[COMMENT: The article below is more about Biblical Government than about homosexual marriage. It is written to show that the proposed Marriage Amendment to the Constitution is not a good idea. The amendment will not solve our problem with homosexual marriage, and it will subvert the real point of having a constitution and limited government. There are better ways to deal with homosexuality and marriage. E. Fox]
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Legal pdf format (makes good 4-page
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See also Senator Miller defends Constitution on floor of Senate --
and **Consensus & Constitution -- vs. the Marriage Amendment -- Letter to the Washington Times.
There are several other articles in the Homosexuality Library.]
I. Who Gives the Ascendancy?
II. Moral Consensus Governs a Free People
III. Separation of Powers & Judicial Review
IV. Forming a Moral Consensus
V. The Marriage Amendment
VI. Completing Our Unfinished Constitution
VII. A Declaration Amendment
VIII. Honest Pluralism
IX. How Do We Know?
X. An Elijah-Contest
Americans, generally, do not understand their own history or Constitution, they do not understand the Biblical form of civil government, nor the Biblical notion of sex and gender. And we are only marginally obedient to that which we think we know. We would not be in our present painful confusion over sex, religion, and government if we were intelligently faithful. The way of the cross is neither popular nor understood among Christians.
The presenting issue for this piece is the aggressive attempt to legalize marriage between two persons of the same sex, but the deeper issue is the nature of Biblical government. Most Americans are not aware that there is a Biblical form of government, and many would react, that, if there were, it would probably be un-American (as I thought for most of my life). We were founded as a secular nation, were we not?
Yes, there is a Biblical form of government, and, no, we were not founded as a secular nation.
The presenting issue is homosexual marriage and the retaliatory "marriage amendment", but the presenting issue could equally be, for example, abortion, free trade, socialism, one-world government, education, or limited government. So this essay on Biblical government is appropriate to a wider range of issues than homosexuality. Until we get under our belts the nature of our own American historical and constitutional relation to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to the lordship of Jesus Christ, we will never find solid ground for resolving any of the subsidiary issues.
I have worked since 1989 with Exodus, helping people out of the homosexual lifestyle, and with the public policy issues surrounding homosexuality both in the Episcopal Church and in educational and governmental arenas. The proposed Constitutional amendment making heterosexual marriage the national standard is not, I believe, a helpful way to deal with the threat of homosexual marriage. It is an ill-informed and simplistic attempt to solve a much deeper issue, the subversion of Biblical moral consensus in Western Civilization.
The American public is getting understandably (but at least four decades late) upset at the sexual degradation illustrated by the (almost for sure planned) breast exposure at the 2004 Super Bowl.
But the matter runs much deeper. Lewd sexual behavior is explicitly taught to children in many of our government-run schools (e.g., supported by the governor and department of education in Massachusetts). Not long ago, child seduction into immoral and dangerous sexual behavior would have been prosecuted as a criminal offense. But, if promiscuous, addictive, and lethal homosexual behavior is to be blessed by marriage, why this outrage at the exposure? Perhaps Miss Jackson and her friend were only doing what their public schools had taught them. (Faithful Christians, and others with common sense, will remove their children from government-run schools.)
Prior to the exposure incident, the Super Bowl "entertainment" had already been pockmarked by Viagra ads and other sexual innuendoes -- bringing no noticeable outrage or turned-off TV sets. And as someone pointed out, Miss Jackson left the stage a free woman, whereas the streaker at the same event was escorted by the police.
The outrage is a bit uncomfortable, defensive, and monumentally naive.
The American public, including clergy and political leadership, have shown ourselves incompetent and unwilling to fight the spiritual warfare in which Western Civ. has been engaged for the last 600 years -- but most obviously since the sex-revolution of the 1960's.
Stated simply: because the Christian community did not integrate the two Crown Jewels of Western Civ. (science and due process in civil law -- both given by God) into their Christian faith, therefore secularism and paganism have been able systematically to undermine the Biblical foundations of civilization -- which had begun with the excursion of Jewish Christians into the surrounding pagan world. Western Civ. (including the two Crown Jewels) was built on Judeo-Christian foundations, but over the last two centuries, secularists and pagans have run Christians from the public arena.
The unmistakable symptom of Christian failure is our incapacity to say, gracefully, in public, "Jesus is Lord." We have neither inner conviction nor outer capacity to defend that assertion in public. If Jesus is indeed Lord, why is a pagan sexuality in the ascendant? Why is the homosexual agenda steam-rolling through our land? The Bible gives a clear answer: God is in charge of history and God gives the ascendancy. He gave it to the Assyrians, to the Babylonians, and to Rome. And then He gave it to the Christians.
But by the thirteenth century, Western Christians had already begun to lose their vision of God. Slowly at first. Secularism gained momentum in the Renaissance, and the Reformation did little, in the long run, to counter it. Secularism continued on with the so-called "Enlightenment", and by the 20th century had effectively run Christians from the public arena, especially media, politics, and education.
God has given the homosexual agenda the ascendancy because Christians do not know how, or do not wish, to respond with love and with graceful reason. We do not know how to treat homosexual persons with dignity. We just want the problem to go away. So God is putting the problem right in our faces until we begin to be obedient to Him in this matter.
We will have to learn some hard lessons: (1) how to love our enemies (the way of the cross); (2) how to do our homework researching the nature of homosexual behavior (honest science); and (3) how to administer Godly government. This essay is about the latter -- Godly government.
America is failing. We are far down the road to being one more
"has been" nation, and the West a "has been" culture. St. Augustine was right (The City of God) that a nation which does not honor God will not endure. The
barbarians from without can conquer only because of the rot already within.
Neo-barbarians are at the helm of the American Ship of State -- in both parties.
The following is a quick summary of a Biblical form of government as intended by our founding fathers.
Society is all us folks out here in the public arena going about our business. Civil government is limited (almost entirely) to the role of "referee" for society. Government is not the society or the public, it is the servant-referee for the public, to enforce values which the public has assigned (via elected legislators) for the referee to enforce. As with football, the referee has no authority to make up rules on its own. When it tries, it must be quickly replaced because it has become tyrannical.
The political point of a Biblical view is the acknowledgment our Sovereign -- which is our basis for moral consensus. "Jesus is Lord" is a political claim. The "Lord" is whoever can give moral authority to a consensus. Only God can do that. Civil government can bestow no moral authority. It is only an institution for administering the moral consensus already given by God. Jesus thus asserts authority over all affairs of heaven and earth.
If we have no Sovereign, we also thereby have neither rights nor obligations -- and thus no possibility of legitimacy of government, only arbitrary force. Life is a free-for-all power-struggle with no morality and no consensus.
The only way to secure a moral consensus is under the will of God. Only the Creator can supply the objective foundation for obligating persons possessed of free will. That is true because, as a logical fact, only the Giver-of-existence can supply our reason-for-existence. Our reason for existence is the meaning and source of all obligation, and therefore of the objective distinction between right and wrong,. Law can get its legality only from such a prior morality. And that can come only from our Creator.
Every society develops a "moral consensus", a general understanding of the difference between good and bad, right and wrong. But a consensus has moral objectivity only if founded on the law of God which expresses the purpose of God for His creation.
"Values" are plural because each person, by nature of his freewill, has his own set of values. Values in this individualistic sense cannot provide an objective moral consensus. Individual values are good and necessary, but ungoverned by the law of God, they create moral competition and chaos, not consensus, every man doing what is right in his own eyes. Moral consensus comes only when there is an obligation on all persons to obey a certain set of values. Only the values of the Creator qualify.
Even if all the persons of a society happened to agree, that consensus would not be objective in the required sense because any or all of them could freely unchoose. There would be no obligation for them to stay in agreement. What I choose, I can unchoose, so without God there are no objective values, only the jungle of competing individual values - vendetta law. Unless there is a majority consensus on an obligatory set of values to be enforced, a free government will not survive. It will gravitate toward larger size and increased meddling in the lives of its people.
As one 1850's Speaker of the House remarked, we will be ruled by the Bible or by the bayonet. When the hearts of people are at odds with God and with each other (plural and therefore conflicting values), when there is no objective and obligatory moral consensus, civil government progressively encroaches into our decisions to force us to behave -- increasingly according to its own standards, not those of either the people or of God.
The Biblical answer is that civil government is morally and
legally bound to honor the standards of God as interpreted by the people. One
nation under God. The role of the Church is to be the conscience of
society. The Church has the role of helping people understand the law and grace
of God -- so that they can bring the values of God into the public arena. That
was the common opinion among America's founding fathers.
The true separation of Church and State requires (a) that the State by itself will never be allowed to decide "the mind of God" -- i.e., autonomously to decide the difference between right and wrong, between legal and illegal, and (b) that the Church will never hold the gun of enforcement.
In other words, he who holds the gun of enforcement may not decide how that enforcement will be used. And, on the other side, those who help make the decision on how the enforcement will be directed may not wield that enforcement. The deciding, that is to say, may not be coerced. It must come from open, candid discussion.
That is the separation of powers which sustains a free people. The wielders of power may not decide how it is to be used, and the deciders may not wield the power. They must win by open, honest persuasion.
That is why the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive are separated. The executive wields, the legislature decides what laws will be enforced, and the judiciary decides against whom the force of law will be wielded. The executive is bound to enforce according to the decisions of the other two, with the legislature being the primary decider because it is the most directly responsive to the people.
That separation of "deciders" from "wielders" explains why judicial review of the constitutionality of laws must be curtailed so as to be only advisory, not mandatory.
The constitution represents not only the technical process for creating laws, it represents the basic moral vision of society. It represents "what it means to be an American", the moral and spiritual consensus, the worldview. That is why, of course, conflicting parties insist on their interpretations of the Constitution.
Open, candid discussion of America's religious/moral vision is the most important debate which can happen today, not the debate which should be "constitutionally" suppressed. There is no possibility of having a "neutral" moral vision as though a society could avoid taking a stand on moral issues. Every law enforces someone's moral stand. So it is important that we discern the right standard, i.e., the law and grace of God.
Nine Supreme Court judges, unelected and unaccountable to the people, are legally incapable of final judgments on the moral consensus of society, i.e., on "what the Constitution means". For them to attempt to do is tyranny -- the arbitrary and unrestrained exercise of power.
Yet they and the Massachusetts Court, have tried to tell America what it's moral vision must be. The courts have taken upon themselves the task of creating our moral consensus -- as though they, like Caesar, thought they were God. The vision must come from the people, and if it is to be a moral vision, it must come from the people under God. Only a society under God can create a moral consensus. The courts cannot create it, they can only respect and follow it -- or subvert it and thus render themselves outlaw courts.
The primary role of the courts, therefore, is to determine who
has broken the law and punishment for the guilty. Thoughts they might have about
the constitutionality of a law can be only advisory. The executive and judicial
branches are experts in law, and their advice in constitutionality should be
taken seriously. However, a negative judicial review from either should throw
the matter back to people as represented in Congress, the state legislatures, or
a national referendum, e.g., constitutional amendment.
There are two fundamental worldviews, the Biblical and the secular/pagan.
The Biblical worldview is distinguished by a personal Creator who has a purpose for His creation -- Intelligent Design, as it is coming to be called in the creation/evolution debates. The cosmos in this view is an "open system" because it has communication with God metaphysically outside the cosmos.
The secular/pagan worldview is, on the other hand, a metaphysically "closed system". There is nothing beyond the cosmos with which to communicate. There is no possibility of anything from without interfering with the cosmos. Some form of evolution is the only way to explain the way things are in a cosmic closed system.
Societies have only four ways to form their moral consensus: (1) raw power struggle; (2) Biblical -- "Come, let us reason together..."; (3) a secular moral base; or (4) Hegelian consensus-building. The three non-Biblical ways are found in the closed system of the secular/pagan worldview. Historically, they developed (more or less) as follows:
Power-struggle is that by which the world has operated for most of its history. The strongest, most clever, richest, the most talented, he who by coercion or guile can force his will on others, wins. Discussion means a contest of wits or arms. Elegantly simple. That is how the pre-Biblical world ran its affairs.
The Biblical form of government began in the Old Testament, and then emerged in world history slowly out of the collapse of the pagan Roman Empire through the development of common law in Western Europe. It came to be based squarely on the unheard of Biblical principle that every human being was of equal worth so that government was obligated to treat each person, no matter their power station in life, as equal before the law. Each person was guaranteed equal opportunity to discover and pursue his "reason for existence" (moral fulfillment) under the law and grace of God. The American democratic republic under God is the best example.
Reasoning together is necessarily the way to establishing a free-will covenant, such as the Kingdom of God, or a democratic republic under God. The terms of the covenant and the persons involved must be openly revealed and freely chosen.
As the secular so-called "Enlightenment" began to replace the Biblical worldview, other ways had to be found to continue the obvious benefits of the Biblical heritage. People searched for ways to preserve some sense of justice and righteousness, rather than reverting back again into pre-Biblical raw power-struggle.
A secular moral base has been claimed by some philosophers since the 1800's to preserve that sense of justice and righteousness, and most secular people think there is such a thing as a secular moral base. And indeed, the western secular world for most of the 19th century did share much of the Biblical view on morality.
Secular and pagan people can be marvelously noble and ethical, but, given their worldview, they can offer no explanation as to the basis for their moral commitment or obligation. Secular moral commitment has no intellectual integrity because it can identify no objective moral base. It is therefore always drifting toward collapse, as indeed happened in the second half of the 20th century. Secularism is inherently a-moral and is leading the West into moral free-fall, with no bottom to the pit.
A "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" solution was provided by Friedrich Hegel. "Hegelian dialectic" sought to resolve the contest between opposing views (thesis vs. anti-thesis) without fighting by merging opposites into a syn-thesis.
That is typically accomplished by a process known as "Dialogue to Consensus", "Values Clarification", or the "Delphi Technique". Thesis and antithesis talk together until they come to an agreement, the synthesis. But since there are no objective facts or values, only various viewpoints (relative truth), dialogue cannot be about logic, fact, or morality, only about bartering and trade off so that, hopefully, everyone feels good (or, at least, not too disruptively disappointed) about the conclusion. And thus unity (not truth) is preserved. But unity not based on truth cannot hold.
Dialogue to consensus is the technique used, often in the Church, by those who believe unity to be more important than truth. They must use some such technique because they do not believe there is any truth (or, at least, not any verifiable truth) around which the human race can be united. Not being based on either truth or righteousness, it is easily and often subject to manipulation and deceit.
So, without the Biblical worldview foundation, politics becomes either open conflict of arms or an endless pragmatic struggle to find consensus based, not on truth or morality, but on horse-trading and vote-buying. That is why politics has a reputation for being "dirty". Bismark, the Iron Chancellor of Germany, remarked that there are two things one does not want to see being made: sausage and law.
In the end, the center of consensus cannot hold, and so out comes the bayonet to rescue the disintegrating unity. Hegel and Bismark were linear predecessors of Hitler.
The Church is thought irrelevant, or worse, because it talks about real truth and morality, cramping the style of those who seek the freedom to pursue, not their reason for existence, but what ever they want -- at their own sovereign discretion. Society has no conscience, and every man does what is right in his own eyes.
In a Biblical culture, politics is a noble calling because politics is the art of discerning the will of God for the good of the people. As the King said, the law is made for man, not man for the law. "Come, let us reason together" is an invitation to a "reality check", to get at the facts and the true morality of the matter, not for a power struggle deceitfully disguised as "dialogue to consensus". The Church then plays the role of the conscience of society, helping society form a moral consensus by discerning the will of God in free and open discussion.
We are then ruled by the internalized law and grace of God
(moral consensus). The bayonet is hardly seen because we already govern
ourselves under the law of God.
One Marriage Amendment proposal reads:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
A constitutional marriage amendment looks like a quick fix for the homosexual issue, but, based on the above discussion, it has flaws.
1. It works from the wrong end, from the top (constitution) down rather than from the bottom (moral consensus) up, enforcing a heterosexual standard for marriage on everyone. It will lull America into the illusion that the problem has been solved, and back again into complacency.
2. Laws not supported by a moral consensus will end in their own erosion (as with the "prohibition" attempt to end the sale of alcoholic beverages by constitutional amendment). A Biblical moral consensus is the foundation toward which we must work. And that requires the hard work from the bottom up of repentance, renewal, and rebuilding of the whole moral and cultural fabric of America and Western Civilization.
3. Putting one more element under the control of the federal government is working in the wrong direction. It will further expand the areas of federal control, laying the groundwork for federal control of marriage and family issues, something not contemplated by our founders, and unhealthy for society. Laws should be as locally implemented as reason will allow.
4. The constitution is not the proper place for specific
legislation. A marriage amendment ignores the distinction between constitutional
and statutory law. A constitution is the place where the general moral vision of
the people should be stated, not specific issues decided. Except where given by
the constitution to the realm of federal statute, all specific legislation
belongs to state and local jurisdiction.
Our present constitution was written defectively, for it is almost entirely a technical document, outlining the "due process" by which decisions shall be made -- with nothing about the moral or spiritual substance of those decisions. There is no clear indication of spiritual or moral consensus, leaving the constitution open to secular and/or pagan interpretation. Like a "Roberts Rules of Order", it outlines the process for debate, but nothing concerning that substantive content which a national-identity requires. Taken out of historical context, it appears to presuppose a kind of values free-for-all.
And that is precisely what deceitful courts, week-kneed legislators, and an increasingly dumbed-down populace have allowed to happen. Comments that the Constitution is a "living document" really are claims by politicians to do whatever they want with it, irrespective of their obligation to honor the consensus of the people under God. America is being run by manipulative "dialogue to consensus", not by "Come, let us reason together..."
Political due process and the freedoms established as given in our constitution emerged out of one and only one worldview -- the Biblical. Our freedoms will not survive the loss of that worldview. There is no possibility of freedom enduring apart from the law and grace of God because only the will of God can make our freedoms inalienable. The Bible or the bayonet.
However, we do have fundamental values and a worldview firmly entrenched in our common law tradition, going back through English common law, strongly influenced by the Reformation, and prior to that, by the development of law in the Middle Ages, such as the Magna Carta, deeply impacted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. And behind him, lay the whole Biblical tradition going back to earliest Hebrew law well before 1000 BC. The Ten Commandments are indeed the bedrock of Western legal tradition.
That common law tradition is the ground of our Declaration of Independence, referring to God four times as both Savior and Sovereign over American politics, not just over our personal lives. That view was held almost universally by the founding fathers, and commonly by jurists on both sides of the Atlantic. They were not deists, as opponents of the Biblical view claim.
Over the 19th and 20th centuries, however, Christians lost their ability to stand in public and even present, let alone convincingly defend, their worldview and spiritual commitment. Christians lost their political integrity -- they could not say out loud that "Jesus is Lord". Whatever they said in church, in public they had become indeed practicing deists. They lost America first to secularists, and now to pagans, leading directly to the illogical, unhistorical, and illegal (unconstitutional) "separation of Church and State" as currently enforced. And to a very un-gay agenda.
Moral and spiritual consensus is exactly the issue in need of public debate (which has been scuttled by our false notion of Church and State separation). How we go about determining our moral consensus will decide the other moral and political issues of America. Upon that will rest any enduring decision we make about marriage. Pasting a Biblical sexual ethic into our Constitution without an undergirding national moral consensus will create self-destructive stresses (again, as with "prohibition" ).
The Bible is the world's only monotheistic Scripture. Monotheism in the spiritual realm naturally gravitates toward monogamy in marriage. And the Biblical tradition (as Rabbi Dennis Prager said) has alone "put the sexual genie into the marital bottle". Thus when the Biblical worldview goes, so does monogamy, which is replaced by the pansexual view that all sexual behaviors are morally equivalent, in which homosexual behavior is only a small segment of the wide array of equally valid sexual behaviors.
There are no sound-byte, quick-fixes. The recovery of moral consensus will not be furthered by a top-down process, only by a bottom-up, long march to retake the institutions and culture of America --beginning with the Church, and thus the restoration of our public conscience.
That process will be expedited by an open, candid public
discussion of "Who is Lord? God or civil government? Who gives moral
authority to our social consensus?" As we make a clear worldview decision,
the marriage decision, for better or for worse, will be settled.
The preamble to the Constitution reads:
We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The following alternative amendment to the Preamble is aimed not at marriage, but in quite another direction:
...do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America upon the laws of nature and of nature's God, as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, as developed over centuries of common law tradition, and as revealed in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.
This would, of course, provoke a firestorm of protest, mostly on
the grounds that we are now a "pluralistic" nation. "What about Hindus and
atheists? Are they not Americans, too?"
There are good answers to these challenges, and the added text has some powerful virtues:
1. It is rooted solidly in American history. American history has been adequately redocumented, after having been trashed for nearly a century of anti-freedom forces bent on establishing the form of government appropriate to the French, not the American, Revolution. (See, for example, Original Intent, by David Barton 817 441-6044 www.wallbuilders.com. Also, Defending the Declaration by Gary Amos.).
2. It presents a case which can be defended both legally and logically, for it rests on the foundation of objective ethics, which alone can give moral, and therefore also legal, authority to due process in civil government. The secular/pagan worldview cannot support a distinction between good and evil, and therefore cannot support unalienable rights and freedoms. Only the Biblical worldview can do that.
3. The Biblical view points to limited government, by which alone society can remain free. Only the Biblical worldview puts civil government under an authority higher than itself. The secular/pagan worldview will always, no matter how well intended, drift into centralization of government and consequent loss of both moral responsibility and true freedom by the people.
We see that deterioration all about us in Western Civilization. With secularism/paganism there is no authority higher than the government, so the government cannot be obligated to honor the freedoms and rights of the people.
And, ironically, neither can the people be obligated to honor their duty toward civil government. When government displaces God, we are ruled by the bayonet -- generally today muffled behind a friendly, ever-growing bureaucracy, our Government Nanny.
4. The Biblical version of "pluralism" is the only way to provide for the freedoms and rights imagined by our Constitution. True pluralism does not hold that everyone's truth is valid for him, as though truth were "plural" -- a view on which it is logically impossible to act. It holds rather that although viewpoints are indeed plural, truth is singular. So all persons, no matter their viewpoints, are invited into the public discussion -- not because their view is true or right, but rather to find out, in the contest of public discussion, whether their view might be true and right.
The losers are not shot at dawn, guillotined, or arrested for hate-crimes, they are able to return in the next round and present again their case. That is honest pluralism -- plural viewpoints honestly in search of the singular truth.
The pseudo-pluralism of today is not pluralism at all, it is totalitarianism working under the guise of "compassion" and "inclusiveness" to stamp out their (generally Biblical) opposition. Their weapon of choice has become "hate-crime" law, not to protect the vulnerable, but to silence dissent.
But what about those atheists and Hindus?
The same thing that is now true of Christians, who are forced to live under a secular government, would be true of non-believers who would be forced to live (should they choose to remain) under a Biblical government.
The fact is that the ability to live and participate freely in a government not of one's own persuasion has been a Biblical contribution to the world, not a secular contribution. 20th century secular states routinely persecuted to the death those who disagreed with their political philosophy. And those secular states which count themselves as "liberal democracies" are steadily drifting into all the control mechanisms inherent to socialism.
Only God can sustain a free people. Judeo-Christian government, where it is faithfully followed, will always honor the freedoms of non-believers to participate within the reasonable limits of the law -- i.e., so long as the nonbeliever does not act or teach to compromise the constitutional freedoms of others.
The worldview of pansexualism does not allow that freedom for others. It seems also that the worldview of Islam does not allow for such freedom. Any view lacking "Come, let us reason together..." as a basic principle of public policy will be unable to combine plural viewpoints in free and friendly association with singular truth. And that phrase will not likely be heard from the mouths of Islamic leaders.
But that is the way of God.
How, then, can Christians go about promoting our clear and reasonable "worldview decision" with spiritual, moral, and intellectual integrity?
We have raised three key issues. (1) The presenting issue has been homosexual marriage. Behind that is (2) the question of which worldview and attendant moral consensus we will choose. But behind both of those is (3) the matter of truth, and how we find out the truth. How do we know what we know? Philosophers call it the epistemological issue.
Everybody knows that there is a truth. If you judge by behavior, it is clear that no one believes truth to be relative. We can behave in only one direction at a time, not two. So laws, which either mandate or forbid behavior, have to be a clear and consistent either/or, not an ambiguous both/and.
And everyone has a limit beyond which they will resist certain behaviors. That is an inevitable consequence of being purposive beings. When our basic purposes are endangered, we resist, we do not willingly comply. Basic truths are thus either/or, not both/and. You have to choose one way or the other. Political parties want to control government because government is all about coercion (mandating or forbidding) some behavior. Either/or, not both/and.
However much "facilitators" for "dialogue to consensus" may talk about relative truth, they have their own truth which they are smuggling into the discussion, enabled by having convinced the participants to relativize, and thus not defend, their views. The facilitator can then insert his unopposed, and usually undetected.
Hate-crime laws are being pushed by those who want us to believe that truth is relative and that everyone can have their own viewpoint. But the laws themselves are designed to criminalize the expression of opinions contrary to the promoters of hate-crime law, precisely to prevent honest discussion so that their side can monopolize public discussion. The claim of inclusive pluralism is deceitful.
In any event, relative truth is a logical impossibility, so Pilate's question to Jesus will always reassert itself, "What is truth?" To which the simple answer is, "Truth is what is -- as against what is not." Everyone intuitively knows that.
The virtue required in the search for truth, then, is a desire to know the truth, openness to the truth, a teachable spirit. If I am wrong, I must want to know, not hide my error. There is no other way learning can proceed or honest discussion take place. Discussion and debate can then become cooperative rather than adversarial .
Elijah (I Kings 18) challenged the crowd gathered on Mount Carmel, "How long will you go limping on two opinions? If Baal be God, then let's go with Baal. But if the Lord be God, then let's follow Him."
Elijah, representing God, was resting his whole case on an open appeal to objective evidence. He appealed first to logic, forcing the question on the table, and then to empirical evidence, up or down, to decide who of the two was indeed God. The experiment with the two bull offerings was set up so that the real God would have to show up and prove His own case.
This appeal to logic and fact took place several centuries before Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle, and over two millennia prior to the "rise of science". But it gives Biblical folk an intellectually credible paradigm for dealing with challenges from dwellers of the closed-circle cosmos -- namely, construct a test based on fact and logic in which each alleged deity will have to show up and prove his own case.
We challenge, for example, any secularized government (which is its own God), to show that it has credentials of legitimacy to rule over its people.
Practicing deist-Christians of the last two centuries long ago stopped believing that God would do anything so radical as showing up, let alone prove His case. But if God cannot or will not, then Christians have no honest testimony to give for the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The true God (according to Biblical standards) is the God who can do what He promised to do.
The first responsibility of civil government is not to protect from foreign invasion, it is rather to protect the arena of public discussion from coercion, to ensure that he who is making public policy decisions is not holding a gun of coercion, that public legislative debate is open and free.
That is precisely what the American Constitution was written for -- to ensure that legislative debate was not coerced by any person, that the people over whom the laws would hold authority would have free access to the debate on the laws.
The greatest danger always lay with the government itself, whether George III or George Washington (who knew and stated that fact), which by nature holds a near monopoly on coercive power. Hence the separation of powers -- he who holds the gun may not decide how the gun should be used.
The American Constitution is thus a major implementation of the invitation/command of God: "Come, let us reason together..." God, our Sovereign, expects and intends to be a part of the political debate, but through His (unarmed) people as raised up in their spiritual communities (Isaiah 43:8-10). He expects to be challenged, and expects to defend His case openly and freely. When Christians begin acting like God acts, they will begin winning in the public arena. God will again give His people the ascendancy.
The second responsibility of civil government is, on the basis of honest discussion, to uphold righteous laws, i.e., those laws which fulfill the nation's purpose for existence. That means laws which a righteous and loving God has mandated, thus implementing the law and grace of God.
A marriage amendment is a panic attempt at a quick fix. It will not win the war, but it will compromise the constitution.
The long-term goal for winning is deep spiritual renewal, leading to a renewed Biblical moral consensus in America.
The immediate, short-term tasks for winning the sexuality wars are two:
(1) Force promoters of homosexuality to defend homosexual behavior every time they get up to speak. The homosexual agenda will not survive an open airing of its behavior. Forcing honest, graceful discussion is the strategy for winning.
(2) Restrict the federal courts from jurisdiction on either gender, sex, and family issues, or on issues of how the states will handle religious issues, leaving such issues to state regulation. The authority to regulate federal courts is constitutionally already in the hands of Congress.
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All this will require a deep intellectual, moral, and spiritual retooling on the part of Christian leaders, in and out of the Church, the deepest kind of spiritual renewal.
At present, the Church is unequipped to force an honest Elijah contest -- for the same reasons that Christians have given away our American Constitution, which was constructed to promote precisely that honest discussion of public policy. Christians who have lost their own moral and spiritual consensus can hardly share it with others.
But not to worry. God is building a new Gideon army, this is a
winnable battle, and you are invited.
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