Go to: => TOP Page;   What's New? Page;   ROAD MAP;   Shopping Mall;   Emmaus Ministries Page;   Search Page


Abortion &
the Declaration of Independence

F. Earle Fox

See also 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.    E. Fox]
 

Greetings, All,
         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. 
         I strongly 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.
         I agree 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. 
         The Decalogue 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 universe.   Well, that is still not enforcement in the sense of apprehending a murderer and punishing him. 
         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. 
         In the 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.   

             Persons who 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 wrong).   

               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 the people. 
        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"). 
         So, on 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 Christ. 
        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. 
        To my surprise, I found myself writing a long defense of Paul Hill several years ago before he was executed (http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/21PbAr/LifHlth/Abrt/DirctFrc.htm). 
        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.  
        The 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 legitimacy. 
        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.... 

Resurrection Blessings, Earle Fox

See also The Buck Stops Here...
& The Basics of Constitutional Law - re: Abortion

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Go to: => TOP Page;   Constitution;   Abortion;   ROAD MAP

Date Posted -  10/16/2008   -   Date Last Edited - 09/15/2012