Law: A More Excellent Way

If civil law is simply a social contract, then it rests on a foundation no firmer than desire. If ethics spring forth from the human heart, what then of the higher things – or indeed, how do we recognize the higher as distinct from the base? For my desire to steal I merely enshrine in law, and it becomes ethical: a virtue. I posit that some people are not really people; killing them is no different than butchering a hog. Again, I look in the mirror and see an ethical man, for my desire – become law – tells me what it means to be good. But what, then, of honor? What of duty? What of self-sacrificing love? What place have these things?

No, my friends. We must categorically reject the thinking of this age. There is transcendent truth, and it is real. We recognize love, and honor, and duty. When their stories are told, our spirits soar. We rejoice. And we cannot resist them, for indeed, desire does not define virtue. Virtue is written on the human heart, by One far greater than us. We can seek to understand this. We can embark on the greatest journey of our lives. The alternative is to be caught up by our own desires, slaves to their fickle whims, never satisfied, endlessly manipulating each other. There is no heavier burden for men to bear than that of their own desire.

Yet take heart, for all is not lost. There is a glorious, transcendent, and firm foundation upon which to build. And it is never too late to place upon it the first stone of a more excellent way.

18.5% of Us are Dead*

The American Empire, when the sun of history sets on it, will go down as one of the most monstrous and deadly of all time. And it wasn’t even a different people group we slaughtered… we devoured our own children, for no better reason than the fact that they were inconvenient to us, interfering with our pleasure and indulgence. God have mercy. Since 1973, we have killed over 54 million [edit: actually 57 million] of our children. OUR OWN CHILDREN. The numbers are so large they almost cease to mean anything to us. Yet we consider the Nazis the face of evil, who murdered approximately 6 million Jews. And they were evil, terribly evil, and we are out-killing them 9-to-1 and counting, while considering ourselves good and right. And please keep in mind, as you move to vote in November, the Democrats think murder on this scale is a fundamental “right”, and the Republicans have repeatedly chosen to continue funding this “right”. Neither should receive the votes of God-fearing men. Make no mistake, there will be a reckoning for this. Evil does not go unpunished. True patriotism is this: we must repent, and we must remove the evil men and women who would do this from positions of power.

*The 2010 Census reported there are 308.7 million Americans; using the number of total abortions at 57 million, that is 18.46% of the current US population.

In Speech, Grace

The Word is pretty clear: your tongue is a raging forest fire… to which the anonymity of the interwebs is gasoline.

Let me ask you to consider three things as you discourse to the glory of God online, or even in person.  By which I don’t mean texting each other in the same room.  “In person” is that quaint old-fashioned notion of looking another human being in the eye and fully communicating, with all its verbal and non-verbal components.  Give it a try sometime!

Gracious in our speech often comes down to our consideration of the person with whom we are speaking…

 

Do we consider them as a human being, with feelings, thoughts, ideas, and desires, none of which completely line up with our own?

This is not to say that every idea holds equal merit, but to recognize that we start at different places, travel along different trains of thought, and arrive at different places.  Things connect for one person very logically or very emotionally, and the next person might not follow their reasoning or the chain of feeling.  Take the time to think it through.  Ask clarifying questions before you decide you know exactly what someone means, how they got there, and where they’re going.  Think especially hard before you tell them where to go and how to get there.

 

Do we consider that a person’s goal should be differentiated from their methods?

Take the oft-very-calmly-discussed (/end sarcasm) issue of gun control.  Vehement disagreement surrounds this issue, but let me point something out.  Many of the people on both sides of the issue have the same goal in mind.  We read a story about a child accidentally getting shot, or a man killing his co-workers, or a government oppressing its citizens, and what do we want?  We want fewer dead children.  We want those co-workers to still be alive.  We want citizens to thrive under good government.

In other words, the goal is the same, for both sides.  An enormous difference lies in the various methods we advocate to get there.   But if you want to keep the conversation civil, simply continue to call to mind (even when insulted) the heart of the other person, this living person made in the image of God with whom you are disagreeing.  Generally, they want what you want.  They want a better world.  They disagree about how to get there.  As an aside to Christians reading this, it is often a better witness to interact with a person like Christ would than to cram the Gospel down their throat as quickly as possible.  The time may come for an explicit conversation about Jesus: in the meantime, trying speaking like Him as often as you may be tempted to speak about Him.

 

Do we consider why a person holds the positions they do?  Often the issue is not the issue.

It is so very easy to classify and label people, then dismissively file them away in our brains as if we completely understand them.  This really ties into my first point above, but why someone believes what they believe is critical to truly understanding them.  That gun control nut you can’t stand might have had a curious nephew who found a loaded gun.  If you’ve ever attended the funeral of a child, the reaction is visceral.  You passionately never want anyone to go through that experience.  That gun wacko with 15 assault rifles that you know is just waiting to shoot an innocent person could have a family that was home and unprotected at the wrong time and place.  What would your opinion be about a gun in the home if you were robbed, your kids beaten and your wife raped?  Would you want others to experience that helpless agony?

When someone believes you care about them enough to understand the deep motivations behind their beliefs, trust is built, the type of trust that can survive even the most profound disagreement.  Seek to know a person’s heart, follow their path to understand their goals and their methods for achieving them, and you’ll have a solid foundation for real discourse.  As another aside for Christians, you’ll begin to show a person the love of Christ.  When the Word speaks of not judging others, its not that we don’t call sin, sin, and everyone just does what they feel is right.  It means at the deepest level, we freaking care.  And very few do.  This level of caring would set the Church far apart.  This level of caring could – and will – make the hard ethical truths we espouse much more intelligible to those we are called to love.

of virtue and law

Law should not protect people, law should protect virtue; by virtue of this, the virtuous are then protected by law.

This our Founders showed an understanding of, as they attempted (imperfectly, but earnestly) to tie man’s law to Divine virtue.  And it is this principle that guides true progress: we do not yet perfectly reflect the Divine virtue in our earthly laws, and so we continue to examine and refine that which we believe should be law.  We do not change for the sake of the people’s ever-changing desires, but for the sake of virtue, which assures the people’s highest good.

The Progressive is correct: things need to change.

The Conservative is correct: things need to change in a specific direction.

Progress?

It's not a sofa, it's a KLIPPAN.

It’s not a sofa, it’s a KLIPPAN.

(This is a continuation of a thought, it started here.)

So then, progress.  As I was asking before, who doesn’t like to make progress?

But when I pull that IKEA furniture out of those nifty flat boxes, I know I’m building a couch (or a SCHWERGENKLEIN, or something).  I know where I’m supposed to be going, even if it takes me a while to get there.  Ok, a long while.  And a few drinks.

But what is our modern progressive movement building?  What are we progressing towards?

The two great arms of the modern Democratic party are encircling America at this point, and I have no doubt at all that it was intended to be a hug.  But while the one arm gives me a gentle pat full of tolerance, non-discrimination, of letting me do pretty much whatever I’d like to do with full government and legal sanction, the other is squeezing way too tight and micro-managing my behavior, right down to how much sugar I eat, because I certainly can’t be trusted to make my own decisions responsibly.

And here is where it all breaks down, because somewhere in this contradictory mix we think we’re making progress.  And while I do agree that some things should be different than they are, perhaps we should pull out those instructions, count the screws [insert political joke here], and get a clear picture of what we’re building before we start with the hammering and the sawing.

Just a thought.  Now I need a drink.

Progress!

Forward.

Forward.

Progress.

Forward.

Evolving.

All these words are finding their place in the gay marriage debate, front and center on our national stage.  And all I’m asking you to do today is consider them, what they mean, and what they imply.

To move forward, to make progress, and in the sense that we use the world ‘evolve,’ a person (or group of people) must be going somewhere, moving toward some goal, some end.

So what is it?  Where is the goal?  What is the endgame?

That’s not the end of my thought here, but it is the key question.  It was actually a conservative politician who got me thinking about this, Matt Salmon (R-AZ) who has a homosexual son.  In his comments, he stated publicly that he did not support gay marriage by saying this:

“It doesn’t mean that I don’t have respect, it doesn’t mean that I don’t sympathize with some of the issues. It just means I haven’t evolved to that stage.”

Hm.

So in essence, Mr. Salmon is saying that if he were more evolved, further along the path, he would hold the position of being in favor of gay marriage.

And so, if gay marriage is progress along a path, presumably (to its proponents) a good, dare we say righteous, path…

Where does that path end?  When does the progressive who wants to change things until we get it right become the conservative who thinks we have it right?

Just some stuff to think about as you continue on with your day.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this; drop me a line in the comments.

one grey morning in March

I woke this day to sullen sky, pouting and spitting but not quite raining.  The sun has thrown its covers over its head and is holding out for the weekend.  Combine this weather with that particular American madness we call democracy, and it seemed a good morning to sip a cup of Poe.

You’re welcome, America.

…That motley drama—oh, be sure
   It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore
   By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
   To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
   And Horror the soul of the plot…

-Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conqueror Worm

true and righteous altogether

On March 4, 1865, President Lincoln gave his 2nd Inaugural Address.  The War Between the States had devoured 600,000 lives and scarred millions more; Lee would surrender to Grant at Appomattox in a little more than a month.  Less than a week after that, Lincoln was assassinated, one last life to sate the beast of strife.  This was one of his final speeches.

I consider it one of his most eloquent.  As you read, consider the words and actions of our modern, more recent Executives.  May we know again men of this stature!

Fellow-Countrymen:

At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

So spoke one of the greatest men our nation ever produced.  Hear, O America: hear, and remember.