One of the common arguments against having civil government enforce the first table of the decalogue, in addition to the second table is that the first table involves our duty towards God while the second table involves duty towards man. The idea is that govt was made for man and that it isn't the govt's place to "enforce" religion by enforcing the first table of the law.
The reasoning goes that civil government is obligated to enforce the second table of the Decalogue because this is what is reflected in nature and "common" to all man.
Predictably, this type of reasoning is full of flaws and sloppy reasoning. I will focus on a few points.
Most people would recognize that murder is wrong, whether Christian or non-Christian., it is "common" among both. The reasoning then goes on to say that therefore, this is an acceptable crime for the government to address, and it certainly isn't a "religious" crime, since it is a "common" crime. Before I go on, unfortunately, it is not as "common" as people think to say that murder is wrong.. Why do we still have abortion then? And we have top abortion advocates finally admitting that the "fetus" is a human being and yet they still advocate abortion!
While we can certainly understand that killing without justifiable provocation (murder) is wrong, the ultimate normative basis behind why murder is wrong is that it is an assault on the image of God. In Gen 9:6, we read: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind."
The entire reason that death penalty for murder is instituted is that murder is wrong because that man was made in the image of God, and that image is being destroyed when one is being murdered.
This point is an important one that seems to be overlooked so often. This is exactly why there is a fundamental difference between killing an ant when it is eating our food versus killing a human being because he looked at you in a grumpy way.
Atheists will say that murder is wrong because it is wrong to harm another person. This is certainly true. But ***why*** is it wrong to harm another person? The atheist at this point has no answer. If it were wrong to kill another person simply because it is wrong, that is question begging and it's his word against another atheist's. Who is to say that Atheist A is correct while Atheist B is not? Without the normative standard of God's law as revealed to us in the Bible, we would never properly know.
At this point, many R2K-ers will also say that we don't need the Bible to tell us that murder is wrong because of Gen 9:6 and how this is something that was naturally placed in our hearts to understand and know. This line of reasoning is fallacious.
It seems ironic to me that an R2K-er will tell me that we cannot use the Bible to say that murder is wrong to the non-Christian and he will cite justification for doing so ***using the Bible***. How can one use the Bible to justify not using the Bible? That is like trying to prove that I dont know how to speak English by using all of my reasoning in the English language.
Secondly, I wrote above that the ultimate reason that murder is wrong is because of Gen 9:6 (the image of God). R2K arguments, which refuse to actually use the Bible in the public square, would have a hard time informing the atheist that murder is wrong when they refuse to actually give the non-Christian the primary and ultimate reason as to why it is wrong in the first place.
Thirdly, how would the R2K-er have even known the proper concept that there actually is such a thing as things being revealed in nature if it weren't for the Bible? Consistent atheism does not understand that anything is revealed in nature. All they see is that nature is what it is.. Christians do understand that things are revealed in nature, because of what they read in the Bible (Rom 1). R2K attempts to prove revelation in nature without using the Bible when the only way that we could possibly know that there is revelation in nature is because the Bible says so! And yet, R2K refuses to acknowledge the very reason for the very concept of revelation in nature.
It concerns me that R2K refuses to understand the utter incoherence of its theological methodology.
Remember when Saul was murdering Christians in Acts. From a "purely civil" perspective, this would generally be seen as a crime against another human. However, if you notice in Acts 9:4, when Jesus is talking to Saul, the first thing that Jesus says isnt, "Why are you persecuting my people?", the first and actually the only thing that Jesus says is: "Why are you persecuting ME?". Jesus reiterates this when he responds to Saul's question about who He is. Jesus repeats his assertion that Saul was persecuting him by responding "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.".
It is interesting to note that Jesus is implying that every time Saul had killed Christians, he was actually and ultimately persecuting Jesus. Of course, Jesus understood that Saul was directly hurting His followers, and yet, it is noteworthy that Jesus never mentions to Saul about persecuting his followers, but that Saul was persecuting Him!
This is noteworthy because although murder and persecution are commonly seen today as crimes primarily against the individual from a temporal perspective, we see that the Bible doesnt view these crimes first and foremost from the temporal perspective.
We see that the Bible views the sins of murder and persecution FIRST AND FOREMOST as heinous acts against the Triune God. Notice how in Gen 9:6, and in Acts 9:4, what is mentioned is that these sins are against God (image of God: Gen, and Jesus: Acts), and there is no justification mentioned for these crimes being wrong because of their effect on man.
In other words, when we are talking about murder, the standard as to why it is wrong is that it is an assault on the image of God. Through the secondary means of murdering a fellow man, this assault on the image of God is brought to bear. God clearly understands that murder is an assault on a fellow human, but He doesnt mention that as the reason for why murder is wrong in Gen 9:6. Yes, murdering someone is wrong.. (secondary means)... But why is it wrong? Because it destroys the image of God (primary).
If man were the first and foremost reason as to why murder is wrong, Gen 9:6 would have been stated differently and focused on the harm done to man, and not the harm done to God.
And more specifically, when talking about the state or any person persecuting Christians, they are in fact persecuting Jesus, through the secondary means of harming his followers.
I am hoping that through this example of murder, we can see that it isn't simply a "civil" crime that has no religious significance, but in fact has as much religious significance as idol worship or blasphemy. (I also seem to remember certain non-Israelite nations (who did not directly have the law of Moses) being blotted out for their idolatry even though they were not specifically told that idolatry is wrong.........).. We can see implications of this on not just murder in general, but on other issues such as abortion. With this in mind, we should never grow cold towards abortion.
Finally, for the persecution example, we see that there is murder or other hateful actions being done towards Christians, but our Lord looks at this persecution FIRST AND FOREMOST not as an assault on his followers, but on HIM.
It really does concern me, and to be honest, it angers me, when I see Christians and church leaders refusing to speak out and take practical steps towards fighting against this persecution through prayer, and loving Christian action towards calling people to repent and believe in the Lord.. and other non-traditional things such as blogging and other forms of information transmission through various other media.
In effect, the message that is being said when churches refuse to speak out and take action is: We find it acceptable for you the state, other people etc.. to continue to persecute Jesus by passing laws and bullying Christians to be silent, compromise our faith, and ultimately make us sin against our Lord.
It is unfortunate that people don't see that the implications of refusing to speak out is that we are allowing the persecution not just Jesus' followers but persecution of JESUS himself to be accepted.
How is it that a Christian is now somehow regarded as being orthodox (R2K) by refusing to speak out and ultimately therefore allowing Jesus to be persecuted as opposed to not allowing him to be persecuted but honored and feared (theonomic, or at least Kuiperian)?
When did Christendom and supposed bastions of the reformed faith become so terribly backwards?