamily.com/religion_state.html

24http://quotes.lifehack.org/quote/frederick-douglass/the-life-of-the-nation-is-secure/

25https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_the_Beautiful

26http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs155/1108762609255/archive/1116360892946.html

27http://eisenhower.archives.gov/all_about_ike/quotes.html

28http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=6131413413610

29http://www.wnd.com/2015/06/the-consequences-of-the-marriage-ruling/

30Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 21-23.

31http://www.citizenlink.com/2015/06/26/why-the-marriage-decision-is-not-like-roe-v-wade/

32http://www.citizenlink.com/2015/06/30/why-the-marriage-decision-is-not-like-roe-v-wade-radio/

33http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/05/war-on-christianity-american-churches-who-oppose-same-sex-marriage-will-lose-tax-exemption/

34http://www.wnd.com/2015/04/courts-conclude-faith-loses-to-gay-demands/

35http://wspa.com/2015/06/26/justice-scalia-delivers-scathing-dissent-of-gay-marriage-decision/

36http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/26/american-college-of-pediatricians-on-same-sex-marriage-ruling-a-tragic-day-for-americas-children/

37http://www.wnd.com/2015/05/high-court-on-verge-of-destroying-the-family/

38http://news.yahoo.com/lawyers-gay-marriage-detriment-children-013731653.html

39http://www.wnd.com/2004/05/24469/

40http://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/05/27/the-wests-hatred-of-children-and-families/

Who Meets the People’s Needs?

While many believe government exists to meet people’s needs, Scripture teaches individual responsibility. So does history. Settlers in both Jamestown and Plymouth initially sought to produce food and wealth according to a communal system. Workers contributed the fruits of their labors to a “common store” on which all relied. This approach pushed both settlements to the brink of starvation. Yet when land was assigned and people could reap the benefits of their own work, the communities prospered.

The Bible commends reward for hard work among able-bodied people. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit.” Paul told the Thessalonians that whoever wouldn’t work shouldn’t be allowed to eat (see 2 Thess. 3:10), and he told Timothy that “if anyone does not provide for his own,…he…is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). It isn’t government’s job to meet the people’s needs. That job belongs to the people themselves.

  • Genesis 2:15
  • Exodus 20:8-9
  • Proverbs 6:6-11
  • Proverbs 12:14
  • Proverbs 14:23
  • Ecclesiastes 3:13
  • Ecclesiastes 5:12
  • Romans 12:11
  • Ephesians 4:28
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12
  • 1 Timothy 5:3-8

Alvin J. Schmidt, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 211-212. This work has been rereleased under the title How Christianity Changed the World.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

The Purpose of Government

On tax day, 2015, we do well to consider the purpose of government. Most people today, including most Christians, believe government exists to meet the needs of its citizens. Scripture says otherwise. In Romans 13, when Paul directed the Roman Christians to be good citizens by obeying civil authorities, he explained that civil leaders affirm those who do right and punish evildoers. “Do you want to be unafraid of the authority?” Paul asked. “Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same” (v. 3). Peter echoed this principle in 1 Peter 2:13-14.

God established governments to promote and maintain order in society by punishing those who do wrong and honoring those who do right. This is not their only duty, but this task is primary.

This truth gives rise to some important questions. How are the people’s needs to be met? What happens when civil authorities don’t know right from wrong? Stay tuned. We’ll explore some of these issues in the very near future.

Romans 13:1-7

1 Peter 2:13-17

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.