Why Murder and Theft are Still Illegal in America

by Andy Wood on January 30, 2015

in Ability, Allocating Your Resources, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Pleasers, Principle of Freedom

Lawyer attorney in classic polish gown covering eyes with blindfold

I hate to start a piece with a bunch of disclaimers, but I think I should.

  1. This is a little off my reservation, but only a little.
  2. This article is addressed to Christian people who still believe they are or should be an influence in the culture and society. If that doesn’t describe you, there isn’t much of value for you here.
  3. This article is addressed also to those who have a growing sense of frustration that the America you thought you knew is a thing of the past.
  4. This is going to come across as very cynical, but I don’t mean for it to – I am actually very hopeful that you and I can be salt and light in this world.

Still with me?

OK.

I had an “Aha!” moment the other day.  You may have figured this out a long time ago, and maybe I’m late to the party, but hey, I was a 10-month baby.

Recently the state where I live, Alabama, became the latest state whose laws and Constitution related to the definition of marriage was struck down by a Federal judge.

Raise your hand if that actually surprises you.

This all started with one judge in one state. Then all the Congress people and state assemblies in both major parties in every state rushed to pass their “Defense of Marriage” statutes and amendments.

Too bad.

One by one, something unthinkable a generation ago is a step away from being completely accepted as normal – not just on the law books, but now by the majority of Americans.

All that’s history.  My “Aha!” moment came when I read the language of the judge’s ruling:

“…the State must therefore convince the Court that its laws restricting the fundamental right to marry serve a compelling state interest,”

In other words, if the state could show a reason that keeping homosexuals out of the marriage conversation would somehow make it stronger, richer, safer, or whatever, so be it.

Now… as an Evangelical Christian, my knee-jerk reaction was, “What about the moral interest?”  What about laws based on a moral code?

Ha.

And that’s the point.  Ha.

Somewhere along the way a cosmic shift took place in the thinking of jurisprudence.  I am no legal historian or theorist, but at one point I’m pretty sure the case could have been made that judges did build their thinking, not just on the Constitution, but on something resembling biblical morality.  Murder was illegal because murder is immoral; it violates the 10 Commandments and every other historic ethical code.  Same goes for theft, lying, or any other issue deemed a moral evil.

Somewhere, sometime that changed… probably after somebody queried, “Yes, but whose morals?”

As this has evolved, now the court has two compelling interests – (1) protecting the rights of the minority against the will of the majority should majority will infringe on those rights, and (2) protecting the interests of the state – i.e., the government.

That. Is. It.  That’s what judges mean by “Constitutional.”

What About the “Moral Majority?”

The problem with people who holler about the will of the majority is that this isn’t a democracy, and you are greatly deceived if you think it is.  To be fair, that has often kept us from being idiots with the will of the majority because the majority isn’t always right.  The reality is that in this country, ultimate power resides in the person who can convince a Federal judge his or her rights have been violated.

The problem with people who appeal to morality as a basis of law is that morality isn’t the basis of our laws anymore.  I believe they once were, but no longer.  So when people protest on the basis of morality, they are speaking in a quaint, archaic, irrelevant language that people in places of power no longer speak.  And the more loudly we holler and the more shrill we sound, the more ridiculous it comes across to a world that has moved on.

So, the reason it’s still illegal to murder someone is that killing robs a person of his right to life.  But the reason it’s NOT illegal to kill a baby in a womb is that keeping an unwanted baby alive in the womb violates the mother’s right to the pursuit of happiness.  And the reason it’s a double murder to kill a pregnant woman is because it violates the mother’s right to life AND her right to want to bring her baby into the world.

Moral?  That is no longer a part of the conversation.

The reason it’s still illegal to steal something that belongs to somebody else is that it violates someone else’s right to own property.  But don’t be surprised when somebody successfully argues that some corporation’s ownership of something violates an individual’s rights to something else, and the individual wins the right to steal.

(Did you just way to yourself, “No way!  That’s not right?”  Try and keep up.)

What Do We Do With all That?

I am very well aware of the statements by Jesus what we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-15).  I am also very aware of that fact that the world wants us to either conform (Romans 12:2) or go back into our Christian ghettos and shut up.

That said, we do have options.

1.  We can capitulate. Just give up.  Tip our hat to the other guy and recognize that the America we once thought we lived in is no more.  Grab a mic, sing some songs about heaven, wear skinny jeans to church and tell the world we’re still relevant. (Hey, I said this was going to sound more cynical than it is.)

2.  We can continue to fight politically and legally. But unless we can learn to play by the world government’s rules and speak in its language, we will continue to lose the legal arguments that take place in the world.

3.  We can get our own spiritual house in order. What a novel concept.  To campaign for social or legal order based on a moral code suggests that first we’d better be living by the same moral code, and statistically everybody but the Christians seems to recognize that that simply isn’t true.  We want to defend marriage as an institution, but not our own.  We want to rearrange other people’s immorality, but ignore our own.  And the only people we’re fooling is ourselves.

4.  We can go back to our home field advantage, and that has never been in the courthouse or voting booth. Debating and participating have their place, but they are not our sources of power.  Paul said that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” but since 1980 that’s exactly what we’ve been trying to do.  Like David trying to wear King Saul’s armor, at times we look a bit ridiculous.

Paul also said that the “weapons of our warfare are not fleshly,” but we’ve trusted in carnal weapons anyway.

This is a spiritual fight.  And our weapons there are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.  But to avail ourselves of those weapons requires getting our own spiritual house in order first.  Then it requires “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” and “rendering every thought captive to Christ.”  Media junkies – social and otherwise – need not apply.

This all sounds more cynical than it should. There is great hope and great power to those who are willing to pay the price to access it.  The question is, are we really ready to pay the price?  Recent history suggests we aren’t.  But given the right faith, hope, and love, who knows what could happen?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard March 2, 2016 at 7:56 am

You truly believe that your morals are more important than any other persons morals? Can you say hypocrite much? If you as a evangelical are so morally right, why were the holy crusades held? Why were thousands of people murdered openly in the holy crusade? Why were people put to death for refusing to go to war during the holy crusades?

Did you know, through out Christianity’s history, people in the church and of faith practiced homosexuality openly.

You are so homophobic, you blind yourself to everything, including history. You are nothing more than a blind sheep with false sense of morals.

Andy Wood March 2, 2016 at 8:15 am

Hi Richard,
Thanks for commenting on this post which was written explicitly to Evangelical Christians rather than a general audience. A couple of points, for what it’s worth…

1. I don’t believe my morals are any more important than anybody else’s, other than to me, just as your morals are important first and foremost to you.
2. I DO believe that morals are more about how we live than what we say we believe. I think you and I would agree on that.
3. Whether I am morally right or wrong has nothing to do with being an Evangelical. It has everything to do with the code(s) I am accountable to (in my case that would be scripture) and the willingness I demonstrate to actually live by it.
4. I could say “hypocrite” just about every time I look in the mirror. How about you?
5. The “holy crusades” weren’t holy, and they weren’t perpetrated by Evangelicals, but by Roman Catholics. Moreover, they took place at a time when there was no separation between church and state, which made for some pretty bizarre and horrible decision making.
6. Throughout Christianity’s history I have no doubt that people in the church practiced homosexuality, though I’m not sure how open it was.
7. People of faith? Doubtful, according to explicit scriptural teaching. But I must hasten to add that this also applies to MANY other issues.
8. See point #3. One of my whole points in this post was to state that Evangelicals must get their own house in order.

Thanks again for stopping by.

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