Legislate Morality?

I read these comments from Al Mohler on Facebook:

“The argument for removing polygamy laws was simple: the state has no business legislating morality. But every legislature legislates morality. Every code of laws is a codex of morality. The law is itself inherently and inescapably moral, even irreducibly moral. The law can’t be anything other than a moral statement.”

In my early days, I made that argument rather vigorously, but have now come to modify my position. It is not so much that I have abandoned what I once believed, but that I now understand the nature of that belief with greater clarity. Continue reading Legislate Morality?

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Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

This is it, I promise!. This post is the fourth and final part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. You will really be lost trying to read this post on its own without the context of the other posts. I strongly recommend getting caught up first.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property. It is with those things in mind that we turn our attention to Romans 13.

In Part 3, I analyzed Romans 13 and discovered that there are some Biblical commands for the civil magistrate that we ought to consider: namely that the civil magistrate is commanded to punish criminals and that he is commanded not to be a terror to good conduct. 

In today’s post, I deal with a potential objection, discuss some additional concerns, like what light 1 Peter 2 and Titus 3 shed on this, and lay out my Conclusion. Thank you for reading!

OBJECTION! Surely the Government Can Do Things That Don’t Involve the Sword?

No, it can’t. Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Thanks for stopping by. This post is the third part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. I really do not recommend reading this post without first coming to grips with what I have said in previous posts, so please check them out.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property.

It is with those things in mind that in today’s post we turn our attention to Romans 13.

Romans 13

Now we get to Romans 13. For starters, here’s the text of Romans 13:1-7. As you read this, lets’ remind ourselves what perspective we are reading this from. We are not reading this as citizens under the authority of government. We are reading this as civil magistrates casting our votes for how the government will rule. We must ask ourselves, what does Romans 13 reveal about how God wants me to govern?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his  approval, (4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Certainly I must be stretching the text to say that it contains commands that must be obeyed by the civil magistrate! Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Hi there. This is Part 2 of a 4 Part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government.

In Part 1, I laid the groundwork necessary to interact with this discussion adequately, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

For that reason, we turn our attention in today’s post to a fundamental Biblical principle for all human ethics and consider how it applies to civil government.

The Foundational Principle of Human Ethics

As discussed in my previous post, I will get to Romans 13 and deal with it in-depth. However, in recognition of the fact that Romans 13, at least as traditionally understood, speaks to citizens, and we are interested in God’s mind as it pertains to civil magistrates, I want to first back up to determine if there are any foundation and universal principles we can glean from Scripture that will give us some parameters that we need to keep in mind. Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. This first post sets up the latter posts by introducing the topic and then laying some ground work. Please stay tuned for the next installments.

Introduction

I’ve found myself roped into several debates lately over political issues in which I have needed to defend my position as a Libertarian. This is partly because of my nature to debate things. I hope that nobody perceives me as an argumentative person, or as one who is arrogant or condescending. I suspect, however that such is the unfortunate case. In truth, while I do have to fight against these temptations, the stronger forces that drive me to debate are the strong conviction I have on these matters and the fact that I’m an optimist.

Yeah, I’m a bit of an optimist. I generally have a positive outlook on the nature of human discourse. I truly believe that if we can discuss things rationally, we can come to an understanding of the truth. This is not to place too much faith in human reason or ability, but rather in the authority of Scripture, which ought to be our rule, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the process. That being said, when someone engages with me, I assume that they are genuinely curious and that they are truly interested in hearing my side of things. On that assumption, I seek to explain myself as fully, clearly and accurately as i can. I refuse to project ill will on another, insisting that the benefit of every doubt be given. When a question is asked, I assume an answer is expected. I therefore strive to give the best one I can.

However, things very often devolve, as is the nature of the Internet. Sometimes intentions are not noble. Sometimes discussions get hijacked. Sometimes we are limited by time and media. Whatever the reason it seems that I am rarely able to give a full and well-reasoned defense of things. This is what drives me here. I maintain my hope that when believers discuss these things and when their discussion is guided by the Word of God, they can come to a better understanding of the truth, and a better bond with each other, regardless of whether the go away agreeing. For our sure hope is founded not in the correctness of our political platform, but in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, his resurrection, and his promise of future glory.

To that end, I seek to lay before you my treatise on all things political.

Discussing Marriage Equality

The previous post regarding Marriage Equality was prompted by my brother who shared the link to the article I was rebutting with me on Facebook. He’s also the brother who commented on my previous post. After posting that comment, we discussed the issue further on our Facebook wall. Here is a re-production of the salient points:

Continue reading Discussing Marriage Equality

Gay is Not the New Black – Are We Completely Missing the Point?

This article is a bullet point rebuttal of this one: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/07/19/gay-is-not-the-new-black/. You’ll need to be familiar with it as I’m just going to refer to portions of it by headings and referring to his arguments. I’m not going to reproduce any of it here for the sake of time.

General Objection

On the whole, we’re confusing the issue here. The issue is not primarily about defining a new minority group who should now get special treatment. Neither is the issue about the moral right or wrongness of homosexuality or calling homosexuality marriage. The issue is over whether everyone, and I mean everyone, has the right (civilly) to do as he pleases, so long as he does not harm his neighbor through aggression. Does the government have the right to restrict private behavior that does not harm other people? Libertarians say no.

Perhaps we’re looking at this the wrong way. It’s not so much that gay marriage is a good thing that the goverment should promote. It’s not that gays are people who should now get special sanction or treatment. I hope that I would never have suggested that. Rather, it is that the government, by being the authority that sanctions marriage, is usurping the God given role of the church. Anything we can do to remove the government’s grip on marriage and return it to the domain of the church would honor God. What homosexuals do and what they call it, is irrelevant to what the church defines as marriage, and so long as this generation is crooked and perverse, it matters not what government calls marriage. It does nothing to distort the reality and the standard. Those should be held up by the church.

So in terms of allowing freedom of religion – the right to choose whether to obey God.
And in terms of allowing freedom of choice – the right to do as you please so long as you are not harming another.
Then I support loosening, if not completely removing, the government’s grip on marriage.
Allowing marriage licenses for homosexuals to marry same sex partners is a loosening of the government’s grip, and is akin to Moses issuing certificates of divorce because of the hardness of the people’s hearts.
I don’t promote this so we can re-define marriage. I don’t promote this so we can sanction sin.
I promote this so the church can return as the authority for such definition and such censure of wrong.

The government should only be concerned with providing justice to victims of crimes and making sure that our freedoms remain intact.

And while homosexuality IS a choice unlike the race into which you were born, being a sinner is not. We are all born as sinners, and without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, we are indeed lost. Expecting dead men to behave like live men simply because the government tells them to is foolish. The church should hold out to the gospel and those who believe will fall under his authority and receive his grace to renounce their sin.

The government redefining marriage will cheapen it. That much is certain. But like when the Federal Reserve prints fiat money, all it will cheapen is the meaning of the government issued marriage certificate. It can’t touch the standard of true marriage that the church and Christian couples can hold forth!

Specific Rebuttal Points

Continue reading Gay is Not the New Black – Are We Completely Missing the Point?