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F. Earle Fox
The Buck Stops Here...
& The Basics of
Constitutional Law - re: Abortion
[COMMENT: I have been involved in a very vigorous
discussion of the above topic via an email loop, which has been one of the most
stimulating events for me in several years. The level of discussion is
passionate and intellectually focused. I am getting a profound education
in constitutional law.
I have been
out of the loop for some time, and so am way behind on all the conversation
which has been happening, but am delighted that it has been happening, and
that such a crew of gifted and passionate Christian thinkers have found a
forum to discuss openly what we believe.
But here are a
few thoughts. When I read the "top down" folks (federal involvement), I
think to myself, "They are right!" And when I read the bottom up folks
(states rights), I think to myself, "They are right!" So how can these two
positions be reconciled? As I am a relative newcomer to politics, and have
never been directly involved other than an unsuccessful run for school board
in the mid '90's, I am aware of my lack of knowledge in many of these
issues. However, that has never stopped me before, and I do not think it
should now. So here goes.
agree with Kerry's distrust of giving the Fed any more power than given to
it under the original constitution. But that does not, I think, limit the
force of the Declaration in directing our lives -- in a top-down way.
also with his notion that if the people at the bottom of the pyramid are not
prepared to get into the political process, run for office, vote, etc., in a
Godly way, then what happens from the top down will, in the end, be of
little effect. Such failure at the bottom will almost for sure only concentrate more power into
their top-down hands.
holds a position in the Bible similar to that of the Declaration in
America. It does not establish a government, it gives general principles.
But those Decalogue principles are like the rain from heaven, falling on all
of us, directly, whether or not any positive law from below says we should not murder.
God has said we should not, and that ends the matter. The question arises,
"Sure, but what of enforcement?"
We tend to
think of government automatically as "civil" government. But there is
self-government, family government, church government, and no doubt others,
some of them predating and superseding (in their own area) civil government.
Here I side
with John that if I were in a position to stop a murder, I should indeed do
so. I do not need the authority of appointed police power or of
positive law to do so. I have the command of God to love my neighbor
just like I would want to be loved. The 2nd highest command in the
that is still not enforcement in the sense of apprehending a murderer and
What then of a
society where there is no established law -- our wild west? Did the local
vigilante cattlemen have the right to hang the cattle rustler from the
nearest tree? One can debate the severity of the punishment, but I do not
see that it can be said that they had no right to apprehend the criminal,
and to prevent his further thefts.
Biblical picture, they (I suppose) were the police power -- acting as heads
of their families.
Kerry, if I
understand him rightly, seems to be saying that unless We, the People,
specifically authorize a police-like action, no one has the authority to do
it, that no government not authorized by the people is legitimate. While I would agree that government by the people is the best
government, most governments before our revolution, and most of them now,
are neither by, for, or of the people. They only rarely have been.
But I would agree that any government which is not under the law of God is
an outlaw government -- there is one and only one government in existence,
that of God. So, in that sense, a pagan or secular government has no
claim on our obedience, only coercion. But that singular
government does not itself depend on the right of the people to choose their
governors. That right comes from God partly as a contingent fruit of
God being the sole ruler of the cosmos. Contingent, that is, on God
willing it to be the case that we may choose our rulers.
But Paul does tell us (Romans 13:1 ff.) to obey the emperor, knowing,
certainly, that the emperor is often running contrary to the known law of
God. I interpret Paul's words to be a pragmatic truth -- that God
would have us obey a pagan emperor rather than cause society to descend into
chaos. We are to honor the emperor, but not as Lord, because we get a
closer approximation of the Kingdom by honoring him with obedience under
God. Honoring the emperor as Lord would be idolatry, forbidden even at
the cost of our lives. Paul would not yield to the Roman emperor on
such an issue any more than to the Jewish authorities.
are spiritually and/or politically uneducated may not be capable of
governing themselves, and it can be argued that in a pagan society, where
there is no creator God who governs the whole cosmos by the very fact of
having created it, i.e., no "ethical monotheism", then there is nothing in that cosmos
which tells them anything other than that the strong
should rule the weak,
consent or no consent. That was (and still
is) the S.O.P. of all (or almost all) non-Biblical societies. Some are good at pretending to be
otherwise, but the facts on the ground show a consistent drift in that
direction. Only in Biblical morality/politics is the notion conceived that
the strong have an obligation to respect, indeed, even love, the weak. The
Magna Carta was late in coming but it came only in a Christian surrounding.
No where else in human history did such an idea ever gain significant
following. It has no parallel in pagan politics.
So I am
supposing that God told His people to obey the emperor even though Rome was
a government given a pseudo-legitimacy by the sword, not the people -- because, given
the conditions, it was the best response. Obeying the emperor was still the
best choice in most cases, excepting where the governor publicly and openly
defies the law of God (as our Supreme Court did with Engle v. Vitale in 1962
- telling God to butt out, that they, the Court, would now decide right and
My point is that government by the people is only one way of
governing, and that without a Biblically informed and dedicated people,
government by the people, from the bottom up, will be all but impossible.
Without the living God of the Bible, government will drift toward centralization.
So our obedience to a God-less government is for the benefit of the people,
even of the emperor, not a right the emperor can arbitrarily exercise over
Thus, government by the people is
not the only way to govern. And having it does not mean that the people
have a right to ignore God, or to contradict Him. Their self-government is
always predicated (from God's point of view) on their trusting and obeying
Him. The point of the people governing is, surely, not that they are smarter than
those at the top, but rather that they, precisely because of being dispersed
and diverse in their interests, are less likely to be swayed by special
interests than those at the top, who are few, concentrated, and focused
(usually on their "special interests").
average, at least, they are more likely to interpret the will of God
objectively and rightly
than those at the top who are so often caught in conflict of interest.
But all that assumes that We, the People, are of one religion,
of one mind, at least in the ball park, about who God is and what He wants.
Only a religiously unified people can keep civil government under their
control -- precisely because the authority of God is the source for the
legitimacy of civil (or any other) government.
Therefore, religion is actually the most
important topic of politics, not that which ought to be banned.
The dispersion and lack of
common focus of those at the bottom has been advanced as a primary reason
why government will always drift toward centralization. Those focused and
concentrated at the top will easily out-maneuver those at the bottom.
Unless -- those at the bottom
are of one mind religiously, have a common faith and focus on the Lord Jesus
Only such persons will take
seriously their obligation to keep control of those they elect to rule from
the top. That is precisely why tyrants immediately work to undermine the
Church, education, and the spiritual life generally. When the family (not
the church) is the spiritual center, when the family is the economic center
(a principle I just learned from Herb Titus's superb tapes on "Dominion"),
then the central government will be kept small, and responsive to We, the
People. And not unless.
The primary effect of those
documents, etc. at the metaphysical pinnacles of society, I think, is to
tell all levels of
government, including family and self-government, the kinds of laws and
disciplines we are to apply to ourselves. Surely, an aspect of "checks and
balances" is that when any level of government is failing, the others have
an obligation to step in appropriately to mend the situation.
I do not know whether God told
him to kill the abortionist and his body guard, but I do believe that his
one-line defense was unimpeachable -- that the unborn child has the same
right to protection as the born child. Had the court acquitted Hill,
the abortion problem would have virtually been resolved. Not an abortionist
in the country would have opened up his abortion mill the next day. They
would have (I think deservedly) been running for their lives.
legitimacy of that, of course, depends on
whether the fetus is indeed a person in the metaphysical sense of the word.
I think the evidence is quite clear. In which case Roe v. Wade is not only
not the law of the land, it is
evil, and, as the law of God implies as mediated to us by the
Declaration, should be resisted by every level of government within its
appropriate capacity. Self, family, church, and state governments.
The Declaration was given to us
in the middle of a chaotic situation, a chaos which, one might say,
compromised its very legitimacy -- if one gets sticky about due process in
its formation and approval by We, the People. But in such chaotic
situations, a people do the best they can. Our choice to honor it as
speaking for the founding ideals and goals of America rests not so much on
the legitimacy given by the men in Philadelphia and those in the states who
then ratified it (as best they could, often running from the Brits), it
rests rather more on our own continuing perception that that document indeed
reflects the mind of God about America. In the end, it is conformity to the
mind of God which gives legitimacy to anything at all. It is the honor and
obligation of We, the People, to give our stamp of approval to ratify that
God has given the divine right
of rulership into the hands of We, the People, not because we are so wise
and good, but because (1) our free-market education (when we can get it) has
the best chance of being an honest education, and (2) our dispersed and
unfocused condition gives us less of a "special interest" diversion from
truth, and gives us a better objectivity in the matter of choosing the goals
and laws for our society.
Kerry has suggested some
specific ways in which the Fed could hold the States' feet to the fire, and
I have suggested others, such as denial of vote, voice, and/or seat in
Congress to states which refused to conform their laws to the principles of
the Declaration and Constitution. But that requires, as Kerry points out,
working from the bottom up to get persons of that caliber into the federal
government. A top-down approach, paradoxically, must work in the end from
the bottom up.
Perhaps that paradox is part of
the resolution for which I am looking....
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Date Posted - 10/16/2008 - Date
Last Edited -