The necessity of Biblical Law being established in a previous article, it is now the author’s intention to examine how a Biblical legal stance would apply to a non-Jewish nation. For there are many confusing aspects of Biblical Law, which, if not addressed, could very well establish an unGodly tyranny instead of liberty, and so it is up to the astute observer to note the differences between wise and foolish applications. I humbly submit the following points as a rough sketch of a Biblical legal system, and request the input of all God fearing and learned elders.
To begin, perhaps the greatest of confusions, the one generating from the most intolerable ignorance, and therefore resulting in the greatest amount of slander, pertains to the so-called establishment of theocracy. Men are often quick to proclaim the dangers of Biblically-based law without considering, even for a moment, that God did not establish Himself as the executive power of the United States of America, appearing in a cloud of fire and writing the US constitution upon tablets of stone. Supposing that He did, then penalties pertaining to apostasy might be enforceable, as such acts would amount to active sedition against the very authority of the nation. But in the modern American state, no such penalties for the apostate are necessary, since Americans already have their own laws of treason, and neither are priestly duties or cleanliness ordinances: as Christ fulfilled all priestly and cleanliness requirements, they simply no longer present a legal obligation.
All Biblical Law must be viewed in this light: where theocracy is not particularly applicable (meaning, in no place other than Israel itself), the Laws pertaining to the maintenance of theocracy are invalid, and a clear boundary must be made between those Laws ecclesiastical, and those practical. I do not pretend such a discussion will be easy, but neither was the discussion of the US Constitution: spiritual enlightenment has yielded positive results to the spiritually enlightened before, and I am confident that by the teaching and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, it will do so again.
In this pursuit, there are several major distinctions which must be made. The first of these, and perhaps most valuable to the Christian, is the distinction between Mosaic Law and those spiritual laws declared by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. For if Jehovah had intended a state enforcement of Christ’s teachings, His omniscience requires that He would certainly have done so on Mount Sinai: for Law requires justice, and the Almighty does not deliver a faulty justice one year, and a better one the next. But one could only expect a certain slavery, supposing every man was required by Law to turn the other cheek or to give all his possessions to the poor; and supposing that Christ intended the legal enforcement of His each and every teaching, it is not unthinkable that the state could require the life of any man it pleased, simply for the “common good.” Yet God’s personal legal system, being etched by that Holy finger upon tablets of stone, and having restricted itself within very specific parameters, respected the faults and shortcomings of man by limiting human authority to those matters explicitly required. The Law, suffice it to say, was for all intents and purposes a legal system, while Christ’s teachings are enforceable only by ecclesiastical organizations upon spiritually regenerated peoples. That is to say, one set is backed by the implicit threat of legitimate violence, and the other is not; the former grants rights, the latter forfeits them; the first establishes liberty, the second only despotism.
Secondly, once Mosaic Law has been established as the primary source of Biblical legal boundaries, there is a certain kind of objective and easily discernible Law which cannot be contradicted, which prohibits a behavior outright, leaving no room for interpretation. These Laws, such as Israel’s own “eighth amendment,” or those which ban acts such as adultery, cannot ever be ignored in a Christian society. To transgress these Laws would either end in a form of oppression, in the former by permitting torture, or according to the latter would reduce society to a liberty possessed not by men, but by animals. In these are found prohibitions against usury, child sacrifice, and violations of property.
There is a second kind of Law, though, less discernible not because the Almighty intended its inapplicability beyond Israel, but rather because the principle itself was implied by Jehovah’s establishment of Law, an implication in act instead of a commandment. As Rousseau once remarked in The Social Contract, “If I were a prince or a legislator, I would not waste my time saying what ought to be done; I would do it or remain silent.” It is plain that God has done the same; people to whom heavenly political theory would not have been helpful were left Laws instead of dissertations. Under this category lies principles about wealth redistribution, the moral types of taxation (flat and poll), and the boundaries of assault.
Another major confusion occurs when men mistake those Laws policed by God for those policed by men, an error which can very well result in totalitarian misuses of power. One such instance involves God’s requirement that foreigners be treated with total equity, not oppressed by the violations of natural rights, nor treated with contempt in daily interaction. This ambiguous Law, like the commandment against the emotional condition of covetousness, would require a state oversight so penetrating, as it regulates every possible behavior between citizens and foreigners, that it could never be justly policed by the state. Therefore, since man in his limited knowledge cannot always ascertain the content of another’s heart, nor judge the every particular of every circumstance, the policing of extra-legal interactions (meaning, those beyond rights precisely definable) cannot be placed in the administration of men: they are for God Himself to judge, though principles to be policed socially.
On the other hand, those circumstances which God policed, in which actions are definable and provable, not establishing unlimited authority in the hands of administration, would be within fair reach. Taxation itself was enforced by Jehovah, and, supposing man would not assume His authority, the governmental impotence resulting therefrom would ruin the political entity itself. Mankind, here, may take the reins of authority from the Almighty, and though he may not tinker with the moral methods of distribution, and though he may not exempt certain men from paying (both being implications of Heavenly Law), he is free to establish the boundaries within which such taxation may be enforced, so long as those boundaries do not conflict with man’s other rights, or deviate from the patterns established.
Next, the absence of a Biblical Law does not imply a requirement of liberty. There are certain cases, such as those concerning street fighting, which overtly regulate the circumstances of battery, but do not prohibit it altogether, and in this particular case it may be assumed that a prohibition of fighting was never intended. But regarding those instances wherein no comparable Law exists, such as for restricting liberty of movement or regulating immigration, one could not deduce that stop signs or borders were illegal under the pretenses that an absence in such Laws implies a necessary liberty. If such were the case, then no society would be able to craft any laws particular to the exigencies of their region, essentially nullifying the majority of legislative authority, and further contradicting the command of the apostles to obey local ordinances wherein those ordinances do not violate the commandments of God. Biblical Law, then, is a skeleton of essential rights and procedures; wisdom may provide the tissues beyond them. For there are many concerns which Biblical Law never or hardly addresses, and these concerns, though indirect implications may be drawn from other Laws pertaining to similar subjects, cannot simply be left ungoverned. In this category, particularly, lie immigration law, safety laws, environmental law, and simple township ordinances, subjects which may have been addressed in some minute way, but require additional legislation.
With these principles in mind, any Laws pertaining to either personal or interpersonal morality would stand. It would be antithetical, therefore, to protect something which God Himself prohibits (such as adultery), and conversely, it would be antithetical to oppose a form in which God Himself instructs (a right to flat taxation). A Biblical Law system would establish a free economy, strong property rights, and severely reduce the current welfare state while protecting the financial independence of the poor. It would end a severely overcrowded prison system, making lesser crimes punishable by restitution or corporal punishment only, and executing capital offenders such as rapists and murderers. It would reestablish parental rights and restore the American family, a crucial unit in any free economy, directly contrary to the principles of the Communist Manifesto. It would end an oppressive banking system, destroying the Federal Reserve and freeing the lower and middle classes from their enormous debts. It would restore justice to our judicial system, reform tort law, relieve unfair burdens upon our productive citizens, and it would streamline our code of taxation. In essence, it would be neither conservative nor liberal, nor would it resemble an oppressive Islamic dictatorship. It would be Biblical.
Though men may proclaim, with deceptively reverent tones and an equally transparent humility, that there is but One who is good, and that men cannot be expected to enforce true goodness in a world populated with unbelievers, Jesus Christ is not a God of impotence: He promised through His prophets that a new covenant lay on the horizon, that His Law would no longer be left upon tablets of stone, but rather written on the very hearts of His children, a revolution not in Law itself, but in the very nature of men. Wherever the true Christian’s foot treads, then, the kingdom of God arrives. And though the Christian may lack total perfection, and though he may while in his earthly shell never fully comprehend the entirity of God’s purpose and character, his duty to be the salt and light of the world cannot be fulfilled without the teaching and transforming power of the Holy Spirit. If Christian men have not been empowered to discern the difference between Godly and unGodly laws according to the Scriptures, then man is not fallen, and the Holy Spirit does not exist.
Having by the very words of God established Christian knowledge, and reaffirming that God Himself is good, there is no such thing as “Christian morality” and “other morality.” There is morality, and there is immorality; there is justice, and there is injustice; there is equality, and there is inequality; there are prescriptions that are good for society, and there are prescriptions that are bad. To admit otherwise, that a valid opinion about these exists outside of God’s disclosed perspective, is not to be reasonable or tolerant: it is to cede one’s entire religion. Shall we assume, when Jehovah commands to give justice to the widow, that He desires justice not according to His definition, but another? If this is the case, then we must consider whether the primary obstacle to justice is actually unbelievers, or whether it is Christians.
As stated above, during times not simply of sectarian discord, but of outright warfare, even a divided Christendom understood and respected a morality uniform and divine in every aspect. Shall we then say in times of peace, and with an unprecedented access to information, that we are incapable of discerning the plainly-written words of the Almighty, as though the Spirit did not speak, and as though learning entirely escapes the learned? Considering increasingly derogatory arguments against Biblical Law, which claim that there exists great danger in its enforcement, it is almost as though men would prefer us to never be just, simply so that we can refrain from injustice. There is another reason, I believe, which is entirely more likely than the above absurdity. It is not that men cannot discern the legal teachings of the Bible: it is that they no longer believe that God is good.
If this is the choice of men who claim to be Christian and otherwise, then let it be so. The Almighty in his omniscience and perfection has given them free will, and He has done so with purpose. But I will not have it said of me or my household that the Laws of God were treated as anachronisms, merely to be left in the trash dump of a pompous Western society. And let it not be said of you. Let us crown our Creator once again, reaffirming His authority over the the concepts of liberty, justice, and equality, and like Daniel, refusing to eat meats sacrificed to idols, I propose that something unexpected will happen. Society will flourish better than ever before, our very bones being strengthened with every feast upon His every word. Let God be put to the test. He is not in the business of losing.
And let us remember the words of the Almighty, so as to avoid His judgment.
Therefore the Lord said:
“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work
Among this people,
A marvelous work and a wonder;
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.”