Monday, May 6, 2013

Like Rams Butting Heads (Part 2)

Part 1 is here.
CL says:
"Mikelman, You said "We are not talking about the legalization of homosexual behavior...As for gay rights in general ... I don't think ...those are being affected either. ... We aren't talking about gay behavior or marriage within the church..... If one pauses to digest what we are not talking about it may be easier to talk about in a rational way."
CL: Ok. This is getting very complicated very fast! =)  So, my specific focus in my post was not on the specific legality of homosexual relationships. Correct, we also are not talking about marriage.
MM: "The current case before the SCOTUS on the Defense of Marriage Act, for example, boils down to whether a lesbian will be heavily taxed on what she will inherit from her gay spouse."
CL: I have found it helpful to be very careful here. That may be the immediate issue in certain respects, but the larger issue is forcing the agenda down people's throats, and normalizing this behavior in society. We shouldnt forget how the lobby groups are using these SCOTUS cases.
Anyway, the particular topic that we are talking about concerning Dr Horton is his statement about possibly seeing justification for affirming some sort of civil arrangement.
This actually is a very significant issue, and shouldn't be ignored. (Not saying that you are ignoring it, but just making a general statement).
The intent of civil arrangement (for economic purposes) seems like it is a construct that does not address behavior. But, in an implicit (and explicit) way, it actually does. A civil arrangement in and of itself can be used for "good" purposes and "immoral" immoral purposes. So, by itself, it isnt *necessarily* a sin.
     When two people are in a "civil arrangement" (whatever that means), the government is acknowledging that this relationship as a valid relationship to meet the govt criteria for that arrangement. We can argue that in one sense it is an implicit acknowledgement, but with cases like this, there would most likely be statutes which define the relationship. So, there could be strong justification for saying that the govt **explicitly** acknowledges a homosexual relationship as being acceptable from a legal standpoint. Anyway, it doesnt really matter whether it is implicit or explicit.
     If the govt does recognize homosexual relationships as acceptable from a legal standpoint, there are making a de facto statement on the moral acceptability of homosexual relationships as well. 
I think that perhaps a lot of people will disagree with this next point (maybe not on this blog though), but the purpose of govt is in ***inherently*** moral. Laws that are passed are moral in nature, and executed through circumstantial and legislative means. This in no way affects the inherent nature that "civil" laws is moral.
     For WCF purposes, while the tri-fold distinction is useful, I tend to want to emphasize more so that the civil law is in fact part of the moral law for these types of discussions. (This is another whole discussion which we can get into at another time)..
So, with this in mind, it should be re-iterated, following the logic, that if the government is de facto making a legal, and therefore a moral judgement on homosexual relationships through the medium of civil arrangements, the govt is making a moral claim that homosexual relationships are morally acceptable. 

     Therefore, when Dr Horton is perhaps open to affirming these arrangements for homosexuals, although he ***explicitly*** says that he is against homosexuality and HS marriage etc..., he doesn't realize that his potential support for civil arrangements logically leads to morally accepting homosexual behavior.
     We have to understand that the purpose of govt is not to make morality or their own morals. but to ***reflect*** that moral law (natural law) that was given to them by God.
If the govt can take it upon itself to use ***itself*** as the standard for making laws (using the premise that they in fact are defining for themselves what is moral) (and hence the reason for this entire (R)2K / kuyp/theonomy/neo-cal debate), this logically means that the govt recognizes itself as the ultimate authority for morality and not God.
     If this is the case, the state is then able to define what is "right" and "wrong" in their own eyes.
That is a lot of power that govt was never meant to have.(among many other powers that the govt today is simply abusing and taking)..

     Even in Rom 13, Paul always understood that the power and authority of the civil magistrate is always derivative.. It is never inherent within the magistrate himself. Even Jesus rebuked Pilate in saying that Pilate had no authority except what God gave him.
It is significant to note that Jesus specifically instructs Pilate from whom Pilate gets his authority to remind him that he is not an authority unto himself. Of course, Pilate doesnt get it. (This also delves into other issues of is/ought etc... more hours on the keyboard....)
     But, when we capitulate and simply refuse to acknowledge the Bible as the standard of morality, yes, in the public square, this gives the local govt the allowance and understanding that it is in fact the authority to decide what is moral and what is not. And to then make laws based on that self-created morality.

     I am hoping that you can see why I feel that it is critical that we ***wisely*** apply the Bible to our actions and thoughts in reference to the civil govt. (among other reasons).
By not doing so means that we are implicitly (or explicitly) acknowledging that the state has authority in and of himself to make laws.. Laws which are reflective of a particular morality.. If we leave the state to itself, that morality will be whatever the state likes to see it as at that particular moment.

Yes, sometimes, because of natural law, the govt get its right, but not always. But even in this case, that point is irrelevant because the fact of the matter is, even in this case, we would still be allowing the state to define its own morality to make statutes.
     That they got it "right" is of course a reflection of natural law, but it still is not addressing the significant issue of the state making its own moral standard and also not acknowledging where they get their authority from.. (Rom 13, Pilate, epistemological issues... )
This also deals with issues about the relation between natural law and revealed law. I am currently working through this issue in my personal studies. And I need to refine my arguments more, but my basic position is that natural law is ***identical*** to ***revealed law*** in the sense of moral content and nature, but of course the differences lie in the mode of revelation etc...
     All of this to say that, in a humble and honest quest for understanding the truth more clearly, I really believe that Dr Horton is not thinking through the logical implications of what he is saying in regards to civil arrangements.
This has other logical implications for a wide variety of things if you follow the rabbit trail to its cold and hard logical conclusions...

Mikelmann says: "Chris, for now I'm going to respond to one point that has broad signficance.
You said "I think that perhaps a lot of people will disagree with this next point (maybe not on this blog though), but the purpose of govt is in ***inherently*** moral."
     Here I must depart. And again I will refer to the WLC's explanation of the moral law. If you have read it, you know it is fairly detailed. Well, lets take that as an accurate representation of the moral law. Now, if the purpose of government was inherently moral, it would be regulating all of that moral law except insofar as it applies to the condition of the heart with no outward acts that can be regulated. Given your position, it seems there should be law - normally criminal law - about all that, with a larger police force, more judges, and more government peering into our day to do lives.
Paul's advice to Timothy on how to pray for the magistrate is instructive: "“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (I Tim. 1-2)
     The idea here seems to be that the magistrate should provide a structure in which there is freedom for the individual to go about his business in peace. It's implied that there should be religious freedom for the church to do what it is called to do.
     One other point for now is that we live in a certain historical situation. We are living in the USA, with founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Under the former we have agreed that the natural law has a prominent place in how we are to structure our society. The latter guarantees religious freedom and forbids establishment. Both were meant to be inclusive of men like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, neither of which were Christian.
Now certainly have a right to say our country was built on faulty and false principles and a different system should prevail; just be straight-forward about doing so and don't talk of recovering something from our country's past. And then look at all the different attempts to regulate society from a detailed application of the moral law in history and make a case that we should replicate them or that we can somehow do better. But, on this side of cross, to have a magistrate that is certain that he is doing the Will of God in detail is to have a tyrant."

Part 3 upcoming. 

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