Archive for Bible
I have been called many things since I began writing in 2003 about the immoral, unjust invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the menacing warfare state, the U.S. evil empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe, the depravity of U.S. foreign policy, and the iniquitous institution of the military.
But whether the designation is traitor, coward, appeaser, anti-American, liberal, leftist, Democrat, un-American, isolationist, hippy, peacenik, Quaker, anti-war weenie, America-hater, brain-dead dope-smoking moron, or limp d**k sorry communist a**hole, it is usually supplemented by pacifist or the more intensive pacifist dog.
At least I am never called a Republican.
Of all the epithets that have been hurled my way, the least offensive is pacifist. After all, pacifists generally frown on rape, theft, assault, destruction of property, and murder—even when they are committed in a U.S. military uniform on foreign soil.
So, am I a pacifist? That all depends on what you mean by pacifist. If the essence of pacifism is opposition to war and the initiation of violence, then I proudly wear the label. However, if pacifism does not include the right of self-defense; that is, if it precludes using violence in defense of violence committed against one’s person or property, then count me out. Like a lot of things, it all hinges on how you define your terms.
I have stated my view of politics here. If you asked me what my overall philosophy or worldview was, I would not say that I was a pacifist. I would say in reply that I am a conservative Christian libertarian.
Contrary to warmongers who wrongly equate the slightest opposition to war with pacifism, libertarians are not necessarily pacifists. As Walter Block writes in the introduction to his book Defending the Undefendable:
Libertarianism does not imply pacifism; it does not forbid the use of violence in defense or even in retaliation against violence. Libertarian philosophy condemns only the initiation of violence—the use of violence against a nonviolent person or his property.
This doesn’t mean that retaliatory violence should be employed, only that its use shouldn’t be condemned. Among the minority of libertarians who would shun the use of retaliatory violence altogether, some would refrain because of some personal motivation. Others, however, would say that it is not only immoral to aggress against the person or property of another but that it is likewise immoral to use violence in defense of violence committed against one’s person or property; that is, they reject even self-defense. These libertarians, I believe, are inconsistent, as Murray Rothbard wrote of Robert LeFevre:
Absolute pacifists who also assert their belief in property rights—such as Mr. Robert LeFevre—are caught in an inescapable inner contradiction: for if a man owns property and yet is denied the right to defend it against attack, then it is clear that a very important aspect of that ownership is being denied to him. To say that someone has the absolute right to a certain property but lacks the right to defend it against attack or invasion is also to say that he does not have total right to that property.
Nevertheless, although LeFevre is inconsistent, “he is far more consistent than socialist-pacifists in his opposition to force, and ranks as a kind of right-wing Tolstoyan.”
Christians are not necessarily pacifists either. This may sound strange to those whose knowledge of Christians is limited to Christian armchair warriors, Christian Coalition moralists, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, Red-State Christian fascists, bloodthirsty Christian conservatives, God and country Christian bumpkins, and other Religious Rightists that have no problem draping the cross of Christ with the American flag. But as I say whenever I speak about Christianity and war:
If there is any group of people that should be opposed to war, torture, militarism, the warfare state, state worship, suppression of civil liberties, an imperial presidency, blind nationalism, government propaganda, and an aggressive foreign policy it is Christians, and especially conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians who claim to strictly follow the dictates of Scripture and worship the Prince of Peace.
Since aggression, violence, and bloodshed are contrary to the nature of biblical Christianity, it is reasonable to surmise that biblical Christians might be pacifists, depending on how you define the term. Nevertheless, I don’t see “absolute pacifism” prescribed for Christians in the New Testament. Using Block’s statement on libertarianism and pacifism as a model, I would say:
Christianity does not imply pacifism; it does not forbid the use of violence in defense or even in retaliation against violence. Christian philosophy condemns only the initiation of violence—the use of violence against a nonviolent person or his property.
I do see self-defense prescribed for Christians in the New Testament. Three verses in particular come to mind:
Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11)
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. (Matthew 24:43)
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Jesus told Peter to put his sword back in its sheath; he did not tell him to get rid of it.
In Christ’s illustration concerning the goodman of the house, the man takes defensive action to protect his house.
If a man denies the faith by not providing for his own house, then he is certainly worse than an infidel if he just stands there and lets someone kill him since he can’t very well provide for his family if he is dead. And if a man denies the faith by not providing for his own house, then he is certainly even more worse than an infidel if he stands by and lets his family be raped and murdered and his house robbed.
Whether one is a Christian or not, subscribing to the libertarian non-aggression principle clearly makes one an aggression pacifist. As stated by Block:
Libertarianism is a political philosophy. It [is] concerned solely with the proper use of force. Its core premise is that it should be illegal to threaten or initiate violence against a person or his property without his permission; force is justified only in defense or retaliation.
But consistently adhering to the non-aggression principle also makes one a war pacifist. This doesn’t rule out defending one’s country against a legitimate attack or invasion, but it does rule out the use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons because they are inherently immoral. It rules out “good wars.” It rules out U.S. foreign policy for at least the last hundred years. And it also rules out almost everything the U.S. military has ever done.
There is one respect, though, in which I believe Christians should be absolute pacifists. Christians should be, for lack of a better term, theological pacifists; that is, they should suffer for righteousness’ sake without retaliating, as the Apostle Peter says:
For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (1 Peter 2:19-21)
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:13-18)
To be persecuted for Christ’s sake is a badge of honor of far more eternal value than receiving the Medal of Honor for fighting in some unnecessary and unjust foreign war.
So yes, in some respects I am a pacifist. It all depends on how you define your terms.
Tags: Bible, christian libertarianism, libertarianism, pacifism, self-defense, violence
And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:1-17).
Someone asked me what I thought about the Ten Commandments being posted inside or in front of courthouses. My short answer is: what’s the point?, who cares?, and this is much ado about nothing. My long answer is what follows.
Every year or so some atheist sues a school district regarding the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. This most recently occurred in Boston, as I blogged about here:
Supreme Judicial Court will begin hearing arguments this week in case brought by an atheist to strike the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Go ahead and take it out; it is a lie anyway, as I pointed out here. Better yet, scrap the whole Pledge. Nothing sickens me more than to see a pastor in church lead the congregation in the Pledge. I have seen it in several churches and about threw up in my mouth it was so sickening.
This always manages to get conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, all worked up about absolutely nothing, as I point out in my post and the article of mine that I link to.
Another thing that gets conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, all worked up about absolutely nothing is the denial of permission by the government to post the Ten Commandments in some public place like a courthouse.
Let me first say—for the benefit of those who are new to my writings—that I am an evangelical Christian and deplore the decline of virtue, decency, morality, and religion in the United States that has occurred in my lifetime.
Second, as a Christian, I have no argument with the Ten Commandments or any other part of the Bible.
Third, I think that most of the federal court decisions regarding religion are not only wrong, they showcase the profound ignorance of the Constitution that characterizes most of the federal judiciary. Here are three examples that concern the Ten Commandments.
In Stone v. Graham (1980), the Supreme Court ruled that posting the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because posting the Ten Commandments “has no secular legislative purpose” and “the preeminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature.” This is rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
In federal court is a case brought last year by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) against the Connellsville Area School District in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, because of a monument containing the Ten Commandments that has been in front of Connellsville Junior High School since it was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1957. Atheists are alleging that the monument violates the First Amendment. This is more rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
And specifically regarding the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, there is the case of Roy Moore, the (former and now again) chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore was removed as chief justice in 2003 because he refused a federal judge’s order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments that he had installed in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. A federal court ruled, in the case of Glassroth v. Moore (2002), that the display of the Ten Commandments monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A federal Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in 2003. Again, more rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
So, if I am a Christian, have no problem with the Ten Commandments, and think the federal District, Appeals, and Supreme Courts are staffed by ignorant buffoons, then why don’t I care about whether the Ten Commandments can be posted in public places?
As I said above: what’s the point?, who cares?, and this is much ado about nothing.
First of all, most of the conservatives who raise such a stink about the Ten Commandments not allowed to be posted in courthouses don’t care a whit about following the Ten Commandments. The last time I checked the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” was still part of the Ten Commandments. Yet, these people are some of the most bloodthirsty warmongers on the planet, and especially the Christian conservatives. They are the warvangelical, red-state fascist, reich-wing nationalist, God and country Christian bumpkins who so idolize the U.S. military. To them “Thou shalt not kill” only applies to an American deliberately murdering an American. Murdering foreigners in their countries is perfectly fine, and especially if they are Muslims. Evidently, a U.S. military uniform covers a multitude of sins.
Second, suppose that the federal government posted the Ten Commandments in every federal courthouse and mandated that all states and counties post the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. That is exactly what most of the above people want, isn’t it? Would posting the Ten Commandments be a sign to the world that America is a godly nation? Would posting the Ten Commandments be a signal to God that America is a Christian nation? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a nation was honoring God? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a nation was giving God the glory due his name? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean signify that America was a land of virtue, decency, morality, and religion? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that justice was actually taking place in U.S. courtrooms? I suspect that the posting of the Ten Commandments in every courthouse would simply deceive dumb, ignorant, easily manipulated, easily deceived God and country Christians into thinking that these things were true.
Third, the U.S. government is an evil monstrosity. Would posting the Ten Commandments make the U.S. government any less evil? Why besmirch God’s Holy Commandments by posting them in some government building? That is the last place they should ever be posted. It’s as bad as putting a chaplain in the global menace that is the U.S. military. Who cares if one of the most despicable governments in the history of the world does or doesn’t post the Ten Commandments in public places, put “In God We Trust” on its money, say “under God” in its Pledge, or hang a crucifix or cross in public buildings?
Fourth, the decline in America of virtue, decency, morality, and religion has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments not being posted in some public place. It is a spiritual problem that is independent of anything the government does or does not so.
Here are fifteen things that would be infinitely more valuable for the federal government to do than to post the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses:
- End the war in Afghanistan and withdraw every single soldier.
- Close all foreign military bases.
- End the drug war.
- Abolish the NSA.
- Repeal CAFE standards.
- Abolish the TSA and return airport security to airports and airlines.
- Lift the Cuban embargo.
- Abolish the Department of Education.
- Sell AMTRAK to the highest bidder.
- Repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
- Eliminate the September 11th security fee on airline tickets.
- End public financing of elections.
- Repeal the Patriot Act.
- Abolish the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
- End the Army sponsorship of Tony Schumacher’s top fuel dragster.
These are just fifteen things off the top of my head; I could come up with 500 more if I took the time.
Should the Ten Commandments be posted? That all depends. Post them if you choose in your church, synagogue, private school, or home. Just make sure you have permission or it is on your own property. But don’t insist that the Ten Commandments be posted on someone else’s property or petition that they be posted on public property. And above all, don’t get so upset about something that means absolutely nothing.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on October 18, 2013.
Tags: Bible, government, Old Testament, religion, religious freedom, separation of church and state, Ten Commandments
I have a confession to make. I have been accused of writing with an agenda. I hereby plead guilty. For those who are new to LewRockwell.com or to my writings and suspected that I had an agenda, your suspicions are confirmed.
Although I write about a lot of different things—abortion, libertarianism, the military, conservatism, the Republican Party, foreign aid, the minimum wage, discrimination, the war on drugs, vouchers, Social Security, Medicare, taxation, federalism, foreign policy, free trade, the Constitution, the free society, food stamps, government regulation, the U.S. empire, the state, gambling, theology, the U.S. government, English Bible history, the federal budget, war, economics, education, gun control, the welfare state, the warfare state, health care—I must confess that I do write with an agenda—an iconoclastic agenda.
My mission in life is to destroy anti-biblical Christian traditions about economics, politics, government, war, the military, and the state that are near and dear to the heart of many Christians, too many Christians. It doesn’t matter what their theological persuasion—Catholic, Baptist, Reformed, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran, Charismatic, Fundamentalist, Evangelical—there are enough of these anti-biblical traditions circulating for members of every group to have a handful.
Tags: Bible, christian libertarianism, Christianity, church, government, militarism, politics, statism, statolatry, war
The legislature of the state of Colorado recently passed, and the governor signed into law, a bill to repeal an antiquated state law that criminalized adultery. The only thing worse than such a dumb law is an even dumber preacher who bemoans its repeal.
Colorado House Bill 13-1166 repeals two sections of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Section 18-6-501, on adultery: "Any sexual intercourse by a married person other than with that person’s spouse is adultery, which is prohibited," and section 18-7-208, on promoting sexual immorality:
Any person who, for pecuniary gain, furnishes or makes available to another person any facility, knowing that the same is to be used for or in aid of sexual intercourse between persons who are not husband and wife, or for or in aid of deviate sexual intercourse, or who advertises in any manner that he furnishes or is willing to furnish or make available any such facility for such purposes, commits promoting sexual immorality.
Although adultery was illegal, no criminal penalty was specified. However, promoting sexual immorality was a class 2 misdemeanor.
The bill was introduced on January 30 in the Colorado House and on March 13 in the Colorado Senate. It passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8-3 and the full House by a vote of 37-26. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 3-2 and the full Senate by a vote of 23-10. It was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper on March 22. The bill takes effect on August 7.
Every "no" vote was a Republican vote. And only 4 Republicans out of 40 in the legislature voted in favor of the repeal bill. Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg opposed the bill, arguing that the law is not archaic and that moral standards continue to be important.
I may not agree with anything else that Denver Democratic Rep. Daniel Kagan, an original supporter of the repeal bill, ever said or ever will say, but this comment he made about the bill is right on: "I see it as saying adultery is a matter between a spouse and his conscience and his God, but not his local sheriff."
Laws that criminalize adultery or "promoting sexual immorality" are dumb laws. There is no other way to describe them. As legal scholar Jonathan Turley said in 2011 when a similar attempt at repeal failed: "These laws harken back to an earlier period, where a majority of citizens claimed the right to impose their values and morals on their neighbors. The notion of a government policing immorality runs against the grain of our constitutional system. That is more often associated with countries like Iran, where morality police roam the streets." It is ridiculous to say, as Jessica Haverkate, director of Colorado Family Action, a political arm of Focus on the Family, did in 2011 that repealing the adultery law encourages "the moral decay of our society." Sorry, Jessica, but the morals of society have already decayed. And no one in Colorado who wanted to commit adultery was deterred by any dumb law against adultery. Laws that legislate morality are not what keep morality from decaying. If this were so, then no adultery would have taken place in Colorado during the last century.
The only thing dumber than a dumb law is a dumb preacher who defends it.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler appears to be an intelligent man. He is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He holds a Th.M. and a Ph.D. (in systematic and historical theology) from the seminary where he is now the president. He also teaches at the seminary and edits its theological journal. Time calls him the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S." The Chicago Tribune terms him "an articulate voice for conservative Christianity at large." Mohler is the author of several books, writes a popular blog, has a daily podcast, has appeared on national news programs, has been widely published, and has lectured at many prestigious institutions.
Back in March, when the Colorado legislature was considering the repeal of its adultery law, Mohler weighed in favor of keeping the law on the books. Explained Mohler:
Throughout most of human history, morality and law were united and in agreement when it came to the reality of adultery and the larger context of sexual immorality. Laws criminalizing adultery were adopted because the society believed that marriage was central to its own existence and flourishing, and that adultery represented a dagger struck at the heart of the society, as well as the heart of marriage.
Marriage was not considered merely a private arrangement. Every society regulates marriage, and most have adopted clear and punitive sanctions against adultery. But the moral and cultural revolutions of the past several decades have shifted the meaning of marriage from a public institution to a private contract.
Mohler criticizes the aforementioned Colorado legislator Daniel Kagan for saying:
Adultery is a matter between a person and their spouse and their conscience and their minister, but not between a person and the full enforcement of the state of Colorado. Let’s keep the police out of our bedrooms.
Although acknowledging that "the law in Colorado criminalizes adultery, but includes no penalty," Mohler likes the law because it "has been, at a bare minimum, a reminder of the public nature of marriage and the societal threat of adultery."
Governments at all levels – federal, state, and local – have too many laws. There are thousands of dumb and illegitimate laws that should be repealed by all levels of government. We should rejoice when any of these laws are repealed.
If a law is legitimate, then its purpose is never to make a statement or serve as a reminder of anything. The purpose of any legitimate law – those that criminalize aggression against one’s person or property and protect people from the violence and fraud of others – is to punish genuine criminal activity. A law without a penalty for violating it is no law at all; it is merely a suggestion.
The fact that throughout human history rulers and government bureaucrats have been nanny statists and puritanical busybodies that wanted to unite law and their concept of morality is a historical fact, but it is certainly not the way things ought to be – not if we are to have a free society.
Laws that criminalize activities that voluntarily take place behind closed doors are unenforceable. An unenforceable law is no law at all. Again, it is merely a suggestion.
Every crime needs a victim, not a potential victim, a possible victim, or a supposed victim, but an actual victim who suffers actual harm or loss. This means that over 90 percent of all federal and state laws are bogus.
Moral crusades of the nanny state fail to distinguish between vices and crimes. As the 19th-century classical-liberal political philosopher Lysander Spooner explained it:
Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.
Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property – no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.
To be a crime, adds Spooner, there must exist criminal intent to invade the person or property of another. But vices are not engaged in with criminal intent. A man practices a vice "for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others."
And finally, there is no support in the New Testament for the idea that Christians should seek legislation that would criminalize immoral behavior. For Baptist Christians like myself and Mohler, the New Testament is our rule for faith and life. Christians are making a grave mistake when they look to the state to legislate morality. Why would they even think of looking to the state to enforce their moral code? The actions of the state are the greatest examples of immoral behavior that one could possibly think of. The state exists only by stealing and killing, and then lying about it. It is not the purpose of Christianity to use force or the threat of force to keep people from sinning. Christians who are quick to criticize Islamic countries for prescribing and proscribing all manner of behavior are very inconsistent when they support the same thing here.
Let me be perfectly clear: I think adultery is always wrong. I believe it is immoral. I consider it to be a grave sin. But it is neither my business nor the business of government to keep people from bad habits, vice, or immoral activities that take place between consenting adults.
If Mohler wants adultery laws to be enforced he should volunteer to be the first to have cameras installed in his home, office, and car (with full NSA surveillance everywhere else), and be taxed to support the army of bureaucrats it will take to monitor the cameras to make sure he doesn’t commit adultery.
Laws against adultery are not what deter people in Colorado or other states from committing adultery. Religion, morality, fear, reputation, and/or family might serve as deterrents, but not dumb laws.
I don’t know if my state of Florida has an antiquated state law against adultery that is not enforced, but whether such a law exists or whether such a law is enforced has no bearing whatsoever on why I choose to be faithful to my wife.
Tags: Bible, church, history, legislation, morality, theology