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The Trouble with Thieves

No society can exist without moral law, and no man-made moral law has ever commanded man’s obedience. Men who work to overthrow moral order are in the end very unhappy when they themselves are robbed by lawless men.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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California Farmer 235:8 (Nov. 20, 1971), p. 22.

This morning I stopped at the office of an “underground” leftist newspaper to pick up a back issue I needed for my work and writing. Inside the lobby, two long-haired revolutionaries, both staff members, were busy with a problem. Their coin-operated newspaper racks were regularly being robbed of all their papers.

One of the two young men pointed out how easy it was to loosen the sheet metal screws and take out all the papers. They would have to be replaced with something more secure, he said, to prevent more theft.

I was amused as I listened because their paper is vitriolic in its attacks on and contempt for Biblical faith and morality. They openly express contempt for God’s law, for property rights, for sexual morality, for everything the Bible teaches. But now their property was being robbed, and they were upset.

I was reminded of the boy I went to high school with who thought it was great fun to steal melons, and said that the best tasting melons were stolen ones. A few years ago, back home, a friend told me that this same person, now a farmer, was busy damning the young punks who were stealing his melons!

The Communists, both before and in the early years after the Russian Revolution, were busy destroying morality and religion. Now they have a problem in that a generation reared by their standards will not work, will steal anything they can get away with, and has no real standards except self-interest. The Communists are now trying to tell their youth that laziness, theft, and promiscuity are bourgeois, capitalistic sins! It has not improved their situation, however.

No society can exist without moral law, and no man-made moral law has ever commanded man’s obedience. Men who work to overthrow moral order are in the end very unhappy when they themselves are robbed by lawless men.

We have been trying to operate without God and His law. Our schools have reared a generation of lawless youth, and our apostate churches have given men dry sawdust instead of the Word of God. The results should surprise no one.

God promises another result if we turn to Him: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).

We mentioned earlier the two hippies who were upset because their newspapers were being stolen. They had no right to be, since they were working to create a lawless, godless world. The next time you complain about the world’s dishonesty, look at yourself first. Are you like those young men, a hypocrite? Have you any right to complain about bad character, if you are one?

Is it not instead time for repentance and the words of righteousness? Is it not time for politicians, preachers, teachers, and parents to say, when faced with young criminals and hoodlums, that the trouble with these thieves is that they take after us, who have been called to take after Christ?


R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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