The laws in our nation — indeed, in Western civilization — will increasingly favor and reward those who practice and/or advocate homosexuality and other loathsome behaviors. What too many remain blithely unaware of is that the same laws, which favor revolting behavior, must disfavor righteous behavior. As homosexuals emerge from the closet, Christians will be stuffed into it.
This is why: Laws exist, always and in every case, to serve an order. Think about it: the reason that even the Levitical laws are changed (St. Paul argues in Hebrews) is because there has been a change in order. "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (Heb. 7:12). Laws are made to serve an order. If the order is changed, the laws must also change.
The tricky thing about our American circumstance is this: the order has been changed while Christians have been asleep at the wheel. There has already been an inversion of assigned values in the public square. A society’s order, you see, is always revealed by what is permitted in its public square, and the respective valuations there assigned to various beliefs and practices. Laws are then drafted and enforced to preserve and advance this public square order. The laws of our nation, then, will — they must — follow the new order.
In the Beginning
Again, let me explain why this is so. Think of how things were at the beginning. God didn’t just create the world, He ordered it: the Lord created things into a specific covenantal order, into an explicit hierarchical order. The Lord ruled over all, and Adam was His vicegerent. God placed woman beside man as his helper. And all living creatures were under Adam and Eve.
The laws given to Adam and Eve were meant to preserve and advance the God-ordained order in fruitfulness and blessedness. Obedience to His revealed law-word would cause the created order to flourish. Disobedience to His law-word, on the other hand, would be a revolt against God and His created order. Submission to God is bound up with submission to His order, a submission manifested through obedience to His Word. Those who want His kingdom to come show it by seeing to it that, as far as they can ensure, His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We obey God, in part, in the hope that His order will be re-established. The law is always the means to an end, to an order.
Thus, in the beginning the order was God above all, man joyfully under God, woman lovingly under man, and the animals at the bottom. Sin was introduced first as a subtle, then a direct, revolt against God’s order. That first sin was not some abstract violation of a principle. It was a full-tilt assault designed to overturn God’s created order through a dismissal of His law-word. Our Dutch theologians have pointed out that the order introduced by sin was a perfect inversion. The lyrics of "Sympathy for the Devil" express a truth: for Satan, "every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints…heads is tails." The devil puts good for evil and evil for good. The serpent, most cunning of the beasts, sought to replace God as the definer of reality and reality’s order. Directly under the serpent was the woman, functioning as though she were the covenant head of humanity. Abandoning his own calling, Adam sheepishly followed woman into ruin. And from their new order, God was functionally and altogether excluded. The revolution brought about a perfect inversion.
The living and true God did not accept this new order. The serpent, man, and woman were cursed and put back in their place. God reinstated His order: God was God, the Ultimate Definer; man was restored as head of the household (with severe complications); woman was returned to her domestic calling (with severe complications); and the serpent was put on the bottom (with a sentence of doom directed against the one who animated him).
|Created Order||Sinful Inversion||Restored Order|
|GOD||Animal (serpent calls the shots)||GOD|
|Man||Woman (functions as head)||Man|
|Woman||Man (culpably follows)||Woman|
The first step in every revolution is to get rid of the competition. Since God’s law-word not only defines the way things ought to be ordered, but also reveals how the order may be maintained and how we might flourish in terms of it — because this is true, revolutions must, like the one in the Garden, first discount the authority and normativity of His Word. Once God’s Word is excluded, brothers and sisters, God Himself is excluded, for from that point we are left at best with nothing more than a cacophony of voices, all claiming authority to define reality. Once God’s Word is excluded as authoritative and normative, all that remains is politics and power grabbing. We live in a political world when we deny it to be God’s world. When we deny God’s law, we deny the path to God’s order. Law and order are inseparable ideas.
When we think "law and order," we ordinarily take order to mean a state of peace and serenity. That is the second sense of the word. What we ought to have in mind is its first meaning: social position, rank in the community. That’s where the critical relationship between law and order is discovered. For law is always in order to an order, and the order is brought about through its advocates being rewarded and its opponents being punished. That’s what laws facilitate: the promotion of behaviors approved by the order and the frustration of behaviors which are not.
Law is never neutral. It necessarily proceeds from a particular worldview and seeks the establishment of an order in harmony with that view. Worldviews proceed from religious presuppositions. Law, then, must be seen as a tool by which a societal order is generated and/or established. In all societies, the righteous are the justified ones, those in accord with the prevailing religious sentiment and expectations. These favored ones are rewarded by law. Conversely, the wicked, those regarded as a threat to the order, are punished.
There is a painful ignorance concerning law, per se, among modern Americans. Examples abound, but two close at hand are Kosovo and Littleton. One searches nearly in vain for meaningful discussion concerning the legality or constitutionality of these actions: all public discussion is restricted to a consideration of its wisdom (or lack thereof ), or its efficacy. The default attitude of Americans now is, "The constitution (the law) be hanged." And in the wake of the Littleton tragedy, one popular talk show lady said that even though the Constitution grants the right to bear arms, "Enough is enough." She was applauded. Americans clearly have no patience for anything — custom, convention, or Constitution — which stands in the way of what they want. Though she’d be surprised to hear it, the host’s attitude is first cousin to the spirit of the Littleton murderers: "Law be damned."
It is little wonder that we find such attitudes when American Christians — those who above all others on earth ought to recognize the relationship of law and liberty — are so averse to even God’s law that they can’t recite the 10 Commandments without help. The result of this studied ignorance is that we are now poised to welcome anti-Christianity as the official religion of the American public square, with laws establishing anti- Christianity not far behind. Remarkably, a Trojan horse is no longer necessary: we open the gates for those who have told us that they are going to eradicate us. "Come right in," we say.
Rousas Ha’Naviy (The Prophet)
In 1965, R. J. Rushdoony saw as inevitable what many then thought was unthinkable: homosexuals would emerge as the great object of liberal solicitude and the new standard for measuring "tolerance." Rushdoony saw this for what it was: part of a major religious shift in the West, away from Biblical Christianity and toward anti-Christianity. "If there is no God and no divinely ordained law, then not only does perversion have equal rights with morality, but actually truer rights, because Christian morality is seen as an imposition on and a dehumanization of man, whereas perversion is an act of liberty and autonomy…"
From prophecy to fulfillment in 24 years: This month, 1500 lesbians gathered in Washington, D.C., to coordinate their agenda to advance degeneracy as our society’s salvation. To do this, they said, they must be allied with all "rights" causes in the consciousness of American people. According to one news report, a speaker said that the activists had to "work to connect the dots of the ‘isms’ that oppress us…and build the America that we desire." What they mean is that they don’t want to have their "cause" viewed as separable from any other "justice" issue. One lesbian explained the agenda: "Progressivism seeks a world with universal social, racial, and economic justice; we seek the right to be fed and sheltered, to love and be loved, and to live without fear…We recognize the centrality of economic inequity, class, and gender in all forms of oppression." Marx refuses to stay dead. And America is poised to bid him enter. They’ve lost the voice which can say "No." With most Christian offspring in government schools, they won’t soon recover it.
Lesbian Congress-thing Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the keynote speaker, asked, "How do we go about creating the world in which we want to live?" (Of course, in their view, God has not done that.) It answered, "…Do things publicly, first in small numbers, then in greater numbers, until that is just the way it is." The only distinction homosexuals have as a group is perversion. Get ready to see lots of it. For, presumably, the things Baldwin wants done in public include the singing of songs like that led by Karen John, a NOW officer, talking about how much she loved masturbation, "even near the Xerox machine." They also advanced public safe-sex demonstrations and sex-toy parties at colleges. You can bet your bottom dollar that such will be commonly seen in short order.
The Old Squeeeze Play
"This town isn’t big enough for the both of us," is not only a good line for a Western movie; it’s an accurate axiom describing the religion of the public square. Two hostile religions cannot receive equal treatment. At most, one will be accommodated in terms defined by the other. Today, anti-Christianity has won the battle for presence in the public square.
And — not to depress, but to inform you — it isn’t likely to get better any time soon. The three major means by which anti-Christianity came to its current position continue to hold sway over the minds of most professing Christians in the USA. Compromising (and compromised) churches are supported by ignorant Christians, modern anti-Christian media is the unchallenged source of news for most Christians, and government schools continue to be the de facto choice of American Christian parents for indoctrinating their offspring. (Focus on the Family, arguably the most influential evangelical organization in America, in the August, 1999, issue of their magazine, encourages its millions of readers to "rebuild hope for public schools," when they should be screaming, "Fire! Get out!")
The naïveté of modern Christians concerning the religious character of the so-called "Culture War" is astonishing. Culture, Henry Van Til taught us, is simply "religion externalized and made explicit." The institutions of a society are born to and raised by the shared religion of that society. At one time our institutions were explicitly and implicitly Christian. This manifest truth has been altogether lost on our generation, thanks to the above-named conduits of anti-Christianity (churches, media, schools). We have been raised to believe that culture is religiously neutral rather than religiously determined. While we were sleeping, our national religion has changed. A big step in this process was the theft of America’s actual history, replaced by a revised and sanitized, anti-Christian version.
The Real Thing
Our actual history began, "In the Name of God, Amen." These were the first words of the Mayflower Compact, which went on to speak of the voyage to plant the "first" colony as having been undertaken "for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith."
Throughout the founding period there was no doubt that it was a Christian land that was being established. The Constitution of Maryland required that officeholders provide "a declaration of belief in the Christian religion," and until 1851, defined freedom of religion this way: "[I]t is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to him." Therefore, it went on, "all persons professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty." It further allowed that "the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion."
The Constitution of Vermont was even more specific: "[N]or can any man who professes the Protestant religion, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right, as a citizen." Presumably, such protection did not apply to atheists. In promoting the free exercise of religious worship according to conscience, this Constitution recognized limits: "[E]very sect or denomination of people ought to observe the Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day, and keep up, and support, some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the will of GOD." The Ten Commandments, effectively banished from the public square today, were not only honored in the public square at our founding, but the commandment regarded by many today as the most "controversial," the Fourth, was actually written into various state constitutions, its observance regarded as belonging to the very foundation of proper social order.
The Constitution of New Hampshire (1784), after guaranteeing the unalienable right to worship God according to conscience, goes on to say: "As morality and piety, rightly grounded on evangelical principles, will give the best and greatest security to government, and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to due subjection; and as the knowledge of these, is most likely to be propagated through society by the institution of the public worship of the DEITY, and of public instruction in morality and religion; therefore the people of this state have a right to empower, and do hereby fully empower, the legislature to authorize from time to time, the several towns, parishes, bodies-corporate or religious societies within this state, to make adequate provision at their own expense, for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality." The Massachusetts Constitution (until 1863) had nearly identical provisions. It was thought a thing perfectly proper — indeed, necessary — to use the power of the state to propagate religion, and not just any religion, but the Protestant religion.
The Connecticut Constitution (until 1818) saw the interests of the state as being bound up in the interests of the Church: "[T]he free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility and Christianity call for, as is due every man in his place and portion…hath ever been, and will be the tranquillity and stability of Churches and Commonwealth; and the denial thereof, the disturbances, if not the ruin of both." The North Carolina Constitution (until 1876) held "That no person who shall deny the being of God, or of the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority of the Old or New Testaments…shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department of this State." And the oath of office used in Delaware (until 1792) read, in part: "I . . . do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration."
In 1892, Justice Brewer, of the US Supreme Court, examined all of the (then 44) states’ constitutions, along with abundant other evidence, and concluded, after a careful review, that clearly, "this is a Christian nation" (cited by Gary DeMar in the 7/99 issue of Biblical Worldview Magazine, (800) 628-9460; see also Gary’s book, America’s Christian History).
Now and Then
That was then, this is now. Today we believe that America was founded in a way designed to ensure that the civil government in all its ministries would remain free from religion, especially Christianity. Such radical historical revision does not bode well for our short-term future. A Biblical example of a people in the grip of amazing historical revision can be found in John 8. There, our Lord told the Jews who had believed in Him, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." To this they responded, "We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
I don’t know how many times I’ve read this statement uttered by my ancestors, but I can tell you that every time I do, even now, it robs me of my breath. This is a most stunning instance of willful blindness! Never slaves? This was a nation born from slavery. And the God who delivered them had instituted numerous measures to ensure that they’d never forget it. These measures went beyond the Passover rituals which were a catechism for Israel’s youth: "I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt" (Ex. 13:8). These measures included more than the ceremony of the redemption of the firstborn, with its provided meaning: "In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’" God did more than provide Israel with these ceremonial reminders. He inscribed their history as slaves at the very head of their Constitution, the Ten Commandments: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Never slaves? God put it in the Ten Commandments a second time: "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt" (Dt. 5:15).
Never slaves? Throughout Israel’s history, they returned to — and were turned over to — bondage and servitude again and again. Whether by chunks, as during the period of the Judges, or en masse, as unto Assyria or Babylon or Persia or Greece. It is hard to say without a calculator whether they had spent more time in or out of bondage. Never slaves? Even while the Jews in John 8 were speaking, they were suffering under the brutal heel of Rome!
One is tempted to say, "If this was not recorded in the Bible, I’d be hard-pressed to believe that anyone could so thoroughly revise their history." But, upon reflection, is Israel’s revision really that much different from what we have done in America? If anything, our revisionism is a worse case. They did it on the spot, without consideration. We, in contrast, have — for the last 140 years — slowly, deliberately, and systematically sought to eradicate every vestige of evidence of our explicit Christian origins from our national consciousness. The long effort is finally, for the time being, triumphant. The revisions have won out in the pulpits, the media, and the schools of our land. You’d simply never know that we were ever a self-conscious Christian nation for our first two centuries. A big eraser has been at work.
But it has not left a blank slate. The public square has not become neutral; it’s been turned over to the advocates of another religion, viz., anti-Christianity. The ACLU has, this month, won another case requiring the removal of a religious symbol. This one concerned the ichthus on the seal of little Republic, Missouri. Last year the ACLU won another lawsuit against another Missouri municipality. The City of Florissant, MO, was forbidden by a US District Court from displaying a nativity scene at Christmas-time in front of the Florrisant Civic Center.
In explaining the rationale for their aggression in seeking to remove religious symbols from government properties, ACLU spokesman Deborah Jacobs said, “It is important to remember that religious displays on public property send a message that anyone who is not a member of the religion being celebrated by the government is a second-class citizen.” Well, of course, this is quite right and as it should be. That is clearly the understanding of our Founders when they made explicit mention of our preference for Protestant Christianity. Others could be received, but all were expected to abide by Christian law.
My, how things have changed. Miss Jacobs went on to explain, “People who put nativity scenes on their front lawns, proclaim that theirs is a Christian home. People who put menorahs in their windows proclaim that theirs is a Jewish home. Neither of these messages is one that any city government should send.”
Well, what message should they send? What’s this I hear? President Clinton officially declaring the month of June to be Gay and Lesbian Pride Month? Hmmm. And what’s this I see? Secretary of State Madeline Albright swearing in a militant homosexual to be Ambassador to a 98% Roman Catholic country (how very diplomatic!). And who is that holding the Bible during the ceremony? Why, none other than James Hormel’s sodomite partner. (Would that it had opened to Leviticus 20:13.) And what’s this I see in San Francisco? Is that Mayor Willie Brown, Jr., raising the rainbow flag, symbolizing gay pride, at City Hall? Yes, it is. Now, does all this send a message that those who do not support gay “rights” are “second-class citizens”? It sure does. And we sure are. Because a new religion is being served in the public square.
We’ll continue this topic soon, but first. Lord willing, we’ll conclude the series on worship.
- Steve M. Schlissel
Steve Schlissel has served as pastor of Messiah's Congregation in Brooklyn, New York, since 1979. Born and raised in New York City, Schlissel became a Christian by reading the Bible. He and Jeanne homeschooled their five children and also helped raise several foster children (mostly Vietnamese). In 2003, they adopted Anna (who was born in Hong Kong in 1988, but is now a U.S. citizen). They have eight foster grandchildren and fourteen "natural" grandchildren.