Institutes of Biblical Law – Volume 1


A Chalcedon Study

with three appendices

by Gary North

Rousas John Rushdoony

Chalcedon / Ross House Books

Vallecito, California

Copyright 1973, 2020 Mark R. Rushdoony

Chalcedon/Ross House Books

PO Box 158

Vallecito, CA 95251

Book design and indexing of the 2020 edition by Diakonia Book works

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise — except for brief quotations for the purpose of review or comment, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2019956635

ISBN: 978-1-879998-85-8

With thanks to



of Naples, Florida

for their generous support.


Author’s Preface to the 1973 Edition


The Importance of the Law

  1. The Validity of Biblical Law
  2. The Law as Revelation and Treaty
  3. The Direction of the Law


  1. The First Commandment and the Shema Israel
  2. The Undivided Word
  3. God Versus Moloch
  4. The Laws of Covenant Membership
  5. The Law as Power and Discrimination


  1. The Lawful Approach to God
  2. The Throne of Law
  3. The Altar and Capital Punishment
  4. Sacrifice and Responsibility
  5. Holiness and Law
  6. Law as Warfare
  7. Law and Equality


  1. The Negativism of the Law
  2. Swearing and Revolution
  3. The Oath and Society
  4. Swearing and Worship
  5. The Oath and Authority
  6. The Name of God


  1. The Sign of Freedom
  2. The Sabbath and Life
  3. The Sabbath and Work
  4. The Sabbath and Authority
  5. The Sabbath and Law


  1. The Authority of the Family
  2. The Promise of Life
  3. The Economics of Family
  4. Education and the Family
  5. The Family and Delinquency
  6. The Principle of Authority
  7. The Family and Authority
  8. The Holy Family
  9. The Limitation of Man’s Authority

The Sixth Commandment

  1. “Thou Shalt Not Kill”
  2. The Death Penalty
  3. Origins of the State: Its Prophetic Offices
  4. “To Make Alive”
  5. Hybridization and Law
  6. Abortion
  7. Responsibility and Law
  8. Restitution or Restoration
  9. Military Laws and Production
  10. Taxation
  11. Love and the Law
  12. Coercion
  13. Quarantine Laws
  14. Dietary Rules
  15. Christ and the Law
  16. Work
  17. Amalek
  18. Amalek and Violence
  19. Violence as Presumption
  20. Social Inheritance: Landmarks

The Seventh Commandment

  1. Marriage
  2. Marriage and Man
  3. Marriage and Woman
  4. Nakedness
  5. Family Law
  6. Marriage and Monogamy
  7. Incest
  8. The Levirate
  9. Sex and Crime
  10. Sex and Religion
  11. Adultery
  12. Divorce
  13. The Family as Trustee
  14. Homosexuality
  15. Uncovering the Springs
  16. The Mediatorial Work of the Law
  17. The Transvestite
  18. Bestiality
  19. The Architecture of Life
  20. Faithfulness

The Eighth Commandment

  1. Dominion
  2. Theft
  3. Restitution and Forgiveness
  4. Liability of the Bystander
  5. Money and Measures
  6. Usury
  7. Responsibility
  8. Stealing Freedom
  9. Landmarks and Land
  10. The Virgin Birth and Property
  11. Fraud
  12. Eminent Domain
  13. Labor Laws
  14. Robbing God
  15. Prison
  16. Lawful Wealth
  17. Restitution to God
  18. The Rights of Strangers, Widows, and Orphans
  19. Injustice as Robbery
  20. Theft and Law

The Ninth Commandment

  1. Tempting God
  2. Sanctification and the Law
  3. The False Prophet
  4. The Witness of the False Prophet
  5. Corroboration
  6. Perjury
  7. Jesus Christ as the Witness
  8. False Witness
  9. False Freedom
  10. The Lying Tongue
  11. Slander Within Marriage
  12. Slander
  13. Slander as Theft
  14. “Every Idle Word”
  15. Trials by Ordeal and the Law of Nature
  16. Judges
  17. The Responsibility of Judges and Rulers
  18. The Court
  19. The Procedure of the Court
  20. The Judgment of the Court
  21. Perfection

The Tenth Commandment

  1. Covetousness
  2. The Law in Force
  3. Special Privilege
  4. Offenses Against Our Neighbor
  5. The System

The Promises of Law

  1. The Use of Law
  2. The Law and the Ban
  3. The Curse and the Blessing
  4. The Unlimited-Liability Universe

The Law in the Old Testament

  1. God the King
  2. The Law and the Prophets
  3. Natural and Supernatural Law
  4. The Law as Direction and Life
  5. The Law and the Covenant

The Law in the New Testament

  1. Christ and the Law
  2. The Woman Taken in Adultery
  3. Antinomianism Attacked
  4. The Transfiguration
  5. The Kingdom of God
  6. The Tribute Money
  7. The Cultural Mandate
  8. The Law in Acts and the Epistles

The Church

  1. The Meaning of Eldership
  2. The Office of Elder in the Church
  3. The Christian Passover
  4. Circumcision and Baptism
  5. The Priesthood of All Believers
  6. Discipline
  7. Rebukes and Excommunication
  8. Power and Authority
  9. Peace

Notes on the Law in Western Society


  1. The New Testamentas Law
  2. The Implications of 1 Samuel 8
  3. Stewardship, Investment, and Usury: Financing the Kingdom of God
  4. The Economics of Sabbath-Keeping
  5. In Defense of Biblical Bribery

About the Author

The Ministry of Chalcedon


Page 702


Author’s Preface to the 1973 Edition

The chapters of this study were delivered, over a period of three years, before a large number of groups—students, civil officials, businessmen, housewives, and a great variety of persons. All of this study was also delivered at a single place during the course of the three years, with discussion and comment: at the Chapel of the Palms, Westwood, Los Angeles, James and Clarence Pierce have made their facility available for a continuing Chalcedon study group, and their cooperation is gratefully acknowledged.

Various persons have contributed generously to the Chalcedon publication fund, and have made this study possible: Frederick Vreeland, Keith Harnish, Mrs. S. W. North Jr., my associate Gary North, and many others. The faithful work of the Chalcedon Guild is undergirding the publication of this and other Chalcedon Studies.

The indexing is the work of Bernard Ladouceur. The typing and proofreading have been done by my beloved wife, Dorothy, whose thinking and questioning have greatly furthered this study.

Many of the ideas developed in this study were discussed at times with Burton S. Blumert, who in more ways than one has been a source of encouragement. David L. Thoburn supplied me with several books which were helpful. Many other friends have, by their encouragement and help, made my work possible, and, to one and all, I am deeply grateful.

Rousas John Rushdoony


The Importance of the Law

When Wycliffe wrote of his English Bible that “This Bible is for the government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” his statement attracted no attention insofar as his emphasis on the centrality of Biblical law was concerned. That law should be God’s law was held by all; Wycliffe’s departure from accepted opinion was that the people themselves should not only read and know that law but also should in some sense govern as well as be governed by it. At this point, Heer is right in saying that “Wyclif and Hus were the first to demonstrate to Europe the possibility of an alliance between the university and the people’s yearning for salvation. It was the freedom of Oxford that sustained Wyclif.”[i] The concern was less with church or state than with government by the law-word of God.

Brin has said, of the Hebrew social order, that it differed from all others in that it was believed to be grounded on and governed by the law of God, who gave it specifically for man’s government.[ii] No less than Israel of old, Christendom believed itself to be God’s realm because it was governed by the law of God as set forth in Scripture. There were departures from that law, variations of it, and laxity in faithfulness to it, but Christendom saw itself as the new Israel of God and no less subject to His law.

When New England began its existence as a law order, its adoption of Biblical law was both a return to Scripture and a return to Europe’s past. It was a new beginning in terms of old foundations. It was not an easy beginning, in that the many servants who came with the Puritans later were in full scale revolt against any Biblical faith and order.[iii] Nevertheless, it was a resolute return to the fundamentals of Christendom. Thus, the New Haven Colony records show that the law of God, without any sense of innovation, was made the law of the colony:

March 2, 1641/2: And according to the fundamental agreem(en)t, made and published by full and gen(e)r(a)ll consent, when the plantation began and government was settled, that the judiciall law of God given by Moses and expounded in other parts of scripture, so far as it is a hedge and a fence to the moral law, and neither ceremoniall nor typical nor had any reference to Canaan, hath an everlasting equity in itt, and should be the rule of their proceedings.[iv]

April 3, 1644: Itt was ordered that the judicial lawes of God, as they were delivered by Moses . . . be a rule to all the courts in this jurisdiction in their proceeding against offenders . . . [v]

Thomas Shepard wrote, in 1649, “For all laws, whether ceremonial or judicial, may be referred to the decalogue, as appendices to it, or applications of it, and so to comprehend all other laws as their summary.”[vi]

It is an illusion to hold that such opinions were simply a Puritan aberration rather than a truly Biblical practice and an aspect of the persisting life of Christendom. It is a modern heresy that holds that the law of God has no meaning nor any binding force for man today. It is an aspect of the influence of humanistic and evolutionary thought on the church, and it posits an evolving, developing god. This “dispensational” god expressed himself in law in an earlier age, then later expressed himself by grace alone, and is now perhaps to express himself in still another way. But this is not the God of Scripture, whose grace and law remain the same in every age, because He, as the sovereign and absolute Lord, changes not, nor does He need to change. The strength of man is the absoluteness of his God.

To attempt to study Scripture without studying its law is to deny it. To attempt to understand Western civilization apart from the impact of Biblical law within it and upon it is to seek a fictitious history and to reject twenty centuries and their progress.

The Institutes of Biblical Law has as its purpose a reversal of the present trend. It is called “Institutes” in the older meaning of that word, i.e., fundamental principles, here of law, because it is intended as a beginning, as an instituting consideration of that law which must govern society, and which shall govern society under God.

  1. The Validity of Biblical Law

A central characteristic of the churches and of modern preaching and Biblical teaching is antinomianism, an anti-law position. The antinomian believes that faith frees the Christian from the law, so that he is not outside the law but is rather dead to the law. There is no warrant whatsoever in Scripture for antinomianism. The expression, “dead to the law,” is indeed in Scripture (Gal. 2:19; Rom. 7:4), but it has reference to the believer in relationship to the atoning work of Christ as the believer’s representative and substitute; the believer is dead to the law as an indictment, a legal sentence of death against him, Christ having died for him, but the believer is alive to the law as the righteousness of God. The purpose of Christ’s atoning work was to restore man to a position of covenant-keeping instead of covenant-breaking, to enable man to keep the law by freeing man “from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2), “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:4). Man is restored to a position of law-keeping. The law thus has a position of centrality in man’s indictment (as a sentence of death against man the sinner), in man’s redemption (in that Christ died, who although the perfect law-keeper as the new Adam, died as man’s substitute), and in man’s sanctification (in that man grows in grace as he grows in law-keeping, for the law is the way of sanctification).

Man as covenant-breaker is in “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7) and is subject to “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2), whereas the believer is under “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ” (Rom. 8:2). The law is one law, the law of God. To the man on death row in a prison, the law is death; to the godly man, the same law which places another on death row is life, in that it protects him and his property from criminals. Without law, society would collapse into anarchy and fall into the hands of hoodlums. The faithful and full execution of the law is death to the murderer but life to the godly. Similarly, the law in its judgment upon God’s enemies is death; the law in its sustaining care and blessings is for the law-abiding a principle of life.

God, in creating man, ordered him to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28). Man, in attempting to establish separate dominion and autonomous jurisdiction over the earth (Gen. 3:5), fell into sin and death. God, in order to re-establish the Kingdom of God, called Abraham, and then Israel, to be His people, to subdue the earth, and to exercise dominion under God. The law, as given through Moses, established the laws of godly society, of true development for man under God, and the prophets repeatedly recalled Israel to this purpose.

The purpose of Christ’s coming was in terms of this same creation mandate. Christ as the new Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) kept the law perfectly. As the sin-bearer of the elect, Christ died to make atonement for their sins, to restore them to their position of righteousness under God. The redeemed are recalled to the original purpose of man, exercise dominion under God, to be covenant-keepers, and to fulfill “the righteousness of the law” (Rom. 8:4). The law remains central to God’s purpose. Man has been re-established into God’s original purpose and calling. Man’s justification is by the grace of God in Jesus Christ; man’s sanctification is by means of the law of God.

As the new chosen people of God, the Christians are commanded to do that which Adam in Eden, and Israel in Canaan, failed to do. One and the same covenant, under differing administrations, still prevails. Man is summoned to create the society God requires. The determination of man and of history is from God, but the reference of God’s law is to this world. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6), and to be spiritually minded does not mean to be other-worldly but to apply the mandates of the written word under the guidance of the Spirit to this world.

Lawless Christianity is a contradiction in terms: it is anti-Christian. The purpose of grace is not to set aside the law but to fulfil the law and to enable man to keep the law. If the law was so serious in the sight of God that it would require the death of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, to make atonement for man’s sin, it seems strange for God then to proceed to abandon the law! The goal of the law is not lawlessness, nor the purpose of grace a lawless contempt of the giver of grace.

The increasing breakdown of law and order must first of all be attributed to the churches and their persistent antinomianism. If the churches are lax with respect to the law, will not the people follow suit? And civil law cannot be separated from Biblical law, for the Biblical doctrine of law includes all law, civil, ecclesiastical, societal, familial, and all other forms of law. The social order which despises God’s law places itself on death row: it is marked for judgment.

  1. The Law as Revelation and Treaty

Law is in every culture religious in origin. Because law governs man and society, because it establishes and declares the meaning of justice and righteousness, law is inescapably religious, in that it establishes in practical fashion the ultimate concerns of a culture. Accordingly, a fundamental and necessary premise in any and every study of law must be, first, a recognition of this religious nature of law.

Second, it must be recognized that in any culture the source of law is the god of that society. If law has its source in man’s reason, then reason is the god of that society. If the source is an oligarchy, or in a court, senate, or ruler, then that source is the god of that system. Thus, in Greek culture, law was essentially a religiously humanistic concept.

In contrast to every law derived from revelation, nomos for the Greeks originated in the mind (nous). So the genuine nomos is no mere obligatory law, but something in which an entity valid in itself is discovered and appropriated . . . It is “the order which exists (from time immemorial), is valid and is put into operation.”[vii]

Because for the Greeks mind was one being with the ultimate order of things, man’s mind was thus able to discover ultimate law (nomos) out of its own resources, by penetrating through the maze of accident and matter to the fundamental ideas of being. As a result, Greek culture became both humanistic, because man’s mind was one with ultimacy, and also Neoplatonic, ascetic, and hostile to the world of matter, because mind, to be truly itself, had to separate itself from non-mind.

Modern humanism, the religion of the state, locates law in the state and thus makes the state, or the people as they find expression in the state, the god of the system. As Mao Tse-Tung has said, “Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people.”[viii] In Western culture, law has steadily moved away from God to the people (or the state) as its source, although the historic power and vitality of the West has been in Biblical faith and law.

Third, in any society, any change of law is an explicit or implicit change of religion. Nothing more clearly reveals, in fact, the religious change in a society than a legal revolution. When the legal foundations shift from Biblical law to humanism, it means that the society now draws its vitality and power from humanism, not from Christian theism.

Fourth, no disestablishment of religion as such is possible in any society. A church can be disestablished, and a particular religion can be supplanted by another, but the change is simply to another religion. Since the foundations of law are inescapably religious, no society exists without a religious foundation or without a law system which codifies the morality of its religion.

Fifth, there can be no tolerance in a law system for another religion. Toleration is a device used to introduce a new law system as a prelude to a new intolerance. Legal positivism, a humanistic faith, has been savage in its hostility to the Biblical law system and has claimed to be an “open” system. But Cohen, by no means a Christian, has aptly described the logical positivists as “nihilists” and their faith as “nihilistic absolutism.”[ix] Every law system must maintain its existence by hostility to every other law system and to alien religious foundations, or else it commits suicide.

In analyzing now the nature of Biblical law, it is important to note, first, that, for the Bible, law is revelation. The Hebrew word for law is torah, which means instruction, authoritative direction.[x] The Biblical concept of law is broader than the legal codes of the Mosaic formulation. It applies to the divine word and instruction in its totality:

. . . the earlier prophets also use torah for the divine word proclaimed through them (Isa. viii. 16, cf. also v[erse] 20; Isa. xxx. 9f.; perhaps also Isa. i. 10). Besides this, certain passages in the earlier prophets use the word torah also for the commandment of Yahweh which was written down: thus Hos. viii. 12. Moreover there are clearly examples not only of ritual matters, but also of ethics.

Hence it follows that at any rate in this period torah had the meaning of a divine instruction, whether it had been written down long ago as a law and was preserved and pronounced by a priest, or whether the priest was delivering it at that time (Lam. ii. 9; Ezek. vii. 26; Mal. ii. 4ff.), or the prophet is commissioned by God to pronounce it for a definite situation (so perhaps Isa. xxx. 9).

Thus what is objectively essential in torah is not the form but the divine authority.[xi]

The law is the revelation of God and His righteousness. There is no ground in Scripture for despising the law. Neither can the law be relegated to the Old Testament and grace to the New:

The time-honored distinction between the OT as a book of law and the NT as a book of divine grace is without grounds or justification. Divine grace and mercy are the presupposition of law in the OT; and the grace and love of God displayed in the NT events issue in the legal obligations of the New Covenant. Furthermore, the OT contains evidence of a long history of legal developments which must be assessed before the place of law is adequately understood. Paul’s polemics against the law in Galatians and Romans are directed against an understanding of law which is by no means characteristic of the OT as a whole.[xii]

There is no contradiction between law and grace. The question in James’s epistle is faith and works, not faith and law.[xiii] Judaism had made law the mediator between God and man, and between God and the world. It was this view of law, not the law itself, which Jesus attacked. As Himself the Mediator, Jesus rejected the law as mediator in order to re-establish the law in its God-appointed role as law, the way of holiness. He established the law by dispensing forgiveness as the lawgiver in full support of the law as the convicting word which makes men sinners.[xiv] The law was rejected only as mediator and as the source of justification.[xv] Jesus fully recognized the law, and obeyed the law. It was only the absurd interpretations of the law He rejected. Moreover,

We are not entitled to gather from the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels that He made any formal distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of God. His mission being not to destroy but to fulfil the Law and the Prophets (Mt. 5:17), so far from saying anything in disparagement of the Law of Moses or from encouraging His disciples to assume an attitude of independence with regard to it, He expressly recognized the authority of the Law of Moses as such, and of the Pharisees as its official interpreters (Mt. 23:1–3).[xvi]

With the completion of Christ’s work, the role of the Pharisees as interpreters ended, but not the authority of the law. In the New Testament era, only apostolically received revelation was ground for any alteration in the law. The authority of the law remained unchanged:

St. Peter, e.g., required a special revelation before he would enter the house of the uncircumcised Cornelius and admit the first Gentile convert into the Church by baptism (Acts 10:1–48)—a step which did not fail to arouse opposition on the part of those who “were of the circumcision” (cf. 11:1–18).[xvii]

The second characteristic of Biblical law is that it is a treaty or covenant. Kline has shown that the form of the giving of the law, the language of the text, the historical prologue, the requirement of exclusive commitment to the suzerain, God, the pronouncement of imprecations and benedictions, and much more, all point to the fact that the law is a treaty established by God with His people. Indeed, “the revelation committed to the two tables was rather a suzerainty treaty or covenant than a legal code.”[xviii] The full covenant summary, the Ten Commandments, was inscribed on each of the two tables of stone, one table or copy of the treaty for each party in the treaty, God and Israel.[xix]

The two stone tables are not, therefore, to be likened to a stele containing one of the half-dozen or so known legal codes earlier than or roughly contemporary with Moses as though God had engraved on these tables a corpus of law. The revelation they contain is nothing less than an epitome of the covenant granted by Yahweh, the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, to his elect and redeemed servant, Israel.

Not law, but covenant. That must be affirmed when we are seeking a category comprehensive enough to do justice to this revelation in its totality. At the same time, the prominence of the stipulations, reflected in the fact that “the ten words” are the element used as pars pro toto, signalizes the centrality of law in this type of covenant. There is probably no clearer direction afforded the biblical theologian for defining with biblical emphasis the type of covenant God adopted to formalize his relationship to his people than that given in the covenant he gave Israel to perform, even “the ten commandments.” Such a covenant is a declaration of God’s lordship, consecrating a people to himself in a sovereignly dictated order of life.[xx]

This latter phrase needs reemphasis: the covenant is “a sovereignly dictated order of life.” God as the sovereign Lord and Creator gives His law to man as an act of sovereign grace. It is an act of election, of electing grace (Deut. 7:7–8; 8:18; 9:4–6, etc.).

The God to whom the earth belongs will have Israel for His own property, Ex. xix. 5. It is only on the ground of the gracious election and guidance of God that the divine commands to the people are given, and therefore the Decalogue, Ex. xx. 2, places at its forefront the fact of election.[xxi]

In the law, the total life of man is ordered: “there is no primary distinction between the inner and the outer life; the holy calling of the people must be realized in both.”[xxii]

The third characteristic of the Biblical law or covenant is that it constitutes a plan for dominion under God. God called Adam to exercise dominion in terms of God’s revelation, God’s law (Gen. 1:26ff.; 2:15–17). This same calling, after the fall, was required of the godly line, and in Noah it was formally renewed (Gen. 9:1–17). It was again renewed with Abraham, with Jacob, with Israel in the person of Moses, with Joshua, David, Solomon (whose proverbs echo the law), with Hezekiah and Josiah, and finally with Jesus Christ. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is the renewal of the covenant: “this is my blood of the new testament” (or covenant), so that the sacrament itself re-establishes the law, this time with a new elect group (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). The people of the law are now the people of Christ, the believers redeemed by His atoning blood and called by His sovereign election. Kline, in analyzing Hebrews 9:16–17, in relation to the covenant administration, observes:

. . . the picture suggested would be that of Christ’s children (cf. 2:13) inheriting his universal dominion as their eternal portion (note 9:15b; cf. also 1:14; 2:5ff.; 6:17; 11:7ff.). And such is the wonder of the messianic Mediator-Testator that the royal inheritance of his sons, which becomes of force only through his death, is nevertheless one of co-regency with the living Testator! For (to follow the typological direction provided by Heb. 9:16, 17 according to the present interpretation) Jesus is both dying Moses and succeeding Joshua. Not merely after a figure but in truth a royal Mediator redivivus, he secures the divine dynasty by succeeding himself in resurrection power and ascension glory.[xxiii]

The purpose of God in requiring Adam to exercise dominion over the earth remains His continuing covenant word: man, created in God’s image and commanded to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it in God’s name, is recalled to this task and privilege by his redemption and regeneration.

The law is therefore the law for Christian man and Christian society. Nothing is more deadly or more derelict than the notion that the Christian is at liberty with respect to the kind of law he can have. Calvin, whose classical humanism gained ascendancy at this point, said of the laws of states, of civil governments:

I will briefly remark, however, by the way, what laws it (the state) may piously use before God, and be rightly governed by among men. And even this I would have preferred passing over in silence, if I did not know that it is a point on which many persons run into dangerous errors. For some deny that a state is well constituted, which neglects the polity of Moses, and is governed by the common laws of nations. The dangerous and seditious nature of this opinion I leave to the examination of others; it will be sufficient for me to have evinced it to be false and foolish.[xxiv]

Such ideas, common in Calvinist and Lutheran circles, and in virtually all churches, are still heretical nonsense.[xxv] Calvin favored “the common law of nations.” But the common law of nations in his day was Biblical law, although extensively denatured by Roman law. And this “common law of nations” was increasingly evidencing a new religion, humanism. Calvin wanted the establishment of the Christian religion; he could not have it, nor could it last long in Geneva, without Biblical law.

Two Reformed scholars, in writing of the state, declare, “It is to be God’s servant, for our welfare. It must exercise justice, and it has the power of the sword.”[xxvi] Yet these men follow Calvin in rejecting Biblical law for “the common law of nations.” But can the state be God’s servant and bypass God’s law? And if the state “must exercise justice,” how is justice defined, by the nations, or by God? There are as many ideas of justice as there are religions.

The question then is, what law for the state? Shall it be positive law, the law of nations, a relativistic law? De Jongste and van Krimpen, after calling for “justice” in the state, declare, “A static legislation valid for all times is an impossibility.”[xxvii] Indeed! Then what about the commandments, Biblical legislation, if you please, “Thou shalt not kill,” and “Thou shalt not steal”? Are they not intended to be valid for all time and in every civil order? By abandoning Biblical law, these Protestant theologians end up in moral and legal relativism.

Roman Catholic scholars offer natural law. The origins of this concept are in Roman law and religion. For the Bible, there is no law in nature, because nature is fallen and cannot be normative. Moreover, the source of law is not nature but God. There is no law in nature but a law over nature, God’s law.[xxviii]

Neither positive law nor natural law can reflect more than the sin and apostasy of man: revealed law is the need and privilege of Christian society. It is the only means whereby man can fulfil his creation mandate of exercising dominion under God. Apart from revealed law, man cannot claim to be under God but only in rebellion against God.

  1. The Direction of the Law

In order to understand Biblical law, it is necessary to understand also certain basic characteristics of that law. First, certain broad premises or principles are declared. These are declarations of basic law. The Ten Commandments give us such declarations. The Ten Commandments are not therefore laws among laws, but are the basic laws, of which the various laws are specific examples. An example of such a basic law is Exodus 20:15 (Deut. 5:19), “Thou shalt not steal.”

In analyzing this commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” it is important to note, a), that this is the establishment, positively, of private property, even as, negatively, it punishes offenses against property. The commandments thus establish and protect a basic area of life. But, b), even more important, this establishment of property issues, not from the state or man, but from the sovereign and omnipotent God. The commandments all have their origin in God, who, as the sovereign Lord, issues the law to govern His realm. Further, it follows, c), since God issues the law, that any offense against the law is an offense against God. Whether the law has reference to property, person, family, labor, capital, church, state, or anything else, its first frame of reference is to God. In essence, lawbreaking is entirely against God, since everything and every person is His creation. But, David declared, with reference to his acts of adultery and murder, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight” (Ps. 51:4). This means then, d), that lawlessness is also sin, i.e., that any civil, familial, ecclesiastical, or other social act of disobedience is also a religious offense unless the disobedience is required by the prior obedience to God. With this in mind, that the law, first, lays down broad and basic principles, let us examine a second characteristic of Biblical law, namely, that the major portion of the law is case law, i.e., the illustration of the basic principle in terms of specific cases. These specific cases are often illustrations of the extent of the application of the law; that is, by citing a minimal type of case, the necessary jurisdictions of the law are revealed. To prevent us from having any excuse for failing to understand and utilize this concept, the Bible gives us its own interpretation of such a law, and the illustration, being given by St. Paul, makes clear the New Testament’s undergirding of the law. We cite, therefore, first, the basic principle, second, the case law, and, third, the Pauline declaration of the application of the law:

  1. Thou shalt not steal (Ex. 20:15). The basic law, declaration of principle.
  2. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn (Deut. 25:4). Illustration of the basic law, a case law.
  3. For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope . . . Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:9–10, 14; the entire passage, 9:1–14, is an interpretation of the law).

For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward (1 Tim. 5:18, cf. v. 17; the illustration is to buttress the requirement of “honour,” or “double honour” for presbyters or elders, i.e., pastors of the church). These two passages illustrate the requirement, “Thou shalt not steal,” in terms of a specific case law, revealing the extent of that case in its implications. In his epistle to Timothy, Paul refers also to the law which in effect declares, by case law, that “The labourer is worthy of his reward.” The reference is to Leviticus 19:13, “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning,” and Deuteronomy 24:14, “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates (cf. v. 15).” This is cited by Jesus, Luke 10:7, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.”

If it is a sin to defraud an ox of his livelihood, then it is also a sin to defraud a man of his wages: it is theft in both cases. If theft is God’s classification of an offense against an animal, how much more so an offense against God’s apostle and minister? The implication, then, is, how much more deadly is stealing from God? Malachi makes this very clear:

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? in tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all the nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts. (Mal. 3:8–12)

This example of case law illustrates not only the meaning of case law in Scripture, but also its necessity. Without case law, God’s law would soon be reduced to an extremely limited area of meaning. This, of course, is precisely what has happened. Those who deny the present validity of the law apart from the Ten Commandments have as a consequence a very limited definition of theft. Their definition usually follows the civil law of their country, is humanistic, and is not radically different from the definitions given by Moslems, Buddhists, and humanists. But, in analyzing later the case laws illustrative of the law, “Thou shalt not steal,” we shall see how far-reaching its meaning is.

The law, then, first asserts principles, second, it cites cases to develop the implications of those principles, and, third, the law has as its purpose and direction the restitution of God’s order.

This third aspect is basic to Biblical law, and it illustrates again the difference between Biblical law and humanistic law. According to one scholar, “Justice in its true and proper sense is a principle of co-ordination between subjective beings.[xxix] Such a concept of justice is not only humanistic but also subjective. Instead of a basic objective order of justice, there is instead merely an emotional condition called justice.

In a humanistic law system, restitution is possible and often exists, but again it is not the restoration of God’s fundamental order but of man’s condition. Restitution then is entirely to man.[xxx] Biblical law requires restitution to the offended person, but even more basic to the law is the demand for the restoration of God’s order. It is not merely the courts of law which are operative in terms of restitution. For Biblical law, restitution is indeed, a), to be required by courts of law of all offenders, but, even more, b), is the purpose and direction of the law in its entirety, the restoration of God’s order, a glorious and good creation which serves and glorifies its Creator. Moreover, c), God’s sovereign court and law operate in terms of restitution at all times, to curse disobedience and hamper thereby its challenge to and devastation of God’s order, and to bless and prosper the obedient restoration of God’s order. Malachi’s declaration concerning tithes, to return to our illustration, implies this, and, indeed, states it explicitly: they are “cursed with a curse” for robbing God of His tithes. Therefore, their fields are not productive, since they work against God’s restitutive purpose. Obedience to God’s law of the tithe, honoring instead of robbing God, will deluge His people with blessings. The word “deluge” is appropriate: the expression “open . . . the windows of heaven” recalls the Flood (Gen. 7:11), which was a central example of a curse. But the purpose of curses is also restitution: the curse prevents the ungodly from overthrowing God’s order. The men of Noah’s generation were destroyed in their evil imaginations, as they conspired against God’s order (Gen. 6:5), in order to institute the process of restoration through Noah.

But to return to our original illustration of Biblical law, “Thou shalt not steal.” The New Testament illustrates restitution after extortion in the form of unjust taxation in the person of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:2–9), who was pronounced a saved man after declaring his intention of making full restitution. Restitution is clearly in view in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:23–26). According to one scholar,

In Eph. iv. 28, St. Paul shows how the principle of restitution was to be extended. He who had been a robber must not only cease from theft, but must labour with his hands that he might restore what he had wrongfully taken away, but in case those whom he had wronged could not be found, restitution should be made to the poor.[xxxi]

This fact of restitution or restoration is spoken of, in its relationship to God, in three ways. First, there is the restitution or restoration of God’s sovereign law-word by proclamation. St. John the Baptist, by his preaching, restored the law-word to the life of God’s people. Jesus so declared it: “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not” (Matt. 17:11–12). There is then, second, the restoration which comes by subjecting all things to Christ and establishing a godly order over the world (Matt. 28:18–20; 2 Cor. 10:5; Rev. 11:15, etc.). Third, with the second coming, there is the total, final restoration which comes with the second coming, and towards which history moves; the second coming is the total and culminating rather than sole act of “the times of restitution” (Acts 3:21).

God’s covenant with Adam required him to exercise dominion over the earth and to subdue it (Gen. 1:26ff) under God and according to God’s law-word. This relationship of man to God was a covenant (Hosea 6:7; cf. marginal reading).

But all of Scripture proceeds from the truth that man always stands in covenant relation to God. All God’s dealings with Adam in paradise presuppose this relation: for God talked with Adam and revealed Himself to him, and Adam knew God in the wind of day. Besides, salvation is always presented as the establishment and realization of God’s covenant . . .

. . . this covenant relation is not to be conceived as something incidental, as a means to an end, as a relation that was established by way of an agreement, but as a fundamental relationship in which Adam stood to God by virtue of his creation.[xxxii]

The restoration of that covenant relationship was the work of Christ, His grace to His elect people. The fulfilment of that covenant is their great commission: to subdue all things and all nations to Christ and His law-word.

The creation mandate was precisely the requirement that man subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. There is not one word of Scripture to indicate or imply that this mandate was ever revoked. There is every word of Scripture to declare that this mandate must and shall be fulfilled, and “scripture cannot be broken,” according to Jesus (John 10:35). Those who attempt to break it shall themselves be broken.[xxxiii]


  1. The First Commandment and the Shema Israel

The prologue to the Ten Commandments introduces not only the law as a whole but leads directly to the first commandment.

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Ex. 20:1–3)

In this declaration, God identifies Himself, first, as the Lord, the self-existent and absolute One. Second, He reminds Israel that He is their Savior, and that their relationship to Him (“thy God”) is therefore one of grace. God chose Israel, not Israel, God. Third, the law is given to the people of grace. All men are already judged, fallen, and lost; all men are under the wrath of the law, a penalty which the quaking mountain and the fact of death for unhallowed approach underscored (Ex. 19:16–25). The law is given to the people saved by grace as their way of grace, to set forth the privilege and blessing of the covenant. Fourth, it follows, then, that the first response of grace, as well as the first principle of the law, is this, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

In analyzing this commandment, we must examine the implications of it cited by Moses:

Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

Hear therefore, O Israel and observe to do it: that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. (Deut. 6:1–3)

First, the reason for the giving of these commandments is to awaken the fear of God, and that fear might prompt obedience. Because God is The First Commandment — 17

God, the absolute Lord and lawgiver, fear of God is the essence of sanity and common sense. To depart from a fear of God is to lack any sense of reality. Second, “The maintenance of the fear of God would bring prosperity, and the increase of the nation promised to the fathers . . . The increase of the nation had been promised to the patriarchs from the very first (Gen. xii. 1; . . . cf. Lev. xxvi. 9).”[xxxiv] It is therefore necessary to maintain this fear and obedience from generation to generation.

In Deuteronomy 6:4–9, we come to a central and basic declaration of the first principle of the law:

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

The first two verses (6:4–5) are the Shema Israel, recited as the morning and evening prayer of Israel, and “considered by the Rabbis to contain the principles of the Decalogue.”[xxxv] The second portion of the Shema, verse 5, is echoed in Deuteronomy 10:12–13:

And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; To keep for thy good the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command thee this day?[xxxvi]

Deuteronomy 6:5 is cited by Christ as “the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:38; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27), i.e., as the essential and basic principle of the law. The premise of this commandment is, however, Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” The Christian affirmation of this is the declaration, “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.” It is the faith in the unity of the Godhead as opposed to the belief in “gods many and lords many.”[xxxvii]

The consequences for law of this fact are total: it means one God, one law. The premise of polytheism is that we live in a multiverse, not a universe, that a variety of law orders and hence lords exist, and that man cannot therefore be under one law except by virtue of imperialism. Modern legal positivism denies the existence of any absolute; it is hostile, because of its relativism, to the concept of a universe and of a universe of law. Instead, societies of men exist, each with its order of positive law, and each order of law lacks any absolute or universal validity. The law of Buddhist states is seen as valid for Buddhist nations, the law of Islam for Moslem states, the laws of pragmatism for humanistic states, and the laws of Scripture for Christian states, but none, it is held, have the right to claim that their law represents truth in any absolute sense. This, of course, militates against the Biblical declaration that God’s order is absolute and absolutely binding on men and nations.

Even more, because an absolute law is denied, it means that the only universal law possible is an imperialistic law, a law imposed by force and having no validity other than the coercive imposition. Any one world order on such a premise is of necessity imperialistic. Having denied absolute law, it cannot appeal to men to return to the true order from whence man has fallen. A relativistic, pragmatic law has no premise for missionary activity: the “truth” it proclaims is no more valid than the “truth” held by the people it seeks to unite to itself. If it holds, “we are better off one,” it cannot justify this statement except by saying, “I hold it to be so,” to which the resister can reply, “I hold that we are better off many.” Under pragmatic law, it is held that every man is his own law system, because there is no absolute overarching law order. But this means anarchy. Thus, while pragmatism or relativism (or existentialism, positivism, or any other form of this faith) holds to the absolute immunity of the individual implicitly or explicitly, in effect its only argument is the coercion of the individual, because it has no other bridge between man and man. It can speak of love, but there is no ground calling love more valid than hate. Indeed, the Marquis de Sade logically saw no crime in murder; on nominalistic, relativistic grounds, what could be wrong with murder?[xxxviii] If there is no absolute law, then every man is his own law. As the writer of Judges declared, “In those days there was no king in Israel (i.e., the people had rejected God as King); every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25; cf. 17:6; 18:1; 19:1). The law forbids man’s self-law: “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes” (Deut. 12:8), and this applies to worship as well as to moral order. The first principle of the Shema Israel is thus one God, one law. It is the declaration of an absolute moral order to which man must conform. If Israel cannot admit another god and another law order, it cannot recognize any other religion or law order as valid either for itself or for anyone else. Because God is one, truth is one. Other people will perish in their way, lest they turn and be converted (Ps. 2:12). The basic coercion is reserved to God.

Because God is one, and truth is one, the one law has an inner coherence. The unity of the Godhead appears in the unity and coherence of the law. Instead of being strata of diverse origins and utility, the law of God is essentially one word, a unified whole.

Modern political orders are polytheistic imperial states, but the churches are not much better. To hold, as the churches do, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Calvinist, and all others virtually, that the law was good for Israel, but that Christians and the church are under grace and without law, or under some higher, newer law, is implicit polytheism. The Joachimite heresy has deeply infected the church. According to this heresy, the first age of man was the age of the Father, the age of justice and the law. The second age was the age of the Son, of Christianity, of the church, and of grace. The third age is the age of the Spirit, when men become gods and their own law.

Dispensationalism is also either evolutionary or polytheistic or both. God changes or alters His ways with man, so that law is administered in one age, and not in another. One age sees salvation by works, another by grace, and so on. But Scripture gives us a contrary assertion: “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6). To attempt to pit law against grace is polytheistic or at least Manichaean: it assumes two ultimate ways and powers in contradiction to one another. But the word of God is one word, and the law of God is one law, because God is one. The word of God is a law-word, and it is a grace-word: the difference is in men, by virtue of God’s election, not in God. The word blesses and it condemns in terms of our response to it. To pray for grace is also to pray for judgment, and it is to affirm the truth and the validity of the law and the justice of the law. The whole doctrine of Christ’s atonement upholds the unity of law, judgment, and grace.

Every form of antinomianism has elements of polytheism in it. Of antinomians Fairbairn wrote:

Some so magnify grace in order to get their consciences at ease respecting the claims of holiness, and vindicate for themselves a liberty to sin that grace may abound—or, which is even worse, deny that anything they do can have the character of sin, because they are through grace released from the demands of law, and so cannot sin. These are Antinomians of the grosser kind, who have not particular texts merely of the Bible, but its whole tenor and spirit against them. Others, however, and these the only representatives of the idea who in present times can be regarded as having an outstanding existence, are advocates of holiness after the example and teaching of Christ. They are ready to say, “Conformity to the Divine will, and that as obedience to commandments, is alike the joy and the duty of the renewed mind. Some are afraid of the word obedience, as if it would weaken love and the idea of a new creation. Scripture is not. Obedience and keeping the commandments of one we love is the proof of that love, and the delight of the new creature. Did I do all right, and not do it in obedience, I should do nothing right, because my true relationship and heart-reference to God would be left out. This is love, that we keep His commandments” (Darby “On the Law,” pp. 3, 4). So far excellent; but then these commandments are not found in the revelation of law, distinctively so called. The law, it is held, had a specific character and aim, from which it cannot be dissociated, and which makes it for all time the minister of evil. “It is a principle of dealing with men which necessarily destroys and condemns them. This is the way (the writer continues) the Spirit of God uses law in contrast with Christ, and never in Christian teaching puts men under it. Nor does Scripture ever think of saying, You are not under the law in one way, but you are in another; you are not for justification, but you are for a rule of life. It declares, You are not under law, but under grace; and if you are under law, you are condemned and under a curse. How is that obligatory which a man is not under—from which he is delivered?” (ibid., p. 4). Antinomianism of this description—distinguishing between the teaching or commandments of Christ and the commandments of the law, holding the one to be binding on the conscience of Christians and the other not—is plainly but partial Antinomianism; it does not, indeed, essentially differ from Neonomianism, since law only as connected with the earlier dispensation is repudiated, while it is received as embodying the principles of Christian morality, and associated with the life and power of the Spirit of Christ.[xxxix]

One “evangelistic” association given to campus work has actually taught that “the law was given by Satan.” (Reported by this writer’s daughter, from a course taught on campus by a leader of this movement.) Such a position can only be described as blasphemy.

An example of this antinomianism from some unofficial Lutheran circles comes from a Sunday school manual. The Old Testament is treated, as is the New, as a book to be mined or searched out for “truths,” so that studies of various books are prefaced with a few summary statements titled, “Truths You Will Find in the Book of Habakkuk,” or, “Truths You Will Find in the Book of Matthew,” and so on. Are we to assume the rest of each book is lies? In the “Introduction to the New Testament,” we are told, “The New Testament is the presentation of life under grace as it differs from life under law.”[xl] But the Old Testament also presents life under grace, and both Old and New Testaments present life under grace as life under law, never as lawlessness. The alternative to law is not grace; it is lawlessness. Grace and election move in terms of law and under law; reprobation is anti-law and anti-grace. Is it the purpose of churchmen to make the churches schools of reprobation?

All this illustrates a second principle of the Shema Israel: one absolute, unchanging God means one absolute, unchanging law. Men’s social applications and approximations of the righteousness of God may alter, vary, and waver, but the absolute law does not. To speak of the law as “for Israel” but not for Christians is not only to abandon the law but also to abandon the God of the law. Since there is only one true God, and His law is the expression of His unchanging nature and righteousness, then to abandon the Biblical law for another law system is to change gods. The moral collapse of Christendom is a product of this current process of changing gods.

Barthianism, by asserting the “freedom” of God to change (implying the evolving of an imperfect god), is asserting polytheism. Polytheism asserts many gods and many ways of salvation. It is not surprising that Karl Barth is at least implicitly universalistic. For Barth, all men can be or will be saved, because there is no one absolute, unchanging law which judges all men. In his polytheistic worldview, all men can find one of any number of roads to salvation, if, indeed, it is salvation they need. For Barth, salvation is more realistically to be seen as self-realization; it is the gnosis of election, the realization that all men are elect in Christ, i.e., free from an absolute God and an absolute decree and law.

A third principle of the Shema Israel is that one God, one law, requires one total, unchanging, and unqualified obedience: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5). The Talmud translates “might” as “money.”[xli] The meaning is that man must obey God totally, in any and every condition, with all his being. Since man is totally the creature of God, and since there is not a fiber of his being which is not the handiwork of God and therefore subject to the total law of God, there is not an area of man’s life and being which can be held in reservation from God and His law. Therefore, as Deuteronomy 6:6 declares, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Luther’s comment on this verse is of interest, in that it contained the seeds of antinomianism which later became so deeply rooted in Lutheranism:

He (Moses) wants you to know that the First Commandment is the measure and yardstick of all others, to which they are to yield and give obedience. Therefore, if it is for the sake of faith and charity, you may kill, in violation of the Fifth Commandment, just as Abraham killed the kings (Gen. 14:15) and King Ahab sinned because he did not kill the King of Syria (I Kings 20:34ff.). Similar is the case of theft, ambush, and trickery against the enemies of God; you may take spoils, goods, wives, daughters, sons, and servants of enemies. So you should hate father and mother that you may love the Lord (Luke 14:26). In short, where anything will be against faith and love, there you shall not know that anything else is commanded by either God or man. Where it is for faith and love, however, you shall know that everything is commanded in all cases and everywhere. For the statement stands: “These words shall be in your heart”; there they shall rule. Furthermore, unless they are also in the heart, certainly no one will understand or follow this epieikeia, or ever employ laws successfully, safely, or legally. Therefore Paul says also in I Tim. 1:9, that “the Law is not set up for the righteous,” for the reason that the fulfilling of the Law is love from a good heart and from faith that is not feigned (I Tim. 1:5), which uses law lawfully when it has no laws and has all laws—no laws, because none bind unless they serve faith and love; all, because all bind when they serve faith and love.

Therefore this is Moses’ meaning there: If you desire to understand the First Commandment correctly and truly not to have other gods, act so that you believe and love one God, deny yourself, receive everything by grace, and do everything gratefully.[xlii]

The confusions of this statement could only beget confusion.

A fourth principle which follows from the Shema Israel is stated in Deuteronomy 6:7–9, 20–25: education in the law is basic to and inseparable both from obedience to the law and from worship. The law requires education in terms of the law. Anything other than a Biblically grounded schooling is thus an act of apostasy for a believer: it involves having another god and bowing down before him to learn from him. There can be no true worship without true education, because the law prescribes and is absolute, and no man can approach God in contempt of God’s prescription.

From Deuteronomy 6:8 Israel derived the use of the Tephillin, the portions of the law bound upon the head or arm at prayer. Of 6:8–9 it has been observed:

As these words are figurative, and denote an undeviating observance of the divine commands, so also the commandment which follows, viz. to write the words upon the door-posts of the house, and also upon the gates, are to be understood spiritually; and the literal fulfilment of such a command could only be a praiseworthy custom or well-pleasing to God when resorted to as the means of keeping the commandments of God constantly before the eye. The precept itself, however, presupposes the existence of this custom, which is not only met with in the Mahometan countries of the East at the present day, but was also a common custom in ancient Egypt.[xliii]

What is required, certainly, is that mind and action, family and home, man’s vision and man’s work, be all viewed in the perspective of God’s law-word.

But this is not all. The literal fulfilment of the command concerning the frontlets and the posts (Deut. 6:8–9) is clearly required, as Numbers 15:37–41 (cf. Deut. 11:18–20) makes clear. The blue thread required cannot be spiritualized away. God requires that He be worshiped according to His own word. Calvin’s comment here on Numbers 15:38 was to the point:

And, first of all, by contrasting “the hearts and eyes” of men with His Law, He shews that He would have His people contented with that one rule which He prescribes, without the admixture of any of their own imaginations; and again, He denounces the vanity of whatever men invent for themselves, and however pleasing any human scheme may appear to them, He still repudiates and condemns it. And this is still more clearly expressed in the last word, when he says that men “go a whoring” whenever they are governed by their own counsels. This declaration is deserving of our especial observation, for whilst they have much self-satisfaction who worship God according to their own will, and whilst they account their zeal to be very good and very right, they do nothing else but pollute themselves by spiritual adultery. For what by the world is considered to be the holiest devotion, God with his own mouth pronounces to be fornication. By the word “eyes” he unquestionably means man’s power of discernment.[xliv]

It is regrettable that Calvin mars this by calling it a “need of these coarse rudiments.”[xlv] Our Lord fulfilled this law, and a woman touched a fringe or hem of His garment to be healed (Matt. 9:20). Jesus criticized the Pharisees for making large their fringes (Matt. 23:5) to boast of their ostensibly larger loyalty to the law. The commandment is repeated in Deuteronomy 22:12, so as to make clear its importance.

Men dress in diverse and strange ways to conform to the world and its styles. What is so difficult or “coarse” about any conformity to God’s law, or any mode God specifies? There is nothing difficult or strange about this law, nor any thing absurd or impossible.

It is not observed by Christians, because it was, like circumcision, the Sabbath, and other aspects of the Mosaic form of the covenant, superseded by new signs of the covenant as renewed by Christ. The law of the covenant remains; the covenant rites and signs have been changed. But the forms of covenant signs are no less honorable, profound, and beautiful in the Mosaic form than in the Christian form. The change does not represent an evolutionary advance or a higher or lower relationship. The covenant was fulfilled in Jesus Christ; but God did not treat Moses, David, Isaiah, Hezekiah, or any of His Old Testament covenant people as lesser in His sight or more childish in ability and hence in need of “coarse rudiments.” In every age, the covenant is all-holy and wise; in every age, the people of the covenant stand in terms of grace, not because of a “higher” personal ability or maturity.

Worship in an unknown tongue (1 Cor. 14) is a violation of this commandment, as is worship which lacks the faithful proclamation of God’s word, or is without the education of the people of the covenant in terms of the covenant law-word.

A fifth principle which is also proclaimed in this same passage, in Deuteronomy 6:20–25, is that, in this required education, it must be stressed that the response to grace is the keeping of the law. Children are to be taught that the meaning of the law is that God redeemed Israel out of bondage, and, “that he might preserve us alive,” “commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always” (6:24). There is no warrant for setting this aside in either the Old or New Testament. Where the churches of the Old or New Testament have set up a false meaning to the law, that false meaning is attacked by prophets and apostles, but never the law of God itself. Because God is one, His grace and law are one in their purpose and direction. This passage makes pointedly clear the priority of God’s electing grace in the call and redemption of His chosen people. The relationship of Israel was a relationship of grace, and the law was given in order to provide God’s people with the necessary and required response to grace, and manifestation of grace: the keeping of the law.

In Deuteronomy 6:10–15, another central point is made with respect to the implications of the Shema Israel:

And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land which He swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee—great and goodly cities, which thou didst not build, and houses full of good things, which thou didst not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which thou didst not hew, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou didst not plant, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied —then beware lest thou forget the Lord, who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; and Him shalt thou serve, and by His name shalt thou swear. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples that are round about you; for a jealous God, even the Lord thy God, is in the midst of thee; lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and He destroy thee from off the face of the earth.[xlvi]

Thus, the sixth principle is the jealousy of God. This is a fact of cardinal importance. The chosen people are warned, as they occupy and possess a rich land which they did not develop, lest they forget God, who delivered and prospered them. Seeing the wealth which came from a culture hostile to God, God’s covenant people will be tempted to see other means to success and prosperity than the Lord. The temptation will be to “go after other gods . . . the gods of the people round about.” This is to believe that there is another law order than God’s order; it is to forget that the success and the destruction of the Canaanites was alike the work of God. It is the provocation of God’s wrath and jealousy. The fact that jealousy is associated repeatedly with the law, and invoked by God in the giving of the law, is of cardinal importance in understanding the law. The law of God is not a blind, impersonal, and mechanically operative force. It is neither Karma nor fate. The law of God is the law of the absolute and totally personal Creator whose law operates within the context of His love and hate, His grace towards His people and His wrath towards His enemies. A current of electricity is impersonal: it flows in its specified energy when the conditions for a flow or discharge of energy are met; otherwise, it does not flow. But the law of God is not so: it is personal; God restrains His wrath in patience and grace, or He destroys His enemies with an overrunning flood of judgment (Nah. 1:8). From a humanistic and impersonalistic perspective, both the mercy of God to Assyria (Jonah 3:1–4:3) and the judgment of God on Assyria (Nah. 1:1–3:19) seem disproportionate, because an impersonal law is also an external law: it knows only actions, not the heart. Man, as he applies the law of God, must judge the actions of man, but God, being absolute, judges the total man with total judgment. The jealousy of God is therefore the certain assurance of the infallibility of God’s court of law. The evil which so easily escapes the courts of state cannot escape the judgment of God, which, both in time as well as beyond time, moves in terms of the total requirements of His law. The jealousy of God is the guarantee of justice. An impersonal justice in a world of persons means that evil, being personal, can escape the net of the law and reign in laughing triumph. But the jealous God prevents the triumph either of Canaan or an apostate Israel or church. Without a jealous, personal God, no justice is possible. The doctrine of Karma only enthrones injustice: it leads to the most vicious and callous kind of externalism and impersonalism. The people of Karma spare their monkeys but destroy one another; Karma knows no grace, because Karma in essence knows no persons, only actions and consequences. The escape from Karma becomes Nirvana, the escape from life.

This same passage declares, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; and Him shalt thou serve, and by His name shalt thou swear” (Deut. 6:13). Luther’s comment here is excellent:

Therefore you swear by the name of God if you relate that by which you swear to God and grasp it in the name of God; otherwise you would not swear if you knew it displeased Him. Similarly you serve God alone when you serve men in the name of God; otherwise you would not serve. By such swearing you safeguard your service to God alone and are not drawn toward a godless work or oath. Thus Christ also says in Matt. 23:16–22 that he who swears by the temple and altar and heaven swears by God; and in Matt. 5:35–36 He forbids to swear by Jerusalem, by one’s head, by heaven, or by anything else, because in all these one swears by God. But to swear by God frivolously and emptily is to take the name of God in vain.

When, therefore, He desires oaths to be made by the name of God and no other, the reason is not only this, that for the truth (which is God) the confirmation of no one should be introduced except that of God Himself, but also this, that man should remain in the service of God alone, learn to relate everything to Him, and to do, possess, use, and endure all in His name. Otherwise, if they employ another name, they would be diverted and become used to swearing as if it had nothing to do with God; and finally through bad usage they would begin to distinguish between the deeds by which God is served and those by which He is not served, when He wants to be served in all and wants all things to be done in fear, because He is present to see and judge.

Therefore the oath is to be used in the same way as the sword and sexual intercourse are used. It is forbidden to take the sword, as Christ says (Matt. 26:52): “He who takes the sword shall perish by the sword,” because he takes it without a command and because of his own lust. But it is a command and a divine service to bear the sword if this is assigned by God or through man; for then it is borne in the name of the Lord, for the good of the neighbor, as Paul says: “He is the servant of God for your good” (Rom. 13:4). Thus the fleshly use of sex is forbidden, because it is a disorderly lust. Where, however, sex is associated with you by marriage, then the flesh should be used, and you render to the divine Law, that is, to love what is demanded. In the same way one should make use of an oath: you should swear not for your own sake but for the sake of God or your neighbor in the name of the Lord. Thus you will always remain in the service of God alone.[xlvii]

In the Temptation of Jesus, two of the three answers to Satan are from Deuteronomy 6: “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matt. 4:7; Deut. 6:16), and, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13; 10:20). The third answer is taken from a related passage, Deuteronomy 8:3: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). All three answers were responses to the temptation to test God, implicit to which was not merely questioning but actually challenging God and His law-word.

A seventh principle which follows from the Shema Israel is declared in Deuteronomy 6:16–19:

Ye shall not try the Lord your God, as ye tried Him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies, and His statutes, which He hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord; that it may be well with thee and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore unto thy fathers, to thrust out all thine enemies from before thee, as the Lord hath spoken. (MTV)

It was this that Satan tried to tempt Jesus to do: to try God, to put God to the test. Israel tempted God at Massah by raising the question, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Ex. 17:7).

The worship of Jehovah not only precludes all idolatry, which the Lord, as a jealous God, will not endure (see at Ex. xx.5), but will punish with destruction from the earth (“the face of the ground,” as in Ex. xxxii.12): but it also excludes tempting the Lord by an unbelieving murmuring against God, if He does not remove any kind of distress immediately, as the people had already sinned at Massah, i.e., at Rephidim (Ex. xvii. 1–7).[xlviii]

This seventh principle thus forbids the unbelieving testing of God: God’s law is the testing of man; therefore, man cannot presume to be god and put God and His law-word on trial. Such a step is a supreme arrogance and blasphemy; it is the opposite of obedience, because it is the essence of disobedience to the law. Hence, it is contrasted to a diligent keeping of the law. This obedience is the condition of blessing: it is the ground of conquest and of possession, in terms of which the covenant people of God, His law-people, enter into their inheritance.

Tempting or trying God has other implications. According to Luther,

The first way is not to use the necessary things that are at hand but to seek others, which are not at hand . . . So he tempts God who snores and does not want to work, taking for granted that he must be sustained by God without work, although God has promised to provide for him through his work, as Prov. 10:4 says: “The hands of the busy prepare wealth, but the slack hand will hunger.” This vulgar celibacy is like that too . . .

Secondly, God is tempted when nothing needed is at hand except the bare and lone Word of God . . . For here the godless are not content with the Word; and unless God does what He promised at the time, in the place, and in the manner prescribed by themselves, they give up and do not believe. But to prescribe place, time, or manner to God is actually to tempt Him and to feel about, as it were, whether He is there. But this is nothing else than to want to put limits on God and subject Him to our will; in fact, to deprive Him of His divinity. He should be free, not subject to bounds and limitations, and be the one who prescribes places, means, and time to us. Therefore both temptations are against the First Commandment . . .[xlix]

The neglect of the Shema Israel and Deuteronomy 6 has been part and parcel of the neglect of the law.

  1. The Undivided Word

A number of prologues or prefatory declarations appear in the law, which are not generally regarded as a part of the law. Calvin called these passages “The Preface to the Law,” which in an accurate sense they are, but they are equally a part of the law, the first commandment in particular, because they affirm the exclusive nature of the one true God and bar from the allegiance of Israel all other gods. These passages are Exodus 20:1–2; 23:20–31; Leviticus 19:36–37; 20:8; 22:31–33; Deuteronomy 1:1–4:49; 5:1–6; 7:6–8; 8:1–18; 10:14–17; 11:1–7; 13:18; 26:16–19; 27:9–10.

First, the premise of commandment is asserted, even as in the Shema Israel, that God is the Lord (Jehovah or Yahweh, He Who Is, the self-existent, absolute, and eternal One), and, second, that Israel stands before God because of His electing grace:

And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Ex. 20:1–2)

And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep and do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount, out of the midst of the fire. (I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord; for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount,) saying, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (Deut. 5:1–6)

But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day. (Deut. 4:20)

In these and many of the other passages cited above, the sovereignty of God, and His electing grace, are declared. In Deuteronomy 5:3, the “fathers” who perished in the wilderness, while outwardly of the covenant, are excluded from it by God’s declaration: the covenant is “with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” Those who perished had been cut off from God by their unbelief. The “people of inheritance” (Deut. 4:20) are the believing Israelites.

The history of grace, and the fact of God’s saving grace to Israel, is cited repeatedly, to deter the people from presumption and pride (Deut. 1–4; 7:6–8; 8:1–6, 11–18; 9:1–6; 10:14–17, 21–22; 11:1–8; 26:16–19; 27:9–10; 29:2–9). The history of grace is also a promise of grace if man’s response is one of grateful obedience to the law and an unswerving devotion to the only true God.

Third, the Angel of the Lord will go before His people, to keep them and to deliver them:

Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare against thee. (Ex. 23:21–33)

The Angel of the Lord (Gen. 16:10, 13; 18:2–4, 13–14, 33; 22:11–12, 15–16; 31:11, 13; 32:30; Ex. 3:2, 4; 20:20ff.; 32:34; 33:14; Josh. 5:13–15; 6:2; Isa. 63:9; Zech. 1:10–13; 3:1–2) identifies Himself with the Lord; those to whom He reveals Himself recognize Him as God; He is called the Lord by Biblical writers; the Scripture here implies a plurality of persons in the Godhead.[l] Moreover, the statement is clearly made by God that “my name is in him,” which is the same as “I am in him” (Ex. 23:21).[li] The Angel of the Lord appears in the New Testament repeatedly, for example, in Acts 5:19; 12:7–11, 17, etc. St. Paul identified the Angel as Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 10:9).

Fourth, they shall be preserved from plagues and epidemics (Ex. 23:25–27), so that obedience is followed by material blessings. These material blessings include driving out their enemies before them and giving them a great inheritance (Ex. 23:27–31). That all of this is tied to the first commandment appears from Exodus 23:32–33; they must separate themselves from other gods: “no covenant” can be made with unbelievers (by marriage, treaty, or community) or with their gods.

An important verse which comes at the conclusion of the law is still an exposition of the approach of man to the law. In Deuteronomy 29:29, Moses, after warning them of the curse on disobedience, declared:

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

An interpretation which is most relevant to the context of this statement comments:

That which is revealed includes the law with its promises and threats: consequently that which is hidden can only refer to the mode in which God will carry out in the future His counsel and will, which He has revealed in the law, and complete His work of salvation notwithstanding the apostasy of the people.[lii]

This means, fifth, that the law, God’s revelation, has behind it God’s secret will whereby His counsel shall stand and man’s rebellion shall be confounded, to the triumph of His Kingdom in His own time and way. In brief, the law is revealed; the fulfilment of the law is assured because God is God; the mode and time is extensively hidden. The court is called by God, not by man. Sixth, the law is one undivided word:

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. (Deut. 4:2)

The meaning clearly is that all Scripture, law, prophets, and gospel, is one word. Words can be added, until the close of revelation, when even the addition (or subtraction) of words is forbidden (Rev. 22:18–19). There can be no arbitrary separation of the law from the gospel: one God means one word. To divide the word is to deny God.

  1. God Versus Moloch

Calvin, in his excellent classification of the law in his Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, cites Deuteronomy 18:9–22; 13:1–4; Leviticus 18:21; 19:26, 31; and Deuteronomy 12:29–32, as basic to the first commandment. These passages relate to man’s attempt to know and control the future. Since God is the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, and the determiner of all things, any attempt to know and control the future outside of God is to set up another god in contempt of the Lord.

Every form of illicit probing of the future is cited by Moses:

When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect [or, upright] with the Lord thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners; but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. (Deut. 18:9–14)

And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. (Lev. 18:21)

Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times. (Lev. 19:26)

Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:31)

When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Deut. 12:29–32)

Calvin’s comment on Deuteronomy 18:9–14 gets to the heart of the matter:

Moses explains clearly in this passage what it is to have other gods, viz., to mix up the worship of God with things profane, since its purity is only thus maintained by banishing from it all uncongenial superstitions. The sum, therefore, is, that the people of God should abstain from all the inventions of men, whereby pure and simple religion is adulterated.[liii]

Equally to the point is the observation of another commentator:

Moses groups together all the words which the language contained for the different modes of exploring the future and discovering the will of God, for the purpose of forbidding every description of soothsaying, and places the prohibition of Moloch-worship at the head, to show the inward connection between soothsaying and idolatry, possibly because februation, or passing children through the fire in the worship of Moloch, was more intimately connected with soothsaying and magic than any other description of idolatry.[liv]

A wide variety of practices is cited. An “enchanter” is a whisperer or snake charmer; a witch, one who uses charms or spells; a wizard, one who claimed to know the secrets of the other world; a necromancer, one who enquires of the dead, and so on.[lv] But the key evil is Moloch-worship. The word Moloch (or Melech, Melek, Malik), meaning king, is a misvocalization of the name of a pagan, the consonants of king being retained and the vowels of shame used. Human sacrifice was made to this god, who is identified as the god of Ammon in 1 Kings 11:7, 33. There are references to Moloch in Jeremiah 49:1, 3; Amos 1:15; Zephaniah 1:5; Leviticus 18:21; 20:2–5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35, etc., and the location of Moloch worship in Israel was the Valley of Hinnom (Jer. 32:35; 2 Kings 23:10). Moloch worship was not limited to Ammon.[lvi]

Moloch is “the king” or “kingship.” The name of Moloch is also given as Milcom (1 Kings 11:5, 33) and Malcam (Jer. 49:1, 3, RSV; Zeph. 1:5). Moloch was an aspect of Baal (Jer. 32:35), Baal meaning lord. Under the name of Melkarth, king of Tyre, Baal was worshiped with human sacrifices at Tyre.[lvii]

While relatively little is known of Moloch, much more is known of the concept of divine kingship, the king as god, and the god as king, as the divine-human link between heaven and earth. The god-king represented man on a higher scale, man ascended, and the worship of such a god, i.e., of such a Baal, was the assertion of the continuity of heaven and earth. It was the belief that all being was one being, and the god therefore was an ascended man on that scale of being. The power manifested in the political order was thus a manifestation or apprehension and seizure of divine power. It represented the triumph of a man and of his people. Moloch worship was thus a political religion.

Since Moloch represented kingship and power, sacrifices to Moloch represented the purchase, at the very least, of immunity or insurance and protection, and, at its highest claim, of power. The “higher” sacrifices in paganism, and especially Baal worship, were sacrifices of humanity, i.e., self-mutilations, notably castration, the sacrifice of children or of posterity, and the like. The priest became identified with the god to the degree that he “departed” from humanity by his castration, his separation from normal human relationships, and his abnormalities. The king became identified with the god to the degree that he manifested absolute power. The sacrifice of children was the supreme sacrifice to Moloch. Moloch worship entered Israel when Solomon built an altar for Moloch for his foreign wives, the Ammonites in particular. Apparently, Solomon limited the sacrificial scope of that altar, because many generations passed before the first human sacrifice, but Solomon’s act (1 Kings 11:7–8) had introduced the cult into Israel. Moloch worship was thus state worship. The state was the true and ultimate order, and religion was a department of state. The state claimed total jurisdiction over man; it was therefore entitled to total sacrifice. T. Robert Ingram, in his excellent study of law, virtually the only work of merit on the law in generations, rightly links the first commandment to the proscription of statism and totalitarianism.

Speaking of “the government which would arrogate to itself all power and bow before no other,” Ingram comments:

The modern word for such a government is totalitarian: a government that arrogates to itself total power. The crowning goal of Satan is to have a totalitarian world government. We who have known something of God the Creator know that total power can reside only in Him. Clearly the maker of anything is greater than anything he might make. The very possibility of a Frankenstein monster, the creation of human hands that can destroy humans and not be destroyed by them, is a false image of distorted reason. It presupposes a supernatural evil genius which deceives men into thinking they have made something while really they have been but passive agents of an unknown power. The potter can do what he will with his clay.

It is certain that the ultimate in supremacy, the greatest power there is, is the power to give existence to everything that is. God alone owes His own being to no other and has eternal existence in Himself. The mere possibility of total power residing anywhere forces us to recognize it in the Creator. Total power can be seated nowhere else. Any person who refuses to acknowledge that all things were made (and hence there is a Maker) simply rules out any consideration of the fact that total power exists anywhere. Thus we may say that for both Christians and non-Christians there is no reasonable way to establish total power anywhere but in the Creator of all things. Apart from Him, all power is divided and thereby limited.[lviii]

For a state to claim total jurisdiction, as the modern state does, is to claim to be as god, to be the total governor of man and the world. Instead of limited law and limited jurisdiction, the modern anti-Christian state claims jurisdiction from cradle to grave, from womb to tomb, over welfare, education, worship, the family, business and farming, capital and labor, and all things else. The modern state is a Moloch, demanding Moloch worship: it claims total jurisdiction over man and hence requires total sacrifice.

But, as Ingram observes, with respect to worship, “Only the power who is to be worshipped can ordain the manner in which he is to be worshipped.”[lix] Similarly, only the power who is ultimate has the right to be the source of law. God is the only true source of law; the state is an agency of law, one agency among many (church, school, family, etc.), and has a specified and limited area of law to administer under God. The Moloch state denies any such boundaries: it insists on taxing at will, expropriating at its pleasure by “eminent domain,” and it claims the right to force the youth into warfare and death at the pleasure of the state.

The Moloch state is the product of apostasy. When a people reject God as their King, and make a man or the state their king (1 Sam. 8:7–9), God declares the consequences:

This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint them unto him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even to the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks; and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not answer you in that day. (1 Sam. 8:11–18 MTV)

Several aspects of the state which rejects God are here cited: First, an anti-Biblical military conscription will be instituted and enforced. Second, there will be compulsory labor battalions conscripted for state service. Third, the conscription will be of young men and young women, and of animals as well. Fourth, the state will expropriate property, both landed property and livestock. Fifth, because the state is now playing god-king, it will demand like God a tithe, a tenth of man’s increase as its tax. Sixth, God will not hear a people who are complaining at paying the price for their sins.

All these conditions are met and surpassed by the modern Moloch state, which refuses to be content with a tithe but demands a tax equal to several tithes. In some countries, the local tax required is an incredible seizure. Thus, “The late Luigi Einaudi, Italy’s foremost economist and ex-President of the Republic, calculated that, if every tax on the statute books was fully collected, the State would absorb 110% of the national income.”[lx]

The Moloch state simply represents the supreme effort of man to command the future, to predestine the world, and to be as God. Lesser efforts, divination, spirit-questing, magic, and witchcraft, are equally anathema to God. All represent efforts to have the future on other than God’s terms, to have a future apart from and in defiance of God. They are assertions that the world is not of God but of brute factuality, and that man can somehow master the world and the future by going directly to the raw materials thereof. Thus King Saul outwardly conformed to God’s law by abolishing all black arts, but, when faced with a crisis, he turned to the witch of Endor (1 Sam. 28). Saul knew where he stood with God: in rebellion and unrepentant. Saul knew, moreover, the judgment of the law and of the prophet Samuel concerning him (1 Sam. 15:10–35). Samuel alive had declared God’s future to Saul. In going to the witch of Endor, Saul attempted to reach Samuel dead, in the faith and hope that Samuel dead was now in touch with and informed concerning a world of brute factuality outside of God which could offer Saul a God-free, law-free future. But the word from the grave only underscored God’s law-word (1 Sam. 28:15–19): it was the word of judgment.

Astrology is to be included in the ungodly probings which cannot put off or charm away judgment (Isa. 47:10–14).

In Leviticus 19:26, divination and soothsaying are forbidden in the same sentence as the eating of blood. Davis’s definition of the meaning of blood in the Bible deserves quotation in full as a succinct statement of the matter:

BLOOD. The vital fluid circulating through the body, and conveyed by a system of deep-seated arteries from the heart to the extremities, and by a system of superficial veins back again to the heart . . . The life is in the blood (Lev. xvii. 11, 14): or the blood is the life (Deut. xii. 23), though not exclusively (Ps. civ. 30). The blood represented the life, and so sacred is life before God that the blood of murdered Abel could be described as crying to God from the ground for vengeance (Gen. iv. 10); and immediately after the flood the eating of the blood of the lower animals was forbidden, although their slaughter for food was authorized (ix. 3, 4; Acts xv. 20, 29), and the law was laid down, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. ix. 6). The loss of life is the penalty for sin, and its typical vicarious surrender was necessary for remission (Heb. ix. 22), and so, under the Mosaic law the blood of animals was used in all offerings for sin, and the blood of beasts killed on the hunt or slaughtered for food was poured out and covered with earth, because withheld by God from man’s consumption and reserved for purposes of atonement (Lev. xvii. 10–14; Deut. xii. 15, 16). The “blood of Jesus,” the “blood of Christ,” the “blood of Jesus Christ,” or “the blood of the Lamb,” are figurative expressions for his atoning death (1 Cor. x. 16; Eph. ii. 13; Heb. ix. 14; x. 19; 1 Pet. i. 2, 19; 1 John i. 7; Rev. vii. 14; xii. 11).[lxi]

Since life is given by God and is to be lived on His terms alone, no life of man or beast can be taken except on God’s terms, whether by the state, by man to eat, or by man in his self-defense. To attempt to govern or to take life apart from God’s permission, and apart from His service, is like attempting to govern the world and the future apart from God. For this reason, Leviticus 19:26 puts the eating of blood, divination, and soothsaying all on the same level as the same sin in essence.

Deuteronomy 18:13 commands, “Thou shalt be perfect [or, upright; ‘whole-hearted,’ MTV; ‘blameless,’ Berkeley Version] with the Lord thy God.” This is part of the often repeated commandment, “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (Ex. 19:6; Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 1 Thess. 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:15–16, etc.). To be holy means literally to be separated, i.e., set apart from a common to a sacred use. The utensils and vessels of the sanctuary, the ministers, and certain days, were separated unto God’s special service and hence holy (Ex. 20:8; 30:31; 31:10–11; Num. 5:17; Zech. 14:21). The defilement from lack of separation could be ceremonial and physical (Ex. 22:31; Lev. 20:26), or it could be spiritual and moral (Lev. 20:6–7; 21:6; 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:7). The holiness of God is His separation from all created beings as the uncreated and creating Being, infinite in wisdom, power, justice, goodness, truth, and glory. The true holiness of man is man’s separation unto God in faith and in obedience to God’s law. The law is thus the specified way of holiness.

Moloch worship seeks a nontheistic, a non-Biblical way to holiness. It seeks to set itself apart as the power and the glory by means of sacrifices designed to transcend humanity. St. Paul specified some of these ways of false holiness as “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving . . . for it is sanctified (made holy) by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:3–5).

Very often, societies have sacrificed men in order to dedicate and sanctify a building, to give it power. Writing in 1909, Lawson reported, in his study of lingering paganism in Greece: “. . . it was reported from Zakynthos only a generation ago that a strong feeling still existed there in favour of sacrificing a Mohammedan or a Jew at the foundation of important bridges and other buildings; and there is a legend of a black man having been actually immured in the bridge of an aqueduct near Lebadea in Boeotia.”[lxii] Strack, in the course of disproving any special racial blood ritual among the Jews, did call attention to extensive evidences of superstitious human sacrifices and animal sacrifices in modern Europe.[lxiii]

Man’s attempts to control the world and to be the source of predestination lead also to false prophets. The law governing this declares:

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou has not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. (Deut. 13:1–4)

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desirest of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shall not be afraid of him. (Deut. 18:15–22)

Deuteronomy 13 cites three cases of instigation to idolatry, first, in verses 1–5, by the false prophet; second, in verses 6–11, by a private individual; and, third, by a city, verses 12–18.[lxiv] The penalty in every case is death without mercy. To the modern mind, this seems drastic. Why death for idolatry? If idolatry is unimportant to a man, then a penalty for it is outrageous. But modern man thinks nothing of death penalties for crimes against the state, or against the “people,” or against “the revolution,” because these things are important to him. The death penalty is not required here for private belief: it is for attempts to subvert others and to subvert the social order by enticing others to idolatry. Because for Biblical law the foundation is the one true God, the central offense is therefore treason to that God by idolatry. Every law order has its concept of treason. No law order can permit an attack on its foundations without committing suicide. Those states which claim to abolish the death penalty still retain it on the whole for crimes against the state. The foundations of a law order must be protected.

Criminal offenses always exact a penalty. The critical question in any society is this: who shall be penalized? Biblical law declares that restitution must prevail: if a man steals $100, he must restore the $100 plus another $100; the criminal is penalized. In certain crimes, his restitution is his own death. In modern humanistic society, the victim is penalized. There is no restitution, and there is increasingly lighter punishment of the criminal. Without restitution, crime becomes potentially profitable, and the victim is penalized by the state. The victim is penalized by the crime, by the court costs, and the prison costs as they appear in taxation.

But crime always exacts a penalty above and beyond the individuals involved as victims and as criminals. The law order is breached; the peace and the health of society are broken. A society which tolerates penalties against itself and against its law-abiding citizens is a dangerous and a dying society.

Basic to the health of a society is the integrity of its foundation. To allow tampering with its foundation is to allow its total subversion. Biblical law can no more permit the propagation of idolatry than Marxism can permit counterrevolution, or monarchy a move to execute the king, or a republic an attempt to destroy the republic and create a dictatorship.

It should be noted that Deuteronomy 13:5–18 does not call for the death penalty for unbelief or for heresy. It condemns false prophets (vv. 1–5) who seek to lead the people, with signs and wonders, into idolatry. It does condemn individuals who secretly try to start a movement into idolatry (vv. 6–11). It does condemn cities which establish another religion and subvert the law order of the nation (vv. 13–18), and this condemnation must be enforced by man to turn away the judgment of God (v. 17).

This condemnation does not apply to a missionary situation, where the land is anti-God to begin with: this is a situation for conversion. It does require a nation grounded in God’s law system to preserve that order by punishing the basic treason against it. No society is without testing, and God tests man by these challenges, to see whether man will stand in terms of God’s order or not (v. 3).

Having dealt with false prophets, i.e., false mediators, the law turns to the one true Mediator:

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. (Deut. 18:15)

This Prophet and His work are described in verses 15–19. Men must either obey Him, or else God will require it of men (v. 19). Waller’s comment concerning the Prophet is especially good:

The connection between these verses and the preceding is well illustrated by Isaiah’s question (chap. viii. 19): “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?” Or, as the angel turned the phrase on Easter morning: “Why seek ye Him that liveth among the dead?”[lxv]

According to Calvin, “the expression ‘a Prophet,’ is used by enallage for a number of prophets . . . Not at all more correct is their opinion, who apply it to Christ alone.”[lxvi] Clearly, the passage does refer to prophets generally, and, in verses 20–22, the false prophet is identified and called presumptuous: “thou shalt not be afraid of him.” The term, however, equally clearly and more obviously applies to the one great Prophet and Mediator, as against the many false mediators. All prophets are speakers for the one Prophet who speaks the word of the Lord. Since there is one true God, there is one word, and one speaker.

All prophets were speakers for the one Prophet, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity.

The commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In our polytheistic world, the many other gods are the many peoples, every man his own god. Every man under humanism is his own law, and his own universe. Anarchism is the personal creed, and totalitarian statism the social creed, since only coercion can, in a polytheistic world, bring men together.

During the recent occupation of the Sorbonne a student obliterated a large “No Smoking” sign near the entrance to the auditorium and wrote: “You Have the Right to Smoke.” In due time another student added: “It is Forbidden to Forbid.” This slogan has caught on and is now appearing in many places which have been taken over by the students. In foot-high letters in the grand hall of the Sorbonne, someone has written: “I take my desires for the truth because I believe in the truth of my desires.”[lxvii]

These lawless students, while affirming that none had the right to forbid them anything, to coerce them into any behaviour, were bent on coercing an entire nation. Total anarchy means total coercion. This is Moloch worship with a vengeance: all society must be sacrificed to satisfy these modern worshipers of destruction. The student revolution is a fitting climax to statist education. To surrender children to the state is to turn them over to the enemy. For the surrendered children, as the new Janizaries of the new Turks, to turn on the society which begat them and to destroy it is a judgment on the Moloch worship of their elders. To have other gods and other laws, other schools, and other hopes than the one true God is to invoke the whole weight of the law in judgment. Our culture today resembles the legend of Empedocles, the Greek philosopher:

Even in his lifetime Empedocles was a charismatic figure. Diodorus describes him as laurel-wreathed, robed like a god in purple, sandalled in gold. He taught that the highest forms of human life, the closest to the divine, were the prophet and the physician. He was both. As a living myth, he attracted legend. Most spectacular of unsupported tales is the account of his death by suicidal leap into Aetna’s crater: self-immolation in the expectation of becoming, or at least being worshipped as a god. The mountain, it is said, later gave back one golden sandal.[lxviii]

Like the legendary Empedocles of old, our world today is seeking to make itself god by self-immolation.

  1. The Laws of Covenant Membership

Those who obey the first commandment, “Thou shalt not have other gods before me,” are members of the covenant. The two basic rites of the covenant in the Old Testament were circumcision and the Passover, and, in the New Testament, baptism and Communion.

Genesis 17:9–14 gives us the institution of circumcision as the sign of the covenant. The requirement of the covenant is obedience to the moral law (Gen. 17:1; 18:17–19). “Further, the ethical character of O.T. religion is symbolized by circumcision.”[lxix] Circumcision was widely prevalent in all cultures, and always religious. It is the act of cutting off the foreskin of the male genital organ.

For the doctrinal understanding of circumcision two facts are significant; first, it was instituted before the birth of Isaac; secondly, in the accompanying revelation only the second promise, relating to numerous posterity is referred to. These two facts together show that circumcision has something to do with the process of propagation. Not in the sense that the act is in itself sinful, for there is no trace of this anywhere in the O.T. It is not the act but the product, that is, human nature, which is unclean, and stands in need of purification and qualification. Hence circumcision is not, as among pagans, applied to grown-up men, but to infants on the eighth day. Human nature is unclean and disqualified in its very source. Sin, consequently, is a matter of the race and not of the individual only. The need of qualification had to be specially emphasized under the O.T. At that time the promises of God had proximate reference to temporal, natural things. Hereby the danger was created that natural descent might be understood as entitling to the grace of God. Circumcision teaches that physical descent from Abraham is not sufficient to make true Israelites. The uncleanness and disqualification of nature must be taken away. Dogmatically speaking, therefore, circumcision stands for justification and regeneration, plus sanctification (Rom. 4:9–12; Col. 2:11–13).[lxx]

Circumcision is required by the law in Leviticus 12:3, on the eighth day. All who desired to partake of the Passover, whether Hebrew or foreigner, had to be circumcised (Ex. 12:48–49). Both Jesus and John the Baptist were circumcised (Luke 1:59; 2:21), as was St. Paul (Phil. 3:5), who insisted on the circumcision of Timothy, who had a Jewish mother and a Greek father (Acts 16:3), but Paul did not require it of Titus (Gal. 2:3).

From the beginning, the meaning of circumcision and its spiritual consequences were understood:

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked. (Deut. 10:16)

And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deut. 30:6)

Similar expressions are to be found in Leviticus 26:41; Jeremiah 4:4; 6:10; Romans 2:28–29; Colossians 2:11, etc.

Modern commentators see no great distinction between Hebrew and pagan circumcisions.[lxxi] The differences, of course, are very great. For the Christian, the paramount difference is that the Biblical rite was ordained by God as a part of His revelation. With respect to the meaning of the rite, it is in paganism a ritual of initiation into manhood, and into the tribe or clan. Whereas other religions commonly recognize a defect in human nature, they also hold that the defect can be remedied by man: hence the connection of circumcision with the onset of manhood. The young man assumes his responsibilities in society, and also his religious responsibility to conform to the religious standard by an act of will. Paganism is Pelagian to the core. Circumcision on the eighth day removes the power of the rite from man to God: the young child is not capable of justifying, regenerating, or sanctifying himself: he is entirely passive in the rite. The fact of divine grace is thus set forth. Just as the covenant wholly represents God’s initiative and grace, so the sign of the covenant represents the same. The commandment, therefore, was clear: circumcision was to be on (or after) the eighth day, when the child’s blood would coagulate properly and permit the operation.

A ceremony related to circumcision is the purification of women after childbirth (Lev. 12). The uncleanness of the woman has reference to a religious and sacramental impurity. Micklem observed of Leviticus 12:2:

The translation unclean is peculiarly infelicitous here, for it inevitably suggests disapprobation or disgust, and it anticipates a Manichaean view of evil inherent in the flesh. The passage might be paraphrased: “When a woman has borne a son, proper feeling requires that she remain in seclusion for a week; then the child is to be circumcised; even then she is to stay at home for a month, and her first journey abroad shall be to church.”[lxxii]

The point with respect to Manichaeism is well taken, but more is at stake than “proper feeling”! Neither the flesh nor the spirit of fallen man is clean before God. There is no more hope in things spiritual than in things material. Circumcision witnesses to the fact that man’s hope is not in generation but in regeneration, and the witness of the ceremony of the purification of women is the same.

The days of uncleanness for a man-child were seven: circumcision, by its witness to covenant grace, terminated that period. For a female child, the days of uncleanness were fourteen, during which time the woman touched no hallowed thing and was forbidden entrance to the sanctuary. These periods of time were followed by the days of purification, thirty-three after a male birth, and sixty-six days after a daughter’s birth, after which the mother came to the sanctuary with an offering, a yearling lamb, or, in cases of poverty, as with Mary (Luke 2:21–24), two pigeons or doves. Circumcision served to shorten the time with respect to male births, and the ritual of purification was the witness to covenant membership for the daughters. It was a reminder that covenant righteousness was of the grace of God, to mother and child, and that grace, not race or blood, is the fountainhead of salvation.

The service continues in the church, and appears, for example, in The Book of Common Prayer as “The Thanksgiving of Woman after Childbirth” or “the Churching of Women.” It begins with the pastoral declaration, “Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God, of his goodness, to give you safe deliverance, and to preserve you in the great danger of childbirth: You shall give hearty thanks unto God,” and it concluded with the presentation by the woman of a required gift.

The rite has reference, not to actual sin but original sin, and it is a recognition of the fall of man and of covenant grace. By birth the old rebellion of Adam is reintroduced into the covenant household in the form of a child whose nature is inherited from Adam. This hereditary corruption is acknowledged, and the covenant grace beseeched, in the ritual of the purification of women. There is no valid reason for the discontinuance of the rite. It has been reduced to a simple thanksgiving in The Book of Common Prayer, which is an atrophy of meaning, but this still far surpasses the practice of other churches.

Baptism is the sign of the renewed covenant, replacing circumcision. It was a sign of religious purification and consecration in the Old Testament (Ex. 29:4; 30:19–20; 40:12; Lev. 15; 16:26, 28; 17:15; 22:4, 6; Num. 19:8). In Ezekiel 36:25–26, we are given baptism (“sprinkling”) as a sign of the regeneration of the covenant people after the captivity, and it is associated with a “new heart.” Jeremiah 31:31–34 associates this “new heart” with the new covenant in Christ. In terms of these texts, proselytes into Israel were baptized prior to circumcision, indicating that the new covenant was in mind. John the Baptist, by summoning all Israel to baptism, created a sensation, in that it indicated that the age of the Messiah was at hand.

Baptism, like circumcision, is to be administered to children, unless it is to an adult newly converted, as the sign of covenant membership by grace. Not surprisingly, most opponents of infant baptism are logically also Pelagian or at the least Arminian. They insist on claiming the prerogative in salvation for man.

The other rite of covenant membership, the Passover, was instituted in Egypt (Ex. 12; 13:3–10; 23:18; Num. 9:1–14; Deut. 16:3–4) to celebrate the culminating act of redemption by God in His judgment on Egypt. All the firstborn of Egypt were killed by God, who passed over those Israelite and other believers’ houses where the blood of a lamb or a kid had been sprinkled above and on the sides of the door, and the members of the household stood, staff in hand, waiting to move in terms of God’s promised deliverance. The lamb or kid was roasted whole and eaten with unleavened bread (to signify the incorruptibility of the sacrifice, Lev. 2:11; 1 Cor. 5:7–8) and bitter herbs, to signify the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt.

Central to the Passover is the blood. In the covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:7–21), Abraham was required to pass between the divided pieces of slain animals, which set forth the death of the covenant maker, i.e., the death of the true sacrifice who was to come, Jesus Christ, and the judgment of death upon those who betrayed His covenant. Moses at Sinai took the blood and sprinkled it both upon the altar and on the people (Ex. 24:4–8) to indicate both that the covenant rested upon an atonement provided entirely by God, and that the penalty for apostasy from the covenant is death. Stibbs has ably summarized the main significance of “blood” in Scripture:

Blood is a visible token of life violently ended; it is a sign of life either given or taken in death. Such giving or taking of life is in this world the extreme both of gift or price and of crime or penalty. Man knows no greater. So, first, the greatest offering or service one can render is to give one’s blood or life. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). Second, the greatest earthly crime or evil is to take blood or life, that is, manslaughter or murder. Third, the great penalty or loss is to have one’s blood shed or life taken. So, it says of the blood-shedder, “by man shall his blood be shed”; and so Paul says of the magistrate, “. . . He bareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil” (Rom. 13:4, R.V.). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Fourth, the only possible or adequate expiation or atonement is life for life and blood for blood. This expiation man cannot give (Ps. 49:7, 8; Mk. 8:36, 37). Not only is his own life already forfeit as a sinner. But also all life is God’s (see Ps. 50:9, 10). So man has no “blood” that he can give. This necessary but otherwise unobtainable gift God has given. He has given the blood to make atonement (Lv. 17:11). Atonement is, therefore, only possible by the gift of God. Or as P. T. Forsyth expressed it, “Sacrifice is the fruit and not the root of grace.” What is more, when our Lord claimed to have come “to give his life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45), He was implying His Deity as well as His human sinlessness, and indicating the fulfilment of that which the shed blood of animal sacrifices merely typified. Here in Jesus, the incarnate Son, was God come in person to give as Man the blood which only can make atonement. The Church of God is, therefore, purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

All these four significances of “blood” as shed meet in the Cross of Christ. There the Son of Man in our flesh and blood for us men and for our salvation made the greatest offering. He gave His life (see Jn. 10:17, 18). Second, He became the victim of mankind’s greatest crime. He was vilely and unjustly put to death. Third, “He was reckoned with transgressors” (Lk. 22:37 R.V. from Is. 53:12), and endured the extreme penalty of the wrongdoer. The hand of the law and of the Roman magistrate put Him to death. By man was His blood shed. Fourth, He, as God made flesh, gave, as He alone could do, His human blood to make atonement. Repentance and remission of sins can, therefore, now be preached in His name. We are justified by His blood.[lxxiii]

The Passover celebrated Israel’s redemption, even as the sacrament of the Lord’s Table celebrates the redemption of the true church of God by the blood of Jesus Christ. The celebration of the sacrament means the reception by faith of the redemption and cleansing from sin, and the blessings of the covenant life, in Christ through His atoning sacrifice.

The Passover was doubly a witness to blood required. Blood was required, first, of all Egypt for their unbelief. The firstborn represented in their person the whole household, and the sentence of death passed against them was a death sentence against all. Second, Israel no less than Egypt was under sentence of death. There was no merit in them to save them, nor could there be. But the death sentence passed against the covenant people was assumed by God the Son in the type of the blood of the lamb.

The same double witness to blood appears in the cross. First, Israel was sentenced to death (Matt. 24) and destined for destruction for its treason to the covenant. Second, the people of Christ were redeemed from sin by the blood of the covenant and were delivered from the judgment on Jerusalem and Judea.

The sacrament of the Lord’s Table is the Christian Passover, “for even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7–8). The first celebration of the Lord’s Supper, in the Upper Room, was at the conclusion, and in fulfilment, of the Passover.

The same double witness is basic to the Lord’s Table, and it cannot be truly celebrated if this aspect is denied or overlooked. First, the Passover of Israel was celebrated in the expectation of victory. The Hebrews were to eat in haste: God would deliver them that very night from their oppressor and enemy by a mighty judgment against Egypt and a spoiling of the Egyptians (Ex. 12:11, 29–36). The Christian Passover sets forth the believer’s deliverance from sin and death and his deliverance from the enemy. It is both a spiritual and a material salvation. To celebrate the death of God’s firstborn for our salvation is to celebrate the death of God’s enemies, of their firstborn, their totality, under His judgment. It requires us to move in terms of victory (Ex. 12:11) if we are to receive it. To limit the sacrament to a spiritual victory is to act as a Manichaean rather than as a Christian; it is to see God as lord only of the spiritual and not of the material realm. Thus, second, as is clearly apparent, the Lord’s Table is victory because it is judgment. St. Paul declared the sacrament to be judgment against believers who partook thereof “unworthily . . . not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:27–30). If it is judgment against believers who transgress, how much more does the Lord’s Supper proclaim damnation to a world in rebellion against God?

But, third, the children of the covenant, i.e., circumcised male children, and daughters of the covenant, partook of it. Indeed, the service was designed to declare the meaning of the sacrament to the youngest male child able to speak, to whom was assigned the ritual role of asking, “What mean ye by this service?” (Ex. 12:26). The father then declared its meaning to all. In the early church, children partook of the sacrament, according to all the records. The evidence of St. Paul indicates that entire families attended and participated: it was the evening meal (1 Cor. 11). Joseph Bingham’s The Antiquities of the Christian Church cites the evidence of a long–standing practice of participation by children and infants. This practice was clearly a carryover from the Passover of Israel, and there is no scriptural evidence for a departure from it. At the same time, it should be noted, the early church strictly excluded outsiders from the sacraments. Arguments against this inclusion of children are more rationalistic and Pelagian than Biblical.

The commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” requires, first, that a man know that his only hope of salvation is in the blood of God’s sacrifice, the Lamb of God, and to live in grateful obedience. Second, man must recognize that all blood is governed by God and His law-word, and to do anything apart from God and His law-word, is sin, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). As Stibbs has written,

Further, the conviction that underlies the Old Testament Scriptures is that physical life is God’s creation. So it belongs to Him not to men. Also, particularly in the case of man made in God’s image, this life is precious in God’s sight. Therefore, not only has no man any independent right of freedom to shed blood and take life, but also if he does, he will be accountable to God for his action. God will require blood of any man that sheds it. The murderer brings blood upon himself not only in the eyes of men but first of all in the sight of God. And the penalty which was due to God, and which other men were made responsible to inflict, was that the murderer’s own life must be taken. Such a man is not worthy to enjoy further the stewardship of the Divine gift of life. He must pay the extreme earthly penalty and lose his own life in the flesh. Further, the character of the punishment is also significantly described by the use of the word “blood.” “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:5, 6).[lxxiv]

To have none other gods, means to have no other law than God’s law, and no activity or thought apart from His law-word. Whether for food, to uphold the civil law, in warfare, or in self-defense, blood can be shed only in terms of God’s word. Where God permits it, man cannot contradict God or propose a “better” or “higher” way without sin. Thus, to regard vegetarianism, pacifism, or nonresistance in all cases as a “higher” way, is to treat God’s way as lower than man’s.

Very closely related to the doctrine of the Passover is the redemption of the firstborn and their sanctification.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. (Ex. 13:1–2)

And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord’s. And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt. (Ex. 13:11–16)

Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day then shalt thou give it me. (Ex. 22:29–30)

All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then thou shalt break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty. (Ex. 34:19–20)

Only the firstling of the beasts, which should be the Lord’s firstling, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox, or sheep: it is the Lord’s. (Lev. 27:26)

All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep. Thou shalt eat it before the Lord thy God year by year in the place which the Lord shall choose, thou and thy household. (Deut. 15:19–20)

For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (Rom. 11:16)

Redemption is here a very physical matter, because redemption is never to be separated from the world of the physical or the spiritual. Israel was physically enslaved to Egypt as well as in bondage to sin. The fall of man placed man, body and soul, into bondage, and redemption therefore is total, affecting man’s total being, not merely an aspect thereof. To limit salvation to man’s soul and not to his body, his society, and his every aspect and relationship, is to deny its Biblical meaning. Indeed, the whole creation is finally involved in redemption (Rom. 8:20–21).

The firstborn referred to in the law is the firstborn of a mother rather than of a father: it is “the first issue of every womb” (Ex. 13:2).[lxxv] Fairbairn’s analysis of the redemption of the firstborn is particularly good:

We have a threefold act of God—first, the infliction of death on the firstborn of man and beast in Egypt; then exemption from this judgment on the part of Israel in consideration of the paschal sacrifice; and finally, in commemoration of the exemption, the consecrating to the Lord of all the firstborn in time to come. The fundamental element on which the whole proceeds, is evidently the representative character of the firstborn; the first offspring of the producing parent stands for the entire fruit of the womb, being that in which the whole takes its beginning; so that the slaying of the firstborn of Egypt was virtually the slaying of all—it implied that one and the same doom was suspended over all; and, consequently, that the saving of the firstborn of Israel and their subsequent consecration to the Lord, was, in regard to divine intention and efficacious virtue, the saving and consecration of all. Hence Israel as a whole was designated God’s firstborn: “Thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn; and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me; and if thou refuse to let him go, behold I will slay thy son, thy firstborn.” Ex. iv. 22, 23.[lxxvi]

The act of redemption was thus the ritual of confirmation of covenant membership. All Israel, man and beast, was acknowledged to be God’s possession, His “firstborn” by grace and adoption. Israel deserved to die no less than Egypt: its redemption was an act of sovereign grace. This fact had been demonstrated by God to Abraham, in calling for the sacrifice of Isaac. The Bible does not condemn human sacrifice in principle. “All Biblical sacrifice rests on the idea that the gift of life to God, either in consecration or in expiation, is necessary to the action or the restoration of religion.” On the other hand, “man in the abnormal relation of sin is disqualified for offering this gift of his life in his own person. Hence the principle of vicariousness is brought into play: one life takes the place of another life.”[lxxvii] But even without sin, man can give nothing to God that man has not already received from God. The fact that the redemption of the firstborn was normally linked with the eighth day, the time of circumcision, of entrance into the covenant, made it at the same time a confirmation of the covenant by the parents. The animals were often given directly to the priest. The tribe of Levi became a substitute priestly tribe, devoted to God, as the firstborn (Num. 3:40–41). The law took care to protect the parents from an exorbitant redemption fee (Lev. 27:1–8). Other laws with respect to the firstborn, i.e., restating it, are Numbers 8:16–17, which connects God’s right to Israel’s firstborn with the slaying of Egypt’s firstborn; Numbers 8:18, which established the Levites as the substitute; and Numbers 3:11–13, 44–51, which gives specific details of this substitution. The firstborn of flocks and herds are specified in Exodus 13:11–13 and Exodus 22:30, as well as in Exodus 34:19–20; Leviticus 27:26–27; and Numbers 18:15, 17. In Numbers 18:15, 17, it is specified that the firstling of a cow, a sheep, or a goat cannot be redeemed but must, according to Deuteronomy 14:23; 15:19–22, together with the tithe of the corn, wine, and oil, be eaten before the Lord for the second tithe. Waller commented on Deuteronomy 14:22–23, 28:

(22) Thou shalt truly tithe.—The Talmud and Jewish interpreters in general are agreed in the view that the tithe mentioned in this passage, both here and in verse 28, and also the tithe described in chap. xxvi. 12–15, are all one thing—“the second tithe”; and entirely distinct from the ordinary tithe assigned to the Levites for their subsistence in Num. xviii. 21, and by them tithed again for the priest (Num. xviii. 26) . . .

(23) And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God—i.e., thou shalt eat the second tithe. This was to be done two years; but in the third and sixth years there was a different arrangement (see verse 28). In the seventh year, which was Sabbatical, there would probably be no tithe, for there was to be no harvest. The profit of the earth was for all, and every one was free to eat at pleasure . . .

(28) At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe.— This is called by the Jews Ma’aser’Ani, “the poor’s tithe.” They regard it as identical with the second tithe, which was ordinarily eaten by the owners at Jerusalem; but in every third and sixth year was bestowed upon the poor.[lxxviii]

It should be noted that this second tithe was not strictly a tenth, in that a second tenth was not set apart from the specified livestock, but “the firstlings take the place of a second tithe on animals.”[lxxix]

In addition to the redemption of the firstborn, a head tax was required of every male twenty years old and over (Ex. 30:11–16), which was used originally for the construction of the tabernacle (Ex. 38:25–28). It was paid by Levites and all others. It was a reminder that all were preserved alive only by the grace of God. It was used to maintain the civil order after the tabernacle (the throne room and palace of God’s government) was built. Formal enrollment at maturity meant the payment of a half-shekel in acknowledgment of God’s providential grace. All paid the same amount. “It was an acknowledgment of sin, equally binding upon all, and so made equal for all; and it saved from God’s vengeance those who, if they had been too proud to make it, would have been punished by some ‘plague’ or another.”[lxxx] The poll tax was a reminder that they lived by God’s grace, and that their lives and substance were forfeited by treason against God. It was therefore a ceremony associated in meaning with the redemption of the firstborn, the Passover, and the Day of Atonement, rather than the tithe.

Both the firstfruits of the flock, and of the field, were, with the exception noted, to be given to the Lord for Levitical maintenance, according to the Law of the Covenant.[lxxxi] The law of the firstfruits appears in Leviticus 23:10, 17 and Deuteronomy 26:1–11, also Numbers 15:17–21; Exodus 22:29; 23:19. The New Testament refers to the firstfruits in Romans 8:23; 11:16; 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20–23; 16:15; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4. Jesus Christ is declared to be, when risen from the dead, “the first sheaf waved before the Lord on the second Paschal day, just as Christ actually burst the bonds of death at that very time.”[lxxxii] St. Paul declared, “Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).

The offering of the firstborn and of the firstfruits was closely connected with the tithe, and, with it, constituted a symbolic offering of the whole. The tithe, however, was in addition to the offering of the firstborn and of the firstfruits.

The early church saw the offering of the firstborn fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the offering given by God in fulfillment of the requirement for the household of faith. The offering of the firstfruits was, however, continued, although it too was in equal measure fulfilled by Christ. The collection of firstfruits took various forms, such as the payment of the first year’s produce of benefices demanded by the pope of benefices in England which had been granted to foreigners. Henry VIII took over these collections, but Queen Anne restored them to the Church of England to augment small livings.[lxxxiii]

With respect to the tithe, according to Bingham, “the ancients believed the law about tithes not to be merely a ceremonial or political command, but of moral and perpetual obligation.”[lxxxiv]

For many centuries, the tithe was paid in produce, i.e., a literal tenth of the field rather than its monetary equivalent. Tithe-barns were built to house the tithes.[lxxxv] The tithe was commanded by the Council of Trent on pain of excommunication, but it was abolished in France in 1789 and has gradually fallen into neglect. It was required in Protestant circles at one time, but here, too, it has fallen into neglect or become simply a tithe to the church.[lxxxvi]

The tithe or tenth appears very early, long before Moses; when Abraham tithed (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:4, 6), it was apparently an established practice, so that its origin may go back to the original revelation to Adam. Jacob also spoke of the tithe (Gen. 28:20–22). A Lord’s portion related to the tithe appears in the war against Midian, where God fixed the proportion of the spoils of war which were to be the Lord’s as one out of fifty, and one out of five hundred, depending on the booty (Num. 31:25–54).

The law of the tithe appears in Leviticus 27:30–33; Numbers 18:21–26; Deuteronomy 14:22–27; 26:12–15. The rabbis and many orthodox scholars distinguished three tithes; some orthodox scholars and virtually all modernists see only one tithe.[lxxxvii] The existence of three tithes from early years is a matter of record, i.e., from the earliest period of Hebraic documents related to Scripture, i.e., from the Apocrypha. Tobit, dated 350 B.C. or from 250 to 200 B.C. by Davis,[lxxxviii] and “toward the close of the 3d century B.C.” by Gehman,[lxxxix] gives evidence of three tithes very plainly (Tobit 1:5–8). Similar evidence is to be found in Josephus’s Antiquities, book 4, and in Jerome, at a later date.[xc] The historical evidence reveals the practice; the Scripture refers to three kinds of tithing. The burden of proof is on those who insist on reducing it to one tithe.

In analyzing the tithe, therefore, it becomes apparent that, first, there are three kinds of tithes, a first tithe, the Lord’s tithe (Num. 18:21–24), which went to the Levites, who rendered a tenth of this to the priests (Num. 18:26–28); a second tithe, a festival tithe to rejoice before the Lord (Deut. 12:6–7, 17–18); and a third tithe, a poor tithe, every third year, to be shared locally with the local Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (Deut. 14:27–29).[xci]

Second, the Lord, as Creator of all things, established the terms of man’s life and the use of man’s substance. Certain specified amounts are holy unto the Lord. The tithe was of substance, i.e., of the increase of the flock or herd, or the yield of the field. If redeemed, i.e., paid to the Lord in money, a fifth of the amount had to be added. In tithing, a man was not to choose the good or bad for the Lord, but to take every tenth animal for his tithe. If a man counted sixteen calves, he thus tithed one only, the tenth as he numbered them. By adding a fifth to the monetary tithe, he tended to equalize the tithe, but, on the whole, the requirement favored man (Lev. 27:30–33).

Third, the second tithe was to be used in rejoicing before the Lord at the three annual religious festivals. It could be taken to the sanctuary in the form of money, to be spent there on himself at the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Weeks, over two weeks of religious “vacationing” (Deut. 12:6–7; 14:22–27; 16:3, 13, 16). Except for the Levites, with whom a portion was shared, this tithe remained with the tither and was used for his pleasure. There was no second tithe on animals in the second tithe; the firstlings of the flock took their place in the second tithe (Deut. 12:17–18).

Fourth, the third tithe was the poor tithe, to be used locally with the poor, widows, orphans, helpless foreigners, people unable to help themselves because of age, illness, or other special conditions. The Levites were also to be remembered (Deut. 14:27–29).

Fifth, the tithe, according to Thompson, amounted thus to a tenth for the Lord, a tenth for the poor, and a slight amount from the second tithe for the Levites. Thompson called it “one-sixth of a man’s income,” since the third or poor tithe came twice in each six-year period.[xcii] In terms of this, Thompson saw the total tithe as equal to one day’s labor in six.[xciii] This may be a little high, but it is close. Without reckoning the second tithe as a cost (i.e., the Levite’s portion), it comes to 13.33 percent annually, whereas Thompson’s reckoning takes it to a higher percentage.

Sixth, there was no tithe of the produce of farming in the seventh or sabbath year (Lev. 25:1–7). In that year, there was to be no sowing, pruning, reaping, or gathering. The trees and vines were to drop their fruit, except for what the poor harvested for their use, or cattle and wild animals ate, or for table use by the owner (Ex. 23:11). Rawlinson commented:

Under the system thus Divinely imposed upon the Israelites, three beneficent purposes were accomplished. 1. The proprietor was benefited. Not only was he prevented from exhausting his farm by overcropping, and so sinking into poverty, but he was forced to form habits of forethought and providence. He necessarily laid by something for the seventh year, and hence learnt to calculate his needs, to store his grain, and to keep something in hand against the future. In this way his reason and reflective powers were developed, and he was advanced from a mere labouring hand to a thoughtful cultivator. 2. The poor were benefited. As whatever grew in the seventh year grew spontaneously, without expense or trouble on the part of the owner, it could not be rightfully considered to belong exclusively to him. The Mosaic law placed it on a par with ordinary wild fruits, and granted it to the first comer (Lev. xxv. 5, 6). By this arrangement the poor were enabled to profit, since it was they especially who gathered the store that Nature’s bounty provided. In the dry climate of Palestine, where much grain is sure to be shed during the gathering in of the harvest, the spontaneous growth would probably be considerable, and would amply suffice for the sustenance of those who had no other resource. 3. The beasts were benefited. God “careth for cattle.” He appoints the Sabbatical year, in part, that “the beasts of the field” may have abundance to eat. When men dole out their food, they have often a scanty allowance. God would have them, for one year in seven at least, eat their fill.[xciv]

Rawlinson to the contrary at one point, the sabbath use of the field and vineyard was unquestionably similar to gleaning, i.e., the owner governed the admission of the deserving poor. More will be said of the agricultural sabbath later.

Seventh, tithing meant proportionate giving. The tenth of a poor man is as pleasing to God as the tenth of the rich. The principle of the tithe is stated clearly in the law: “Every man shall give as he is able” (Deut. 16:17). This same principle is restated by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:12 as the essence of Christian giving. St. Paul wrote with respect to the collection for the poor, and he cited the principle of the tithe to collect the poor tithe from Christians. By means of proportionate giving, no undue burden was placed on anyone: the rich were not expected to do all the giving, nor was the burden left to the willing.

Eighth, by means of the tithe, a concrete and realistic relationship with God existed. According to Malachi 3:7–12, God’s curse goes out against those who deny God’s ordinance of tithing, for this is to turn away from God’s law (Mal. 3:7). Similarly, God’s blessing is poured out like a flood to those who obey the law of the tenth. As Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) wrote, “I am persuaded that Christ is responsal and law-abiding, to make recompense for anything that is hazarded or given out for Him; losses for Christ are but our goods given out in bank in Christ’s hand.”[xcv] This is not pay from God, who owes no man anything, but blessing. Primarily, Malachi promises a national blessing, as we shall later see, but the personal aspect is not absent. G. H. Pember wrote, in Earth’s Earliest Ages,

We know generally that the grace of God follows every act of direct obedience on our part. If we search out even the most minute commands of His law, and do them: if we show that we would not have a word uttered by Him fall to the ground, we testify both to ourselves and to others that we do in very deed, and not in word only recognize Him as our God and our King. . . . Nor will He on His part be slow in acknowledging us as His subjects, as those who have a claim upon His aid and protection.[xcvi]

And, as the Reverend Samuel Chadwick (1860–1932) wrote “No man can rob God without starving his own soul.”[xcvii]

Ninth, the Lord’s tithe, and the poor tithe, took care of the basic social functions which, under modern totalitarianism, have become the province of the state, namely, education and welfare. Education was one of the functions of the Levites (not of the sanctuary). The Levites assisted the priests in the religious duties related to the sanctuary (1 Chron. 23:28–31; 2 Chron. 29:34; 35:11), and as officers, judges, and musicians (1 Chron. 23:1–5). In a godly civil order, the group best instructed in the law of God will clearly have far-reaching social services to render. Since their support is undergirded by the tithe, the basic cost to society for civil government becomes slight. The tithe is an acknowledgement of God’s kingship; in 1 Samuel 8:4–19, the consequences of a rejection of God’s kingship are cited: they are totalitarianism, oppression, a loss of liberty, and an increased cost of civil government. Without the tithe, basic social functions fall into two kinds of pitfalls: on the one hand, the state assumes these functions, and, on the other, wealthy individuals and foundations exercise a preponderant power over society. Tithing releases society from this dependence on the state and on wealthy individuals and foundations. The tithe places the basic control of society with the tithing people of God. They are commanded to bring “the whole tithe into the storehouse” (Mal. 3:10, MTV). The storehouse Malachi spoke of was literally that: a physical storage-place which was the Lord’s, i.e., belonged to that religious tradition of Levites who, instead of being apostate or syncretistic, were faithful to God and His law-word. The tither was not tithing if his tithe went to a faithless storehouse; it was his duty to judge then between godly and ungodly Levites. Similarly, the tither today is not tithing unless his tenth goes to truly godly work, to churches, missionary causes, and schools which teach the law-word faithfully. Again, the poor tithe is in the tither’s hands: he cannot use it, or his sabbath-year produce, or the gleanings of his field to subsidize evil, sloth, or apostasy. The poor tithe has as its purpose the strengthening of godly society, not its destruction.

As we have seen, the tithe went to the Levites, who gave a tenth of the tithe to the priests. Thus, only a small portion of the tithe went to the priests and for the maintenance of worship. In the wilderness period, the Levites had important duties in the care and transportation of the tabernacle, but these duties later disappeared. The Levites assumed the broader social functions, and no prophet ever criticized or challenged these broader functions, which means they were clearly within the declared calling of God. The Levites, as the tribe of the “firstborn” by choice of God, were thus the tribe with the basic functions of the firstborn, which were governmental in the broad sense of the term. While the “scepter” was given to Judah (Gen. 49:10), in other respects Levi as the tribe of the firstborn (Num. 8:18) had the basic governmental duties. There was thus a basic division of powers between the state (Judah and the throne) and broad governmental functions (Levi). This division has been destroyed by the disappearance of the tithe as a governmental factor.

In medieval and Reformation Europe, broad governmental functions belonged to the world of the tithe. One reason for the frequent lack of distrust for the state was the usually limited role of the state. Schools, hospitals, lazar-houses for lepers, charity to orphans, widows, strangers, and the poor, all this and more was the province of the tithe. Granted that there was corruption in the medieval church, yet that corruption has been far overshadowed by the degenerate and profligate modern state.

It should be remembered, too, that the tithe went to the local church or diocese. The laws of Edmund issued at an assembly at London, 942–946, chapter 2, read: “We command every Christian on his Christianity to pay tithes, and church dues, and Peter’s pence, and plough-alms. And if any one will not do this, let him be excommunicated.” The laws of Æthelred, 1008, chapter 11, declared:

And church-dues shall be paid promptly every year, namely, plough-alms a fortnight after Easter, the tithe of the increase of the flocks at Pentecost, and of the fruits of the earth at the mass of All Saints, and Peter’s pence at Peter’s mass, and the fees for lights three times in the year.[xcviii]

The Bible provides, as the foundation law of a godly social order, the law of the tithe. To understand the full implication of the tithe, it is important to know that Biblical law has no property tax; the right to tax real property is implicitly denied to the state, because the state has no earth to tax. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Ex. 9:29; Deut. 10:14; Ps. 24:1; 1 Cor. 10:26, etc.); therefore, only God can tax the earth. For the state to claim the right to tax the earth is for the state to make itself the god and creator of the earth, whereas the state is instead God’s ministry of justice (Rom. 13:1–8). For the state to enter into God’s realm is to invite judgment.

The immunity of land from taxation by the state means liberty. A man then cannot be dispossessed of his land; every man has a basic security in his property. As Rand pointed out,

It was impossible to dispossess men of their inheritance under the law of the Lord as no taxes were levied against land. Regardless of a man’s personal commitments he could not disinherit his family by being dispossessed of his land forever.[xcix]

Because the land is not the property of the state, nor is land a part of the state’s jurisdiction, the state therefore has no right under God to levy taxes against God’s earth. Moreover, for the state to claim as much as God, i.e., a tenth of a man’s income, is a sign of apostasy and tyranny, according to 1 Samuel 8:4–19. The modern state, of course, claims several tithes in taxes.

The tithe is not a gift to God; it is God’s tax for the use of the earth, which is at all points under God’s law and jurisdiction. Only when the payment to the Lord exceeds 10 percent is it called a gift and a “freewill offering” (Ex. 36:3–7; Lev. 22:21; Deut. 16:10–11, etc.).

The tithe was for centuries legally collected, i.e., the state provided the legal requirement that tithes be paid to the church. When Virginia repealed its law which made payment of the tithe mandatory, George Washington expressed his disapproval in a letter to George Mason, October 3, 1785. He believed, he said, in “making people pay toward the support of that which they profess.”[c] From the fourth century on, civil governments began to require the tithe, because it was believed that a country could only deny God His tax at its peril. From the end of the eighteenth century, and especially in recent years, such laws have disappeared under the impact of atheistic and revolutionary movements. Instead of freeing men from an “oppressive” tax, the abolition of the tithe has opened the way for truly oppressive taxation by the state in order to assume the social responsibilities once maintained by tithe money. Basic social functions must be paid for. If they are not paid by a responsible, tithing Christian people, they will be paid for by a tyrant state which will use welfare and education as stepping stones to totalitarian power.

The matter was ably summed up by Lansdell:

It seems clear, then, in the light of revelation, and from the practice of, perhaps, all ancient nations, that the man who denies God’s claim to a portion of the wealth that comes to his hands, is much akin to a spiritual anarchist; whilst he who so apportions less than a tenth of his income or increase is condemned by Scripture as a robber. Indeed, if in the days of Malachi not to pay the tithe was counted robbery, can a Christian who with-holds the tenth be—now, any more than then—counted honest towards God?

Right giving is a part of right living. The living is not right when the giving is wrong. The giving is wrong when we steal God’s portion to spend it on ourselves.[ci]

It is significant that in the Soviet Union, any charitable activity is strictly forbidden to religious groups.[cii] If a church group were to collect funds or goods to administer relief to sick and needy members of the congregation or community, it would immediately create a power independent of the state as the remedy for social problems. It would moreover create a power which would reach people more directly, efficiently, and powerfully. The consequence would be a direct affront to the preeminence of the state. For this reason, in the democracies, orphanages have been steadily the target of repressive legislation to eliminate them, and charity has been preempted by the state increasingly as a major step towards totalitarianism.

Lansdell was right. Those who do not tithe are spiritual anarchists: they destroy both the freedom and order of society and unleash the demons of statism.

  1. The Law as Power and Discrimination

The fact of power is inseparable from law. Law is not law if it lacks the power to bind, to compel, and to punish. While it is a fallacy to define law simply as compulsion or coercion, it is a serious error to define law without recognizing that coercion is basic to it. To empty God of absolute power is to deny that He is God. To separate power from law is to deny it the status of law. The fact that God repeatedly identifies Himself in Scripture as “the Almighty” (Gen. 17:1; 35:11; Ex. 6:3, etc.) is a part of His assertion of total sovereignty and hence His call to obedience.

Power is a religious concept, and the god or gods of any system of thought have been the sources of power for that system. The monarch or ruler has a religious significance precisely because of his power. When the democratic state gains power, it too arrogates to itself religious claims and prerogatives. Because the Marxist state has more power, and claims more power, than other contemporary states, its rejection of Christianity is all the more radical: it cannot tolerate ascription of absolute power to a god other than itself. Power is jealously guarded in the anti-Christian state, and any division of powers in the state, designed to limit its power and prevent its concentration, is bitterly contested.

The law is applied power, otherwise it ceases to be law. The law is more than power, but, apart from coercion, there is no law. Those who object to the coercive element in law are in fact objecting to law, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The purpose of the law is in part to be a “terror” to evildoers (Rom. 13:4); the word “terror” is given a milder translation in modern versions, but the whole tenor of Scripture requires the element of fear as man faces God, and as sinful, lawless man faces the law. St. Paul makes it clear, however, that power is ordained of God, “for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). Since God is absolute power, all subordinate and created powers derive their office, power, and moral authority only from God, and they must exercise it only on His terms and under His jurisdiction or else face His judgment. Lord Acton’s dictum, “All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is a liberal half-truth and reflects liberal illusions. First of all, all power does not corrupt. The power of a godly husband and father to govern his family does not corrupt him; he exercises it under God and in terms of God’s law-word. Instead of being corrupted by his power, the godly man is blessed by means of his power, and he makes it a blessing to his family and society. A godly ruler, who uses his power readily for legitimate and moral ends, prospers the society under his power. The two evils with respect to power and the exercise thereof are, on the one hand, the fear of using power, and, on the other, the immoral use of power. Both evils extensively prevail in any humanistic society. Men who are afraid to use power lawfully and morally corrupt their families and societies. The failure to exercise due power reduces a society to lawlessness and anarchy. The immoral use of power leads to the corruption of society and the suppression of freedom, but it is not the use of power which causes this decay but the immoral use thereof. Power does not corrupt when it is used properly under God: it blesses, prospers, orders, and governs society to its advantage and welfare.

Second, if “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” then God must be called corrupt, because He alone has absolute power. But Acton is wrong: man cannot have absolute power. He may strive for it, and the striving is corrupt and it corrupts society, but man remains, in all his pretensions, totally under the absolute power of God.

Not only is all power derived from God and decreed by His absolute power, but it is also decreed and bound by His absolute righteousness. Law therefore is, when it is true law, not only power but also righteousness. It is therefore a “terror” to evildoers but the security and “praise” of the godly citizenry (Rom. 13:2–5). Because true law has its roots in the sovereign God, the very nature of all being works to uphold it. As Deborah sang, “They fought from heaven, The stars in their courses fought against Sisera” (Judg. 5:20). The law is either righteous, or it is anti-law masquerading as law. Modern legal positivism, Marxism, and other legal philosophies are thus exponents of anti-law, in that they deny law as an approximation of ultimate order and truth and recognize only a humanistic doctrine of law. If law is severed from righteousness and truth, it leads on the one hand to the anarchy of a lawless and meaningless world, or, on the other, to the totalitarianism of an elite group which imposes its relative “truth” on other men by sheer and unprincipled coercion.

But law is required to be a ministry of justice under God, and the civil officer a minister of God (Rom. 13:5–6). This concept of the law as a ministry of justice is all but forgotten today, and, where remembered, it is derided. But it is all the same the only possible foundation for a just and prosperous social order. The law as a ministry lacks the arrogance of positivist legal theorists, who see no law or truth beyond themselves. Ministerial law is law under God: it is required to have a humility which positivist law cannot have. The champions of legal positivism are prone to accuse Christians of pride, but the world has never seen more ruthless arrogance and pride than that manifested by the relativists, whether of ancient Greece, the Renaissance, or of the twentieth century.

Another aspect of law is implicit in St. Paul’s statement in Romans 13:1–6: the law is always discriminatory. It is impossible to escape or evade this aspect of law. If the law fulfills its function, to establish justice and to protect godly, law-abiding men, then the law must discriminate against lawbreakers and rigorously seek their judgment. The law cannot favor equality without ceasing to be law: at all times, the law defines, in any and every society, those who constitute the legitimate and the illegitimate members of society. The fact of law introduces a fundamental and basic inequality in society. The abolition of law will not eliminate inequality, because then the very fact of sheer survival will create an elite and establish a fundamental inequality.

The law has often been used as an ostensible weapon to gain equality, but such attempts represent either self-deception or an attempt to deceive by the group in power.

The “civil rights” revolutionary groups are a case in point. Their goal is not equality but power. The background of Negro culture is African and magic, and the purposes of magic are control and power over God, man, nature, and society. Voodoo, or magic, was the religion and life of American Negroes. Voodoo songs underlie jazz, and old voodoo, with its power goal, has been merely replaced with revolutionary voodoo, a modernized power drive.[ciii]

The student revolution attacks the inequality between students and faculty, between students and the ruling powers, but it has consistently rejected favorable concessions in favor of broader claims to power. The goal from the beginning is power.

The list could be extended indefinitely. The goal of the equalitarians has always been power, and equality has been an argument to tickle the sick conscience of a faithless and shaky ruling element.

The law will always require inequality. The question is simply this: will it be an inequality in terms of fundamental justice, i.e., the rewarding of good and the punishing of evil, or will it be the inequalities of injustice and evil triumphant?

The commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” requires that we recognize no power as true and ultimately legitimate if it be not grounded in God and His law-word. It requires that we see true law as righteousness, the righteousness of God, and as a ministry of justice, and it requires us to recognize that the inequalities of just law faithfully applied are the basic ingredients of a free and healthy society. The body politic, no less than the physical body, cannot equate sickness with health without perishing.

The commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” means also, “Thou shalt have no other powers before me,” independent of me or having priority over me. The commandment can also read, “Thou shalt have no other law before me.” The powers which today more than ever present themselves as the other gods are the anti-Christian states. The anti-Christian state makes itself god and therefore sees itself as the source of both law and power. Apart from a Biblical perspective, the state becomes another god, and, instead of law, legality prevails.

This devotion to legality has a long history in the modern world. Gohier, minister of justice in France during the years of the Reign of Terror, came to be known as “the casuist of the guillotine” because of his dedication to legality. Later, as a member of the Directory, when faced with the threat of Napoleon’s seizure of power, he declared, “At the worst, how can there be any revolution in St. Cloud? As President, I have here in my possession the seal of the Republic.”[civ] Stalin operated his continuing terror under the umbrella of legality.

But legality is not law. A state can by strict legality embark on a course of radical lawlessness. Legality has reference to the rules of the game as established by a state and its courts. Law has reference to fundamental, God-given order. The modern state champions legality as a tool in opposing law. The result is a legal destruction of law and order.

As a result, the state, instead of being a “terror” to evildoers, is a terror progressively to the law-abiding citizenry, to the righteous and godly people. Hoodlums terrorize the country with riots and violence, and without fear. Moreover, even as Rome declared war on the Christians, so socialism and communism, and progressively the democracies, are at war against orthodox or Biblical faith. The consequence of such a desertion by the state of its calling as the ministry of justice can only be finally the fall of the state. The state which ceases to be a terror to evildoers and becomes a terror to the godly is committing suicide.


  1. The Lawful Approach to God

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Ex. 20:4–6; cf. Deut. 5:8–10)

The first commandment prohibits idolatry in the broad sense. There can be none other god than the Lord. These other gods are man-made substitutes for the true God. As Ingram noted, “the other gods about whom we must be concerned are, as they ever have been, to be found in the seats of temporal, or human, government.”[cv] The Biblical definition of idolatry is obviously a broad one; thus, St. Paul declares that no “covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:5). Again, in Colossians 3:5, reference is made to “covetousness, which is idolatry.” Lenski noted, “A Catholic priest states that during his long years of service all kinds of sins and crimes were confessed to him in the confessional but never the sin of covetousness.”[cvi] Thus, in analyzing the second commandment, we must say, first, that the literal use of idols and images in worship is strictly forbidden. Leviticus 26:1–2 makes this very clear:

Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:4 also commands:

Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God. (cf. Ex. 34:17)

Other legislation reads:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon. (Ex. 20:22–26)

Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves—for ye saw no manner of form on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire—lest ye deal corruptly, and make you a graven image, even the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the heaven, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth; and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the host of heaven, thou be drawn away and worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath allotted unto all the peoples under the whole heaven. But you hath the Lord taken and brought forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be unto Him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day. Now the Lord was angered with me for your sakes, and swore that I should not go over the Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance; but I must die in this land, I must not go over the Jordan, but ye are to go over, and possess that good land. Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, even the likeness of anything which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a devouring fire, a jealous God. (Deut. 4:15–24, MTV)

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, and there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you. (Deut. 11:16–17)

Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. (Deut. 27:15)

This law does not forbid engraving, picturing, or artwork in general. The priest’s garment, for example, pictured pomegranates (Ex. 28:33–34; 39:24); the mercy seat had at either end two cherubim of gold (Ex. 25:18–22; 37:7), and the sanctuary as a whole was richly ornamented. It is not the religious use of such things which is forbidden, for the pomegranates and cherubim had a religious function, but it is the unauthorized use on the one hand, and their use as a mediation or a way to God that is strongly forbidden. They cannot be “helps” to worship; man needs no aid to worship other than God’s provision.

Thus, idolatry is generally banned by the first commandment, whereas the second law-word prohibits it more specifically with reference to worship. Man can only approach God on God’s terms; there can be no mediation between God and man except that which is ordered by God.

The rationale of idolatry is quite logical. As one writer has pointed out, with reference to Hindu idols, the purpose of the idols is to convey abstract concepts to the simple mind. The god depicted with many hands symbolizes thereby the omnipotence of the supreme being, and the many-eyed god sets forth omniscience, and so on. This is an intelligent and logical thesis, but it is also totally wrong. It is forbidden by God and therefore dishonors Him and thus receives no blessing. It has also been productive of social decadence and personal depravity. Wherever man begins by establishing his own approach to God, he ends up by establishing his own will, his own lusts, and finally himself as God. If the terms of man’s approach to God are set by man, then the terms of man’s life and prosperity are dictated also by man rather than by God. But the initiative belongs entirely to God, and therefore the only lawful approach to God is on His terms entirely and by His grace. This, then, is the second aspect of the second commandment: the lawful approach to God is entirely of God’s ordination. Hence the altar had to be a natural one, not of man’s making; hence, too, the priest could not reveal his nakedness: he was to be entirely covered by raiment setting forth the office of mediation, God’s appointed mediator. Since the order of worship set forth the mediatorial work of Christ, the God-appointed approach to God, there could be no departure from that order without apostasy.

A third aspect of this law-word is this: even as a very literal idolatry is forbidden, so a very literal blessing and cursing are attached to the law. This is clearly stated in the declaration of the commandment. It appears sharply in Leviticus 26; verses 1–3 forbid idolatry, order sabbath-keeping and reverence for the sanctuary, and call as well for walking in the Lord’s statutes and commandments generally. In verses 4–46, the very literal material consequences to the nation are fully depicted. A very literal law has very literal and material consequences. Obedience and disobedience have central historical consequences and results.

In brief, religion, true religion, is not a matter of voluntary choice which is without repercussions. It is required by God, and failure to meet His requirements leads to His judgment. To assume that men are free to worship or not to worship without radical consequences for society is to negate the very meaning of Biblical faith. The life of a society is its religion, and if that religion be false, then the society is headed for death. Remarkable and signal material blessings are promised for obedience, but, “And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you seven times for your sins” (Lev. 26:23–24). Obedience is thus not a matter of taste: it is a question of life or death.

Fourth, social health requires the prohibition of idolatry, because its toleration means social suicide. Idolatry is thus not only punishable by law as socially detrimental, it is in fact a capital offense. It constitutes treason to the King or Sovereign, to Almighty God.

If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you. (Deut. 17:2–7)

To the modern mind, treason to the state is logically punishable by death, but not treason to God. But no law order can survive if it does not defend its core faith by rigorous sanctions. The law order of humanism leads only to anarchy. Lacking absolutes, a humanistic law order tolerates everything which denies absolutes while warring against Biblical faith. The only law of humanism is ultimately this, that there is no law except self-assertion. It is, “Do what thou wilt.” The result is the arrogant contempt for law manifested in a 1968 broadside issued by the Riverside County (California) Cleaver for President Committee, promoting the candidacy of Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther “Minister of Information,” and Peace and Freedom Party candidate for U. S. president. The statement describes Cleaver in part thus:

Now consider Eldridge Cleaver. His “American history” can be told quickly. First he was invisible and irrelevant—a slum kid in Little Rock, a ghetto expendable in Watts. Then he was a local nuisance—in 1954, when he was busted for the first time, aged 18, for smoking pot. Then he became a Savage Menace—that was when he was jailed for the second time, in 1958, for disturbing the beauty sleep of some of suburban Los Angeles’ white goddesses. Later, when in his own beautiful way and against incredible odds he achieved his own distinctive manhood, what was he then?—A political prisoner, in a nation that pretends not even to know the meaning of these words.[cvii]

The terms in which a record of rape is described indicate the utter contempt for Biblical law order on the part of the committee. To tolerate an alien law order is a very real subsidy of it: it is a warrant for life to that alien law order, and a sentence of death against the established law order.

Sir Patrick Devlin has pointed to the dilemma of the law today:

I think it is clear that the criminal law as we know it is based upon moral principle. In a number of crimes its function is simply to enforce a moral principle and nothing else. The law, both criminal and civil, claims to be able to speak about morality and immorality generally. Where does it get its authority to do this and how does it settle the moral principles which it enforces? Undoubtedly, as a matter of history, it derives both from Christian teaching. But I think that the strict logician is right when he says that the law can no longer rely on doctrines in which citizens are entitled to disbelieve. It is necessary therefore to look for some other source.[cviii]

The legal crisis is due to the fact that the law of Western civilization has been Christian law, but its faith is increasingly humanism. The old law is therefore neither understood, nor obeyed, nor enforced. But the new “law” simply makes every man his own law and increasingly leads to anarchy and totalitarianism. The law, says Devlin, cannot function “in matters of morality about which the community as a whole is not deeply imbued with a sense of sin; the law sags under a weight which it is not constructed to bear and may become permanently warped.” Moreover,

A man who concedes that morality is necessary to society must support the use of those instruments without which morality cannot be maintained. The two instruments are those of teaching, which is doctrine, and of enforcement, which is the law. If morals could be taught simply on the basis that they are necessary to society, there would be no social need for religion; it could be left as a purely personal affair. But morality cannot be taught in that way. Loyalty is not taught in that way either. No society has yet solved the problem of how to teach morality without religion. So the law must base itself on Christian morals and to the limit of its ability enforce them, not simply because they are the morals of most of us, nor simply because they are the morals which are taught by the established Church—on these points the law recognizes the right to dissent—but for the compelling reason that without the help of Christian teaching the law will fail.[cix]

In short, the laws of a society cannot raise a people above the level of the faith and morality of the people and of the society. A people cannot legislate itself above its level. If it holds to Christian faith in truth and in deed, it can establish and maintain godly law and order. If its faith be humanistic, the people will be traitors to any law order which does not condone their self-assertion and their irresponsibility.

The question thus is a basic one: what constitutes treason in a culture? Idolatry, i.e., treason to God, or treason to the state? What is the fundamental principle of order, the necessary ground of man’s existence and salvation, God or the state? Treason to the state is a concept which can be used to destroy the godly, and it is so done in Marxist countries. Treason can be defined, as the U. S. Constitution in article 3, section 3, defined it, very narrowly and cautiously, but what if the enemy of the citizen turns out to be the state turned traitor to its own Constitution? For the Christian, it is idolatry which above all else constitutes treason to the social order.

Fifth, we have seen that, while idolatry is narrowly defined, it is also broadly defined, i.e., as covetousness. But idolatry involves any and every attempt by man to be guided by his own word rather than God’s law-word. This is often devoutly and piously done. Many parents are sinfully patient or indulgent with their lawless children, or husbands with wives, and wives with husbands, in the fond hope that God will miraculously change the wayward one. “I am in continual prayer,” they will assert, adding that all things are possible with God. But this is a fearful arrogance and sin. Indeed, all things are possible with God, but we cannot live in terms of what God might do but only in terms of what His law-word requires. To wait on conversion, or move in hope, is a sinful substitute, however much piously disguised, for obedience to God and the acceptance of reality under God. Such a course is to make our hope the law-word, and God’s law-word of none effect. Samuel made this clear to Saul, declaring, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:23). We are not permitted to call our stubbornness and rebellion anything other than sin.

The only lawful approach to God is thus the way He provides, and that way is summed up in the person of Jesus Christ. Any other way is idolatry, even when presented in the name of the Lord.

  1. The Throne of Law

In Exodus 25–31; 35:4–39:43, the law is given concerning the building of the tabernacle, i.e., the tent of meeting: “And let them make me a sanctuary: that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Ex. 25:8–9). This pattern had to be strictly followed, without variation. When the ideal or symbolic temple of the future, i.e., the Kingdom of Christ, is portrayed through Ezekiel, again adherence to the pattern is required (Ezek. 43:10). This emphasis on the absoluteness of the pattern is spoken of also in Hebrews 8:5; 9:23.

Thus, first, the pattern of the tabernacle is given by God and is entirely His work. J. Edgar Park sees it as man’s work and “man’s response to God.” “As the Creator made the earth for man to dwell in, so man must make a dwelling for the Creator.” Park does not see this as a historical account, nor as revelation.[cx] This may be a pretty thought, but it is not true. The pattern and materials are required by God, and His subjects are expected to obey. When subjects build a palace for their monarch, it is not as a “response” to him, but in obedience to their king.

This, of course, points to the second aspect of the law of the sanctuary: the tabernacle is more than a tent of meeting: “It is the palace of the King in which the people render Him homage.”[cxi] At this point a central fallacy of the ecclesiastical approach to the subject appears. Earnest Biblical scholars have, while affirming their faith in the fundamentals, still shared in the modern belief that religion is an ecclesiastical matter. In their analysis of the typology and symbolism of the tabernacle, they stress its relation to ecclesiastical worship.[cxii] But the reduction of religion to the church is a modern heresy; the domain of religion is the whole of life, and the concern of the sanctuary was the total life. The tabernacle was the palace of God the King, covenant Lord of Israel, from whence He ruled the nation absolutely. Israel presented itself at the palace, not only to worship but to be commanded in every respect and in every area.

Third, as a result, there could only be one sanctuary, because there is only one true God, one God, one throne, one realm to govern. Since there was one law governing God’s realm, there was one source of law, the palace. Because of the ecclesiastical point of view, it is difficult for men to see the tabernacle as primarily and essentially God’s palace or dwelling-place; for the church-oriented mind, it was primarily and essentially a place of worship. Even a moment’s reflection will make this point clear. The law required all males to appear thrice annually at the palace:

Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. (Ex. 23:14)

Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God. (Ex. 23:17)

Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. (Ex. 34:23)

It will be objected by some that these three feasts are described as “holy” convocations (Lev. 23:4) and are thus clearly and essentially worship.

But it is a serious error to associate holiness with worship; worship in itself is not holy and can be blasphemy; holiness does not refer to worship but to God in all His ways and in all His being. Thus, all godly activity, whether it be in the home, field, court, church, or school, is holy activity. The “medieval” perspective, although corrupted by Neoplatonism, was still more Biblical than the modern concept of the state as a profane and secular agency, i.e., outside the palace of God and separate from Him. Because the monarch represented God’s ministry of justice, and because he ruled as the vicegerent of Christ the King, the office of the monarch was thus seen as a holy office.

The king was, indeed, a likeness of Christ. The coronation rite transformed him sacramentally into a Christus Domini, that is, not only into a person of episcopal rank, but into an image of Christ himself. By this rite, Professor Kantorowicz writes, “the new government was linked with the divine government and with that of Christ, the true governor of the world; and the images of King and Christ (were) brought together as nearly as possible.” Such dramatic representations of the meaning of the monarchy were not confined to the king’s coronation. On the great religious feasts of the year, “the king’s day of exaltation was made to coincide with the . . . exaltation of the Lord” in order to make “terrestrial kingship all the more transparent against the background of the kingship of Christ.” In Capetian France as elsewhere, such religious feasts often were made the occasion for the king’s festive coronation; and, as the political assemblies of the realm were likewise held on these feasts, the interweaving of the two spheres was underscored by liturgical pageants that stressed the sacerdotal dignity of kingship.

What appears to us as no more than festive pageantry was, in point of fact, an act of sacramental as well as constitutional significance. It was precisely his anointment as Christus Domini that raised the king above even the most powerful dukes. In the political controversies of the early twelfth century this fact is adduced again and again.[cxiii]

However, because of Neoplatonism, the concept of continuity made for a oneness of being between God and the king which led to ruler worship and an anti-Christian order. In terms of the Biblical discontinuity of being between God and man, the typology of king as vicegerent must be maintained. The typology cannot be transformed into a continuity concept.[cxiv]

Holiness has reference, thus, primarily and essentially to God, and, secondarily, to all things done in His name, according to His word, and to His glory. All things were created by God wholly good, and therefore holy, separated and dedicated to Him. Men, by their fall, have become profane. The goal of redemption is the restoration of the universe to holiness, its re-creation, and the separation of the reprobate or Canaanite from “the house of the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 14:20–21).

The tabernacle was God’s palace; it was the sanctuary because it was God’s palace or dwelling-place. In the wilderness, and in the early years, God made His palace as the people made their dwellings, in a tent. It was tardily, with David, that the people became mindful of the contrast between their houses and God’s palace, still in a tent (2 Sam. 7:2). The building of this temple, house, or palace of God, was deferred by God to the reign of Solomon (2 Sam. 7:4–29).

The tabernacle, and the temple after it, remained primarily as palace, not house of worship. Worship was local, and its place was in the family. The sabbath was kept in the home, not in the sanctuary. To see the tabernacle and the temple as church structures is to misread the Bible. That there was worship at the sanctuary does not alter this fact. Man worshiped God everywhere: when he killed meat, game or domestic animals, the blood was shed in worship. Prayers and sacrifices were offered before battle, and the sin of Saul was that he did not wait for Samuel to come and perform the offering (1 Sam. 13). But the normal place of worship was the home, where the sabbath was observed.

Fourth, the tabernacle thus has no counterpart in the church. When at the death of Christ, the veil of the temple was rent in twain (Matt. 27:51), the end of the temple as God’s palace was openly set forth. The new temple is Jesus Christ, who was crucified for declaring Himself to be the true temple, built by His resurrection (Matt. 26:61; 27:40; John 2:19–21, etc.). By the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers are now in a sense temples of God (1 Cor. 3:16–17), as is the church also, which is spoken of as “the house of God” (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:17), but the “church” as so designated is not a visible habitation or structure but the entire visible congregation or church of Christ. The temple, or, more accurately, the tabernacle, has its fulfilment in Christ, and the true holy of holies is now opened to men of faith in that through “the blood of Jesus” God’s covenant people have access to the throne (Heb. 10:19–22).

The tabernacle had three rooms. First, there was the court, open only to the covenant people and, while fenced off, was open to the sky. The second room was open only to priests and was veiled while still lighted. The third, the holy of holies, was veiled and dark, and only the high priest entered it, once a year. In heaven, God dwells as Ruler of the universe; in the tabernacle, God dwelled “in His condescending grace” as ruler of His covenant people.[cxv]

With the incarnation, the tabernacling presence gave way to the incarnate God-man, Jesus Christ. With the ascension, the Holy Spirit continues the work of government; the Holy Spirit thus cannot be separated from law and government in any sense. However, even more, a new stage appeared with Christ in the rule of God the King. The heavenly sanctuary, the throne of the world, became the throne of Christ, who reigns now to subjugate all His enemies (1 Cor. 15:25), so that the triumphant prophecy be fulfilled, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). In terms of this purpose, the covenant men were told by Jesus Christ, “All power (all authority or dominion) is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . .” (Matt. 28:18–19). The church is sent into the world as part of Christ’s imperialism, to subjugate the world to His reign.

Fifth, in the holy of holies, the throne of God is the law. Fairbairn called attention to this clearly:

The connection now indicated between the revelation of law in the stricter sense, and the structure and use of the sacred dwelling, comes out very strikingly in the description given of the tabernacle, which, after mentioning the different kinds of material to be provided, begins first with the ark of the covenant—the repository, as it might equally be called, of the Decalogue, since it was merely a chest for containing the tables of the law, and as such was taken for the very seat or throne from which Jehovah manifested His presence and glory (Ex. xxv. 2, 9, 40 etc.). It was, therefore, the most sacred piece of furniture belonging to the Tabernacle—the centre from which all relating to men’s fellowship with God was to proceed, and to derive its essential character.[cxvi]

The ark contained the treaty, the covenant law between God and man. The ark was thus the repository of the law and symbolized the law. The giving of the law was God’s grace to His covenant people, and His throne is that same law. The law sets forth the justice and righteousness of God, and it is His government declared in its details and principles. The central meaning of the ark is to be seen in terms of the law. “There can be no doubt—that the proper contents of the ark were the two tables of the covenant, and that to be the repository of these was the special purpose for which it was made.”[cxvii] The ark was not a normal chair: it was more obviously a chest, and the emphasis was on the contents of the chest as the covenant between God and man, as the basis of God’s rule, and the throne of His kingship. It does impossible violence to the kingship of Christ, therefore, to separate it from the law, or to see His work as the end of the law.

God did not make the altar His throne, because the altar, however important, set forth atonement, the beginning of new life for God’s people. The goal of atonement, of redemption, is the rule of God over a Kingdom wholly subject to the law of the covenant, and joyfully so. This joyful submission to law was fully manifested in Jesus Christ, who declared, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:5–9), and who, as King, reigns in terms of a law He gave and He fulfilled.

The tabernacle thus has a central significance to Biblical law: it declares God’s throne to be His law, and it declares that the throne of law governs the world.

It is truncated and defective faith which stops at the altar. The altar signifies redemption. It sets forth thus the rebirth of the believer. But rebirth for what? Without the dimension of law, life is denied the meaning and purpose of rebirth. Not surprisingly, altar-centered faith is heaven-centered and rapture-centered rather than God-centered. It seeks an escape from the world rather than the fulfillment of God’s calling and law-word in the world. It has no knowledge of the throne.

  1. The Altar and Capital Punishment

Provision is made in the law for an altar. The first word concerning the altar appears in Exodus 20:22–26, an altar of natural materials for the pre-tabernacle period, for the interim until its construction. This altar was not to be of man’s design or making, “for the altar was not to represent the creature, but to be the place to which God came to receive man into His fellowship there. For this reason the altar was to be made of the same material, which formed the earthly soil for the kingdom of God, either of earth or else of stones.”[cxviii]

God’s pattern for the altar was subsequently given as a part of the law of the tabernacle (Ex. 27:1–8; 38:1–7).[cxix] It was built of acacia wood covered entirely with bronze, five by five by three cubits in size.[cxx]

The altar is, of course, of central significance religiously. Sacrifice sets forth the fact of atonement, that God provided a way for sinful man to gain salvation. This is clearly the first and central meaning of the altar. The animals offered on the altar typified Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In Revelation 1:5, Jesus Christ is described as the one who “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Apart from acceptance of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, there can be neither salvation nor Christian faith. Sacrifice is basic to Biblical faith. A very large and fundamental aspect of all Scripture is the declaration of vicarious sacrifice and of a God-provided atonement. Chapter after chapter gives laws pertaining to sacrifice. Jesus Christ declared Himself to be the Son of man, come “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). The apostolic declaration was this: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5–6). The altar signified Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.

Unfortunately, it is at this point that the ecclesiastical interpretation of the Bible begins and ends. The significance of the altar is ably discussed at great length, but almost always with respect to a transaction basic to the life of the church, whereas it is in reality basic to the life of man in church, state, and all of life.

Fairbairn called attention to this second aspect of the altar:

And there can be no doubt, that the representations just noticed, and others of a like description, concerning the death of Christ, do in their natural sense carry a legal aspect; they bear respect to the demands of law, or the justice of which law is the expression. They declare that, to meet these demands in behalf of sinners, Christ bore a judicial death—a death which, while all-undeserved on the part of Him who suffered, must be regarded as the merited judgment of Heaven on human guilt. To be made a curse, that He might redeem men from the curse of the law, can have no other meaning than to endure the penalty, which as transgressors of the law they had incurred, in order that they might escape; nor can the exchange indicated in the words, “He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” be justly understood to import less than that He, the righteous One, took the place of sinners in suffering, that they might take His place in favour and blessing. And the stern necessity for the transaction—a necessity which even the resources of infinite wisdom, at the earnest cry of Jesus, found it impossible to evade (Matt. 26:39)—on what could it rest but the bosom of law, whose violated claims called for satisfaction? Not that God delights in blood, but that the paramount interests of truth and righteousness must be upheld, even though blood unspeakably precious may have to be shed in their vindication.[cxxi]

The altar thus sets forth, no less than the ark, the law and the justice of the law. So central is the law to God, that the demands of the law are fulfilled as the necessary condition of grace, and God fulfills the demands of the law on Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, as the new Adam, head of the new humanity, kept the law perfectly, to set forth the obedience of the new race or humanity, and died on the cross as the sinless Lamb of God, to fulfil the requirement of the law against sinners. Grace does not set aside the law: it provides the necessary fulfillment of the law. Thus, the grace of God witnesses to the validity of the law and the full and absolute justice of the claims of the law.

Here again Fairbairn stated the case eloquently and clearly:

We must have a solid foundation for our feet to stand on, a sure and living ground for our confidence before God. And this we can find only in the old church view of the sufferings and death of Christ as a satisfaction to God’s justice for the offense done by our sin to His violated law. Satisfaction, I say emphatically, to God’s justice—which some, even evangelical writers, seem disposed to stumble at; they would say, satisfaction to God’s honour, indeed, but by no means to God’s justice. What, then, I would ask, is God’s honour apart from God’s justice? His honour can be nothing but the reflex action or display of His moral attributes; and in the exercise of these attributes, the fundamental and controlling element is justice. Every one of them is conditioned; love itself is conditioned by the demands of justice; and to provide scope for the operation of love in justifying the ungodly consistently with those demands, is the very ground and reason of the atonement—its ground and reason primarily in the mind of God, and because there, then also in its living image, the human conscience, which instinctively regards punishment as “the recoil of the eternal law of right against the transgressor,” and cannot attain to solid peace but through a medium of valid expiation. So much so, indeed, that wherever the true expiation is unknown, or but partially understood, it ever goes about to provide expiations of its own.

Thus has the law been established (Rom. iii. 31)—most signally established by that very feature of the Gospel, which specially distinguished it from the law—its display of the redeeming love of God in Christ.[cxxii]

To deny this second aspect of the altar is to fall into antinomianism. Such a perspective sees the altar as a witness to God’s unconditioned love rather than to a love “conditioned by the demands of justice,” to use Fairbairn’s phrase.

It must be recognized then that either the witness of the altar to, and the meaning of the altar as, law and justice are affirmed and upheld, or another religion, which is anti-Christian to the core, has assumed the garb of the Christian faith. The blood of the altar was a grim and sustained declaration of the inflexible and abiding demand of the law that the justice of God be fulfilled.

Third, then, the altar was clearly also a witness to capital punishment as basic to the law. The doctrine of capital punishment is not normally associated with the altar or the second commandment but rather with the sixth, “Thou shalt not kill.” This fallacy both limits the meaning of the sixth commandment and also deprives capital punishment of its profound theological foundation. If capital punishment is not basic to God’s law, then Christ died in vain, for some easier way of satisfying God’s justice could have been found. If capital punishment is not basic to the second commandment, then the altar was a bloody mistake, and God has been needlessly worshiped by wantonly shed blood. But to imagine that atonement is possible without death, or that the altar can be bypassed in man’s approach to God, is to set up a graven image of man, and of man’s capacity to save himself, in the stead of the triune God.

Not only is the death penalty required by the law, but it is specified that there can be no remission of the penalty: “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death” (Num. 35:31). Thus, when various Protestant and Roman Catholic church leaders, including Pope Paul VI, and civil authorities such as Queen Elizabeth II, tried to persuade the Rhodesian authorities to set aside the death penalty for some murderers on the claim that these were “freedom fighters,” they were defying and despising the law of God. They were also expressing their contempt of the cross of Christ, which sets forth the necessity of the death penalty in the sight of God, and establishing their word above God’s word.

The laws concerning the death penalty can be briefly summarized:

Numbers 35:31: Shall not be remitted.

Genesis 9:5–6; Numbers 35:16–21, 30–33; Deuteronomy 17:6; Leviticus 24:17: Inflicted for murder.

Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:21–24: For adultery.

Leviticus 20:11–12, 14: For incest.

Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 20:15–16: For bestiality.

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13: For sodomy.

Deuteronomy 22:25: For rape of a betrothed virgin.

Deuteronomy 19:16–20: For false witness in a case involving a capital offense.

Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7: Kidnapping.

Leviticus 21:9: For a priest’s daughter who committed fornication.

Exodus 22:18: For witchcraft.

Leviticus 20:2–5: For offering human sacrifice.

Exodus 21:15, 17; Leviticus 20:9: For striking or cursing father or mother.

Deuteronomy 21:18–21: For incorrigible juvenile delinquents.

Leviticus 24:11–14, 16, 23: For blasphemy.

Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32–36: For sabbath desecration.

Deuteronomy 13:1–10: For prophesying falsely, or propagating false doctrines.

Exodus 22:20: For sacrificing to false gods.

Deuteronomy 17:12: For lawless refusal to abide by godly law and order, anti–law, anti–court attitudes and actions.

Deuteronomy 13:9; 17:7: Execution by the witnesses.

Numbers 15:35–36; Deuteronomy 13:9: Execution by the congregation.

Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15: Not inflicted on testimony of less than two witnesses.

At a few points the penalties were altered in the New Testament, but the basic principle of the death penalty was undergirded and set forth by Christ’s atoning death, which made it clear that the penalty for man’s treason to God and departure from God’s law is death without remission.

The blood of the altar and the fact of the altar are thus a declaration of the necessity of capital punishment. To oppose capital punishment as prescribed by God’s law is thus to oppose the cross of Christ and to deny the validity of the altar.

The altar therefore sets forth the principle of capital punishment. But, fourth, the altar is a declaration of life because it witnesses to death. It declares that our life rests in the death of the Lamb of God. It declares, moreover, that our life’s safety is hedged in and walled about by the fact of capital punishment. If God’s law in this respect is denied, then “the land is defiled; therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants” (Lev. 18:25). But the godly exercise of capital punishment cleanses the land of evil and protects the righteous. In calling for the death of incorrigible juvenile delinquents, which means, therefore, in terms of case law, the death of incorrigible adult delinquents, the law declares, “so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear” (Deut. 21:21). To deny the death penalty is to insist on life for the evil; it means that evil men are given the right to kill, kidnap, rape, and violate law and order, and their life is guaranteed against death in the process. The murderer is given the right to kill without losing his life, and the victim and potential victims are denied their right to live. Men may speak of unconditional love, and unconditional mercy, but every act of love and mercy is conditional, because, in granting it to one man, I am affirming the conditions of his life and denying others in the process. If I am loving and merciful to a murderer, I am unloving and merciless to his present and future victims. Moreover, I am then in open contempt of God and His law, which requires no mercy to a man guilty of death: “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall surely be put to death” (Num. 35:31). Moreover,

So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shalt inhabit, wherein I dwell, for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel. (Num. 35:33–34)

Leviticus 26 makes clear the curse which rests upon the land which despises God’s law: if the people will not cleanse the land of evil, God will cleanse the land of its people. In terms of this, it is not surprising that history has been so continuously on a disaster course apart from God’s law-word.

This, then, is the meaning of the altar: it is life to the righteous in Christ, who are redeemed by His atoning blood, because it represents inflexible and immutable death to evil. The altar is the supreme witness to the death penalty, and to the fact that it is never set aside. For us, by the grace of God, it is fulfilled on the person of Jesus Christ. We cannot trifle with the law of God without despising Christ and His sacrifice and thereby revealing our own reprobate nature, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26–27).

But for us who stand in terms of the altar, it is our life, and the guarantee of judgment against the enemies of God and His Kingdom.

  1. Sacrifice and Responsibility

Sacrifice is commonly treated as a relic of man’s primitive past; attempts to direct attention to a divine origin in terms of Scripture are discounted, and we are told that “all monogenetic theories of the origin of sacrifice may be safely discountenanced from the start.”[cxxiii] These cavalier dismissals rest on a faith in autonomous man and his anti-God worldview.

Sacrifice is basic to the Biblical faith, and it is basic to Biblical law. Any consideration of Biblical law must of necessity recognize the centrality of sacrifice.

In analyzing the meaning of sacrifice to law (for our interest here is legal rather than soteriological), it is necessary, first, to recognize that Biblical sacrifice requires a doctrine of human sacrifice while rejecting sinful man as the sacrifice. As Vos observed in commenting on the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22), “the sacrifice of a human being cannot be condemned on principle.”[cxxiv] Moreover,

All Biblical sacrifice rests on the idea that the gift of life to God, either in consecration or in expiation, is necessary to the action or the restoration of religion. What passes from man to God is not regarded as property but, even though it be property for a symbolic purpose, means always in the last analysis the gift of life. And this is, in the original conception, neither in expiation nor in consecration of the gift of alien life; it is the gift of the life of the offerer himself. The second principle underlying the idea is that man in the abnormal relation of sin is disqualified for offering this gift of his life in his own person. Hence the principle of vicariousness is brought into play: one life takes the place of another life . . . Not sacrifice of human life as such, but the sacrifice of average sinful human life, is deprecated by the O.T. In the Mosaic law these things are taught by an elaborate symbolism.[cxxv]

Notice that sacrifice serves both for expiation and for consecration. It is, as Vos pointed out, “the gift of the life of the offerer himself,” and yet, because of the disqualification of sin, “the principle of vicariousness,” i.e., a God-provided substitute, is introduced. Oehler, in dealing with all forms of offerings and sacrifices, declared, “The essential nature of an offering in general is the devotion of man to God, expressed in an outward act.[cxxvi] This, then, is the essence of sacrifice, man’s total devotion to God.

Second, this true and total devotion to God requires obedience to the law of God in love and faith. The Ten Commandments are followed by the summons to obey in total devotion: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5; cf. vv. 1–6). Before sacrifices were described by the law, Moses at Sinai on the first day commanded obedience (Ex. 19:5–6) and, on the third day, the law was given and sacrifices offered (Ex. 19:10–24:8). It is apparently to this primacy of obedience to the law that Jeremiah referred (Jer. 7:21–24). Sacrifices should be linked to obedience, according to Jeremiah 33:10–11, and will be in the day of restoration. The prophets denounced a purely formal sacrifice: obedience was required to give the sacrifice meaning as man’s full devotion to God.[cxxvii]

Third, the physical sacrifice of sinful man as an offering to God is a fearful offense against Him and invites judgment (Jer. 7:30–34). Since the essence of sacrifice is the devotion of man to God, human sacrifice represents an attempt to bypass God’s law and find a man-made way to God. Human sacrifice is thus humanistic to the core: it is atonement by man on his own terms.

Fourth, it is obvious that the sacrifices, as distinct from the offerings, typified Christ, the sinless and perfect man, who, in perfect devotion to God, kept the law fully. Christ, as the sinless man, was the acceptable sacrifice in atonement for the sins of His elect, who are redeemed by His atoning blood. Hence, to represent Christ, the offered animal had to be without blemish.

Fifth, the sacrifices were required of all believers as their bond of peace and unity with God. Those not covered by the sacrifice of Christ are under sentence of death. In the sacrificial system, the believer “put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering” (Lev. 1:4), or, more literally, leaned his hand.[cxxviii] Certain portions of the sacrifice and of all meats were reserved portions, forbidden to man: the blood, the omentum or fat, the

kidneys with the fat on them, and, in the case of sheep, the tail (also fat); these were the continually reserved portions, as distinct from portions reserved for the priest (Ex. 29:22; Lev. 3:9; 7:3–4; 8:25; 9:19–20). The animal sacrifices which were acceptable were cattle (bovine), sheep (ovine), and kids (caprine); of fowl, turtle-doves and young pigeons; all these were in the class of “clean” animals (Lev. 9:3; 14:10; 5:7; 12:8; Num. 28:3, 9, 11; 7:16–17, 22–23; etc.).

The shedding of blood was basic to the unity of the believer with God. Oehler noted:

The mediator of the covenant first offers to God in the blood a pure life, which comes in between God and the people, covering and atoning for the latter. In this connection the sprinkling of the altar does not merely signify God’s acceptance of the blood, but at the same time serves to consecrate the place in which Jehovah enters into intercourse with his people. But when a portion of the blood accepted by God is further applied to the people by an act of sprinkling, this is meant to signify that the same life which is offered up in atonement for the people is also intended to consecrate the people themselves to covenant fellowship with God. The act of consecration thus becomes an act of renewal of life—a translation of Israel into the kingdom of God, in which it is filled with divine vital energy, and is sanctified to be a kingdom of priests, a holy people.[cxxix]

All must be under the blood or they are under judgment.

Sixth, the sacrificial system incorporated into law a basic principle: the greater the responsibility, the greater the culpability, the greater the sin. This is very clearly set forth in Leviticus 4, according to which there are four levels or grades of sin: 1) of the high priest, 4:3–12, whose sin offering required a bullock, the largest and most expensive sacrifice. “This is the very same kind of offering as when the whole congregation sins.”[cxxx] Religious leaders, because they have a central responsibility with respect to the law of God, are all the more guilty, and all the more severely judged by God. 2) The sin of the whole congregation is next in consequence, 4:13–21; “the congregation” here had reference to the Hebrew nation. The sin of a people collectively is a real one; it can be a sin of ignorance, or of falling short in obeying the law, but it is still a sin. The required sacrifice was again a bullock. 3) The sin of a ruler, a civil magistrate or officer, is next in order of consequence. The sin offering here was “a kid of the goats, a male without blemish” (4:22–26). The “ruler” clearly “includes all civil magistrates. His high responsibility is here shewn just as in Prov. xxix. 12, ‘If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants will be wicked.’” Moreover, the text speaks of “[t]he Lord his God” because “[a] ruler is specially bound to be a man of God.”[cxxxi] 4) The sins of individuals, of any of the people of the land, are last in the order of sins (4:27–35). For the well-to-do, the prosperous, a female kid was required; if they were unable to bring the kid, a lamb could be offered. For sins of inadvertency, the poor could bring two turtle-doves or two young pigeons (Lev. 5:11); for other sacrifices also, this poor man’s offering was possible. Thus, some individuals have a responsibility almost equal to that of rulers, in that they rule an estate or a segment of society. Psychologically, a female kid is lesser than a male kid; productively, its potential is greater. Some private individuals can often wield a power greater than civil authorities, and their sin is commensurate to their responsibility. Most telling in this list is the clear and great prominence given to the religious leaders, and the markedly lower place given to civil authorities. According to Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The Berkeley Version notes that “vision” has reference to a “prophetic ministry,” without which “the people run wild.” Law and order are dependent on the faithful proclamation of God’s prophetic law-word, and, without it, social anarchy ensues.

Seventh, ignorance of the law is no excuse, nor are sins of inadvertency any the less sins. This is clear from Leviticus 4 and 5, which specify the sacrifices for such sins. Bonar called attention to the significance of this aspect of the law:

Here, too, we learn that “sin is the transgression of the law” (I John iii. 4). It is not merely when we act contrary to the dictates of conscience that we sin; we may often be sinning when conscience never upbraids us.[cxxxii]

Modern autonomous man regards as sin, if he considers the subject at all, only that which offends his conscience. But Biblical law holds that sin and lawlessness can occur without knowledge and without conscience. Man, in fact, may sin with good conscience, but this does not alter the fact that he sins: the criterion of transgression is not man’s conscience but the law of God. Cannibalism and human sacrifice have both been practiced as matters of conscience, and much else also. The conscience of fallen man is no law criterion.

The main offerings of the Mosaic law were burnt offerings, meal offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and trespass offerings. The burnt offerings, consisting of bullocks, goats, rams, lambs, turtle-doves, or young pigeons, were entirely burnt on the altar, except for the animal skins, the priest’s portion (Lev. 1; 6:8–13; 7:8). The sin offerings and trespass offerings, as we have seen, were males or females of the herd, flock, or turtle-doves and young pigeons, and one-tenth ephah of flour. All of the sin offerings save God’s reserved portions went to the priest (Lev. 6:24–30); the same was true of some of the trespass offerings (Lev. 7:1–7). The meal offering consisted of fine flour, green ears of grain, frankincense, oil, and salt; again, a portion went to the priests (Lev. 2; 6:14–23). The peace offerings were male and female of the herd and flock, of bullocks, lambs, and goats; there were also unleavened cakes and wafers mingled with oil. But leavened bread was also to be used (Lev. 3; 7:11–13). The priest’s portion was the heave-shoulder and the wave-breast. The fact that offerings which were vicarious representatives of man’s sin became acceptable food for the priests had a symbolic aspect: “The memorial of the mass of sin is consumed in the fire of wrath; but the priest takes his portion, in order to show that the sin is cleansed out from the mass.”[cxxxiii]

But, eighth, before this cleansing could occur the law required restitution. The goal of sacrifice as well as of law is the restoration of God’s law order. The requirement of restitution is both man-ward and God-ward. Bonar commented, with reference to Leviticus 6,

The trespasser is to be no gainer by defrauding God’s house. He is to suffer, even in temporal things, as a punishment for his sin. He is to bring, in addition to the thing of which he had defrauded God, money to the extent of one-fifth of the value of the thing. This was given to the priest as the head of the people in things of God, and representative of God in holy duties. It was to be a double tithe because of the attempt to defraud God. (The tithe regularly paid was an acknowledgement that God had a right to the things tithed; and this double tithe was an acknowledgment that, in consequence of this attempt to defraud Him, His right must be doubly acknowledged.)[cxxxiv]

Finally, ninth, a leavened offering was a part of the peace offering, an important fact (Lev. 7:13). Leaven is taken by some as a symbol or type of sin; it is rather a symbol of corruptibility. As a peace offering, this was acceptable. Other offerings had established man’s atonement through the blood of the unblemished and innocent one. Man was now in communion with God, and man’s works, however faulty, become thereby acceptable to God. All man’s services to God have an element of corruptibility; his works, buildings, gifts, and efforts decay and pass away. They are none the less a fulfillment of God’s law and an acceptable sacrifice. The acceptability of man’s works rests not on their perfection, but on the perfection of God and on God’s provision of atonement for His elect. Man’s obedience to the law is a leavened offering, clearly corruptible, yet when faithful and obedient to God’s authority and order, a “sacrifice” well-pleasing in His sight and assured of His reward.

  1. Holiness and Law

The relationship of holiness to law is a very real and important one, however much neglected. Attention has been diverted, in recent years, to erroneous concepts by the influential work of Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy (1923). Holiness cannot be defined in and of itself. It is a “transcendental attribute” of God and must be defined first of all in relation to Him.

Thus, first, holiness must be defined, in terms of Scripture, as separation, non-trespassable, with the implication of devotion. It has reference to the “unapproachableness” of God. As Vos pointed out, it has an ethical significance: it refers to God’s majesty and omnipotence.[cxxxv] In reference to man, “the meaning is never simply that of moral goodness, considered in itself, but always ethical goodness seen in relation to God.”[cxxxvi] Israel became holy because God in His electing grace made His covenant people His sons by adoption (Deut. 14:1–2).[cxxxvii]

Now the fact that holiness involves separation, or, very literally, a cutting, makes apparent immediately its basic and essential relation to law. The law simply states the principle of the cutting or separation. Wherever there is law, there is inescapably a line of separation. Conversely, wherever there is no law, there is no line of separation. Antinomian sects may speak earnestly of holiness, but, because of their denial of law, they have denied the principle of holiness.

It follows, therefore, that we can say, second, that every Biblical law is concerned with holiness. Every law, by setting a line of division between the people of the law as against the outlaws, the people outside the law, is concerned with establishing a principle of separation in terms of God. Some laws set forth also the principle of separation in a symbolic as well as a literal form. For example, in Numbers 19:11–22, separation from death is required, and ritual purification after contact with the dead (see also Lev. 5:2–3; 11:8; 21:1–4; 22:4, 6; Num. 31:19–20; 9:10). Israel had been called to be a holy people (Ex. 19:6; 22:31; 23:24; Lev. 19:2; Deut. 7:6; 14:2, 21; 26:18–19). Since “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matt. 22:32), to be God’s covenant man means separation from death itself ultimately. This separation is set forth in these laws. Their destiny being life, the covenant people of God are to regard death as something from which they are being separated by God. It is clear that the Mosaic law affirmed the principle of quarantine against communicable diseases in full recognition of their contagious nature, but, even more basically, the law of separation was operative in such legislation to affirm the holiness of God’s people (Lev. 13; Deut. 24:8). God’s people are destined for health as well as life, and hence they are “cut off” from diseases symbolically as well as in protection from contagion.

Not only death and disease were to be separated from the people of life, but also eunuchs and bastards (Deut. 23:1–2). Various forms of self-mutilation (Lev. 19:27; Deut. 14:1–2) were forbidden, as was tattooing (Lev. 19:28). Sickness and age might mar the body; the people of God were forbidden to mar it. Some of these marks represented covenants with other gods, an added factor in separation from them.

With respect to the ban on eunuchs and bastards, i.e., their being barred from the congregation, it is to the tenth generation. According to one editorial footnote in the Talmud, entering in to the congregation of the Lord meant “eligible to intermarry with Israelites,”[cxxxviii]

and, according to another editorial note, the expression “to his tenth generation” meant “the stigma is perpetual.”[cxxxix] The ban on intermarriage was probably a real factor; certainly the penalty would work to make intermarriage difficult. But this does not get to the root of the matter. The ban was not on faith; i.e., it is not stated that the bastards and eunuchs nor, in Deuteronomy 23:3, that Ammonites and Moabites, cannot be believers. There is, in fact, a particularly strong promise of blessing to believing eunuchs in Isaiah 56:4–5, and their place as proselytes was real even in the era of hardened Pharisaism (Acts 8:27–28). The Moabitess Ruth intermarried twice, first with a son of Naomi, then with Boaz, to become an ancestress of Jesus Christ (Ruth 1:4; 4:13, 18–21; Matt. 1:5). There is no reason to doubt that eunuchs, bastards, Ammonites, and Moabites regularly became believers and were faithful worshipers of God. Congregation has reference to the whole nation in its governmental function as God’s covenant people. G. Ernest Wright defined it as “the whole organized commonwealth as it assembled officially for various purposes, particularly worship.”[cxl] The men of the legitimate blood line constituted the heads of houses and of tribes. These men were the congregation of Israel, not the women and children nor excluded persons. All the integrity and honesty required by the law was due to every “stranger” (Lev. 19:33–34), and it was certainly not denied to a man’s illegitimate child, nor to a eunuch, an Ammonite, or a Moabite. The purpose of the commandment is here the protection of authority. Authority among God’s people is holy; it does require a separateness. It does not belong to every man simply on the ground of his humanity.

The Berkeley Version reading of Deuteronomy 23:1–3 would allow for the admission of these excluded persons at the tenth generation. There is some ground for such an interpretation in terms of Deuteronomy 23:7–8, where the Edomites are given entrance into “the assembly of the Lord” on the third generation.

The grounds for exclusion are significant. Edom met Israel with open, honest enmity (Num. 20:18, 20), and Egypt worked to destroy them (Ex. 1:22), but Ammon and Moab instead worked to pervert Israel (Num. 22; 25; 31:16), after Israel showed them forebearance (Deut. 2:9,19, 29). A faint echo of this principle appeared in Napoleon’s treatment of Surgeon-major Mouton, who had demeaned the Princess of Liechtenstein and the men of her household. Napoleon, summoning Mouton before his staff, declared, “Understand this, gentlemen, one kills men, but one never puts them to shame. Let him (Mouton) be shot!” Later, Mouton’s life was spared and he understood the lesson.[cxli] Edom and Egypt sought to kill Israel; Ammon and Moab tried to pervert and degrade Israel, and their judgment was accordingly severe.

Other causes of ceremonial and physical uncleanness were cited: an issue of blood (Lev. 15:2–16, 19–26); childbirth (Lev. 12:1–2, 4–5); menstruation (Lev. 15:19–30; 18:19); sexual intercourse, as against the fertility cult belief that it involved communion with the gods (Lev. 15:16–18; 18:20); unclean persons (Num. 19:22); the spoils of war (Num. 31:21–24); and also the unauthorized touching or eating of holy things (Lev. 22:3, 14). The humanistic approach sees a daintiness with respect to things in these laws, or else a puritanical abhorrence of them. Nothing could be further from the truth. The point at issue is not man’s response to things but his holiness in terms of separation to the living God. Many of the things cited constituted, in paganism, particular ways of holiness; here, the ground of holiness is separation unto God.

The subject of vows is closely linked to holiness. To vow is to devote something or one’s self to God, to sanctify it to Him. The laws of vows, as well as the laws of redemption of things vowed, appear in Leviticus 22:21; 27:1–29; Numbers 6:3–21; 30:1–15; Deuteronomy 12:6, 26; 23:21–33. Vows were voluntary, but an important aspect of the vow brings us to a third aspect of the laws of holiness. A man was always bound by his vow. Man, created in the image of God, was called to walk under God’s law and in obedience to the creation mandate. John Marsh has called attention to a telling aspect of man’s image-responsibility:

A man is always unconditionally bound by either kind of vow (i.e., vows of every kind, and . . . a vow of abstinence). It is interesting to note that for the Hebrew mind even a man’s word should accomplish that which is imposed: God’s word, of course, always did: it could not return to him void. A man might cherish intentions to do certain things and not be bound by them. But once his intention was expressed in words, then the obligation was laid upon him unconditionally.[cxlii]

Such a vow could only be made by a freeman. Once made, the vow had to be fulfilled. The vow of an unmarried woman could be overruled by her father; being under authority, she was not free to do as she pleased. The same was true of a married woman (Num. 30:1–16). A divorced woman or a widow was free to vow, being independent. The implication was clear. A woman’s holiness and devotion is subject first of all to the authority of her husband. God’s law disallows all vows of service which a woman vows without her husband’s or father’s consent. A woman’s holiness is not to be found in an evasion of her place.

A special kind of vow was that of the Nazarite (Num. 6:2–21). A Nazarite was a man or a woman who vowed a vow and for a season observed strict laws of separation in the course of the discharge of his vow. Abstinence from strong drink of any kind, and from grapes and raisins, no cutting of the hair, and separation from the dead marked the noticeable aspect of his vow. The usual period of the vow was brief. There was no separation from the routine of family life and work. The essence of the Nazarite’s separation was not in the abstinence but in the separation “unto the Lord” in the discharge of a particular service or vow.

A fourth aspect of holiness appears in matters of food. No flesh torn by beasts of the field could be eaten (Ex. 22:31), i.e., meat not properly butchered (Lev. 7:22–27). The firstfruits were given to the Lord (Ex. 23:19; 34:26), indicating thereby the holiness of the entirety. The eating of fat and blood was forbidden (Lev. 7:22–27; 19:26). Clean and unclean animals for eating are listed (Lev. 11); while dead animals and other unclean animals are forbidden to the covenant people, if foreigners regard them as good food, there is no harm in selling them such items (Lev. 17:10–16; Deut. 14:21). Fruit trees should be allowed five years growth before they are regarded as “circumcised” and edible (Lev. 19:23–26); the circumcision of the tree was its ceremonial picking in the fourth year in dedication to the Lord. Foods forbidden by God should be “abominable” to His people (Lev. 20:25; Deut. 14:13–21). There is no question but that these laws were and are basic to good health; there is also no question about the fact that they are laws of holiness. These laws of holiness are a “blessing” (Deut. 12:15) to the physical life of God’s people, i.e., to their health. In this respect, they are another law of separation from death. Health is thus an aspect of holiness, and the fulness of health is in the resurrection.

A fifth aspect of holiness has reference to dress. Transvestite dress is an “abomination” to the Lord (Deut. 22:5); it is a sterile and perverse hostility to God’s created order. Similarly, wearing a garment of mingled materials, wool and linen together (Deut. 22:11; cf. Lev. 19:19) is forbidden. To bring diverse things together in an unnatural union is to despise the order of God’s creation.

Sixth, the very land itself is holy and can be defiled even by leaving a hanged man up overnight (Deut. 21:22–23). In brief, the land itself must be regarded as separated and devoted to God. We have here an instance of case law. If a body left out overnight defiles a land, how much more so man’s abusive use of the soil, his contempt of God’s creation, and his attempt to hybridize and mingle what God ordained to be separate?

Finally, seventh, it should be noted that, while evangelical Christians today are greatly concerned with personal holiness, the Bible is also concerned with national holiness. The summons to be a holy people, repeatedly declared, has reference to the nation, called to be “an holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). The holiness of a nation rests in its law structure. Where God’s laws are enforced, and true faith protected, there a holy nation exists. The cutting edge of the law is the principle of national holiness. Without this foundation of law, no holiness can exist. By means of God’s law, a nation devotes itself to life; without God’s law, it is devoted to death, “cut off” from the only true principle of life.

At every point, thus, holiness brings us face to face with very material laws. Every Biblical law is concerned with holiness. All law creates a line of division, a separation between the law-abiding and the lawbreaking peoples. Without law, there can be no separation. The modern antipathy to and open hatred of law is also a hatred of holiness. It is an attempt to destroy the line of separation between good and evil by abolition of law. But, because God is holy, law is written into the structure of all being; law cannot be abolished: it can only be enforced, if not by man, then surely by God.

  1. Law as Warfare

The Biblical laws deal at length with the details of worship as it was ordained for Israel. With these details we are not concerned, except where they involve and set forth concepts and principles of law.

Turning to such instances, first, the ephod and the breastplate of the high priest is of significance. In Exodus 28:6–14, the ephod, a priestly garment, is described, and in Exodus 28:15–30, the breastplate. Both articles had a common characteristic: the ephod had two stones on the shoulder on which the names of the tribes of Israel were engraved, to be borne before the Lord by the high priest (Ex. 28:12), and the breastplate had twelve stones, one for each tribe (Ex. 28:21, 29). Both religiously and legally, these stones are important. As the high priest approached the altar and the throne, he represented the covenant people before God. His prayers thus were basically for the people of God. Legally, the stones, representing the covenant people, indicated that God’s government is essentially for God’s purposes, which plainly includes God’s covenant people. At God’s orders, the high priest’s primary function, God-ward, is to intercede for the covenant people. He does not pray promiscuously: his essential calling is to pray for God’s own. The throne functions to protect the people of the throne. The priority of God’s people, as set forth in the ephod and breastplate, is of God’s ordering.

There is thus both a partiality and an impartiality to God’s law. In a general sense, God’s law functions impartially to cause the sun to shine on the good and evil alike, and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). Moreover, with respect to the nation, the equal protection and government of the law applied to all, to the “homeborn” and the “stranger” or alien (Ex. 12:49; Lev. 24:22; Num. 9:14; 15:15–16, 29). The principle of “one law” for all is basic to Biblical law.

On the other hand, there is a definite partiality to the Biblical law. In instances too numerous to cite, God “intervenes” in history to overthrow the enemies of His covenant people; the weather is used; plague is used, and a variety of means, from the plagues against Egypt on. Moreover, the law as given to Israel is partial in that it protects an order, God’s law order, and the people of that order. Idolatry is forbidden; violations of the law order are punished, and, at every point, God’s law is the protection of God’s order and the people of God’s law order. The modern concept of total toleration is not a valid legal principle but an advocacy of anarchism. Shall all religions be tolerated? But, as we have seen, every religion is a concept of law order. Total toleration means total permissiveness for every kind of practice: idolatry, adultery, cannibalism, human sacrifice, perversion, and all things else. Such total toleration is neither possible nor desirable. The stones of the ephod and breastplate set forth the principle of partiality. For men, by prayer and by law, to move in terms of this partiality is neither evil nor selfish, but simply godly. To pray for others is certainly godly, but to be unmindful of all of our household and our own needs is not godly; it makes a man worse than an unbeliever or infidel (1 Tim. 5:8). And for a law order to forsake its self-protection is both wicked and suicidal. To tolerate subversion is itself a subversive activity.

A second principle appears in another case law, Deuteronomy 23:18, “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God”; the previous verse, 23:17, states, “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor sodomite of the sons of Israel” (cf. Lev. 19:29). The word “whore” in Deuteronomy 23:17 is given in the marginal reading as “sodomitess”; the prohibition of prostitution was previously made in Leviticus 19:29. The reference here is to lesbians, apparently. The law against homosexuality appears in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. The reference in Deuteronomy 23:17–18 is to sacred prostitution as a part of fertility cult worship. This practice appeared later in the nation (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 2 Kings 23:7; Amos 2:7; it is used to describe Israel’s apostasy in Jer. 3:2, 6; 7:9, 13). It is of note that the Bible uses a term of contempt, “dog,” for the male homosexual. The point, however, of the law is this: the very religious impulse of the whore and the homosexual are especially contemptible in the sight of God; their wages can never be an acceptable gift to God. It is not sinners who are barred from giving, but rather it is the profits of sin which cannot be accepted. The point is a significant one. We are accustomed to thinking ecclesiastically of such gifts. But the “vow” sets forth a case, a religious case law. The terms of a vow have an especial sanctity. But when the vow and its pledge represent an alien law order, then that pledge is not admissible and is an “abomination.” The person making the vow has no place before the law, no standing before the throne. The whore and the sodomite who brought their pledges were not simply sinners before the law, but, more than that, outlaws, outside the law. There is a marked difference between a sinner before the law and an enemy of the law. No tax or offering from an enemy of the law was thus acceptable. The sinner was commanded to bring an offering; the outlaw was forbidden to offer it. Because there was “one law” for all, the outlaw was entitled to justice under that law, as witness the appeal to Solomon’s court of the two harlots (1 Kings 3:16–28). The outlaw received justice, but not citizenship. To tax crime is to give it legitimacy and a legal standing before the law as a financial supporter of the law: the next step, then, is equal rights to the protection of the law, which means immunity from prosecution. Under the Biblical influence, most countries have ruled that criminals lose their citizenship, and condemned men have no legal existence. The pressure today is against such legislation, and taxation is applied to all, with increasing representation for all. Deuteronomy 23:17–18 is the legal foundation for an exclusive citizenship in terms of the law order. It is significant that the common term for prostitute in Scripture is a “stranger” or “strange woman,” that is, a foreigner. Not only was prostitution in essence a foreign practice to the covenant people, but an Israelite girl was “profane” (Lev. 21:7, 9), i.e., outside the temple, outside the principle of citizenship, a foreigner, if she became a prostitute. The homosexual was also outside the law; at least the prostitute, while called a “strange woman” (Prov. 2:16; 5:3, 20; 6:24; 7:5; 23:27, 33; 27:13), was still included in mankind by the term, but the homosexual, as a “dog” (Deut. 23:18; Rev. 22:15), is regarded as outside the race of man; he is, as the Greek text of Romans 1:27 makes clear, the burned out end product of rebellion.

There are, broadly, three possible ways for the law to regard the outlaw and the dissenter, and the difference between the three is a great one, although both are against the law. First, there is the attitude that can be summarized as that of the “medieval” church, that heretics have forfeited their rights before the law. Thus, John Hus was given safe conduct to the Council of Constance, and then the safe conduct was revoked on the ground that he was a heretic. Sigismund was pressured to break his pledge of safe conduct, on the grounds of his own safety, “for he who protected heretics was himself a heretic.”[cxliii] Such an attitude made difficult any protection from the established order by means of the law. The law supposedly guarded society against heresy, but in actuality the establishment, itself free to practice heresy, could destroy any critic simply by accusation. Suspicion destroyed rights; a person was guilty by implication before proven guilty.

A second possible way for the law to regard the outlaw and the dissenter is to be found in the modern liberal state, as in the United States. Attempts have been made directly to strike at the law denying citizenship to guilty criminals. Indirectly, their rights have been more than restored. The U. S. Supreme Court has virtually destroyed laws with respect to libel and slander; the “criminal” thus is favored over his victims. Self-confessed rapists and murderers have been freed on imaginary technicalities, in clear partiality to the criminal as against the victim. Gardner has observed, of the courts and “law” today, “The rights of the individual are being protected, provided the individual has committed a crime.[cxliv] Although the laws of many states admit and in some cases require capital punishment for certain offenses, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that “[t]he death sentence cannot be imposed by a jury from which persons with conscientious or religious scruples against capital punishment were automatically excluded.”[cxlv] In other words, the court demanded that people who deny the validity of the law be asked to “enforce” the law! This is, of course, a clear-cut attack on capital punishment and in effect an abolition of it. No question was raised by the court as to the possible innocence of the condemned man; his guilt was implicitly admitted. But the court again ruled in favor of the superior rights of the criminal and the dissenter as against the law and the law-abiding.

A third possible way for the law to regard the outlaw and the dissenter is the Biblical way: “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Ex. 12:49). The law must afford equal justice to all. A person is innocent until proven guilty, and two witnesses are required (Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6). The two prostitutes in Solomon’s day were able to appeal their case all the way to Solomon (1 Kings 3:16–28). But their right of appeal did not make them citizens: whether the two women were of Israelite blood or of foreign extraction, they were by law foreigners, with no rights of citizenship. Their gifts were excluded from the temple. Since the Holy of Holies was the throne room of God, the prohibition of any vow to the throne was a denial of citizenship; it was an exemption from taxation, since the person had no legal existence as a member of the state.

In analyzing Leviticus 4, we saw that levels or grades of sacrifice stressed the principle that, the greater the responsibility, the greater the culpability, the greater the sin. It is also apparent now that criminal irresponsibility means a loss of rights. A man who is not within the law is an outlaw; the rights conferred by the law order belong to those who live within the law order. The right have the rights. There is thus a signal difference between due process of law and the privileges of citizenship.

We have seen, thus far, first, with respect to the breastplate and ephod, the partiality as well as the impartiality of the law; second, we have seen, moreover, that criminal irresponsibility means a loss of rights. Now, third, we come to the crux of the issue, namely, that law is a form of warfare, and, indeed, the major and continuing form of warfare. The second commandment prohibits graven images in worship; it requires the destruction of all such forms of worship: “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images” (Ex. 23:24). In Deuteronomy 12:1–14, the contrast is drawn clearly: obedience means on the one hand destroying all places of idolatrous worship, and, on the other hand, bringing offerings to God in the prescribed manner and to the prescribed place. The commandment to destroy idolatrous places and images is restated in Deuteronomy 7:5; 16:21–22; Numbers 33:52; and Exodus 34:13–14. But, in certain instances, the destruction of graven images required also the destruction of the people of the images (Deut. 7:1–5); not only are covenants with the Canaanites forbidden, but intermarriage also. The Canaanites were “devoted” or set apart, “sanctified” unto death by God’s order. This is an important point and needs careful attention. The law specifically forbad reprisals against Egyptians or any other foreigner; instead of vengeance, they should remember their oppression in Egypt as a means of greater dedication to justice for all under God’s law (Lev. 19:33–37). Having suffered injustice at foreign hands, they should themselves be careful to avoid being like the Egyptians, themselves the instruments of injustice. Egypt sought to exterminate all Hebrews (Ex. 1:15–22), but Israel was required to render justice to all Egyptians in terms of their individual obedience or disobedience to the law. But all Canaanites were devoted to death. The criterion was not enmity to Israel but the law of God. Egypt was an enemy of God as was Canaan, but the iniquity of the Canaanites was “full” or total in God’s sight (Gen. 15:16; Lev. 18:24–28, etc.). Prostitution and homosexuality had become religious practices to the point where the people were entrenched in depravity and proud of it. Their iniquity was “full” or total. Accordingly, God sentenced them to death and made Israel the executioner. Now, this fact has been repeatedly cited as “evidence” that the Bible represents an immoral God and an ugly morality; such a charge represents hatred, not intelligence. If individuals and nations have repeatedly disappeared abruptly from history, this clearly indicates some kind of “judgment” by history, or dialectical materialism, or evolution, or whatever other gods one holds to, on these persons and nations. Such judgments are repeatedly cited and concurred in by historians. The point of offense with respect to the Canaanite judgment is the criterion of judgment used by God. Had God declared the Canaanites to be cruel, capitalistic oppressors, and hence under judgment, His verdict would gain hearty praise from many intellectuals. But God is God, not the intellectuals, and, as a result, God’s criterion prevails, not man’s. The Canaanites as a whole were deserving of death; God’s patience allowed them a few centuries from Abraham’s day to Joshua’s, and then His judgment was ordered executed. The failure of Israel to execute it fully became finally their own judgment.

The sentence of death against Canaan is simply a realistic fact of warfare. Warfare is sometimes waged with limited objectives; at other times, war is unto death, because the nature of the struggle requires it.

When, in earlier centuries, warfare did not involve deeply rooted principles but merely local issues, warfare was limited in scope and in deadliness. When revolution became a fact on the Western scene with the French Revolution, total warfare became a reality, war unto death in terms of mutually exclusive principles. Where warfare against heaven is waged, the consequences are death, not the death of God but the death of the contending peoples.

In brief, every law order is a state of war against the enemies of that order, and all law is a form of warfare. Every law declares that certain offenders are enemies of the law order and must be arrested. For limited offenses, there are limited penalties; for capital offences, capital punishment. Law is a state of war; it is the organization of the powers of civil government to bring the enemies of the law order to justice. The officers of the law are properly armed; in a godly state, they should be armed by the justice of the law as well as weapons of warfare, in order to defend society against its enemies.

Friends of the law will therefore seek at all times to improve, strengthen, and confirm a godly law order. Enemies of the law will accordingly be in continuing warfare against the law. The enmity to the law will be direct and indirect, it will resort to internal subversion through the legislatures and the courts, and to external assault by disobedience, contempt, and intellectual attack. Every law order will be subject to attacks, because, short of heaven, every law order will have its enemies within. The critical question, therefore, is not, “Will the law be attacked?” but rather, “Will the law order resist attack?” Is there health in the body politic to resist the disease? When Israel was commanded to destroy the Canaanites (Deut. 7:1–11), it was also told that obedience would result in health: fertility for man and beast, and immunity from the evil diseases of Egypt (7:12–26). Note the juxtaposition of the promise and the command:

Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers; And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee; he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people; there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil disease of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee. And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee. (Deut. 7:12–16)

Clearly, a predicate and condition of social health is the destruction of social evil.

Since law is a form of warfare, it follows that there is a required continual barrier to peace with evil. Man cannot seek coexistence with evil without thereby declaring war against God. The law declares, speaking of Amorites and Moabites, apparently in this case in their continued life in terms of their law-culture, “Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days forever” (Deut. 23:6, RV). A law order cannot escape warfare: if it makes peace in one area, it thereby declares war against another. A law system is a form of warfare. The fact of warfare remains constant: the object of warfare can change. Marxist states claim to be for “world peace,” but this is only in terms of total conquest and total warfare against God and against all men. The more total the peace desired, the more total the warfare required. The new creation of Jesus Christ is the end result of His total warfare against a fallen world; it requires the permanent suppression of evil in hell. The new creation demanded by the various forms of socialism requires the permanent suppression of the God of Scripture and of His covenant people. There can be peace in heaven, but no peace between heaven and hell. A law order can have peace only by denying the possibility of peace with evil. The Irish Protestant jurist, John Philpot Curran (1750–1817), said, in 1790, in a speech on “The Right of Election,” “It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition, if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”

Those who seek peace with evil are seeking not the peace they profess but slavery, and the surest peace of all is death and the tomb.

  1. Law and Equality

Death is the end of the conflict, and a society in search of a false peace is in search of death. An anthropologist has written:

Conflict is useful. In fact, society is impossible without conflict. But society is worse than impossible without control of conflict. The analogy to sex is relevant again: society is impossible without regulated sexuality: the degree of regulation differs among societies. But total repression leads to extinction; total lack of repression also leads to extinction. Total repression of conflict leads to anarchy just as surely as does total conflict.

We Westerners are afraid of conflict today because we no longer understand it. We see conflict in terms of divorce, rioting, war. And we reject them out of hand. And, when they happen, we have no “substitute institutions” to do the job that should have been done by the institution that failed. In the process—and to our cost—we do not allow ourselves to see that marriage, civil rights, and national states are all institutions built on conflict and its sensible, purposeful control.

. . . There are basically two forms of conflict resolution: administered rules and fighting. Law and war. Too much of either destroys what it is meant to protect or aggrandize.[cxlvi]

Bohannan’s position is humanistic and relativistic. As a result, the conflict in a society of his character will tend to anarchy. With every man a law unto himself, with no absolute other than man’s will, total conflict and total anarchy will be the only alternative to a totalitarian regime.

The problem of conflict cannot be resolved in any just and orderly manner in a relativistic society. Since every perspective, religion, and philosophy is made legitimate, and all people are made citizens, in effect every possible kind of law, and every possible culture, is admitted to legality. Either a repressive and totalitarian state then suppresses all, or all prevail and anarchy reigns.

Individualism and collectivism are both products of liberalism. Ellul has observed:

It is believed that an individualist society, in which the individual is thought to have a higher value than the group, tends to destroy groups that limit the individual’s range of action, whereas a mass society negates the individual and reduces him to a cipher. But this contradiction is purely theoretical and a delusion. In actual fact, an individualist society must be a mass society, because the first move toward liberation of the individual is to break up the small groups that are an organic fact of the entire society. In this process the individual frees himself completely from family, village, parish, or brotherhood bonds—only to find himself directly vis-a-vis the entire society. When individuals are not held together by local structures, the only form in which they can live together is in an unstructured mass society. Similarly, a mass society can only be based on individuals—that is, on men in their isolation, whose identities are determined by their relationships with one another. Precisely because the individual claims to be equal to all other individuals, he becomes an abstraction and is in effect reduced to a cipher.

As soon as local organic groupings are reformed, society tends to cease being individualistic, and thereby to lose its mass character as well. What then occurs is the formation of organic groups of elite in what remains a mass society, but which rests on the framework of strongly structured and centralized political parties, unions, and so on. These organizations reach only an active minority, and the members of this minority cease to be individualistic by being integrated into such organic associations. From this perspective, individualist society and mass society are two corollary aspects of the same reality. This corresponds to what we have said about the mass media: to perform a propagandistic function they must capture the individual and the mass at the same time.[cxlvii]

Liberalism dissolves the religious and familial ties of a society and leaves only the rootless individual and the humanistic state. Society then veers between collectivism and individualism.

A social order which denies that God is the source of law must of necessity seek its principle of law from within history or from man. The conflict of law, then, is no longer between God’s law and man’s sin, but it is now the law of some men’s ordering, which now makes sinners of all other men who differ. The law also shows then an ambivalence between an aristocracy suppressing the people, and a democracy seeking to suppress the aristocracy. Gray’s comment on the purpose of civil government shows the problem clearly:

That order is usually regarded as the prime object of governments will not be denied. The means of enforcing order differ in different communities; and it is reasonably plain, other things being equal, that the best government for enforcing order is the government which is able, without check of any sort, to impose its restraints upon the individual—that is, a despotic government.

Why then, if order is the first object, and a despotic government is the best means of enforcing order, are not all governments despotic? Because “all men are born equal,” because every man born on the earth has the same right to use the earth, as every other man. Thus it is perceived that this order, which is the object of government, is not the ultimate end of government, but is merely a means whereby the equality to which men are born may be enjoyed. If this be true the ultimate principle upon which governments depend is equality, and the law of unity which regulates the operation and the organization of governments is the law of equality.[cxlviii]

Gray admitted that “[e]quality is a mathematical term,”[cxlix] and one would expect that he would have seen the impossibility of applying a mathematical abstraction to man. On the contrary, he favored its application to taxation, the subject of his study. He admitted that the principle of equality was an American development of the past fifty years, i.e., since the Civil War, since Gray published in 1906.[cl] Gray’s concept of equality was close to the Marxist principle of equality, since he felt that

It is plain that equality does not necessarily consist in mere equality of contribution. For every man, rich or poor, to pay the same, would be the greatest inequality. Whether it consists in proportionate contribution according to property, is a question which has been much discussed. In the common forms of property taxation, this is the method in which the courts have usually found that sufficient equality inheres.

A great economist has said that equality in taxation consists of equality of sacrifice.

The courts have usually measured equality in taxation by reference to the amount of benefits received, rather than by considering the sacrifice of the taxpayer.

The economists of the present day seem to prefer the idea of equality of sacrifice. A glance at the two chief economic theories of taxation shows the distinction between the equality based on proportionate contribution and equality of sacrifice.[cli]

Gray denied the “benefits” theory of taxation; if those who benefited the most paid the most taxes, then the poor and weak would pay the most, and the rich and strong the least.[clii] From Gray, it is clear why the income tax amendment came into being; it was “necessary” in terms of existing presuppositions.

But the consequence of Gray’s theory is that the people are levelled, stripped of power, to create a state which is not “equal” to the people but far superior and able to crush them:

The power of the state, acting through its governmental agencies, to tax its citizens, is absolute and unlimited as to persons and property. Every person within the jurisdiction of the state, whether citizen or not, is subject to this power, every form of property, tangible or intangible, stationary or transitory, every privilege, right, or income which exists within the jurisdiction, may be reached and taken for the support of the state.

This doctrine is involved in the general theory of the state. The state exists for the purposes of law, order, and justice; the institution of property, the preservation and security of life, liberty, and property depend upon the existence of the state. Inasmuch as all private ownership of property is postulated on the existence of the state, the state may properly exhaust all the resources of private property in the support and preservation of that existence; inasmuch as all privileges and liberties derive their value from the protection of the state, the state may take any share of the value of those privileges and franchises for its support, even to the extent of the whole value.[cliii]

The state thus becomes the total institution, comprehending the life and property of man. The state can confiscate all things to insure its own existence, because the state has implicitly become the basic value.

In the United States, the property tax developed in New England in the seventeenth century, but it was limited at first in its extent. The South resisted it for a time. The transition to a humanistic concept of the state was both gradual and steady. In the twentieth century, taxation began to serve as an instrument of social and economic change. Thus, taxation no longer serves simply to support civil government, but also to reorganize society in terms of leveling and equalitarian concepts.

In this newer concept of taxation, the new established religion of the United States, humanism, came to focus. God being denied as the source of law, law has moved steadily to enforce a totalitarian and equalitarian principle.

In Biblical law, neither equalitarianism nor an oligarchy have any standing. God as the source of law established the covenant as the principle of citizenship. Only those within the covenant are citizens.The covenant is restrictive in terms of God’s law; it is also restrictive in terms of a bar against membership, which appears specifically, naming certain kinds and groups of persons. This aspect of the law is usually overlooked, because it is embarrassing to modern man. It needs, therefore, especial attention. In Deuteronomy 23:1–8, eunuchs are barred from citizenship; bastards are banned through the tenth generation. Ammonites and Moabites are either banned through the tenth generation, or they are totally excluded, depending on the reading of the text. Edomites and Egyptians were eligible for citizenship “in their third generation”; the implication is that they are eligible after three generations of faith, after demonstrating for three generations that they believed in the covenant God and abided by His law. The throne being the ark in the tabernacle, and the tabernacle being also the central place of atonement, membership in the nation-civil and in the nation-ecclesiastical were one and the same. Citizenship rested on faith. Apostasy was treason. The believing alien had some kind of access to the sanctuary (2 Chron. 6:32–33), at least for prayer, but this act did not give him citizenship. The alien—Egyptian, Babylonian, Ethiopian, Philistine, Phoenician, and any others—could be citizens of the true or heavenly Zion, the city of God (Ps. 87), but the local Zion, Israel, was not to admit the banned groups except on God’s terms. Entrance was possible by marriage to a male Israelite (Ruth 4:6), but not directly; a woman assumed the status of her husband. Now in all this one thing is certainly absolutely clear: there is no equalitarianism here. There is an obvious discrimination and distinction made which no straining can eliminate. At the same time, the one-law requirement of Exodus 12:49 made clear the absolute requirement of justice for all without respect of persons.

Thus, it would appear from the evidence of the law that, first, a restrictive membership or citizenship was a part of the practice of Israel by law. There is evidence of a like standard in the New Testament church: instead of being forced into rigid uniformity, Gentiles and Jews were free to establish their separate congregations and maintain their distinctive character.[cliv] Moreover, Acts 15, the Council of Jerusalem, makes it clear that the differences in cultural heritage and stages of moral and spiritual growth made possible major conflicts in case of uniform membership. As a result, separate congregations were authorized. On the other hand, Jews were not barred from Gentile congregations, so that, while restrictive groups were valid, integrated groups were not invalid.

Second, the predominant fact in Israel was one law for all, irrespective of faith or national origin, that is, the absolute requirement of justice for all without respect of persons. Similarly, in the church of the New Testament, there was “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) in the true church and the true Kingdom of God. The limited local membership was valid, but the universal sway of the Kingdom and the common citizenship of all believers are the basic and governing fact. The reality of local distinctions cannot, however, be obliterated by the ultimate and essential unity which is not to be confused with uniformity. Equalitarianism is a modern politico-religious concept: it did not exist in the Biblical world, and it cannot with any honesty be forced onto Biblical law. Equalitarianism is a product of humanism, of the worship of a new idol, man, and a new image carved out of man’s imagination. As a standard in religion, politics, and economics, it is a product of the modern era; to read it into the Biblical faith is to do violence to Scripture and to be guilty of dishonesty.

The excluded persons of Deuteronomy 23:1–8 are of interest: bastards were excluded to the tenth generation, eunuchs were excluded, whether eunuchs by an accident or by act of man. Because eunuchs are without posterity, they have no interest or stake in the future, and hence no citizenship. Persons of a lower moral culture, such as Ammonites and Moabites, were also excluded. The purpose of exclusion was the preservation of the covenant in the hands of responsible leadership. The limitations on Edomite and Egyptian membership served the same function.

Eunuchs were commonly used in antiquity for civil office, and, in Byzantium, were the civil service; precisely because they had no stake in the future, eunuchs were entrusted with positions calling for an exclusively present loyalty. The eunuch, as a kind of existentialist mentality, was severed from past and future and bound to the present; hence he was preferred over family men.

In colonial New England, the covenantal concept of church and state was applied. Everyone went to church, but only a limited number had voting rights in the church and therefore in the state, because there was a coincidence of church membership and citizenship. The others were no less believers, but the belief was that only the responsible must be given responsibility. One faith, one law, and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state, and it has worked towards reducing society to anarchy.


  1. The Negativism of the Law

The third commandment declares, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7; Deut. 5:11).

Before beginning an analysis of this commandment, it is important to call attention to an aspect of the law which makes it especially offensive to the modern mind: its negativism. Of the ten commandments, eight are stated in negative terms. The other two, “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy,” and, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” are undergirded by a number of subordinate laws which are all negative in character. The sabbath commandment is negative: “thou shalt not do any work” (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14), so that, in their full form, nine of the ten commandments are negative.

To the modern mind, laws of negation seem oppressive and tyrannical, and the longing is for positive officials of the law to replace the police. Thus the Black Panther leader, and Peace and Freedom presidential candidate, Eldridge Cleaver, declared in 1968, that, “if elected, he would do away with the poverty program, and substitute ‘public safety officials’ for police.”[clv] Public safety officials produced a reign of terror in the French Revolution, and not without reason, because a positive law can only lead to tyranny and totalitarianism.

The best statement of a positive concept of law was the Roman legal principle: the health of the people is the highest law. This principle has so thoroughly passed into the world’s legal systems that to question it is to challenge a fundamental premise of the state. The Roman principle is basic to the American development, in that the courts have interpreted the “general welfare” clause of the U. S. Constitution in terms radically alien to the original intent in 1787.

A negative concept of law confers a double benefit: first, it is practical, in that a negative concept of law deals realistically with a particular evil. It states, “Thou shalt not steal,” or, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” A negative statement thus deals with a particular evil directly and plainly: it prohibits it, makes it illegal. The law thus has a modest function; the law is limited, and therefore the state is limited. The state, as the enforcing agency, is limited to dealing with evil, not controlling all men.

Second, and directly related to this first point, a negative concept of law insures liberty: except for the prohibited areas, all of man’s life is beyond the law, and the law is of necessity indifferent to it. If the commandment says, “Thou shalt not steal,” it means that the law can only govern theft: it cannot govern or control honestly acquired property. When the law prohibits blasphemy and false witness, it guarantees that all other forms of speech have their liberty. The negativity of the law is the preservation of the positive life and freedom of man.

But, if the law is positive in its function, and if the health of the people is the highest law, then the state has total jurisdiction to compel the total health of the people. The immediate consequence is a double penalty on the people. First, an omnicompetent state is posited, and a totalitarian state results. Everything becomes a part of the state’s jurisdiction, because everything can potentially contribute to the health or the destruction of the people. Because the law is unlimited, the state is unlimited. It becomes the business of the state, not to control evil, but to control all men. Basic to every totalitarian regime is a positive concept of the function of law.

This means, second, that no area of liberty can exist for man; there is then no area of things indifferent, of actions, concerns, and thoughts which the state cannot govern in the name of public health. To credit the state with ability to minister to the general welfare, to govern for the general and total health of the people, is to assume an omnicompetent state, and to assume an all-competent state is to assume an incompetent people. The state then becomes a nursemaid to a citizenry whose basic character is childish and immature. The theory that law must have a positive function assumes thus that the people are essentially childish.

At this point some might comment that Biblical faith, with its doctrines of the fall and of total depravity, holds to a similar view of man. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Evolutionary faith, by positing long ages of development for man, holds on the one hand that man’s being is still governed by ancient, primitive drives and impulses, and, on the other, that man today is still a child in relationship to future evolutionary growth.

Biblical faith, on the contrary, holds to the original creation of a mature and good man. The human problem is not a primitive nature, not childishness, but irresponsibility, a rebellion against maturity and responsibility. Man is a rebel, and his course is not childishness but sin, not ignorance but willful folly.

Essentially, a fool cannot be protected, because a fool’s problem is not other people but himself. The book of Proverbs gives considerable attention to the fool. As Kidner has summarized the teaching of Proverbs, it declares, concerning the fool, that

The root of his trouble is spiritual, not mental. He likes his folly, going back to it “like a dog that returns to his vomit” (26:11); he has no reverence for truth, preferring comfortable illusions (see 14:8, and note). At bottom, what he is rejecting is the fear of the Lord (1:29): it is this that constitutes him a fool, and this that makes his complacency tragic; for “the careless ease of fools shall destroy them” (1:32).

In society the fool is, in a word, a menace. At best, he wastes your time: “you will not find a word of sense in him” (14:7, Moffatt); and he may be a more serious nuisance. If he has an idea in his head, nothing will stop him: “let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly” (17:12)—whether that folly is some prank that is beyond a joke (10:23), or some quarrel he must pick (18:6) and run to death (29:11). Give him a wide berth, for “the companion of fools shall smart for it” (13:20), and if you want to send him away, don’t send him with a message (26:6).[clvi]

Numerous incidents could be cited to illustrate how prone a fool is to folly: rescue him from one plight, and he falls into another. A sick man, finally persuaded to leave a quack who was treating him, went then instead only to a worse one. And this should surprise no one; a fool is by nature folly prone.

To examine an area where the law has functioned positively, most people would believe with notable success, let us review the situation in medicine. The state control of the medical profession was largely promoted and advanced by Rockefeller funds. Medical schools were brought under state control, as well as the medical profession. Unapproved medical practices were outlawed, and, we are told, the result has been remarkable progress.

But has the progress been due to state control or the work of the medical profession? Has not the profession itself been responsible for its own progress? And, obviously, there are as many quacks now as then, and perhaps more. The federal government estimates that more than two billion dollars was spent in 1966 on what some authorities would term medical quackery, although the term, significantly, covers everything from fraud to unofficial or unapproved practices.[clvii] Moreover, the danger now is that any medical researcher whose work fails to gain approval not only is classified a quack, but also can be in serious legal trouble. Even more, the standard, accepted medical profession, together with the drug companies, has been under very serious attack from Congress for serious malpractice. A variety of “wonder drugs” used experimentally and released with inadequate testing have had serious consequences.[clviii] Medical journals have also spoken of serious overdosing in hospitals.[clix]

Granted the responsibility of doctors in prescribing unwisely, the fact remains that many patients, well aware of the hazards in new drugs (and old drugs as well), demand to be dosed. And, given all possible legal safeguards, how can perfection be expected either of doctors or patients? Some doctors and some patients will always be fools.

But the real issue lies deeper. Even as the state controls over medicine have increased, so, at the same time, charges of medical malpractice have increased, and doctors today are in constant danger of lawsuits. American medical skill and surgery have never been better, nor the legal complaints greater. This points up a curious fact: the state has taken over the basic policing power from the medical profession, but the state, instead of assuming responsibility, has increased the culpability of the doctors. A federal agency approves a drug, but the doctor pays the penalty if there are bad reactions.

When the law of the state assumes a positive function in protecting the health and general welfare of its people, it then does not assume the liability. The people are absolved of responsibility, but the medical profession (or business firms, property owners, and the like) assume total liability. The steps towards total liability are gradual, but they are inevitable with a welfare economy.

Historians often praise the medical practice of pagan antiquity, and they commonly credit it with far more merit than it had. At the same time, they blame Christianity for corrupting and halting medical progress. But the decline in ancient medicine began by their own admission in the third century B.C.[clx] Entralgo has pointed out that, in fact, Christianity rescued medicine from sterile presuppositions.[clxi] But, in ancient Egypt, Babylon, and elsewhere, the doctor was subject to total liability. If the patient lost his life, the doctor lost his life. Even though the fault was not his, the doctor was totally liable. But, even when the doctor was at fault, what made the doctor totally liable? The patient, after all, had come voluntarily, and the doctor was not a god. Or should he be? The European pagan background, as well as other pagan practices, associated medicine with the gods. Ascetic practices were required of the doctor, so that the doctor was gradually converted into a monk. This pagan influence, combining with Neoplatonism in the early centuries of the Christian era, led to the ascetic as doctor. Pickman noted, of Gaul,

Evidently asceticism’s popular appeal in those days was less on account of its psychological effect on the ascetic himself, than of its physical effect on those to whom he ministered. It was the chosen weapon of the humanitarian. That is why before long a physician who did not become a monk lost his practice.[clxii]

Only gradually, with the Christianization of the West, was this pagan concept of medicine abandoned, and, with it, the concept of liability which required the doctor to be a god or else suffer.

State controls over the medical profession have steadily restored the old concept of liability, and the doctors find themselves especially prone to lawsuits. It has become dangerous for a doctor to administer emergency roadside care in an accident because of this proneness to liability. The day may not be too far distant, if the present trend continues, when doctors may be tried for murder if their patient dies. There were hints of this in the Soviet Union in Stalin’s closing days.

If the law assumes a positive function, it is because it is believed that the people are a negative factor, i.e., incompetent and childlike. Then, in such a situation, responsible men are penalized with total liability. If a criminal, who is by his criminality an incompetent, enters a man’s home, he is protected in his rights by law, but the responsible and law-abiding citizen can face a murder charge if he kills the invader when his own life is not clearly threatened, and every recourse to escape is not exhausted. A hoodlum can trespass on a man’s property, climbing a fence or breaking down a gate to do so, but if he then breaks his leg in an uncovered posthole or trench, the home owner is liable for damages.

When the law loses its negativity, when the law assumes a positive function, it protects the criminals and the fools, and it penalizes responsible men.

Responsibility and liability are inescapable facts: if denied in one area, they are not abolished but rather simply transferred to another area. If alcoholics and criminals are not responsible people but merely sick, then someone is guilty of making them sick. Thus, Dr. Richard R. Korn, professor at the University of California School of Criminology at Berkeley, has said that prostitutes should not be arrested and imprisoned, because they are “alienated poor children looking for a better way of life.”[clxiii] If these prostitutes are simply “alienated poor children looking for a better way of life,” then someone is responsible for their plight other than themselves, because their intentions were good ones. More than a few are ready to name the responsible party: society. But the prostitutes, their pimps, and the criminal underworld are all a part of our society in the general sense, and it is obvious that they are not being blamed. It is clear also that by guilty society the responsible and successful people are meant. Under communism, this means the total liability of the Christians and capitalists as guilty of all of society’s ills. As totally liable, they must be liquidated.

Responsibility and liability cannot be avoided: if a Biblical doctrine of responsibility be denied, a pagan doctrine takes over. And if the Biblical negativism of the law is replaced with a law having a positive function, a revolution against Christianity and freedom has taken place. A negative concept of law is not only a safeguard to liberty but to life as well.

  1. Swearing and Revolution

The third commandment once had central attention in church and society; today, its significance has waned greatly for modern man. Even in such a work as Rand’s Digest of the Divine Law, there is no mention of this commandment other than a listing of it in the table of ten, and a brief citation later.[clxiv] On the other hand, the champions of swearing are increasingly in evidence, as witness the work of an anthropologist, Ashley Montagu, in defense of swearing.

Montagu’s informative study gives us a frank statement of the meaning of swearing:

Swearing serves clearly definable social as well as personal purposes. A social purpose? But has not swearing always been socially condemned and proscribed? It has. And that is precisely the point. Because the early forms of swearing were often of a nature regarded as subversive of social and religious institutions, as when the names of the gods were profanely invoked, their use in such a manner was strictly forbidden.[clxv]

An important point is made here: false swearing is somehow linked with subversion. We shall return to this later.

Swearing is “not a universal phenomenon.” It is not found among American Indians, Japanese, Malayans, and most Polynesians. The examples Montagu gives of its existence among other peoples, as the aborigines of Australia, represent not theistic swearing but swearing as filthy speech, and there is a marked difference between the two.[clxvi]

Montagu has an interesting classification of the various forms of “swearing”:

Swearing is the act of verbally expressing the feeling of aggressiveness that follows upon frustration in words possessing strong emotional associations.

Cursing, often used as a synonym for swearing, is a form of swearing distinguished by the fact that it invokes or calls down some evil upon its object.

Profanity, often used as a synonym for swearing and cursing, is the form of swearing in which the names or attributes of the figures or objects of religion are uttered.

Blasphemy, often identified with cursing and profanity, is the act of vilifying or ridiculing the figures or objects of religious veneration . . .

Obscenity, a form of swearing that makes use of indecent words and phrases.

Vulgarity, a form of swearing that makes use of crude words, such as bloody.

Euphemistic swearing, a form of swearing in which mild, vague, or corrupted expressions are substituted for the original strong ones.[clxvii]

This classification is, of course, non-Biblical in orientation. There is, first of all, a prohibition only of false swearing or false cursing. It is taking the name of the Lord in vain, or “profanely” (Berkeley Version) that is forbidden. Clearly, not all swearing or cursing is forbidden. Second, from the Biblical perspective, all false swearing or cursing is profane, and thus profanity is not a separate category. The word profane comes from the Latin pro, before, fanum, temple, i.e., before or outside the temple; profanity is thus all speech, action, and living which is outside God. Profanity thus includes filthy speech, false swearing and cursing, and also polite and courteous speech and action which is outside God and which does not recognize His sovereignty. Third, only one kind of deserved cursing cannot be permitted. In cursing, a man invokes the judgment of God upon an evildoer. But, however evil one’s parents may be, and however deserving of judgment, no man may curse his father or mother. In fact, “he that curseth (or revileth) his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:17). Honor to parents is so fundamental to godly society that not even in extreme cases can the son or daughter curse either parent. Children must obey their parents. Adults are simply required to honor them; they may, and sometimes must, disagree with them, but to curse them is to violate a fundamental principle of order and authority.

Fourth, blasphemy is more than taking the name of God profanely. It is defamatory, wicked, and rebellious language directed against God (Ps. 74:10–18; Isa. 52:5; Rev. 16:9, 11, 21). It was punishable by death (Lev. 24:16). Naboth was falsely accused of blasphemy (1 Kings 21:10–13), as was Stephen (Acts 6:11), and Jesus Christ (Matt. 9:3; 26:65–66; John 10:36). “Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost consisted in attributing the miracles of Christ, which were wrought by the Spirit of God, to Satanic power (Mat. xii. 22–32; Mark iii. 22–30).”[clxviii]

Montagu points out that, according to the law, “In England, and in every one of the United States, it is still a legal offense to swear.”[clxix] Such laws are rarely enforced now. In recent years, women, once not normally associated with profanity, have become increasingly addicted to it. During World War II, in one aircraft factory where many women were employed, a notice read, “No swearing. There may be gentlemen about.”[clxx] On the other hand, Montagu points out, while in the slums of English towns extreme profanity and obscenity can be heard among women, it is “seldom, if ever, encountered in a civilized English village in which the taboos upon ‘bad language’ of any kind still remain Victorian in their rigor.”[clxxi] It is interesting to note that there is some hostility of late to profanity in the Soviet Union.[clxxii] Profanity does have associations with social disorientation and deterioration.

To analyze now a few basic facts with respect to swearing, it must be noted, first, that forbidden swearing is essentially and necessarily linked to religion. It is profanity, outside God and against God. It represents, where the name of God is involved, an illicit and hostile use of God’s name, or a dishonest use thereof. Much of the primitive and modern swearing cited by Montagu is obscenity rather than profanity. Primitive swearing as well as modern invokes sexual and excremental words and subjects.[clxxiii] This is a significant fact. In order to appreciate its significance, let us review a few of the central facts. Godly oath-taking is a solemn and important religious act. Man aligns himself under God and in conformity to His righteousness to abide by his word even as God abides by His word. Godly swearing is a form of vow-taking. But ungodly swearing is a deliberate profanation of the purpose of the oath or vow; it is light use of it, a contemptuous use of it, to express contempt for God. But ungodly swearing cannot remain merely negative or hostile: it denies God as the ultimate, but it must posit another ultimate in God’s place. Godly oaths seek their confirmation and strength from above; ungodly swearing looks below for its power. Its concept of the “below” is Manichaean to the core: it is material. Hence, ungodly swearing finds its power, its “below,” in sex and in excrement. The association is significant. Even while protesting the “Puritanism” of Biblical morality, the ungodly reveal that to them sex and excrement are linked together as powers of the “underworld” of the unconscious, the primitive, and the vital.

The direction of profanity is thus progressively downward. After the middle of the twentieth century, a new profane word gained popularity, apparently “an American Negro invention,” whose blunt fact was mother-incest. The term actually gained some “honorific” senses.[clxxiv] Since then, other profane words having reference to homosexuality have become more popularly used. The references to other perversions have also increased. In brief, the direction of profanity is progressively downward. When the religion of the triune God is denied, the religion of revolution, the cults of chaos, take over. Vitality, power, and force are seen as coming from below; profane language seeks to be forceful, and the forceful is that which is below.

Second, as is already apparent, there is a religious progression in profanity: it moves from a defiance of God to an invocation of excrement and sex, and then perverted forms of sex. This religious progression is social as well as verbal. The profane society invokes, not God, but the world of the illicit, the obscene, and the perverted. What it invokes in word it also invokes in act. The downward trend of society is a quest for renewed energy, the shock of new force and vitality, and it is a perpetual quest for new profanations. White men will go to a colored prostitute for “a change of luck,” i.e., to renew their vitality and power to prosper for a time. By “going down,” they are recharged in order to “go up.” Verbal profanity is an oral witness to a social profanity. As the verbal profanity delves downward, so does society in its actions.

This means, therefore, that, third, profanity is a barometer. It is indicative of revolution in process. It is an index to social deterioration and degeneration. The psychological significance of profanity is not lost on a revolutionary age; profanity is championed with evangelical fervor. It should surprise no one that a dictionary of slang and profanity was widely promoted as an invaluable reference work for high school libraries in the early 1960s.[clxxv] True education involves, for a profane world, an integration downward into the void, to use Cornelius Van Til’s apt phrase. Knowledge of God is barred from the schools, but knowledge of profanity is encouraged. Revolution is invited and encouraged in a society which seeks an integration downward, and profanity is an index, a barometer, of this revolutionary integration downward.

Fourth, we can now recognize why, in Montagu’s words, “the early forms of swearing were often of a nature regarded as subversive of social and religious institutions.”[clxxvi] They still are. All swearing is religious, and false swearing represents a subversive drive in society. We saw earlier that some societies, like the aborigines of Australia, have no theistic swearing but that their swearing is simply filthy language, excremental and sexual in content. In such a society, such swearing is not subversive, since the society is already by its total character regressive and on a low level. But when such swearing assumes major proportions and constitutes literary and artistic realism in Western society, it is subversive, and it is religious. Montagu’s interesting study is also a religious work; he finds health in such profanity, and we must remember that health and salvation (Latin salus, salve, health) are the same words. The wit and scholarship of his study serve only to heighten his religious purpose: swearing is a healthy social expression. But when it comes to a knowledge of his motives in desiring this health, or why it constitutes health, he is silent.

An interesting point is made by Sir John Harington in his poem, “Against Swearing,” in Epigrams, published in London “some three years after his death.” Montagu cites this poem for documentation on the development of oaths:

In elder times an ancient custom was,

To sweare in weighty matters by the Masse.

But when the Masse went downe (as old men note)

They sware then by the crosse of this same grote.

And when the Crosse was likewise held in scorne,

Then by their faith, the common oath was sworne.

Last, having swore away all faith and trothe,

Only God damn them is their common oath.

Thus custome kept decorum by gradation,

That losing Masse, Crosse, Faith, they find damnation.[clxxvii]

Harington noted the religious progression. The major change has come since then.

The commandment declares: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Positively, this means: Thou shalt take the name of the Lord thy God in righteousness and truth. Negatively, it also means: Thou shalt not take the name of other gods or powers. In each case, the implications are far-reaching.

  1. The Oath and Society

The third and ninth commandments are closely related. The third declares, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). The ninth states, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Ex. 20:16). Both commandments are concerned with speech: the one has reference to God, the other to man. Moreover, Ingram is right in seeing the legal reference of both. The third in particular is normally seen, as Ingram states, “as a sort of good mannered objection to coarse or vulgar language,” whereas it is “a prohibition against perjury, heresy and lying.”[clxxviii] We have already seen the implications of swearing as obscenity. The law covers this and more. But the heart of the third commandment is in its nature as the foundation of a legal system. Citing Ingram again, “the foundation for all legal procedure involving so-called civil disputes is clearly in the Third Commandment, and it would certainly carry over its importance into the realm of criminal law.”[clxxix] The oath of office, the trustworthiness of witnesses, the stability of a society in terms of a common regard for truth, the faithfulness of the clergy to their ordination vows, of wives and husbands to their marital vows, and much more all hinge on the holiness of the oath or vow. Where there is no regard for truth, when men can subscribe to oaths and vows with no intention of abiding by their terms, then social anarchy and degeneration ensue. Where there is no fear of God, then the sanctity of oaths and vows disappears, and men shift the foundations of society from the truth to a lie. It is significant that prosecutions for perjury are today almost unheard of, although perjury is a daily routine in the courts. But, as Ingram points out, God’s law makes clear in the third commandment, “that, whatever man may do in this regard, God will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.”[clxxx]

The presidential oath of office, and every other oath of office in the United States, was in earlier years recognized precisely as coming under the third commandment, and, in fact, invoking it. By taking the oath, a man promised to abide by his word and his obligations even as God is faithful to His word. If he failed, by his oath of office, the public official invoked divine judgment and the curse of the law upon himself. Although, even in the face of this, corrupt officeholders were not lacking, it is also clear that a large measure of real political responsibility was in evidence. Godly men took oaths seriously. George Washington, whose belief in a compulsory tithe we previously noted, felt very strongly about the meaning of the oath. In his farewell address, he expressed his dismay over skepticism, agnosticism, deism, and atheism creeping in from France and the French Revolution. Unbelief worked, he saw, great damage. Among other things, by destroying the faith behind the oath, unbelief undercut the security of society. He declared,

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

To despise, abuse, or profane the oath is therefore an offense which denies the validity of all law and order, of all courts and offices, and it is an act of anarchy and revolution. In terms of this, we can better understand Leviticus 24:10–16, the incident of blasphemy and the death sentence meted out. The offending party in this case was half Danite and half Egyptian. The Hebrew text assumes a knowledge which has since been largely forgotten. The ancient Chaldee version paraphrases as follows:

And while the Israelites were dwelling in the wilderness, he sought to pitch his tent in the midst of the tribe of the children of Dan; but they would not let him, because, according to the order of Israel, every man, according to his order, dwelt with his family by the ensign of his father’s house. And they strove together in the camp. Whereupon the son of the Israelitish woman and the man of Israel who was of the tribe of Dan went into the house of judgment.[clxxxi]

The judgment was against the half Danite, half Egyptian, and his reaction was that he “blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed” (Lev. 24:11). He denied the entire structure of Israelite society and law, the very principle of order. As a result, the sentence of death was passed for blasphemy. His offense was in effect that he affirmed total revolution, absolute secession from any society which denied him his wishes. No society can long exist which permits such subversion. God’s law in this case is of particular importance: “Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 24:15–16). Any and all Gentiles who despised or violated the oath of their religion were subject to the laws of their religion, to whatever penalties their law imposed for such blasphemy, or cursing, for to despise the oath of one’s faith is to curse his God. Ginsberg summarized the law here ably:

If such a Gentile curses his own God in whom he still professes to believe, he shall bear his sin; he must suffer the punishment for his sin from the hands of his coreligionists, whose feelings he has outraged. The Israelites are not to interfere to save him from the consequences of his guilt; for a heathen who reviles the god in whom he believes is not to be trusted in other respects, and sets a bad example to others, who might be led to imitate his conduct.[clxxxii]

There is a point of very great significance in this legislation, one which requires particular attention. First, we must note that the modern mind sees “good” in all religions, supposedly, while denying them in favor of the autonomous mind of man. To deny Christianity and its exclusive truth, the modern mind professes to find truth in all religions. The Bible, however, has no such tolerance towards a lie. The psalmist summed up the matter: “For all the gods of the nation are idols: but the Lord made the heavens” (Ps. 96:5). Without any qualification, all other religions are condemned by the Bible. The modern mind, while fully religious, is not institutionally religious, and so it can offer contemptuous toleration to all religions. But the modern mind is politically religious; that is, it regards the political order as its ultimate and religious order, and this leads us to a second observation, namely, political intolerance is basic to the modern mind, and it denies the validity of every other order than its dream state, and of all law and order alien to its own whims and will, because it regards all these orders as fearful lies. The Bible, on the other hand, extends a limited tolerance to other social orders. The only true order is founded on Biblical law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law order represents an anti-Christian religion. But the key to remedying the situation is not revolution, nor any kind of resistance that works to subvert law and order. The New Testament abounds in warnings against disobedience and in summons to peace. The key is regeneration, propagation of the gospel, and the conversion of men and nations to God’s law-word. Meanwhile, the existing law order must be respected, and neighboring law orders must be respected as far as is possible without offense to one’s own faith. The pagan law order represents the faith and religion of the people; it is better than anarchy, and it does provide a God-given framework of existence under which God’s work can be furthered. The modern perspective leads to revolutionary intolerance: either a one-world order in terms of a dream, or “perpetual warfare for perpetual peace.”

So seriously was the abuse of the oath regarded, that for a person to witness such an oath, or an oath to do evil uttered anywhere, and to take no action, required a trespass offering of atonement (Lev. 5:1–7).

Proverbs 29:24, in the Berkeley Version, reads, “The partner of a thief hates himself; he heard the curse (i.e., pronounced on the thief), but says nothing.” Delitzsch commented:

The oath is, after Lev. v. 1, that of the judge who adjured the partner of the thief by God to tell the truth; but he conceals it, and burdens his soul with a crime worthy of death, for from a concealer he becomes in addition a perjured man.[clxxxiii]

More serious than the act of stealing, or of murder even, is the false oath. Theft robs a single man, and murder takes the life of a single man, or perhaps a group of men, but a false oath is an assault on the life of an entire society. The fact that its seriousness is lightly viewed is a good barometer to social degeneration. The godly hatred of false swearing is clearly reflected in Psalm 109:17–19. The trifling use of the oath was forbidden by Christ in Matthew 5:33–37, whose words had a partial reference to Numbers 30:7. False swearing was already banned in the law; Christ made it clear that the oath or vow was not to be used for private purposes except on such serious occasions as the lawful intended use allowed. The cheap recourse to vows to prop up one’s word, however true, was forbidden.

The godly man’s communication is “yea, yea,” and “nay, nay”; it is honest and forthright (Matt. 5:37). The godly man swears or testifies honestly to his own hurt, and he does not change his witness to suit his interests (Ps. 15:4). Being under God, the godly man’s word is in a sense always under oath. As Ingram has observed, “It is significant that under some European Christian systems, a wilful violation of a promissory oath is treated as perjury.”[clxxxiv]

Ingram has very rightly stressed the relationship of heresy to this commandment. Members and clergymen who deny their baptismal and ordination vows to affirm heresy are violating their oaths. Moreover, the heretic, “in all the horror of raging pride . . . declares, ‘It is right for me to be wrong.’”[clxxxv]

Today, in many countries and in some American states, the name of God is removed from oaths of office and from the swearing in of witnesses. This means that, when a man is sworn into office, he is not bound by God to fulfil the constitutional requirements of the office or the law; the man solemnly swears by himself; if it is agreeable to him to alter the law, if he regards his own ideas as superior, then he can move to circumvent the law. The major changes in the American constitution have occurred over a period of time when no fundamental changes have been made in the U. S. Constitution. The reason is that the letter and the spirit of the law now have very little meaning as against the political wills of men and parties.

If a witness is asked to swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth without any reference to God, truth then can be and is commonly redefined in terms of himself. The oath in God’s name is the “legal recognition of God”[clxxxvi] as the source of all things and the only true ground of all being. It establishes the state under God and under His law. The removal of God from oaths, and the light and dishonest use of oaths, is a declaration of independence from Him, and it is warfare against God in the name of the new gods, apostate man and his totalitarian state.

The modern American oath, which omits all reference to God, is set in the context of a pragmatic philosophy, a faith taught in the schools and upheld by the state and federal governments. Truth in terms of pragmatism is what works. The consequence can only be revolutionary anarchy. It means not only warfare against God, but warfare by every man against his neighbor.

  1. Swearing and Worship

Calvin, in a very perceptive analysis of the third commandment, called attention to the relationship of swearing to worship. He observed that

We shall soon see that to swear by God’s name is a species or part of religious worship, and this is manifest too from the words of Isaiah (xlv. 23), for when he predicts that all nations shall devote themselves to pure religion, he thus speaks, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall swear by me.”[clxxxvii]

The verse cited, Isaiah 45:23, reads in full: “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” God declares that history shall culminate in a universal worship of Him, and the godly oath as the foundation of every society. Alexander’s comment brought out the meaning clearly:

The kneeling and swearing in the last clause are acts of homage, fealty, or allegiance, which usually went together (I Kings xix. 18), and involved a solemn recognition of the sovereignty of him to whom they were tendered . . . This text is twice applied by Paul to Christ (Rom. xiv. 11; Phil. ii. 10), in proof of his regal and judicial sovereignty. It does not necessarily predict that all shall be converted to him, since the terms are such as to include both a voluntary and a compulsory submission, and in one of these ways all, without exception, shall yet recognize him as their rightful sovereign.[clxxxviii]

Alexander’s interpretation restores the basic perspective of the law: God is the absolute, sovereign Lord and King over all, man’s only creator, sustainer, and savior. To worship Him truly requires a total submission to Him not only with respect to salvation but also with respect to all things else. God alone is Lord of the church, state, school, home, and every sphere and area of all creation. Thus, as Calvin noted, to swear by God’s name is truly “a species or part of religious worship.”

Commenting further on the meaning of taking the name of the Lord in vain, Calvin noted,

It is silly and childish to restrict this to the name Jehovah, as if God’s majesty were confined to letters or syllables; but, whereas His essence is invisible, His name is set before us as an image, in so far as God manifests Himself to us, and is distinctly made known to us by His own marks, just as men are each by his own name. On this ground Christ teaches that God’s name is comprehended in the heavens, the earth, the temple, the altar (Matt. v. 34), because His glory is conspicuous in them. Consequently, God’s name is profaned whenever any detraction is made from His supreme wisdom, infinite power, justice, truth, clemency, and rectitude. If a shorter definition be preferred, let us say that His name is what Paul calls . . . “that which may be known” of Him (Rom. 1.19).[clxxxix]

The Lord’s name is thus taken in vain whenever and wherever man treats lightly and profanely the fact that God’s sovereignty undergirds the whole of reality. Man dare not take lightly God’s sovereignty nor man’s obligation to speak the truth at all times in every normal sphere of life.

The close relationship of this commandment to the ninth is readily apparent. Calvin observed,

God will again condemn perjury in the Fifth Commandment of the Second Table, viz., in so far as it offends against and violates charity by injuring our neighbours. The aim and object of this Commandment is different, i.e., that the honour due to God may be unsullied; that we should only speak of Him religiously; that becoming veneration of Him should be maintained among us.[cxc]

If swearing and worship are so closely related, and if trifling and false usage of the Lord’s “name,” His wisdom, power, justice, truth, mercy, and righteousness constitutes blasphemy, then we must count most preaching of our day to be thoroughly blasphemous. It is amusing to note that some clergymen regard the expression, originally English, “I don’t care a dam,” in America, usually “not worth a dam” as profanity, but they fail to see how profane much of their preaching is. This expression, “I don’t care a dam,” came from India through the Duke of Wellington. The dam is the Indian coin of least value; the expression is thus related to, “not worth a sou,” i.e., the lowest of French coins, now long since gone.[cxci] Thus, “I don’t care a dam,” means, “I couldn’t care less.”

Now, it must be plainly stated that most preaching today is not worth a dam, nor worth a sou, nor worth anything. More than that, it is blasphemous, in that it either denies the faith on the one hand, or reduces it to trifling dimensions on the other. Much preaching may be pious in intention which is blasphemous in execution.

When man fell, when the curse was laid upon mankind, it was because man had submitted to the Satanic temptation to be his own god (Gen. 3:5). Man separated himself from God, and from the name of God, to define reality in terms of man and in the name of man. When men began again to call on the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26), men looked to God as lord and creator as well as savior. They took the name of the Lord, not in vain, but in truth; they recognized God as their only savior, lawgiver, and hope. To the degree that they truly called upon the name of the Lord, to the degree that they brought all of life under the dominion of God, to that degree they were out from under the curse and under blessing.

To take the name of the Lord in truth means thus to ground our lives and actions, our thoughts and possessions, and every law sphere of life firmly and fully on God and His law-word.

To take the name of the Lord in vain is to deny in reality the only true God; it is empty profession of Him when our lives and actions, and often every thought, possession, and every law sphere is alienated from God or blasphemously ascribed to ourselves.

Thus, as Oehler observed, “Perjury does not concern the transgressor alone, but his whole race.”[cxcii] It moves man and his society from the world of blessing to the world of the curse.

True swearing is thus true worship: it ascribes to God the glory due to His name.

Only when we begin to understand the relationship of the oath to the foundations of society, to revolution, and to religion, can we begin to understand the ancient horror of blasphemy. The horror expressed by the high priest at the words of Jesus, as he accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matt. 26:65), may have been hypocritical, but it mirrored all the same, the shock men normally felt. Prior to World War II, this horror was still very much a reality in Japan; whenever any blasphemy was uttered with respect to Shintoism, it constituted a very serious civil offense. Quite rightly, the Japanese recognized it as treason, revolution, and anarchy.

Because the sense of blasphemy, and horror for it, are gone, there is now a changing concept of treason. It is of interest to examine the concept of treason. Rebecca West has given an able summary of the historic concept:

According to tradition and logic, the state gives protection to all men within its confines, and in return exacts their obedience to its laws; and the process is reciprocal. When men within the confines of the state are obedient to its laws they have a right to claim its protection. It is a maxim of the law, quoted by Coke in the sixteenth century, that “protection draws allegiance, and allegiance draws protection” (protectio trahit subjectionem, et subjectio protectionem). It was laid down in 1608, by reference to the case of Sherley, a Frenchman who had come to England and joined in a conspiracy against the King and Queen, that such a man “owed to the King obedience, that is, so long as he was within the King’s protection.”[cxciii]

But in an age when men deny God and His sovereignty, the world is torn then between two conflicting claimants to the authority of God: the totalitarian state on the one hand, and the totalitarian, anarchistic individual on the other hand. The totalitarian state permits no dissent, and the anarchistic individual admits no possible loyalty outside of himself. When all the world is black, no concept of black is possible, since no differentiation exists. Everything being black, there is no principle of definition and description left. When all the world is in blasphemy, no definition of blasphemy is possible: everything is the same. As the world moves towards total blasphemy, its ability to define and to recognize anything diminishes. Hence the necessity and health of judgment, which, as a catharsis, restores perspective and definition to the world.

The basic premise of the law and of society today is relativism. Relativism reduces all things to a common color, to a common gray. As a result, there is no longer any definition for treason, or for crime. The criminal is protected by law, because the law knows no criminal, since modern law denies that absoluteness of justice which defines good and evil. What cannot be defined cannot be delimited or protected. A definition is a fencing and a protection around an object: it separates it from all things else and protects its identity. An absolute law set forth by the absolute God separates good and evil and protects good. When that law is denied, and relativism sets in, there no longer exists any valid principle of differentiation and identification. What needs protecting from whom, when all the world is equal and the same? When all the world is water, there is no shoreline to be guarded. When all reality is death, there is no life to be protected. Because the courts of law are increasingly unable to define anything due to their relativism, they are increasingly unable to protect the righteous and the law-abiding in a world where crime cannot be properly defined. For Emile Durkheim, the criminal may be and often is an evolutionary pioneer, charting the next direction of society.[cxciv] In terms of Durkheim’s relativistic sociology, the criminal may be a more valuable man than the law-abiding citizen, whose interests will be conservative or reactionary.

The relativistic society is indeed then an “open society,” open to all evil and to no good. Since the relativistic society is beyond good and evil by definition, it cannot offer its citizens any protection from evil. Instead, a relativistic society will seek to protect its people from those who seek to restore a definition of good and evil in terms of Scripture.

When Chief Justice Frederick Moore Vinson of the United States asserted after World War II, “Nothing is more certain in modern society than the principle that there are no absolutes,” he made it clear that, before the law, the one clear-cut evil is to stand in terms of God’s absolute law. “The principle that there are no absolutes,” enthroned as law, means warfare against the Biblical absolutes. It means that the banner of the law is the standard of the Enlightenment, Ecrasez L’infame, “The shame and infamy of Christianity,” must be wiped out. In terms of this, Voltaire welcomed the affectionate salutation of Diderot describing him as his “sublime, honorable, and dear Anti-Christ.” Had not Voltaire made it his principle that “[e]very sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror”?[cxcv] Voltaire only talked; the modern court acts on this faith. The conclusion of such a course can only be the reign of terror magnified. We can only say with the Hebrew observer of old, “They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts and humble their souls in his sight, saying, We will fall into the hands of the Lord, and not into the hands of men: for as his majesty is, so is his mercy” (Ecclesiasticus 2:17–18).

  1. The Oath and Authority

A case law which has already been cited deserves particular attention, Exodus 21:17: “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” This statement is one of three in Exodus 21:15–17 which follow the requirement in Exodus 21:12–14 of death for murder. They are thus linked in a sense with murder. First, “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death” (Ex. 21:15). Second, “And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:16). Kidnapping and enforced slavery are punishable by death. The Biblical law recognizes voluntary slavery, because there are men who prefer security to freedom, but it strictly forbids involuntary servitude except as a punishment. Third, the law against cursing parents, already cited, is also cited as comparable to murder. Rawlinson’s commentary is to the point:

With homicide are conjoined some other offences, regarded as of a heinous character, and made punishable by death: viz. (1) striking a parent; (2) kidnapping; and (3) cursing a parent. The immediate sequence of these crimes upon murder, and their punishment by the same penalty, marks strongly God’s abhorrence of them. The parent is viewed as God’s representative, and to smite him is to offer God an insult in his person. To curse him implies, if possible, a greater want of reverence; and, since curses can only be effectual as appeals to God, it is an attempt to enlist God on our side against His representative. Kidnapping is a crime against the person only a very little short of murder, since it is to deprive a man of that which gives life its chief value—liberty.[cxcvi]

Related laws appear in other ancient cultures. Thus, ancient Babylonian law declared, “If a son has struck his father, they shall cut off his hand.”[cxcvii] The authority of the entire society was endangered in any assault on parental authority or any other authority. Exodus 21:15, 17 was enacted very early into Massachusetts’ law; there is no record of any death penalty, but several cases prior to 1650 record severe whippings inflicted by the courts on rebellious sons, and on sons who struck a parent.[cxcviii]

Both the oath, or curse, and physical resistance are important matters. The oath or curse is an appeal to God to stand with us for righteousness and against evil. Similarly, physical resistance, whether in the form of warfare or personal resistance to murderous attack, or the attempts by evil men to overwhelm us, is a godly stand and by no means wrong. In an evil world, such resistance is often necessary; it is an unpleasant and ugly necessity, but not an evil. David could thank God for teaching him to war successfully (2 Sam. 22:35; Ps. 18:34; 144:1). In an evil world, God requires men to stand in terms of His word and law.

At this point, many will cite Matthew 5:39, “resist not evil.” The point made by Christ in this passage (Matt. 5:38–42) has reference to resistance to an alien power which governs the land, can “compel” man by a forced draft to serve the Roman imperial forces for a mile or more, seize property, enforce loans, and generally conscript property, money, and labor for its needs. In such a case, resistance is futile and wrong, and cooperation, going the second mile, is more productive of good. Ellicott’s comment on Matthew 5:41 was to the point:

The Greek word implies the special compulsion of forced service as courier or messenger under Government, and was imported from the Persian postal system, organised on the plan of employing men thus impressed to convey Government dispatches from stage to stage (Herod, viii. 98). The use of the illustration here would seem to imply the adoption of the same system by the Roman Government under the empire. Roman soldiers and their horses were billeted on Jewish householders. Others were impressed for service of longer or shorter duration.[cxcix]

Christ’s words were thus a warning against revolutionary resistance. His warning was repeated by St. Paul in Romans 13:1–2, with the warning that resistance to duly constituted authority is resistance to the ordinance of God. At the same time, we must note that “Peter and the other apostles,” when forbidden to preach by the authorities, declared, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

There is no discrepancy between these positions. Respect for duly constituted authorities is required both as a religious duty and a practical policy. The world is not bettered by disobedience and anarchy; evil men cannot produce a good society. The key to social renewal is individual regeneration. All authorities are to be obeyed, parents, husbands, masters, rulers, pastors, always subject to the prior obedience to God. All obedience is under God, because required by His word. Therefore, first, the covenant people cannot violate any due authority without taking the name of the Lord in vain. Disobedience at any level constitutes disobedience to God. Second, to strike a parent, or to assault a police officer, or any due authority, is thus to strike at God’s authority also and to use the right of self-defense for an aggression against authority. Third, to curse one’s parents is to attempt to place God on the side of rebellion against God’s central authority, the parent, and God’s central institution, the family. In murder, a man assaults and takes the life of an individual, or several individuals. In every anarchistic assault on authority, the assailant attacks the life of an entire society and the very authority of God.

The excuse for such assault is conscience. The autonomous and absolute authority of conscience has been progressively asserted since the Enlightenment, and especially with the rise of Romanticism. In the United States, the name of Thoreau comes most readily to mind as an example of Romantic anarchism. Conscience means responsibility with reference to right and wrong; conscience implies creaturehood and subjection. Conscience must be under authority, or it ceases to be conscience and becomes a god. The humanistic desire to live beyond good and evil is actually a desire to live beyond responsibility and beyond conscience. Under the facade of conscience, an assault is launched against conscience and authority.

The appeal of anarchistic revolutionists to conscience is clearly a lie and a fraud. Conscience in the modern philosophy and mood is simply a term for our own desires, enthroned as law. Thus, James Joyce, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, has Stephen Dedalus say, “Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” For those under the influence of Freud, the conscience, or superego, is simply the external authorities, parents, religion, state, and school, internalized. The superego is the successor and representative of the parents and other authorities; for Freud, the superego is the enemy of the id, the pleasure principle and will to live, and it is therefore to be broken. The id and the ego cannot be escaped, but the superego, as an immediate social product, can be broken in its power over man. Despite variations, Freud’s view of the conscience is the view of modern man. The conscience has no standing in modern thought, and is actually in disrepute, except when it is useful as an appeal against the law. The conscience of autonomous man is a studied rebellion against conscience and authorities as symbols of oppression and tyranny.

True conscience is under authority, godly authority. True conscience is governed by Scripture; it does not set itself up as an arbiter over God and His word, or as the voice of God and itself a special revelation. True conscience subjects itself to God’s authority: it is at all times under God, never itself a god and lord. In 1788, the Presbyterian Synod of New York and Philadelphia declared, in its “Preliminary Principles” to “The Form of Government,” that “God alone is the Lord of the conscience; and hath left it free from the doctrine and commandments of men, which are in any thing contrary to his word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship.” The declaration then defended the right of private judgment. The purpose was to free man from arbitrary demands of the state and men in terms of the absolute authority of God over the conscience. The humanistic concept of conscience, by denying the lordship of God, makes inescapable the tyranny of men. Every man’s conscience is made by humanism an absolute lord; the student rioters of the 1960s and 1970s, the anarchistic revolutionists, the “civil rights” protestors, all claim the right by “conscience” to destroy law and order and overthrow society.

The death penalty of Exodus 21:15, 17 makes clear that no evil can become an excuse for more evil. The family, as God’s central law order, even when parents are most evil, cannot be attacked by a child. The child is not asked to obey his or her parents by doing evil; the child is not asked to call evil good. But honor must be given to whom honor is due (Rom. 13:7), and honor is due to parents.

This means that, while man must work to further righteousness, there is a limit to the extent of his right to war against evil. The Scripture is emphatic that vengeance belongs to God (Deut. 32:35; Ps. 94:1; Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30). St. Paul states plainly: “Do not revenge yourselves, dear friends, but leave room for divine retribution, for it is written, ‘It is Mine to punish; I will pay them back,’ the Lord says” (Rom. 12:19, Berkeley Version).

Two legitimate forms of godly vengeance exist: First, the absolute and perfect justice of God finally and totally administers perfect justice. History culminates in Christ’s triumph, and eternity settles all scores. Second, the authorities ordained by God, parents, pastors, civil authorities, and others, have a duty to exercise the justice and vengeance of God. As themselves sinners, they can never do this perfectly, but imperfect justice can be justice still. A cloudy day cannot be called midnight; imperfect justice is not injustice.

A godly man does not expect perfect justice and vindication, and, at times, recognizes he cannot expect it at all of men. The Bible gives us instances of vengeance, of righting of ancient wrongs, but no such thing occurred for Joseph in relationship to Potiphar. Joseph had gone to prison for attempted rape; he was summoned out of prison to great power. His past was immaterial to the pharaoh. No doubt, to Joseph’s dying day, vicious critics whispered behind his back that Joseph was an ex-convict, guilty of attempted rape, but Joseph’s exercise of power was godly. Where it mattered, as with his brethren, he exacted a vengeance designed to test their character. To punish Potiphar or Potiphar’s wife would have accomplished nothing; and no punishment could have been more frightening for that couple than to know that their ex-slave was now the greatest power in Egypt next to pharaoh. God was Joseph’s vindication.

For a man to dream of effecting perfect justice, gaining vindication in all things, and righting the record at all points, is to assume the role of vengeance which properly belongs only to God. It means joining the very forces of evil. While such a presumption is cloaked in the name of the Lord, it involves blasphemy. “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:17).

  1. The Name of God

In July 1968, a man was convicted in Westminster, Maryland, on charges that he “did unlawfully use profanity by taking the Lord’s name in vain in a public place.” The man in question was arrested for fighting on Main Street and for resisting arrest. The reason for the conviction was a revealing one. The steady erosion of the law under Supreme Court interpretations made conviction on the usual charges more difficult. Magistrate Charles J. Simpson used the old law of 1723, because “sometimes an obscure law like this is the only way we have to solve some of these problems.”[cc]

The judge’s dilemma is not surprising. Under the influence of the new doctrine of equality, crime has steadily been equalized with good, and even given an edge. Walt Whitman, regarded by many as America’s greatest poet, asserted this equalitarian principle bluntly: “What is called good is perfect and what is called bad is just as perfect.”[cci] When good and evil are equalized, then the erosion of the law is inescapable and inevitable.

But it is not enough to deny equality. Law premised on equality will simply assert the tyrannical supremacy of an elite group of men. True law must rest on the absolute and only true God. God as absolute Lord and Judge is the ultimate arbiter of all things, and, as the determiner of men’s destinies, His word and fear are compelling in the lives of believers. Hence, the sworn statement by a true believer has always been basic to all rules of evidence. A principle canon law, which has been influential in civil courts, is this:

An oath, taken in the sense of a means of judicial proof, while preserving its own individual character as an invocation of the Divine Name in testimony or guarantee of the truth of a particular assertion, is the most powerful and effective means of obtaining proof and of arriving at the truth of the facts of a case and is necessary before a judge may give sentence.[ccii]

This same authority defines blasphemy in these terms:

This crime may take the form of heretical blasphemy, i.e., that by which the existence of God or His attributes are impugned or denied; or of simple blasphemy or imprecation, i.e., reviling or profaning the name of God or of the saints.[cciii]

Both aspects of this definition have been previously considered. It is important now to deal more specifically with the name of God: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

Names in Scripture are revelatory of the character and nature of the person named. A man’s name changed as his character changed. As Meredith wrote,

The third commandment deals with God’s name, His office, His position as the great sovereign RULER of the universe . . .

In the Bible, personal names have a meaning.

Every name or title of God reveals some attribute of the Divine character. In studying God’s Word, we learn new facts about God’s nature and character with each new name by which He reveals Himself. In other words, God names Himself what He is!

If men use the name of God in a way which denies the true meaning and character of God, they are BREAKING the third commandment.[cciv]

Not only the Old but the New Testament meaning of name bears out Meredith’s point. Thus, in the Greek New Testament,

By a usage chiefly Hebraistic the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is roused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, i.e., for one’s rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds, etc.[ccv]

Moreover, as Meredith noted,

The Hebrew word here rendered “guiltless” may be better translated “clean”—“the Lord will not hold him to be clean that taketh his name in vain.” The test of spiritual cleanliness is the attitude of a man to the NAME of God! A man is clean or unclean according as he uses the name of God in truth—or for vanity.[ccvi]

This definition of the third commandment was clearly brought out by the Puritan divine, Thomas Watson, in The Ten Commandments, a continuation of his study, A Body of Divinity. The Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly also brought this out plainly:

  1. 112. What is required in the third commandment?
  2. The third commandment requires, that the name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the word, sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows, lots, his works, and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, word, and writing; by an holy profession, and answerable conversation, to the glory of God, and the good of ourselves, and others.
  3. 113. What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?
  4. The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required, and the abuse of it in ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious, or wicked mentioning or otherwise using his titles, attributes, ordinances, or works, by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; murmuring and quarrelling at, curious prying into, and misapplying of God’s decrees and providences; misinterpreting, misapplying, or any way perverting the word, or any part of it, to profane jests, curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; abusing it, the creatures, or any thing contained under the name of God, to charms, or sinful lusts and practices; the maligning, scorning, reviling, or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways; making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; being ashamed of it, or a shame to it, by unconformable, unwise, unfruitful, and offensive walking, or backsliding from it.

It is apparent thus that blasphemy is today more common than the true use of God’s name. Dr. Willis Elliott of the United Church of Christ has said, “I consider adherence to the infallibility of Scripture demonic.”[ccvii] B. D. Olsen, who claims to adhere to the infallibility of Scripture, lays claim to “vision.”[ccviii]

Both assertions are alike blasphemy. To cite Meredith again,

God declares through Isaiah: “Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness” (Isa. 48:1). People to whom this prophecy applies use the name of God, but fail to obey the revelation of God contained in His name.[ccix]

Many titles for God appear in Scripture; these are revelatory of aspects of His nature. His name, however, is given as Jehovah or Yahweh (the true vowel construction is unknown), and it means, “He Who Is, the self-existent One, I am that I am.” This is the revelation of God contained in His name.

God is thus the principle of definition, of law, and of all things. He is the premise of all thinking, and the necessary presupposition for every sphere of thought. It is blasphemy, therefore, to attempt to “prove” God; God is the necessary presupposition of all proof. To ground any sphere of thought, life, or action, or any sphere of being, on anything other than the triune God is thus blasphemy. Education without God as its premise, law which does not presuppose God and rest on His law, a civil order which does not derive all authority from God, or a family whose foundation is not God’s word, is blasphemous.


  1. The Sign of Freedom

The fourth commandment, the sabbath law, is important in terms of its prophetic significance, as well as its legal status. Kline, in discussing the Deuteronomic formulation of the law, states:

Most significant of the variations from the form of the Decalogue as presented in Exodus 20:2–17 is the new formulation of the fourth word. The sabbatic cycle of covenant life symbolizes the consummation principle characteristic of divine action. God works, accomplishes his purpose and, rejoicing, rests. Exodus 20:11 refers to the exhibition of the consummation pattern in creation for the original model of the Sabbath; Deuteronomy 5:15 refers to its manifestation in redemption, where the divine triumph is such as to bring God’s elect to their rest also. Most appropriately, therefore, was the Sabbath appointed as a sign of God’s covenant with the people he redeemed from the bondage of Egypt to inherit the rest of Canaan (cf. Ex. 31:13–17). In keeping with the Deuteronomic interpretation of the Sabbath in terms of the progress of God’s redemptive purpose is the New Testament’s orientation of the Sabbath to the Saviour’s resurrection triumph by which his redeemed people attain with him unto eternal rest.[ccx]

The pattern of the sabbath is God’s creation rest; the goal of the sabbath is man’s redemption rest.

There is no record or evidence for the sabbath prior to Exodus. The word “remember” in the commandment harks back to the creation and does not recall a past observance but commands the people to remember the sabbath thereafter. A weekly day of rest is unknown to other cultures. Only where Biblical faith and culture have brought it about does it exist to this day. In some cultures of the ancient world, an occasional day of rest marked the celebration of the divine-human king’s birthday. But the Biblical concept of a redemption rest as the goal of history, i.e., a perfect order in which work is totally blessed, and the order is entirely of God’s making, is unknown outside of Biblical faith. God, speaking through Isaiah, declared, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa. 57:20–21).

The world of the unregenerate is in perpetual search of the sabbath, of the glorious rest of creation, but its self-defeating quest leads only to greater disturbances: it casts up “mire and dirt.”

The sabbath is not an infringement of man’s liberty but rather the liberation of man.[ccxi]

The sabbath asserts the principle of freedom under God, of liberty under law, God’s law. It summons man to obedience to the ordinance of rest in order to free man from himself and from this work. The essence of humanism is its belief in the plenary ability of man. Man is able, it is held, to save himself, to guide his own evolution and that of society, to control himself, his world, the weather, and all things else. When man controls and reorders all things, then man will have recreated the world into a paradise. Whether Marxist, Fabian, or democratic, this is the dream of humanism.

It is also the assurance of the proletarianization of man. As Pieper has noted, “the proletarian is the man who is fettered to the process of work.”[ccxii] The leaders of the proletarian revolution dream of freeing man from work. For them, this means freeing man from God also. According to Stalin,

If God exists, He must have ordained slavery, feudalism, and capitalism. He must want humanity to suffer, as the monks were always telling me. Then there would be no hope for the toiling masses to free themselves from their oppressors. But when I learned that there is no God, I knew that humanity could fight its way to freedom.[ccxiii]

If there is no God, Stalin held, then there is no divine Providence, and man must work to become his own providence. The total government of God would have to be replaced by the total government of man. This means tremendous work and sacrifice. The end result would be the liberated and ideal man.

Each man, Stalin predicted, would be developed under socialism to a point at which he and all his fellows would surpass the giants of the presocialist past, such as Michelangelo, or Goethe. Yet nothing sounds less like Michelangelo or Goethe than these hints of Stalin’s about the ideal future condition of man. The men of the future were in fact intended by Stalin to resemble the New Soviet Men of his day—hard-working, utterly devoted, utterly self-effacing, utterly submissive Stakhanovite workers and other heroes. The world was to be transformed into what the Communist ideology of Stalin’s day said it ought to be. And that was essentially Stalin’s Russia, writ large, spread over the whole world, made prosperous at last, and rid of all save those who obeyed voluntarily and perfectly the perfect laws of Communism.[ccxiv]

Stalin, in the course of this quest for the true sabbath, man’s true rest, did two things: First, he enslaved more men than any other tyrant in all history, and, second, he had more men killed than any other man in all history. Man’s attempt to enter heaven on his own terms places him instead in hell.

Now to examine the sabbath laws more specifically, it is at once apparent that, while the principle of the sabbath remains basic to Biblical law, the specific form of sabbath observance changed radically in terms of the new covenant in Christ.

First, the sabbath in the Old Testament law was not primarily a day of worship but a day of rest. The pattern of weekly worship did not exist in the Old Testament law. The synagogue introduced it in the intertestamental period, and the New Testament clearly practiced it and urged it (Heb. 10:25). In the Old Testament, worship was family-centered, and woven into the fabric of daily life. It should still be so embedded in the common life of man, but there is now also the duty of corporate worship. This corporate worship cannot, however, be confused or equated with rest, although the two are closely associated. Rest has reference here to the soteriological reality, to the fact of redemption, liberation, and wholeness of life. Rest here means confidence in God’s work, so that we cease from our own labors in symbolic representation of our total confidence in God’s accomplishment. The manna in the wilderness set forth God’s rest, and the order to observe the sabbath with confidence in the sufficiency of manna reinforced this fact of God’s provision. When such a God works, man can and must rest (Ex. 16:14–36).

Second, severe laws enforced the sabbath rest. It was not worship which the laws demanded, but rest. The general law was that no work should be done on the sabbath (Ex. 20:8–11; 34:21; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:12–15; Jer. 17:22). “The gates should be shut” (Neh. 13:19). “Abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day” (Ex. 16:29). Asses should not be laden (Neh. 13:15), nor burdens borne (Jer. 17:21–22), nor fires kindled (Ex. 35:3), nor sheaves brought in (Neh. 13:15), nor sticks gathered (Num. 15:32–35), nor victuals or wares bought (Neh. 10:31) or sold (Neh. 13:15), nor wine treaded in the presses (Neh. 13:15). Life, however, could be saved on the sabbath (Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9), since redemption is the essence of the sabbath. This can mean healing the sick (Matt. 12:10–13; Mark 3:1–5; Luke 6:8–10; 13:14–16; 14:3–4; John 7:23), or rescuing an animal that has fallen into a pit (Matt. 12:11; Luke 14:5). Since hunger alleviated is a part of redemption, it is proper for one who is hungry to “pluck and eat corn” on the sabbath (Matt. 12:1–8; Mark 2:23–28; Luke 6:1–5), and the same is true of thirst, so that a thirsty animal can be taken to water in fulfilment of the sabbath (Luke 13:15). Since redemption means defeating God’s enemies, the Maccabees finally came to the logical conclusion that it was in conformity with the sabbath to resist attacks by the enemy (1 Macc. 2:41).[ccxv] These laws make it clear that the essence of the sabbath is the victory of redemption rest. Mary’s Magnificat, because it celebrates the redemption through the Messiah, is a sabbath song in essence, and it properly forms a part of sabbath worship:

My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall called me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. (Luke 1:46–55)

Third, there is not a trace of the maintenance of the sabbath penalties in the church after the resurrection. Because the early disciples and members were Jews, they continued for a time to observe the Old Testament sabbath (Acts 13:14–26; 16:11–13; 17:2–3; 17:1, 11). But the Christian day of worship was the first day of the week, the day of resurrection as well as of Pentecost (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1–2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1–19; Acts 20:6–8; 1 Cor. 16:1–2). Many Reformed churchmen seem to assume that the one law of Scripture is sabbath observance. Clearly, this is not derived from Calvin, who held, in his “Catechism of the Churches of Geneva,” that

  1. Does he order us to labour on six days, that we may rest on the seventh?
  2. Not absolutely; but allowing man six days for labour, he excepts the seventh, that it may be devoted to rest.
  3. Does he interdict us from all kinds of labour?
  4. This commandment has a separate and peculiar reason. As the observance of rest is part of the old ceremonies, it was abolished by the advent of Christ.
  5. Do you mean that this commandment properly refers to the Jews, and was therefore merely temporary?
  6. I do, in as far as it is ceremonial.
  7. What then? Is there any thing under it beyond ceremony?
  8. It was given for three reasons.
  9. State them to me.
  10. To figure spiritual rest; for the preservation of ecclesiastical polity; and for the relief of slaves.
  11. What do you mean by spiritual rest?
  12. When we keep holiday from our own works, that God may perform his own work in us.
  13. What, moreover, is the method of thus keeping holiday?
  14. By crucifying our flesh,—that is, renouncing our own inclination, that we may be governed by the Spirit of God.
  15. Is it sufficient to do so on the seventh day?
  16. Nay, continually. After we have once begun, we must continue during the whole course of life.
  17. Why, then, is a certain day appointed to figure it?
  18. There is no necessity that the reality should agree with the figure in every respect, provided it be suitable in so far as is required for the purpose of figuring.
  19. But why is the seventh day prescribed rather than any other day?
  20. In Scripture the number seven implies perfection. It is, therefore, apt for denoting perpetuity. It, at the same time, indicates that this spiritual rest is only begun in this life, and will not be perfect until we depart from this world.
  21. But what is meant when the Lord exhorts us to rest by his own example?
  22. Having finished the creation of the world in six days, he dedicated the seventh to the contemplation of his works. The more strongly to stimulate us to this, he set before us his own example. For nothing is more desirable than to be formed after his image.
  23. But ought meditation on the works of God to be continual, or is it sufficient that one day out of seven be devoted to it?
  24. It becomes us to be daily exercised in it, but because of our weakness, one day is specially appointed. And this is the polity which I mentioned.
  25. What order, then, is to be observed on that day?
  26. That the people meet to hear the doctrine of Christ, to engage in public prayer, and make profession of their faith.
  27. Now explain what you meant by saying that the Lord intended by this commandment to provide also for the relief of slaves.
  28. That some relaxation might be given to those under the power of others. Nay, this, too, tends to maintain a common polity. For when one day is devoted to rest, every one accustoms himself to labour during the other days.
  29. Let us now see how far this command has reference to us.
  30. In regard to the ceremony, I hold that it was abolished, as the reality existed in Christ (Col. ii. 17).
  31. How?
  32. Because, by virtue of his death, our old man is crucified, and we are raised up to a newness of life (Rom. vi. 6).
  33. What of the commandment then remains for us?
  34. Not to neglect the holy ordinances which contribute to the spiritual polity of the Church; especially to frequent sacred assemblies, to hear the word of God, to celebrate the sacraments, and engage in the regular prayers, as enjoined.
  35. But does the figure give us nothing more?
  36. Yes, indeed. We must give heed to the thing meant by it; namely, that being engrafted into the body of Christ, and made his members, we cease from our own works, and so resign ourselves to the government of God.[ccxvi]

St. Paul was emphatic in stating that the sabbath regulations no longer had their old binding force: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Col. 2:16–17). None will argue that the old death penalty for violations of the sabbath is still binding, or ever has been since Christ. The whole of the New Testament forbids such an interpretation. But, equally clearly, any law which at one time brought forth a death penalty for violation must involve a principle so basic to man and nature that obviously a hard central core remains in some sense binding in every age. (In another chapter, this will be considered.)

Fourth, not only is the legal status of the sabbath altered, but the day of rest has been changed from the Hebrew sabbath to the Christian day of resurrection. The Deuteronomic law (Deut. 5:12–15) made it clear that the Hebrew sabbath celebrated the deliverance from Egypt: “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). The Hebrew redemption was thus celebrated in the sabbath; the Christian sabbath commemorates Christ’s triumph over sin and death, and hence it is celebrated on the day of resurrection, the first day of the week. To reject this day is to reject Christ’s redemption and to seek salvation by another and inadmissible way.

Fifth, the Hebrew sabbath and the modern Saturday cannot be equated. As Curtis Clair Ewing has clearly shown, the calendar of Israel does not permit such an identification. The calendar of Israel at Sinai was a solar calendar, and it is not to be confused with the modern Jewish solar-lunar calendar of A.D. 359. Ewing has called attention to the unfortunate translation at times of “moon” for “month,” thus creating some confusion. There are three sabbaths spoken of in Scripture: the creation sabbath; the Hebrew sabbath, which commemorated the deliverance from Egypt; and the Christian sabbath, which is “kept in commemoration of Christ’s finished resurrection and is the only sabbath that remains.”[ccxvii] As Ewing points out, the fourth commandment orders remembrance, because it recalls the creation sabbath, God’s rest, as the pattern of the covenant rest:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. (Ex. 20:8–11)

In Deuteronomy, they are not commanded to remember, since it is not the pattern of the creation sabbath in view, but they are commanded to keep the sabbath, in commemoration of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt:

Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.

Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. (Deut. 5:12–15)

Because of the deliverance from Egypt, Israel is “therefore” to keep the sabbath. The extent of the required rest is more specifically spelled out in Deuteronomy.

The Hebrew calendar began its dating from the deliverance from Egypt. As Ewing points out, the Hebrews retained the Egyptian calendar of twelve months of thirty days, but, instead of adding the five supplementary days at the end of the year, they added three at the end of the sixth month, and two at the end of the twelfth month. The fifteenth day of Abib, the first month, had to be a sabbath every year, which meant that the first and eighth of Abib were fixed sabbaths, as were the seven sabbaths following the 15th of Abib (Lev. 23:6–7, 11, 15–16). The fiftieth day would then be Pentecost:

Now the Sabbath of Abib 15th being fixed by date, it follows that these seven successive Sabbaths must also have been on fixed dates and would fall as follows: Abib 22, 29; Iyar 6, 13, 20, 27; and Sivan 4. By no possibility can there be seven Sabbaths complete from Abib 15 to Sivan 4th unless those Sabbaths came on fixed dates of the month every year.[ccxviii]

Since the date of the month was constant, the day of the week was variable. “This means that once in seven years each of them would fall on every single day of the week, just as your birthday comes on a different day of the week every year.”[ccxix] To cite Ewing further,

But this is not all. According to Exodus 12:3, 5, 6, 24 and Leviticus 23:15, the 10th, 14th and 16th of Abib could never be Sabbaths because they were work days of specific command: real work like cleaning house, butchering cattle, and reaping fields. We know these dates would fall on Saturday once every seven years and if Saturday were the Sabbath there would be a conflict of commands. There would be three dates in which Israel is commanded to work falling every seventh year on days in which Israel was commanded not to work. We know that never happened, because God is not the author of confusion.

We have now shown by Scripture, and the calendar disclosed therein, that Israel’s Sabbaths were fixed to fall on the same dates of the month every year. With these fifteen regular Sabbaths coming on the same dates every year and the three commanded work days coming on the same dates every year, it is impossible for Saturday to have been the Sabbath.

If the year had 365 days in it and we divide 365 by 7 we get 52 weeks and one day left over. The question then is, where did the extra day go? That was absorbed by a 48-hour Sabbath on the 4th and 5th of Sivan as shown by Leviticus 23:15, 16, and 21. This changed the day of the week on which the Sabbath was celebrated each year, but also maintained the fixed Sabbaths on the same day of the month and the 7-day cycle . . .

There is nothing in the Bible to determine the length of a Sabbath. The Scriptures use the same word to describe: (1) A rest one day long (Ex. 20:8–11; Deut. 5:12–15), (2) A rest two days long (Lev. 23:15, 16, 21), (3) A rest one year long (Lev. 25:4, 8), (4) A rest two years long (Lev. 25:8–12), (5) A rest seventy years long (II Chron. 36:21).

The meaning of the word “Sabbath” is cessation or rest. One cannot rest twice unless he has worked between those rests. This 48-hour Sabbath was not two rests or Sabbaths but a lengthening out of the one rest or Sabbath through two days. As an illustration, note that the rest of the land during the whole of every 49th and 50th year was not two rests to the land, but one rest to the land during the two whole years, hence a Sabbath two years long once in fifty years. Just so, when God required “the seventh Sabbath” and the “morrow after the seventh Sabbath” both to be a Sabbath, it was one Sabbath 48 hours long because no work came between them.

In like manner, by a law of necessity, we know that 3 days of the additional 5 days at the end of the year were added at the end of the month Elul, because we have shown that the 1st of Tisri had to be a Sabbath every year. The last Sabbath of Elul was the 27th of the month, thus leaving only 3 more days in the month; but, in order to have 6 days labor before another Sabbath, 3 days have to be added here. After the same manner we know that the 2 remaining days of the 5 supplementary days were added at the end of Adar. We have shown that the 1st of Abib in every year was a Sabbath; but the last Sabbath of Adar was on the 26th, leaving 4 days of the 30. So, in order to have 6 days labor before the next Sabbath, we must insert the 2 extra days of labor here.[ccxx]

Ewing’s carefully documented study, quoted here in its barest outline, clearly establishes that attempts to treat Saturdays as the true sabbath, apart from being non-Christian, are also non-Biblical in their radical variance from the sabbath of Israel.

Sixth, the sabbath, as we have seen, is the day of rest, redemption, and liberation. The great proclamation of the jubilee sabbath is, “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10). But the security and “rest” of slavery could constitute a pseudorest.

Slavery could be involuntary as a punishment. A thief who did not make restitution was sold as a slave (Ex. 22:3). A man could also be sold for debt (Deut. 15:12). As Clark noted, “The servitude ceased when labor had been performed equivalent to the amount which would have been required to make restitution, and it is thought to have been limited to six years.”[ccxxi]

A man could renounce his liberty and make himself a slave. He was then set free on the sabbath year. If he chose the security of slavery, his ear was pierced, to indicate that he was now like a woman, permanently in subjection, and he remained a slave (Ex. 21:5–6). Since unbelievers are by nature slaves, they could be held as lifelong slaves without this formality (Lev. 25:44–45). The slave could be flogged by the master (Ex. 21:20), but if maimed by abusive treatment, the slave, domestic or foreign, went free (Ex. 21:26–27; Lev. 24:22). They were to be circumcised (Gen. 17:12; Ex. 12:44), and could eat holy things (Ex. 12:44; Lev. 22:10 ff.). The slave had some rights and position in a home (Gen. 24:2): he could share in the inheritance (Prov. 17:2). He was entitled to rest on the sabbath, as the fourth commandment makes clear.

Since the slave was, except where debt and theft were concerned, a slave by nature and by choice, a fugitive slave went free, and the return of such fugitives was forbidden (Deut. 23:15–16).

Christians cannot become slaves voluntarily; they are not to become the slaves of men (1 Cor. 7:23), nor “entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1). The road of pseudosecurity, of pseudoliberation in slavery, socialism, and welfarism, is forbidden to the Christian. The Christian sabbath is not the slavery of socialism.

  1. The Sabbath and Life

The death penalties attached to the violation of the sabbath in the Old Testament era convey two very obvious assumptions. First, the sabbath law involves a principle so important and basic that violation thereof is a capital offense. Second, the law conveys also the fact that violation of the sabbath laws involves a kind of death in and of itself, i.e., that violation brings on death. The prophets clearly made this assumption. Obedience, by implication, means life.

Our familiarity with a matter sometimes makes for ignorance, in that we fail to examine it. We are accustomed also to fitting facts into a framework familiar to us. Thus, generations of teachers have cited, as an example of humility, the statement to a Roman general in a triumphal march, “Remember that you are a man.” But the reality was quite different:

The triumphator was something rather different even from the highest official of the state. In the triumph the Roman general was endowed with the highest insignia that ancient Rome possessed, the attributes of the chief god of the state, Jupiter. It is true that the slave who held the golden wreath over the triumphant general’s head as he drove along in a chariot drawn by four white horses had to repeat to him, “Remember that you are a man,” but that only meant that in the moment of his triumph the general was regarded as equivalent to the chief god of the state.[ccxxii]

To us, these words mean, “Remember, you are human, mortal”; to the Romans, they meant, “Remember, you are a god.” Thus, to understand anything, it is important to know the context.

Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27–28). The sabbath was made for the true and perfect Man, Jesus Christ, who is therefore Lord of the sabbath; it was therefore also made for the redeemed of Christ, for covenant man, and as a principle of life and regeneration to him.

To understand the meaning of this, it is perhaps necessary to do two things, first, to remember that the principle purpose of the sabbath is not worship but rest. Only as worship qualifies as rest and refreshing to the man, as true worship does, is it a necessary aspect of the sabbath rest. But the essence of the sabbath is rest. Second, we view the sabbath in terms of man exclusively rather than man centrally, and as a result, we miss its meaning. By approaching the sabbath from the standpoint of the earth, we can better understand its meaning.

The commandment makes it clear that the sabbath day of rest is for man and beast alike. But the details of the law spell out the fact that a sabbatical year is required for the land itself. The comments on this sabbatical year are of interest. Thus, according to Galer, “The custom of letting the land lie fallow is common throughout the East, made necessary no doubt by the lack of fertilizers and knowledge of proper methods of rotating crops.”[ccxxiii] There is no evidence that they lacked in ancient times a knowledge of either fertilizers or crop rotation; such knowledge is ancient, although men have disregarded their knowledge of it in many eras. Rylaarsdam holds that “[t]he original function of the custom is probably religious, to appease the spiritual powers controlling the land or to give them opportunity to restore its fertility.”[ccxxiv] Such “interpretations” are not exegesis at all, but indications of a lordly sense of superiority over our forebears who were lower on the evolutionary ladder of history.

The law reads:

And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shall gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard and with thy oliveyard. (Ex. 23:10–11)

And the Lord spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof: But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune the vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee. And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat. (Lev. 25:1–7)

And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year; and eat yet of old fruit unto the ninth year: until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store. (Lev. 25:20–22)

These laws, it should be noted, were not too well observed in much of Israel’s history. Between the Exodus and the Babylonian captivity, it was neglected seventy times, and hence seventy years of captivity were imposed to give the land rest (2 Chron. 36:21). This means that more than half the time, the law was not observed. After the captivity, this law was observed (but others broken), and Tacitus (History vol. 4) commented on it. Julius Caesar remitted Jewish taxes in the seventh year in recognition of their custom (Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae, vol. 14:10, 6). However, according to Oehler, the jubilee was not observed, only the sabbatical years.[ccxxv]

There was to be no pruning or planting in the sabbath year, nor any attempt to kill the insects, or otherwise interfere with natural processes in the field. The fruit had to remain in the field, except for what passersby, servants, or owners plucked to eat; no real harvesting was permitted, only eating. This prohibition of any real harvesting or storing of produce in the sabbatical year is clearly stated in Leviticus 25:20.[ccxxvi]

But the law has still more to say about the sabbath of the land: the jubilee year. Every fiftieth year was a jubilee year, inaugurated by blowing the trumpet on the Day of Atonement. Since the forty-ninth year was a sabbath year, the jubilee marked two sabbath years in a row:

And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. (Lev. 25:8–12)

Micklem regarded it as “very” curious that the jubilee, which he is not sure existed, began on the Day of Atonement.[ccxxvii] The answer appears in the laws which immediately follow:

In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession. And if thou sell aught unto thy neighbour, or buyest aught of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another: According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 25:13–17)

To analyze this legislation, it is apparent, first, that the purpose is not, as many hold, “humanitarian.” Certainly, “the poor of thy people” ate of the field in the sabbath year, but they could glean the fields every year, so that no special sabbatical year was necessary to provide for the poor. To attempt to justify the sabbath day or year for reasons other than the sabbath itself is to deny that this is a separate commandment, embodying in and of itself a particular aspect of God’s righteousness and law. The purpose of the sabbath is the sabbath, i.e., the rest and release of redemption and regeneration.

Second, in the supreme expression in the Mosaic legislation of the sabbath principle, the jubilee year, the jubilee is begun by the sounding of the trumpet or ram’s horn, on the Day of Atonement. Micklem found this strange, but Ginsburg stated its meaning very clearly, in his comment on Leviticus 25:9.

On the close of the great Day of Atonement, when the Hebrews realised that they had peace of mind, that their heavenly Father had annulled their sins, and that they had become reunited to Him through His forgiving mercy, every Israelite was called upon to proclaim throughout the land, by nine blasts of the cornet, that he too had given the soil rest, that he had freed every encumbered family estate, and that he had given liberty to every slave, who was now to rejoin his kindred. Inasmuch as God has forgiven his debts, he also is to forgive his debtors.[ccxxviii]

The sabbath recalled the creation sabbath. The institution of the Israelite sabbath recalled Israel’s redemption and regeneration. The goal of the sabbath, as Hebrews 3 makes clear, is the promised land, the new creation in Jesus Christ. The sabbath therefore sets forth the restoration and restitution of all things in Christ. In the jubilee year, as in each sabbatical year, debts ran out. The modern statute of limitations on the collection of debts is an adaptation of this Biblical law. In the jubilee year also, the rural landholdings reverted to their original owners; slaves were freed, as on each sabbatical year. The jubilee marked a two-year holiday in which covenant man celebrated the foretaste of the great sabbath of the new creation. Because the jubilee began on the evening of the Day of Atonement, it made clear the foundation of the new creation, atonement through the blood of the Lamb of the Covenant. Creation and re-creation were thus basic to the sabbath: man rests in God’s finished work of redemption proclaimed before the time. By faith, man, anticipating the final victory and rejoicing in the present deliverance, lives by faith in the sufficiency of God.

Third, the great work of restoration, of undoing the work of the fall, includes the soil also. By this rest, the soil also is restored and revitalized. By allowing the field to go to weeds, the weeds of the field are given the opportunity to bring to the topsoil minerals from below and to revitalize the soil. The vines and trees are given free growth, unpruned, and again renew their vitality. The fruit which falls and rots again contributes to the soil. The value of the sabbath in regenerating the soil is very great. But man, lacking faith, prefers his own work to God’s work, and his proposed rest to God’s sabbath. God’s method is called crude, and modern sprays, manufactured fertilizers, and other devices are used, and the soil is steadily mined and abused. The soil is treated as something science can make and remake, and even do without. Very few scientists treat the soil with any respect. Notable exceptions are Sir Albert Howard, An Agricultural Testament; Friend Sykes, Modern Humus Farming; William A. Albrecht, Soil Fertility and Animal Health; and Joseph A. Cocannouer, Weeds: Guardians of the Soil, and Water and the Cycle of Life. These and other writers make clear the extensive abuse of the soil, the function of microorganisms in the soil, the value of compost and of trees in regenerating the soil, and much more. The value of wild animals and birds in the life cycles of the earth has scarcely been touched. The earth clearly is renewed by rest, or it is exploited ruthlessly and finally turned into a desert. Many once populous areas are today desert, as witness Babylon and the Sahara. When God ordained that Israel and Judah go into captivity, it was not only to punish the people but to restore the land. We are plainly told that Judah went into captivity “[t]o fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years” (2 Chron. 36:21). The prophecy of Jeremiah referred to is Jeremiah 25:9–12; it is recalled in Daniel 9:2. The captivity was in fulfilment of the prophecy of the law concerning violations of the sabbaths:

Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbath. (Lev. 26:34)

The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. (Lev. 26:43)

This seventy-year-long sabbath was God’s mercy on the land and on Israel. After the crucifixion of Christ, no such mercy was extended to the land, and its history has been one of the steady erosion of soil and men. The land and the people show the effects of the curse. Although Israel between the captivity and the crucifixion observed the sabbaths of the earth, at other points they despised God, and they crucified His Son, so that the curse fell upon them, and upon the earth for their sake.

Clearly, the renewal of the earth is a basic aspect of the sabbath. The renewal of all things is basic to the sabbath, and the earth is central to this renewal. Men can ignore the sabbath requirements of the earth only at the peril of judgment and death. Clearly, the death penalty is operative in history, and nations which mine the earth and use its resources abusively are doomed to die. The logical assumption, then, is this: if contempt of the sabbath is so serious with respect to the earth, is it not equally serious with respect to man and beast?

We do know that modern poultry methods, with the round-the-clock lighting of the cages, chemically “fortified” foods to step up growth, and various methods used to increase egg-laying, result in hens which are no longer profitable for retention after they begin moulting. Dairy cows similarly have a limited life span now. Not surprisingly, the produce from such animals no longer has the nutritional value it once did.

With regard to men, continued stress leads to death, we are told. Man’s inability to rest, his lack of a true sabbath, his lack of faith, lead to a stress-filled life which ends in death. The study of stress, from a non-Christian perspective, has been extensively made in recent years by Dr. Selye.[ccxxix]

Man needs rest; he requires the sabbath truly to live; but, without faith, he cannot have true rest, nor can he give rest to others, to the soil, or to the animal creation. Very often pagan societies, on a limited scale, have practiced excellent soil policies from a pragmatic perspective. But the practice, being purely pragmatic, has not been joined with a similarly wise policy with respect to animals. More often than not, pagan cultures have been prevented from large-scale destruction only by their small-scale abilities.

When man destroys the soil, pollutes food, and poisons the air and the water, he does pass a death sentence against himself. The extent of the pollution is very great, and it is aggravated by man’s confidence that “science” can somehow cope with it by some new artificial device.[ccxxx]

The essence of the sabbath is the work of restoration, God’s new creation; the goal of the sabbath is the second creation rest of God. Man is required to rest and to allow earth and animals to rest, that God’s restoration may work, and creation be revitalized. Every sabbath rest points to the new creation, the regeneration and restoration of all things. God’s work of restoration is from the ground up, and His sabbath must therefore apply to the soil also.

But, fourth, the sabbath cannot be reduced to soil conservation any more than it can be reduced to humanitarianism. It is “a sabbath unto the Lord.” It is a covenant sign according to God’s own declaration:

Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. (Ezek. 20:10–13)

The sabbath derives its essential meaning thus from the fact that it witnesses to an essential and life-giving covenant between God and man. The source of that life is God, not the law or the sabbath in and of itself. Israel, after the captivity, kept the sabbath rigidly, applying it to man, earth, and animals, but the form gave no life. They denied the sabbath by trusting in their works, and their blood (their descent from Abraham), and they died in their blindness. Observance of the sabbath did not save them who denied and crucified the Lord of the sabbath.

Churchmen who limit the meaning of the sabbath, or who feel it is obeyed in worship and inactivity, have no knowledge of its meaning. Certain Pharisees debated over the inadvisability of eating eggs, because the hen may have labored over them on the sabbath, but they did not trust in God for their salvation. Their emphasis on “no work” was in itself a work of man, a proud boast in their ability to fulfill a law, and this same Pharisaism is apparent in some churches today. The sabbath is life to the man who looks to the Lord for life, and allows God to work throughout all creation as the great re-creator. It is more than an outward observance, and it cannot be joined with any humanistic confidence in man’s works, or the state’s works, as man’s source of rest and salvation.

Fifth, forgiveness is a basic aspect of the sabbath. The grace of God unto the remission of sins is the covenant of man’s sabbath. It means rest, release from the burden of sin and guilt. The Lord’s Prayer, which looks forward to the great sabbath (“Thy kingdom come”), has as a central petition the jubilee release: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). Lenski translated this, “And dismiss for us our debts as we, too, did dismiss our debtors.”[ccxxxi] The translation “trespasses” is good, in that it points more clearly to our sins; but the word “debts” has a broader connotation often, as it definitely does here. As Lenski observed, “So great are our debts to God that we can never hope to pay them, and our only help is that God will remit them gratis, by way of gift, for Christ’s sake.”[ccxxxii]

The sabbath means rest, forgiveness, the cancellation of debt and weariness. It means fresh life. Since the unbeliever is by nature a slave, he is not released from debts:

At the end of every seven years there must be a canceling of debts, and this shall be the way of canceling: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he made to his neighbor or to his brother: he shall make no demand for repayment, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed. A foreigner you may press for payment, but whatever of yours was due from a brother you shall cancel. However, there should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will abundantly bless you in the land He will give you to possess as an heritage, if you listen to the Lord your God and rightly observe all these commandments which today I am enjoining upon you. When the Lord your God blesses you as He promised you, then you shall lend to many nations, but not borrow; you shall rule many nations, but they shall not rule over you. (Deut. 15:1–6, Berkeley Version)

God’s goal is a debt-free society which is also poverty-free, and this is only possible in terms of His law.

The effect of the sabbath law here is marked in Christendom. As Clark noted:

Modern statutes of limitation and bankruptcy acts fulfil the purpose of the ancient law of sabbatical release—the former by forbidding the bringing of an action upon a debt after a certain number of years and the latter enabling a debtor to turn over his property in satisfaction of his debts.[ccxxxiii]

The modern statutes are thoroughly secular and profane in intention, however, and, while derived from the Biblical sabbath law of release, are alien in spirit from it. The sabbath release confers life, but, to those alien to God, neither the sabbath nor its release can have their true meaning.

  1. The Sabbath and Work

In his analysis of “The Idea of the Sabbath,” Gustav Oehler observed, concerning it, that, first, “Man, like God, is to work and to rest; thus human life is to be a copy of Divine life.” The work of God’s people is to be instrumental in the restoration of the divine order to the earth. Second,

Divine labor terminates in happy rest; not till the Creator rests satisfied in the contemplation of His works is His creation itself complete. So, too, human labor is not to run on in resultless circles, but to terminate in a happy harmony of existence.

The jubilee in part brings out this aspect of the sabbath. Moreover, because “the whole course of human history is not to run on in dreary endlessness,” because its goal is a glorious victory, we, too, “are to find a completion in an harmonious and God-given order” which “is guaranteed by the Sabbath of creation, and prefigured by the sabbatical seasons.” The sabbath of creation, unlike the previous six days, is not ended with an evening. “The Divine rest of the seventh day of creation, which has no evening, hovers over the world’s progress, that it may at last absorb it into itself.”

Work and goal, effort and result, these are the two concepts which are basic to the idea of the sabbath, according to Oehler. The sabbath gives purpose to man’s life, in that it makes labor meaningful and purposive: it links it to a joyful consummation. The sabbath, Oehler noted, looks backward to the creation rest for its pattern and faith; it looks upward to God in the assurance of His grace and victory; it looks forward to the great sabbath consummation.

The full purport, however, of the idea of the Sabbath is not attained until that dominion of sin and death, which have entered into the development of mankind, is taken into account. It was after the curse of God was imposed upon the earth, and man condemned to labor in the sweat of his brow in the service of his perishable existence, that the desire for the rest of God took the form of a longing for redemption (Gen. v. 29). Israel, too, learned, by suffering under Egyptian oppression without any refreshing intermission, to sigh for rest. When their God bestowed upon them their regularly recurring period of rest, by leading them out of bondage, this ordinance became at the same time a thankful solemnity in remembrance of the deliverance they had experienced. Hence it is said, in the second version of the Decalogue (Deut. v. 15): “Remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out thence, with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath-day.” This passage does not, as it has often been understood, merely urge a motive for the special duty of not hindering servants from resting on the seventh day: nor, on the other hand, does it contain, as has also been asserted, the proper objective reason for the sanctification of the sabbath, which is, on the contrary, expressed, as already said, in the first version of the Decalogue (Ex. xx. 11); but it applies to the keeping of the Sabbath, in particular, that consideration which is the deepest subjective incitement to the fulfilling of the whole law. How closely the remembrance of the deliverance from Egyptian bondage was bound up with this very institution of the Sabbath, is evident from what, according to the testimony of Roman authors given above (Tacitus, Hist. v. 4; Justin, Hist. 36. 2), was known to the heathen concerning the reason for the celebration of the Sabbath.[ccxxxiv]

Attention has been called to the fact that restoration is basic to the concept of the sabbath. But restoration clearly involves work. As Oehler pointed out, “one point, important in an ethical aspect, remains to be noticed. The Sabbath has its significance only as the seventh day, preceded by six days of labor . . . Thus it is only upon the foundation of preceding labor in our vocation that the rest of the Sabbath is to be reared.”[ccxxxv]

The sabbath is God’s covenant sign with man, declaring God’s grace and God’s efficacious work unto salvation, so that man can rest, “forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

It must be remembered that an important aspect of the fourth law-word is this, “Six days thou shalt labour,” i.e., six days are set aside for work. There is a positive command, therefore, to work. The creation mandate declared to man, “Be fruitful, multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; bear rule over the fish of the sea; over the birds of the air and over every living, moving creature on earth” (Gen. 1:28, Berkeley Version). This mandate was declared before the fall. The duties of fertility, work, and dominion were established thus before the fall; they continued after the fall, but with a serious impediment. Without regenerating grace, man cannot keep God’s law and discharge his duties. The redeemed man’s work is not an attempt to create a paradise on earth, but to fulfill God’s requirements within the Kingdom. The redeemed man is a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and he abides by the laws thereof: this is his work, his duty, and his path to dominion. The fact of the sabbath presupposes the fact of work.

The relationship between the sabbath and work is one that brings all things into relationship to God and in dedication to Him. Nothing can be, nor can be deemed to be, outside of God. Not only covenant man but all his work must be circumcised in a sense, or baptized, into the Kingdom. The custom of the firstfruits was an aspect of this. But another law bears even more plainly on this matter:

And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised; three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal. And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:23–25)

This law clearly is linked with laws previously discussed which bear on soil conservation, the fertility of the trees, and respect for the life of all creation. Ginsburg’s comments bring out this aspect excellently:

Trees which bore fruit unfit for human food, which grew up by themselves, or which were planted for hedges or timber, did not come under this law.

Then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised.—Literally, then shall ye circumcise the uncircumcision, its fruit, that is, cut off or pinch off its uncircumcision, which the text itself explains as “its fruit.” The metaphorical use of circumcision is thus explained by the text itself: it denotes the fruit as disqualified or unfit. In chap. xxvi. 41 the same metaphor is used for the heart which is stubborn or not ripe to listen to the Divine admonitions. And in other passages of Scripture it is used with reference to lips (Ex. vi. 12, 30) and ears (Jer. vi. 10) which do not perform their proper functions.[ccxxxvi]

For the first three years the fruit must be pinched off and allowed to rot on the ground. In the fourth year, it could be eaten if redeemed from the Lord by paying its value plus a fifth part: it belonged to God. In the fifth year, the fruit could be harvested, and for five years thereafter, or, until the next sabbath year.

This law is concerned with the preservation of life by due respect for the conditions of life, but more is involved, because the word uncircumcised is deliberately and emphatically used. It means that the ground is indeed cursed for man’s sake, because of his sin, and all man’s work is futile and uncircumcised apart from God.

Concerning the uncircumcised fruit, Peake’s comment is an illustration of the absurdity of unbelief:

The point is perhaps that during the first three years it is taboo and must be left alone; it may originally have been left for the field-spirits. Notice that animal firstlings were also not used till they were three years old. The Arabs propitiate the jinn with blood when a piece of land is ploughed for the first time.[ccxxxvii]

This masterpiece of irrelevance is so treasured by the modernist mind that Nathaniel Micklem perpetuated it a generation later by quoting Peake in his own commentary on Leviticus 19:23–25.[ccxxxviii] Bonar, whom neither Peake nor Micklem would recognize as a commentator, since he took God’s law seriously, observed:

Was this precept not a memorial of the Forbidden Tree of Paradise? Every fruit-tree was to stand unused for three years, as a test of their obedience. Every stranger saw, in Israel’s orchards and vineyards, proofs of their obedience to their supreme Lord—a witness for Him.[ccxxxix]

The conservation of the soil and the preservation of the fertility of the tree are important: they underlie this fact of uncircumcision. The earth is the Lord’s, and it is to be used on His terms and under His law. The sabbath is not kept merely by inactivity, nor can any man commend himself to God by abstaining from eggs over which a hen labored on the sabbath. The sabbath presupposes work, work fulfilling God’s creation mandate and performed under God’s law, and the sabbath is the joyful rest from the exercise of this godly dominion. On the sabbath, a man rejoices that the earth is the Lord’s, and all the fulness thereof (Ps. 24:1). In that confidence man rests, and in that joy he surveys the work of his hands, knowing that his “labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). On that day, and in the sabbatical season, he abstains from the fruit and the tree, now like a forbidden tree to him, because the Lord, who commands work in order that man may exercise dominion, also sets the boundaries on that dominion.

Man knows that his “labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58) because the sovereign God makes all things work together for good unto them that love Him, who are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Covenant man recognizes, or is called to recognize, that to break the law at one point is to break the whole law (James 2:10), for to disregard the law at any point is to place ourselves in the position of gods at that point. The fact that Adam and Eve obeyed at all other points but disobeyed with respect to one tree did not give them a favorable balance with God. At that point they revealed a new operating principle: to be as gods, knowing or determining good and evil for themselves (Gen. 3:5). Both work and rest must be unto the Lord, and their presupposition must be the sovereignty of the triune God.

  1. The Sabbath and Authority

There is a description of marriage in Scripture which often brings a snort of dissent from women. Naomi, in planning marriage for Ruth, declared, “My daughter shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” (Ruth 3:1). The word rest here used in Hebrew is manaoch, place of rest, or, rest, whereas the rest which refers to cessation or sabbath is in Hebrew shabbathon. Nonetheless, while there is a distinction of importance between the two words, and the sabbath rest has a fullness lacking in the other, there is also a relationship.

It will not do to say that marriage was a rest to Ruth because, prior to that, she was working as a gleaner. The rest for Ruth was that she would in marriage be under the care and authority of a man, even as a man’s rest is to be under Christ, “for the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man” (1 Cor. 11:3). True rest exists in that marriage where, despite the extensive work which may be the lot of husband and wife, each is under authority and walks in the confidence of that authority. The woman’s long hair and covered head is a sign of submission to authority, and that authority is “power on her head.” It signifies both her submission to authority and the power and protection that authority affords her. Historically and psychologically, the unprotected woman is open game.

The references to rest, shabbathon (Ex. 16:23; 31:15; 35:2; Lev. 16:31; 23:3, 32; 25:4–5), speak of it as a “holy” rest, or a “rest to the Lord,” or “holy to the Lord,” or the like. Because it is a covenant sign, the sabbath is a sign of subjection to God, of an acceptance of God’s authority on God’s terms. “I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them” (Ezek. 20:12). The sabbaths were as follows:

  1. The Weekly Sabbaths
  2. The New Moon Sabbaths, Numbers 28:11–15, when labor was not forbidden but sacrifices were required. Later, according to Amos 8:5, a cessation of work became customary, but the original law did not require it. Earlier, it was a day of family observances (1 Sam. 20:5ff.). Also, the Feast of Trumpets, or the New Year, was a sabbath.
  3. The Sabbatical Year and the Year of Jubilee (Ex. 23:10ff.; Lev. 25:1–10; Deut. 15:1–11; 31:10–13, etc.). Debts could only be contracted for a six year period; the seventh year was a sabbath and a year of release (Deut. 15:1–11).
  4. The Passover (Ex. 12:1–28, 43–49; 13:3–9; 23:15; Lev. 23:5ff.; Num. 28:16–25; Deut. 16:1ff.).
  5. Feast of Unleavened Bread (seven days) (Ex. 13:7).
  6. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), celebrated seven weeks after the Passover (Lev. 23:15ff.). This was a day of harvest thanksgiving, on the sixteenth of Nisan.
  7. The Feast of Tabernacles, kept seven days, by dwelling in booths made of boughs, recalled the Exodus journey (Lev. 23:36, 42). It ended the agricultural year with rejoicing and feasting.

There is thus a wide difference between the sabbaths. On the weekly sabbath, not even a fire could be built, food had to be cooked on the previous day. On the other hand, the new moon sabbaths originally did not call for a cessation of work, so that rest is not the essence of every sabbath; rejoicing and faith are. The other sabbaths were largely seasons of feasting and celebration. All the sabbaths were to be a delight to the covenant people.

To return to the relationship of the sabbath to authority, Ezekiel cited it as closely related to godly living, in speaking of the priests: “And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths” (Ezek. 44:24). The merely external rest of the sabbath was important, but an even deeper and more basic rest was the rest in the authority and work of God, and man’s delight in it. The commandment does not merely require a cessation of work, but “[r]emember . . . to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). Both work and rest were under authority and set apart or sanctified unto the Lord. Holiness in itself implies authority: it is separation and dedication in terms of God.

From the foregoing, three things are apparent. First, the rest of the sabbath comes from the fact that covenant man is under authority. Second, the sabbath is kept as a “sabbath to Jehovah thy God” (Ex. 20:10), as Bush rendered it,[ccxl] as a sign of the covenant. Third, the sabbath is holy unto the Lord. All three things show clearly the basic fact of the sovereignty and authority of God, so that the sabbath must set forth God’s authority and sovereignty, or else it is not truly a sabbath.

At this point, the development of synagogue and church worship appears as a logical development of the sabbath. Although it had no part in the original sabbath, it was still a necessary and logical development. To be under authority and to acknowledge sovereignty requires knowledge. The Levites very early became expositors of the law, and the schools of prophets were training centers for a teaching ministry. The synagogue was the result, so the Council of Jerusalem could observe, “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:21).

Growth in knowledge of God and His law-word is thus important to the celebration of the sabbath, and the evidence of the New Testament is eloquent to this fact. The Christian sabbath is thus geared to knowledge as an important aspect of the sabbath rest. Thus, a first and central aspect of the Christian sabbath is that it is a day for the proclamation of the word of God, a day when its meaning is studied and the knowledge of its application furthered. The joy and the song associated with the sabbath is associated with this knowledge. The knowledge of salvation, and the confidence in the divine law-word, give to the covenant people a delight and a certainty expressed in song and praise.

Second, while the Christian sabbath is inescapably and closely linked to the sabbath of Israel, there is still a very important difference. St. Paul’s words in Colossians 2:16–17 make it clear that the old ordinance has undergone a radical change. Calvin commented on the Colossians passage:

To judge means here to hold one to be guilty of a crime, or to impose a scruple of conscience, so that we are no longer free. He says, therefore, that it is not in the power of men to make us subject to the observance of rites which Christ has by his death abolished, and exempts us from their yoke, that we may not allow ourselves to be fettered by the laws which they have imposed. He tacitly, however, places Christ in contrast with all mankind, lest any one should extol himself so daringly as to attempt to take away what he has given him.

. . . The reason why he frees Christians from the observance of them is, that they were shadows at a time when Christ was still, in a manner, absent. For he contrasts shadows with revelation, and absence with manifestation. Those, therefore, who still adhere to these shadows, act like one who should judge of a man’s appearance from his shadow, while in the meantime he had himself personally before his eyes. For Christ is now manifested to us, and hence we enjoy him as being present. The body, says he, is of Christ, that is, IN Christ.[ccxli]

Luther cited the old sabbath “among the ceremonies that were necessary for the people of Moses but free for us.”[ccxlii] Calvin’s commentary on the law brought to focus the importance of the old as well as the change to the new:

And first of all, that this was a ceremonial precept, Paul clearly teaches, calling it a shadow of these things, the body of which is only Christ (Col. ii. 17). But if the outward rest was nothing but a ceremony, the substance of which must be sought in Christ, it now remains to be considered how Christ actually exhibited what was then prefigured; and this the same Apostle declares, when he states that “our old man is crucified with Christ,” and that we are buried with Him, that His resurrection may be to us newness of life (Rom. vi. 4). It is to be gathered without doubt from many passages, that the keeping of the sabbath was a serious matter, since God inculcates no other commandment more frequently, nor more strictly requires obedience to any; and again when He complains that He is despised, and that the Jews have fallen into extreme ungodliness, He simply says that His “Sabbaths are polluted,” as if religion principally consisted in their observance (Jer. xvii. 24; Ez. xx. 21; xxii. 8; xxiii. 38). Moreover, if there had not been some peculiar excellency in the Sabbath, it might have appeared to be an act of atrocious injustice to command a man to be put to death for cutting wood upon it (Numb. xv. 32). Wherefore it must be concluded that the substance of the Sabbath, which Paul declares to be in Christ, must have been no ordinary good thing.[ccxliii]

These words of Calvin are in marked contrast to the savage persecution ascribed to Calvin by anti-Christian writers. The “savage severity” of Calvin is a myth.[ccxliv] The Sunday laws and other moral legislations were medieval laws which were in force in Geneva when Calvin was not there, and were enforced by persons who were often strongly opposing Calvin.[ccxlv]

To return to Calvin’s point, a law which once called for death involved something very important and unusually good. Christ is that great good, and our rest in Him. As Calvin noted, “the Sabbath is violated even by good works, so long as we regard them as our own.”[ccxlvi] The essence of the sabbath is our rest in Christ, and our growth in the knowledge of that salvation by His grace.

The point of difference between Israel’s sabbath and the Christian sabbath is not only in the day but in the end of the old restrictions. The first day of the week was a workday in Palestine and also throughout the Roman Empire. The church normally met on the evening of the first day, because the members worked during the day. On one occasion, a sleepy member fell out the window and was killed (Acts 20:7–12). Obviously, if work on the Lord’s day was still illegal, the New Testament would have had much to say concerning it. The old law was clearly altered here. The duty now, as stated by St. Paul, was “[n]ot forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (Heb. 10:25).

Some, however, would call the work of the early Christians “works of necessity.” In an alien culture, their work was comparable in a sense to enforced labor, slave labor. There is a good case for this. When Christian states were established, some forms of mandatory sabbath observance followed. When the sabbath laws began to break down, the reaction was an anguished one, as witness Robert Murray McCheyne, in a famous sermon of December 18, 1841:

Dear fellow countrymen, as a servant of God in this dark and cloudy day, I feel constrained to lift up my voice in behalf of the Lord’s Day. The daring attack that is now made by some of the directors of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway on the law of God and the peace of our Scottish Sabbath, the blasphemous motion which they mean to propose to the shareholders next February, and the wicked pamphlets which are now being circulated in thousands, full of all manner of lies and impieties, call loudly for the calm, deliberate testimony of all faithful ministers and private Christians in behalf of God’s holy day. In the name of all God’s people in this town and in this land, I commend for your consideration the following reasons for loving the Lord’s Day.[ccxlvii]

McCheyne then eloquently gave reasons for, let it be noted, “loving” the Lord’s day. While he opposed Sunday trains, and called it sabbath-breaking, he could not place it fully on the Old Testament level.

The world, with increasingly round-the-clock operation of power plants, food transports, and the like, was rendering McCheyne’s concept of the sabbath untenable. But the modern concept of the no-sabbath is equally untenable and destructive of man’s peace. The sabbath of Israel is gone, and its laws, but the Christian sabbath does require Christian order, and an aspect of that order is the Christian sabbath.

But the sabbath is a sign of the covenant; it is not a law for a humanistic state, and has no meaning for it, nor can it be required of it. In a Christian state, it cannot be made anything resembling the sabbath of Israel. It must be a day of rest, and of peace and quiet, but the basic emphasis is on the authority of God, knowledge of Him, and rest in His government and salvation. The shifting of emphasis from the meaning of the sabbath to quibbling about regulations for the sabbath is certainly no honor to the sabbath. The words of St. Paul in Colossians 2:16–17 remain true: if no man is to judge us with respect to the sabbaths, we then are similarly to judge none.

But, third, those who are members of the covenant, instead of being judges and lawmakers over others with respect to the sabbath, are instead happy keepers of the day: it is for them truly a day of rest, because they alone are truly capable of resting. It is for them a day when God works in them by His word and His Spirit, so that they grow in grace and in wisdom, and in favor with God in the sight of men.

Psalm 1 states the relationship of man to the law very plainly:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the lawless, nor standeth in the way of the unlawful, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of YAHWEH; and in His Law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall flourish.

The lawless are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the lawless shall not stand in The Judgment, nor the unlawful in the Congregation of the Righteous. For YAHWEH knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the lawless shall perish.[ccxlviii]

It is the vitality of faith which rejoices in the sabbath, and which flourishes because of the sabbath rest. To rest in the Lord is to accept His authority and to trust in Him.

  1. The Sabbath and Law

St. Augustine spoke of the goal of history as “the great Sabbath which has no evening.”[ccxlix] He concluded his Confessions with a statement on the meaning of the sabbath as the goal of history:

(XXXV.) 50. O Lord God, give peace unto us: (for Thou hast given us all things;) the peace of rest, the peace of the Sabbath which hath no evening. For all this most goodly array of things very good, having finished their courses, is to pass away, for in them there was morning and evening.

(XXXVI.) 51. But the seventh day hath no evening, nor hath it setting; because Thou hast sanctified it to an everlasting continuance; that that which Thou didst after Thy works which were very good, resting on the seventh day, although Thou madest them in unbroken rest, that may the voice of Thy Book announce beforehand unto us, that we also after our works (therefore very good, because Thou hast given them us,) shall rest in Thee also in the Sabbath of eternal life.

(XXXVII.) 52. For then shalt Thou so rest in us, as now Thou workest in us; and so shall that be Thy rest through us, as these are Thy works through us. But Thou, Lord, ever workest, and art ever at rest. Nor dost Thou see in time, nor art moved in time, nor restest in a time; and yet Thou makest things seen in time, yea the times themselves, and the rest which results from time.

(XXXVIII.) 53. We therefore see these things which Thou madest, because they are: but they are, because Thou seest them. And we see without, that they are, and within, that they are good, but Thou sawest them there, when made, where Thou sawest them, yet to be made. And we were at a later time moved to do well, after our hearts had conceived of Thy Spirit; but in the former time we were moved to do evil, forsaking Thee; but Thou, the One, the Good God, didst never cease doing good. And we also have some good works, of Thy gift, but not eternal; after them we trust to rest in Thy great hallowing. But Thou, being the Good which needeth no good, art ever at rest, because Thy rest is Thou Thyself. And what man can teach man to understand this? or what Angel, an Angel? or what Angel, a man? Let it be asked of Thee, sought in Thee, knocked for at Thee; so, shall it be received, so shall it be found, so shall it be opened. Amen.[ccl]

Westcott spoke of the sabbath rest of Hebrews 4:9 as “a rest which closes the manifold forms of earthly preparation and work (the Hexaemeron of human toil): not an isolated sabbath but a sabbath-life . . . The Sabbath rest answers to the Creation as its proper consummation.” Westcott, citing St. Augustine, then called attention to rabbinical commentaries:

The Jewish teachers dwelt much upon the symbolic meaning of the Sabbath as prefiguring “the world to come.” One passage quoted by Schoettgen and others may be given: “The people of Israel said: Lord of the whole world, shew us the world to come. God, blessed be He, answered: Such a pattern is the Sabbath” (Jalk. Rub. p. 95, 4). In this connexion the double ground which is given for the observance of the Sabbath, the rest of God (Ex. xx. 11) and the deliverance from Egypt (Deut. v. 15), finds its spiritual confirmation. The final rest of man answers to the idea of Creation realised after the Fall by Redemption.[ccli]

This view of the sabbath is not only the teaching of the church fathers like Augustine, and of rabbis, but also of modern Protestant commentators. Lenski, who pointed out that “God rested ‘from his works’ (not ‘from his labors’),” noted that it was the ordained eternal rest from before creation.[cclii] Schneider noted further that “this ‘rest’ is not a forlorn bliss blotting out activity. It is rather the ‘active rest’ (Luther) in which the perfected Church adores and praises God.”[ccliii]

Hebrews 3 and 4 are the foundation for this interpretation of the sabbath. Canaan, the Promised Land, was a foreshadowing of the true sabbath, but the true sabbath could not be identified with it. Beyond all the types, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9), or, it can be translated, that there remains a sabbath, or a sabbath-rest, to the people of God. As Moulton noted of Hebrews 4:10, “Man’s sabbath-rest begins when he enters into God’s rest (Gen. ii. 2); as that was the goal of the creative work, so to the people of God this rest is the goal of their life of ‘works.’”[ccliv]

Certain general observations can now be made concerning the sabbath. First, the foregoing makes it clear that the sabbath has always had reference to the future. The pattern of the sabbath is in the past, from the sabbath of creation. The entrance into the sabbath is also in the past; for Israel, it was the redemption from Egypt; for the church, it is in the resurrection. The fulfillment of the sabbath is in the new creation. The sabbath is a present rest, based on past events, with a future reference and fulfillment.

Second, and closely related to the future reference of the sabbath, the law of the sabbath required providence, i.e., a provident people. Because of the short-term nature of debt, only emergency debts could be contracted. In each century, sixteen years were sabbaths, including two jubilee years. While God promised an abundant harvest for faithfulness to His law, it was still necessary for man to use that abundance providently, or else he would be unable to live. Providence in management means an obviously future-oriented perspective. Instead of a past-oriented and consumption-centered economy, the sabbath produced a production-centered, future-oriented, and rest-conscious society. A provident society can rest with peace and security, and a productive society is best able to enjoy rest.

Third, a sabbath-oriented society best gives rest. A generation ago, railroaders in the United States worked seven days a week, ten hours a day, every day of the year. Clearly, such working conditions were anti-Biblical and, in terms of Biblical law, criminal. Not surprisingly, the railroad tycoons were on the whole a group of thoroughly reprobate men. When the fourth commandment rules it unlawful to deny even the earth and domesticated animals their sabbath, how much more so the denial of rest to man? And yet, clearly, the shorter working hours, the paid vacations, five eight-hour-day work weeks have failed to give men true rest. The increase of heart attacks, ulcers, and other stress-induced ailments and diseases makes it clear that the change in working conditions has not been any help to man. Because the older order, ungodly as it was, still was closer to a Christian faith and order, man had, in the face of lawless working conditions, a greater ability to rest than does the man of the late twentieth century. In a sabbath-oriented society, the provident man, having lived debt-free, finding rest in Christ, and able both to work and to relax, has a peace and joy in life lacking in a phrenetic generation.

But, fourth, since all law has reference to the future, and is in essence a plan for the future, the sabbath law is a plan for the world’s tomorrow. The Biblical law works to eliminate evil and to abolish poverty and debt. The sabbath law has as its work the re-creation of man, animals, and the earth, the whole of creation. The sabbath thus reveals the design and direction of the whole law: it is a declaration of the future the law is establishing.

Thus, while Colossians 2:16–17 makes it clear that the formalisms of the Old Testament observances are ended, the essence of the law is in force and is basic to all Biblical law.

Non-Christian thought, when oriented to the future, faces a double penalty. First, it is past-bound. The “civil rights” revolution, for example, has only the vaguest sense of the burdens of responsibility, which any person thinking in terms of reality and the future needs to have. Instead, the “civil rights” revolutionists speak endlessly of past evils, not merely real or imagined evils of their own experiencing, but all evils which they believe their ancestors suffered. Similarly, some labor union men, and American Indians, dwell endlessly on past history rather than present reality. This inability to live in the present means a radical incapacity for coping with the future.

Second, the non-Christian, as he faces the future, is at best utopian and unrealistic. As Mumford noted, “each utopia was a closed society for the prevention of human growth.”[cclv] Man is reduced to economic man and viewed in terms of an externalism which destroys man.[cclvi] Utopianism not only presents an illusory or dangerous picture of the future, but it also distorts and destroys the present. Utopianism thus affords man no help as he works towards the future: it gives man illusions which beget only needless sacrifice and work and produce nothing but social chaos.


  1. The Authority of the Family

Before analyzing the Biblical law with respect to the honoring of parents, and their authority, it is necessary to take note of the extensive undermining of the Biblical doctrine of the family. In the Ten Commandments, four laws deal with the family, three of them directly: “Honor thy father and mother,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not steal,” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:12, 14, 15, 17). The fact that property (and hence theft) were family-oriented appears not only in all the law, but in the tenth commandment: to covet, whether property, wife, or servants of another was a sin against the neighbor’s family. The family is clearly central to the Biblical way of life, and it is the family under God which has this centrality.

But it must be added that this Biblical perspective is alien to the Darwinian worldview. Evolutionary thought concedes the centrality of the family, but only as a historical fact. The family is seen as the great primitive institution, now rapidly being superseded, but important for studies of man’s evolutionary past. The family is seen as the old collectivity or collectivism which must give way to “the new collectivity.”[cclvii] As the old collectivism which is resisting change, the family is steadily attacked by evolutionary social scientists, educators, and clergymen.

The evolutionary anthropology which undergirds this attack owes much, after Darwin, to William Robertson Smith (1846–1894), The Religion of the Semites. Darwin and Smith in turn gave Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) his basic premises. In terms of this perspective, as presented by Freud (but also made popular by Sir James G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough), the origins of the family are in man’s primitive past rather than God’s creative purpose. The “primal horde,” or primitive society, was dominated by the “violent primal father,” who drove out the sons and claimed exclusive sexual possession of the mother and the daughters. “The origin of morality in each of us” comes from the Oedipus complex.[cclviii] The rebellious sons, who envied and feared the father, banded together, killed and ate the father, and then possessed the mother and the sisters sexually. Their remorse and guilt over their acts created three basic taboos for man, parricide, cannibalism, and incest. For Freud, in Christianity, the son makes atonement on the cross for killing the father, and cannibalism is transformed into a sacrament, the communion.[cclix]

With this in mind, we can understand why anthropologists can say, “The family is the most fundamental of all social groups, and it is universal in its distribution.” The next sentence informs us, however, that the family is a “culturally determined” social form,[cclx] i.e., it is entirely an evolutionary product of man’s culture. Accordingly, the subject of “Religion and Ritual” is introduced in the course of an analysis of the “Extension of Kinship.”[cclxi] The power of the parent and the security of the family are in religion projected against the hostile environment to give it a participating kinship and favor to man.

Accordingly, we are told, there are two kinds of religions, the religion of the mother, and the religion of the father.

Thus, van der Leeuw wrote,

“There is nothing more sacred on earth than the religion of the mother, for it leads us back to the deepest personal secret in our souls, to the relationship between the child and its mother”; in these terms Otto Kern has crystallized the essence of our theme. Believing that behind Power he decries the outlines of a Form, man recognizes therein the features of his own mother; his loneliness when confronted with Power thus transforms itself into the intimate relationship to the mother.[cclxii]

The origin of fertility cults is seen in the worship of the mother, an invoking of fertility as well as a return to the security of the womb. The mother cult leads eventually to the father cult. According to van der Leeuw, “To every man his mother is a goddess, just as his father is a god.”[cclxiii] Moreover, “The mother creates life: the father history”;[cclxiv] i.e., the fertility cult religions are matters of prehistory, and of primitive cultures, whereas the father as god is a stage of man’s development in history. Van der Leeuw admitted, in commenting on Isaiah 63:16 and 64:8, that the Biblical God “is not the figure of the generator but of a creator, whose relations to man are the precise opposite of kinship, and before whose will man bows in deep but trustful dependence,”[cclxv] but, having noted this, he returned to his evolutionary thesis.

Religion, thus, is seen as a projection of the family, and the family must therefore be destroyed in order that religion may also be destroyed. But this is not all. Private property is similarly seen as an outgrowth of the family, and the abolition of private property requires the destruction of the family as a prerequisite. Van der Leeuw spoke of the relationship between the family and property:

Among many peoples, still further, property also plays a part as the common element of the family. For property is not just the object which the owner possesses. It is a power, and indeed a common power . . . Thus we find the common element of the family bound up with blood and with property; but it is not confined to these, for it is sacred, and therefore cannot be derived without any remainder from the given.[cclxvi]

According to Hoebel,

The essential nature of property is to be found in social relations rather than in any inherent attribute of the thing or object that we call property. Property, in other words, is not a thing, but a network of social relations that governs the conduct of people with respect to the use and disposition of things.[cclxvii]

This is a typical little trick of the modern humanistic intellectual: dispose of a problem by defining it away! For Hoebel, property is not “a thing but a network of social relations.” And what do these social relations govern? Hoebel’s last word makes it clear: they govern things! What are these things if not property?

But it was Friedrich Engels who most plainly stated the humanistic case (and the “Marxist” thesis) concerning the relationship between property and the family. The monogamous family, he held, “is based on the supremacy of the man, the express purpose being to produce children of undisputed paternity; such paternity is demanded because these children are later to come into their father’s property as his natural heirs.”[cclxviii] Monogamy has reduced the importance of women and has led to “the brutality towards women that has spread since the introduction of monogamy.”[cclxix] Monogamy, and the modern individual family, rests or is “founded on the open or concealed domestic slavery of the wife.”[cclxx] The original group marriage has given way to pairing marriage, and, finally, to monogamy, whose concomitants are “adultery and prostitution.”[cclxxi] Communism will abolish both traditional monogamy and private property:

We are now approaching a social revolution in which the economic foundations of monogamy as they have existed hitherto will disappear just as surely as those of its complement—prostitution. Monogamy arose from the concentration of considerable wealth in the hands of a single individual—a man—and from the need to bequeath this wealth to the children of that man and of no other . . . Having arisen from economic causes, will monogamy then disappear when these causes disappear?

One might answer, not without reason: far from disappearing, it will on the contrary, be realized completely. For with the transformation of the means of production into social property there will disappear also wage-labor, the proletariat, and therefore the necessity for a certain—statistically calculable—number of women to surrender themselves for money. Prostitution disappears; monogamy, instead of collapsing, at last becomes a reality—also for men.

. . . With the transfer of the means of production into common ownership, the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not. This removes all the anxiety about the “consequences” which today is the most essential social—moral as well as economic—factor that prevents a girl from giving herself completely to the man she loves. Will not that suffice to bring about the gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse and with it a more tolerant public opinion in regard to a maiden’s honor and a woman’s shame? And, finally, have we not seen that in the modern world monogamy and prostitution are indeed contradictions, but inseparable contradictions, poles of the same state of society? Can prostitution disappear without dragging monogamy with it into the abyss?[cclxxii]

Engels’ view of marriage was that of an easily dissolved tie based only on love, with freedom for any association without penalty.[cclxxiii] Very clearly, Biblical marriage was to be abolished with the abolition of private property.

It becomes apparent, then, why modern humanistic education, and especially Marxist education, is so hostile to the family, and so clearly dedicated to replacing the “old collectivity” of the family with “the new collectivity,” the state. To destroy the monogamous Biblical family means, from their perspective, the destruction, first, of religion, and, second, of private property. The Marxist wants to “emancipate” woman by making her an industrial worker.[cclxxiv] This is “emancipation” by definition, because it frees woman from the Biblical religion-marriage-property complex.

In order to counteract these humanistic conceptions of the family and of the parental role, the Biblical doctrine of the family which is plainly God-centered must be understood and stressed. The humanistic doctrine of the family is man-centered and society-centered. The family is seen as a social institution, which, in the course of evolution, provided the original and “old collectivity” and must now give way to “the new collectivity” as mankind becomes the true family of man. As already noted, the first characteristic of the Biblical doctrine is that the family is viewed in terms of a God-centered function and origin. The family is a part of God’s purpose for man, and it functions to the glory of God in its true form, as well as giving man his own self-realization under God.

Second, Genesis 1:27–30 makes it clear that God created man to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it under God. Although originally only Adam was created (Gen. 2:7), the creation mandate is plainly spoken to man in the married estate, and with the creation of woman in mind. Thus, essential to the function of the family under God, and to the role of the man as the head of the household, is the call to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. This gives to the family a possessive function: to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it clearly involves in the Biblical perspective private property. Man must bring to all creation God’s law order, exercising power over creation in the name of God. The earth was created “very good” but it was as yet undeveloped in terms of subjugation and possession by man, God’s appointed governor. This government is particularly the calling of the man as husband and father, and of the family as an institution. The fall of man has not altered this calling, although it has made its fulfillment impossible apart from Christ’s regenerating work.

Third, this exercise of dominion and possession clearly involves responsibility and authority. Man is responsible to God for his use of the earth, and must, as a faithful governor, discharge his calling only in terms of his Sovereign’s royal decree or word. His calling confers also on him an authority by delegation. To man is given authority by God over his household and over the earth. In the Marxist scheme, the transfer of authority from the family to the state makes any talk of the family as an institution ridiculous. The family is to all practical intent abolished whenever the state determines the education, vocation, religion, and the discipline of the child. The only function remaining then to the parents is procreation, and, by means of birth control regulations, this, too, is subject now to a diminishing role. The family in such a society is simply a relic of the old order, maintaining itself only surreptitiously and illegally, and subject at all times to the intervening authority of the state. In all modern societies, the transfer of authority from the family to the state has been accomplished in varying degrees.

In the Biblical perspective, the authority of the family is basic to society, and it is a God-centered authority. Hence the common division of the commandment into two tables, or two sides, of five each, with the fifth commandment placed alongside those relating to man’s duty to God.

The meaning of the family is thus not to be sought in procreation but in a God-centered authority and responsibility in terms of man’s calling to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it.

Fourth, the function of the woman in this aspect of God’s law order is to be a helpmeet to man in the exercise of his dominion and authority. She provides companionship in his calling (Gen. 2:18), so that there is a community in authority, with the clear preeminence being the man’s. Man’s sin is to attempt to usurp God’s authority, and woman’s sin is to attempt to usurp man’s authority, and both attempts are a deadly futility. Eve exercised leadership in submitting to the temptation; she led Adam rather than being led; Adam succumbed to the desire to be as God (Gen. 3:5), while acting as less than a man in submitting to Eve’s leadership.

But the authority of the woman as helpmeet is no less real than that of a prime minister to a king; the prime minister is not a slave because he is not king, nor is the woman a slave because she is not a man. The description of a virtuous woman, or a godly wife, in Proverbs 31:10–31 is not of a helpless slave nor of a pretty parasite, but rather of a very competent wife, manager, businesswoman, and mother—a person of real authority.

The key, therefore, to the Biblical doctrine of the family is to be found in the fact of its central authority, and the meaning thereof.

  1. The Promise of Life

The fifth commandment carries a significant pledge to the obedient, the promise of life:

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Ex. 20:12)

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Deut. 5:16)

Exodus states, and Deuteronomy, in expanded form repeats, this promise of life. Before analyzing the meaning of this promise, it is necessary to understand the condition, the honoring of parents.

Rylaarsdam’s comment is an amusing example of modernist interpretation. His interpretation of Exodus 20:12 reads:

The Fifth (Fourth) Commandment stands at the point of transition from social to civil law. The honoring of parents is a form of piety, though not a cultic observance. In Deut. 5:16 prosperity is added to the promise of length of days in the land offered here. Minor children were bound to strict obedience (21:15, 17; Lev. 20:9; Prov. 30:17). This commandment most especially refers to the treatment of helpless aged dependents. They are not to be sent abroad to be eaten of beasts or to die of exposure, as was the case in some societies. The possession of the land which your God gives (“is giving,” “will give”—as in Deuteronomy the locus is Sinai) depends upon the maintenance of family standards.[cclxxv]

In other words, parents are “honored” if they are not exposed to die! Certainly, the custom of Eskimos was not the custom of the ancient Near East, and this interpretation is in every respect willfully wrong. The requirement here is, first, a religious honoring of parents, and, second, it involved a general respect for one’s elders. This is plainly required in Leviticus 19:32: “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.” The respect for the aged was marked; according to Proverbs 16:31, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” But, as Leviticus 19:32 made clear, irrespective of the moral character of the older generation, a basic respect and honor is due. Righteousness adds a “crown of glory” to the older generation.

Age commanded respect. Paul could thus appeal to his age as a factor in trying to sway Philemon: “Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 9). Love, age, and his imprisonment for Christ all gave Paul moral authority. Because of this required respect for age, it is all the more imperative that with age we grow in wisdom. Thus, Paul counseled, “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, nor given to much wine, teachers of good things . . .” (Titus 2:2–3).

This brings us to the first general principle inherent in this law: honor to parents, and to all older than ourselves, is a necessary aspect of the basic law of inheritance. What we inherit from our parents is life itself, and also the wisdom of their faith and experience as they transmit it to us. The continuity of history rests in this honor and inheritance. A revolutionary age breaks with the past and turns on parents with animosity and venom: it disinherits itself. To respect our elders other than our parents is to respect all that is good in our cultural inheritance. The world certainly is not perfect, nor even law-abiding, but, although we come into the world naked, we do not enter an empty world. The houses, orchards, fields, and flocks are all the handiwork of the past, and we are richer for this past and must honor it. Our parents especially, who provide for us and nurture us, are to be honored above all others, for, if we do not do so, we both sin against God and we disinherit ourselves. As we shall see later, there is a close connection between disinheritance in a family estate and the dishonoring of parents, the rejecting of their honor and their cultural heritage. The basic and central inheritance of culture and all that it includes, faith, training, wisdom, wealth, love, common ties, and traditions are severed and denied where parents and elders are not honored. The tragic fact is that many parents refuse to recognize that their children have disinherited themselves.

A second general principle inherent in this law is that of progress rooted in the past, of inheritance as the foundation for progress. The commandment, speaking to adults, calls for honor, not obedience. For children, the requirement is obedience: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (Col. 3:20). Hodge’s interpretation of Ephesians 6:1 is excellent:

The nature or character of this obedience is expressed by the words, in the Lord. It should be religious; arising out of the conviction that such obedience is the will of the Lord. This makes it a higher service than if rendered from fear or from mere natural affection. It secures its being prompt, cordial and universal. That Kurios here refers to Christ is plain from the whole context. In the preceding chapter, v. 21, we have the general exhortation under which this special direction to children is included, and the obedience there required is to be rendered in the fear of Christ. In the following verses also Kurios constantly has this reference, and therefore must have it here. The ground of the obligation to filial obedience is expressed in the words, for this is right. It is not because of the personal character of the parent, nor because of his kindness, nor on the ground of expediency, but because it is right; an obligation arising out of the nature of the relation between parents and children, and which must exist wherever the relation exists.[cclxxvi]

Many cultures have had a religious honoring of parents, but this has usually been connected with ancestor worship and has been a stifling, deadening factor in society. China’s long failure to advance was due on the one hand to its relativism, and, on the other, to the social paralysis produced by its family system.

In Biblical faith, the family inherits from the past in order to grow firmly into the future. Man and wife become one flesh; they have in their marriage a common physical, sexual tie that makes them one flesh. Hence, Scripture declares, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Marriage calls for a move forward by the man and his wife; they break with the old families to create a new one. They remain tied to the old families in that both represent a cultural inheritance from two specific families. They remain tied further by a religious duty to honor their parents. The growth is real, and the dependence is real: the new clearly and plainly grows out of and realizes the potentiality of the old.

For this reason, the church is readily spoken of as a family in Scripture. St. Paul spoke of himself as the father of the Corinthian believers, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). Again, he wrote in Philemon 10, “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds.” The church is the family of the faithful, and the ties of faith are very close ones. The ties of the family are all the stronger if the bond is of both blood and faith.

Still another aspect of honor will be discussed separately under the title of “The Economics of the Family.” Our concern now is with the latter part of this law-word, the promise of long life and prosperity. Solomon repeated this promise of the law, summarizing it thus, “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (Prov. 4:10). Indeed, Proverbs 1–5 in their entirety deal with this promise of life.

Hodge, in analyzing this promise, observed:

The promise itself has a theocratical form in the Old Testament. That is, it has specific reference to prosperity and length of days in the land which God had given his people as their inheritance. The apostle generalizes it by leaving out the concluding words, and makes it a promise not confined to one land or people, but to obedient children every where. If it is asked whether obedient children are in fact thus distinguished by long life and prosperity? The answer is, that this, like all other such promises, is a revelation of a general purpose of God, and makes known what will be the usual course of providence. That some obedient children are unfortunate and short lived, is no more inconsistent with this promise, than that some diligent men are poor, is inconsistent with the declaration, “The hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Diligence, as a general rule, does secure riches; and obedient children, as a general rule, are prosperous and happy. The general promise is fulfilled to individuals, just so far “as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good.”[cclxxvii]

The question has been raised as to the application of the promise: is it for the nation, or is the promise for individuals? As Rawlinson noted:

The promise may be understood in two quite different senses. (1) It may be taken as guaranteeing national permanence to the people among whom filial respect and obedience is generally practised; or (2) it may be understood in the simpler and more literal sense of a pledge that obedient children shall, as a general rule, receive for their reward the blessing of a long life. In favour of the former view have been urged the facts of Roman and Chinese permanence, together with the probability that Israel forfeited its possession of Canaan in consequence of persisting in the breach of this commandment. In favour of the latter may be adduced the application of the text by St. Paul (Eph. vi. 3), which is purely personal and not ethnic; and the exegesis of the Son of Sirach (Wisd. iii. 6), which is similar. It is also worthy of note that an Egyptian sage, who wrote long before Moses, declared it as the result of his experience that obedient sons did attain to a good old age in Egypt, and laid down the principle broadly, that “the son who attends to the words of his father will grow old in consequence.”[cclxxviii]

The reference to Ben Sirach is to his declaration, “He that honoureth his father shall have a long life; and he that is obedient unto the Lord shall be a comfort to his mother” (Wisdom 3:6). This is not only a repetition of the law, but an observation of fact. The reality of life is that he who loves life, and honors the God who created life, by reverencing His law and his parents under God, lives most truly, happily, and longest as a rule. To despise one’s parents, or to hate them and dishonor them is to despise the immediate source of one’s life; it is a form of self-hate, and it is a willful contempt for the basic inheritance of life. From pastoral experience, it can be added that those who, when rebuked for their hatred of and dishonoring activity towards parents, arrogantly say, “I didn’t ask to be born,” have a limited life span, or, at best, a miserable one. Their course of action is suicidal. They are saying in effect, “I’m not asking to live.”

This same promise of life for honoring the immediate sources of life appears in Deuteronomy 22:6–7 and Leviticus 22:28:

And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day. (Lev. 22:28)

If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days. (Deut. 22:6–7)

A similar law appears in Exodus 23:19: “Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (RV). The language of the promise plainly connects these with the fifth commandment. Of Deuteronomy 22:6–7, it is noted: “The commandment is placed upon a par with the commandment relating to parents, by the fact that obedience is urged upon the people by the same premise in both instances.”[cclxxix] But it is more than a case of being “placed upon a par”; the fact is clearly indicated that one basic law is involved. Again, it will not do to say, as W. L. Alexander did, that “[t]hese precepts are designed to foster humane feelings towards the lower animals.”[cclxxx] A basic premise is asserted in the fifth commandment; in these laws dealing with the birds, cows, ewes, and kids, this principle is asserted and illustrated in minimal cases to illustrate the maximal reach of the law. The earth is the Lord’s and all life is the handiwork of the Lord. Man cannot on any level treat life except under law, God’s law. The cry of some oppressed Persians of another generation, “We are men, and would have laws!”[cclxxxi] was a notable one. Man needs God’s law, and the law of the Lord requires us to honor our inheritance at every level. To lay waste our inheritance, whether in the animal world or on the level of our family, is to deny life. It is playing god; it is assuming that we made ourselves and can remake our world. Paul could command obedience by children to their parents, saying, “It is right,” it is by nature obligatory and proper.

Honoring parents is placed on the same level as sabbath-keeping in Leviticus 19:1–3:

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

As Ginsburg pointed out, only twice in the entire law is the expression used, “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel,” in Exodus 12:3, at the institution of the Passover, and here. Of verse 3, “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father,” Ginsburg wrote:

The first means to attain to the holiness which is to make the Israelite reflect the holiness of God, is uniformly to reverence his parents. Thus the group of precepts contained in this chapter opens with the fifth commandment in the Decalogue (Exod. xx. 12), or, as the Apostle calls it, the first commandment with promise (Eph. vi. 2). During the second Temple, already the spiritual authorities called attention to the singular fact that this is one of the three instances in the Scriptures where, contrary to the usual practice, the mother is mentioned before the father; the other two being Gen. xliv. 20 and Lev. xxi. 2. As children ordinarily fear the father and love the mother, hence they say precedence is here given to the mother in order to inculcate the duty of fearing them both alike. The expression “fear,” however, they take to include the following:—(1) Not to stand or sit in the place set apart for the parents; (2) not to carp at or oppose their statements; and (3) not to call them by their proper names, but either call them father or mother, or my master, my lady. Whilst the expression “honour” which is used in the parallel passage in Exodus xx. 12, they understand to include (1) to provide them with food and raiment, and (2) to escort them. The parents, they urge, are God’s representatives upon earth; hence as God is both to be “honoured” with our substance (Prov. iii. 9), and as He is to be “feared” (Deut. vi. 13), so our parents are both to be “honoured” (Exod. xx. 12) and “feared” (chap. xix. 3); and as he who blasphemed the name of God is stoned (chap. xxiv. 16), so he who curses his father or mother is stoned (chap. xx. 9).[cclxxxii]

As Ginsburg pointed out, the blasphemy of God and the cursing of parents are plainly equated in the law. To reflect the holiness of God a man must begin by reverencing his parents.

Ginsburg then noted, of the second clause of Leviticus 19:3, “and keep my sabbaths,”

Joined with this fifth commandment is the fourth of the Decalogue.The education of the children, which at the early stages of the Hebrew commonwealth devolved upon the parents, was more especially carried on by them on Sabbath days.[cclxxxiii]

At this point, Ginsburg missed the theological sense of the text and resorted to a historical accident. Plainly, God and the parents are associated by the text; both are to be revered, God absolutely, the parents under God. Blasphemy against God and cursing one’s parents alike merit death. Both are assaults against fundamental authority and order. Moreover, the sabbath as rest and security in God is related to the fifth commandment in that parents provide, however faulty, some kind of rest and security for the child. The child is given life and nurture. The home represents a rest, and the godly home is truly a rest from the world, a security and pledge of victory in the face of it. Both sabbath and parents represent an inheritance from God of rest, peace, and victory. They are therefore closely associated in this law.

In this light, let us return to Deuteronomy 22:6–7, the mother bird and her eggs or young. Very clearly, the same basic principle is applied even to animal life. Man cannot exploit the resources of the earth radically or totally. The very life that is given to him for food must be used under law. But, even if the bird in question is not a bird fit for eating, the same principle applies. The issue at stake is not the preservation of man’s food supply but the reverential use of our inheritance in the Lord. There can be no progress without a respect for the past and our inheritance therein.

A third general principle appears in the promise of life for obedience. Some interpretations of this promise have been already noted. That of the Talmud is of interest also:

MISHNAH. A Man may not take the dam with the young even for the sake of cleansing the leper. (For whose purification rites two birds were required, one to be slaughtered and the other to be set free into the open field, cf. Lev. XIV, 4ff.). If in respect of so light a precept, which deals with that which is but worth an issar, the Torah said, That it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days, how much more (must be the reward) for the observance of the more difficult precepts of the Torah!

Gemara. It was taught: R. Jacob says, There is no precept in the Torah, where reward is stated by its side, from which you cannot infer the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Thus, in connection with honouring parents it is written, That thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee. Again in connection with the law of letting (the dam) go from the nest it is written, “That it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.” Now, in the case where a man’s father said to him, “Go up to the top of the building and bring down some young birds,” and he went to the top of the building, let the dam go and took the young ones, and on his return he fell and was killed—where is this man’s length of days, and where is this man’s happiness? But “that thy days may be prolonged” refers to the world that is wholly long, and “that it may go well with thee” refers to the world that is wholly good.[cclxxxiv]

The editor’s footnote to this reads, “The promise of bliss is to be fulfilled in the world to come, and one must not expect to receive the reward of a good deed in this world.”[cclxxxv] This gives a radically otherworldly interpretation which does injustice to the law.

An examination of other promises of life in the law makes clear how plainly earthly this promise is:

If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. (Ex. 15:26)

Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. (Ex. 23:24–26)

Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever. (Deut. 4:40)

O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! (Deut. 5:29)

Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. (Deut. 5:33)

Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. (Deut. 7:12–14)

If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, The Lord Thy God; Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed. And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God. And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. (Deut. 28:58–63)

And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. (Deut. 32:46–47)

Even a casual reading of these passages (and more could be cited) makes clear a number of points. First, the promise of life is given for the whole of the law. The fifth commandment has a primacy in this promise, but all the law offers life. Second, the promise of life is plainly material and of this world. The promise of eternal life is clear-cut elsewhere in Scripture, but it cannot be read into these passages. Third, the promise is not only to covenant man if he obeys, but it is to his cattle, fields, and trees. It means freedom from plagues and diseases. It means fertility and a safe delivery of the young. It means long life for covenant man and his household. The law is thus clearly a promise of life to covenant man when he walks in faith and obedience. Fourth, the law is also a promise of death, of disease, sterility, and plague, to the disobedient. To reduce the law, as some antinomians do, to merely a promise of death is to deny its meaning, and finally its judgment. The law is not a mere negation: its purpose is to outlaw sin and to protect and nurture righteousness. In this respect alone, the law is a promise of life. A law against murder is a promise of death to the murderer, and a promise of life and protection in life to the godly. To remove the promise of life to the godly means to remove at one and the same time the promise of death to the murderer. When thieves and murderers are removed from society, life and property are thereby protected and furthered. When the antinomians reduce the law to a merely negative function, death to sin, they implicitly remove that death penalty also and prepare the way for love to become the redeemer and life-giver rather than God. They remove it by making a new principle the life-giver, love, God’s love for man and man’s love for God; death then becomes the deprivation of love, and love is the cure-all for deprivation. But the Biblical doctrine of atonement declares plainly that man’s salvation is by Christ’s works of law, His perfect obedience as our representative and federal head, and His substitutionary acceptance of our sentence of death. We are sentenced to death by law, and we are made righteous before God by law, but we receive this fact by faith. Faith does not eliminate the legal transaction involved, nor the requirement that we now show forth the fruits of salvation, godly works. Faith rests on a foundation of law. Fifth, the promise of life which the law offers is not merely a removal of the conditions of death, i.e., the elimination, as it were, of murderers, although this is important. It is also the fact that God, as the life-giver, prospers our life and causes us to flourish therein. As Jesus Christ declared, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

The promise of life for obedience is thus a basic premise of the law, because the law is inseparable from life. Law is a basic condition of life.

A fourth general principle implicit in the fifth commandment is that to dishonor one’s parents is to dishonor one’s self, and to invite death; similarly, to dishonor one’s self is to dishonor parents. According to Leviticus 21:9, “And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.” Ginsburg commented:

Whilst the married daughter of a layman who had gone astray was punished with death by strangling (see chap. xx. 10; Deut. xxii. 23, 24), the daughter of a priest who had disgraced herself was to be punished with the severer death by burning. Though the doom of the guilty partner in the crime is not mentioned here, his sentence was death by strangulation.[cclxxxvi]

Her sin constitutes thus a triple offense, a sin against God, against her father, and against herself. The law is thus in a sense a promise of life to the living; the dead will turn from it, for their motive is not life but profanity.

  1. The Economics of Family

The word property, once one of the most highly regarded words in the English language, has come in recent years to have a bad connotation because of the deliberate assault on the concept by socialists. The word, however, was important enough to be a basic aspect of freedom to men during the War of Independence, when a rallying cry was, “Liberty and Property.” Now, however, even those who most defend property wince at its broader usage, the inclusion of people. Thus, most women would bridle at being described as property. But the word property should be regarded instead as a very highly possessive and affectionate term rather than a cold one. It comes from the Latin adjective proprius, meaning, “not common with others, own, special, several, individual, peculiar, particular, proper.” It also has the sense of “lasting, constant, enduring, permanent.” St. Paul makes it clear that husband and wife, with respect to sex, have a property right in one another (1 Cor. 7:4–5). Even more, it can be said that a man holds his wife as his property, and his children also. But because his wife and children have certain individual, particular, special, and continuing claims on him, they have a property right in him. Laws have at various times underlined these property rights in persons; thus, some states do not permit a father to disinherit any child; the children are given a degree of permanent property rights in the father. Similarly, most states do not permit a wife to be disinherited; her property right in her husband is safeguarded. The state now claims a property right over every man by laws of inheritance. At one time, the laws of Rome permitted the father to sell his children in terms of his property right, a power very common throughout history. The rationale of this power has been the protection of the family: to maintain the continuing life of the family in a time of economic crisis, a younger member, often a girl, was sold, on the principle that it was better for the family to survive a crisis by losing one member than for all to go under in starvation. In Japan, the sale of daughters to houses of prostitution to survive economic crises is still practiced.

Such practices were routine and normal in Biblical times. They were barred to Hebrews by Biblical law:

There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. (Deut. 23:17)

Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. (Lev. 19:29–30)

This way out of economic crisis is thus strongly forbidden by the law. Even more significant is the fact that in Leviticus 19:29–30, this bar on prostitution is clearly associated with sabbath-keeping and reverence for the sanctuary; the two verses are in effect one law, and they are separated from the other verses by the declaration: “I am the Lord.” Man’s rest in the Lord requires a godly care and oversight with respect to his children, and a reverence for the sanctuary is incompatible with a sale of children into prostitution. Only in one sense could a father “sell” a daughter under Biblical law, into marriage. This appears in Exodus 21:7–11:

And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three things unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

Marriage normally was by dowry: the groom gave a dowry to the bride which constituted her protection and children’s inheritance. If there were no dowry, then there was no marriage, only concubinage. But here, it is clearly marriage that is in view, and the word used is marriage. The girl is taken as a wife for either the man or for one of his sons. She is legally protected from being either a concubine or a slave; she cannot even be sent out into the fields like a slave. The girl clearly has the privileges of a dowered wife, because there was a dowry. The dowry in this case went to the girl’s family, not to her and her children. If the husband-to-be decided against marrying her, then the dowry is restored to him; the girl is “redeemed.” If he or a son married her, and then denied her any wifely right, she then had a legitimate ground for divorce, and left without any restoration of the dowry. The reference to “duty of marriage” is to her right of cohabitation.

If the girl in question did not please the new family after the betrothal, and before consummation, she resided with that family until the dowry was restored by her family, or by another prospective husband. This is apparent in Leviticus 19:20, where “not at all redeemed” is more accurately to be translated as “not fully or entirely redeemed.”[cclxxxvii]

If, during that time, the girl is either seduced, or is guilty of fornication, “She shall be scourged,” or, more accurately, “there shall be visitation or inquisition” to determine the truth of the matter. “This punishment (scourging) . . . she only received when it was proved that she was a consenting party to the sin (Lev. 19:20–22).”[cclxxxviii]

The dowry was an important part of marriage. We meet it first in Jacob, who worked seven years for Laban to earn a dowry for Rachel (Gen. 29:18). The pay for this service belonged to the bride as her dowry, and Rachel and Leah could indignantly speak of themselves as having been “sold” by their father, because he had withheld from them their dowry (Gen. 31:14–15). It was the family capital; it represented the wife’s security, in case of divorce where the husband was at fault. If she were at fault, she forfeited it. She could not alienate it from her children. There are indications that the normal dowry was about three years’ wages. The dowry thus represented funds provided by the father of the groom, or by the groom through work, used to further the economic life of the new family. If the father of the bride added to this, it was his privilege, and customary, but the basic dowry was from the groom or his family. The dowry was thus the father’s blessing on his son’s marriage, or a test of the young man’s character in working for it. An unusual dowry appears in Saul’s demand of David, a hundred foreskins of the Philistines (1 Sam. 18:25–27). Saul offered a test he felt would be too difficult for David to meet, but which David met.

The European dowry is a reversal of the Biblical principle: the girl’s father provides it as a gift to the groom. This has led to an unhealthy situation with respect to marriage and the family. Girls become, in such a system, a liability. In fourteenth and fifteenth century Italy, “Fathers came to dread the birth of a girl-child, in view of the large dowry they would have to provide for her, and every year the prices in the marriage-market rose.” This led to a virtual destruction of the family, whereas the Biblical dowry strengthened the family. The groom wanted the highest price before accepting a girl, and the father shopped for someone who would not bankrupt him by his demands. The protests of the clergy were to no avail.[cclxxxix]

In its Biblical form, the dowry had as its purpose an economic foundation for the new family. This aspect long lingered in America. “According to an old American custom, the father of the bride gave her a cow, which was intended to be the mother of a new herd to supply milk and meat for the new family.”[ccxc]

In cases of seduction and rape, the guilty party had to endower the girl with the dowry of a virgin. If marriage followed, he lost permanently any right of divorce as well (Ex. 22:16–17; Deut. 22:28–29). If not, the girl in such a case went into her marriage to another man with a double dowry, one of fifty shekels of silver from her seducer, and another from her husband.

The bride’s dowry was not only whatever her father gave her, and what her husband endowered her with, but also the wisdom, skill, and character she brought into the marriage. As Ben Sirach wrote, “A wise daughter shall bring an inheritance to her husband: but she that liveth dishonestly is her father’s heaviness” (Wisdom 22:4).

The importance to the family of a good wife and a godly daughter-in-law is readily apparent in any culture, but in a family-centered society, her value is all the greater. Ben Sirach commented on these things very plainly:

A wicked woman is a chafing ox-yoke; Taking hold of her is like grasping a scorpion. A drunken woman gets very angry, And does not even cover up her own shame. A woman’s immorality is revealed by her roving looks, and by her eye-lids. Keep a close watch over a headstrong daughter, For if she is allowed her liberty, she may take advantage of it. Keep watch over a roving eye, And do not be surprised if it offends against you. Like a thirsty traveler who opens his mouth And drinks of any water that is near, She will sit down before every tent peg, And open her quiver to the arrow.

The grace of a wife delights her husband, And her knowledge fattens his bones. A silent wife is a gift from the Lord, And a well-trained spirit is beyond estimation. A modest wife is blessing after blessing, And a self-controlled spirit no scale can weigh. Like the sun rising on the Lord’s loftiest heights, Is the beauty of a good woman as she keeps her house in order. Like a lamp shining on the holy lampstand, Is a beautiful face on a good figure. Like gold pillars on silver bases Are beautiful feet with shapely heels. (Wisdom 26:7–18)

This, clearly, reflected a popular Hebraic standard; the Biblical position is better stated in Proverbs 31:10–31. A conspicuous difference is that Ben Sirach reflected a common taste for a silent wife; this is not the Biblical requirement, which reads, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26). Ben Sirach called for a silent wife; God speaks instead of a talking wife, but one who speaks with wisdom and in kindness. Men as sinners prefer Ben Sirach’s standard, and women as sinners want the privilege and right of speech without the requirement of wisdom and kindness.

It should be added, before leaving the subject of the dowry, that, since this often involved the family, the family exercised considerable authority and often chose the wife. In the case of Isaac, his wife Rebekah was chosen by his parent, who provided the dowry; Isaac delighted in his chosen bride. In Jacob’s case, Jacob chose Rachel and provided his own dowry. The element of parental choice was not absent in Jacob’s case, in that both Rebekah and Isaac sent Jacob to Padan-aram to marry (Gen. 27:46–28:9). Neither was the groom’s concurrence in the parental choice absent from the arranged marriage. The whole point of the law of Exodus 21:7–11, the “sale” of a daughter, has reference to this: the girl in the household of the new family may or may not meet the approval of the prospective groom; and, if not, in that case she is to be “redeemed.”

Another basic aspect of the economics of the family is the fact of support. This has a double aspect. First, the parents have a duty to provide for the children, to support them materially and spiritually. Christian education is a basic aspect of this support. The parents have an obligation to feed and clothe the child, both body and soul, and they are accountable to God for the discharge of this duty. Second, the children when adults have a duty also in this respect, to provide for their parents materially and spiritually as needed. Ben Sirach referred to this duty in Wisdom 3:12, 16. This duty was emphatically underscored by Jesus Christ, who, from the cross, committed His mother Mary to St. John for care and support, “Woman, behold thy son! Then said he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26–27). The oral statements of a dying criminal were a legal testament, as Buckler pointed out:

Dalman has shown that among the rights and responsibilities of a dying criminal was the testamentary disposition of his estate and rights. For instance:

Jewish marital legislation insisted that everything should be definitely settled before it was too late. It happened, for instance, that one who was crucified gave his wife, shortly before expiring, freedom to marry again, and so a bill of divorcement could be written out, which entitled her to marry another man before the actual death of her present husband.

The case of our Lord was parallel to that of a married man, in that a principle of dominium was at stake. As the firstborn of Mary, He had both the authority and responsibility, which would have devolved on her second son James. The automatic devolution was apparently undesirable, so Our Lord used the authority He possessed as a dying criminal to commit her to the care of one whom He could trust—the Beloved Disciple.[ccxci]

The implication of this is also that, up to that moment, Jesus had maintained the responsibility for the care of His widowed mother. The other children may have assisted, but the government of the matter was in Jesus’s hands.

Jesus also condemned those who gave to God, but did not fulfill their responsibility of supporting their parents:

Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

This people honoreth me with their lips,

But their heart is far from me.

But in vain do they worship me,

Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.

Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men. And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death; but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is Corban, that is to say, Given to God; ye no longer suffer him to do aught for his father or his mother; making void the word of God by your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do. (Mark 7:6–13)

Jesus as the eldest son and main heir made John, although only a cousin and not a brother, the eldest son and main heir in His stead and gave him the responsibility for Mary’s support.

This illustrates clearly a central aspect of Biblical family law and of Biblical inheritance: the main heir supported and cared for the parents, as need required it. Abraham lived with Isaac and Jacob, not with Ishmael, or with his sons by Keturah. Isaac lived with Jacob, not Esau, and Jacob lived under the care and supervision of Joseph and therefore gave to Joseph a double portion by adopting Joseph’s two sons as his heirs on equal terms with all his other sons (Gen. 48:5–6).

The converse holds equally true: the child which supports and cares for the aged parents is the main or true heir. For parents or the civil law to rule otherwise is to work against godly order. Inheritance is not a question of pity or feeling but of godly order, and to set aside this principle is sinful. The question of inheritance and wills can best be understood if we examine the Biblical word for a will or testament: blessing. An inheritance is precisely that, a blessing, and for a parent to confer a blessing or the central blessing on an unbelieving child, or a rebellious and contemptuous child, is to bless evil. Although some portions of Biblical wills have the element of divine prophecy as well as testamentary disposition, it is important to note that they combine both blessings and curses, as witness Jacob’s words to Reuben, Simeon, and Levi (Gen. 49:3–7). To cut off a child is a total curse.

The general rule of inheritance was limited primogeniture, i.e., the oldest son, who had the duty of providing for the entire family in case of need, or of governing the clan, receiving a double portion. If there were two sons, the estate was divided into three portions, the younger son receiving one third. The parents had a duty to provide an inheritance, as far as their means afforded (2 Cor. 12:14). The father could not alienate a godly firstborn son because of personal feelings, such as a dislike for the son’s mother and a preference for a second wife (Deut. 21:15–17). Neither could he favor an ungodly son, an incorrigible delinquent, who deserved to die (Deut. 21:18–21). Where there was no son, the inheritance went to the daughter or daughters (Num. 27:1–11). If by reason of disobedience or unbelief, a man in effect had no son, then the daughter became the heir and son as it were. If there were neither sons nor daughters, the next of kin inherited (Num. 27:9–11). The son of a concubine could inherit, unless sent away or given a settlement (Gen. 21:10; 25:1–6). A maid could be her mistress’s heir (Prov. 30:23), and a slave could also inherit (Gen. 15:1–4), since he was in a real sense a family member. Foreign bondmen could also be inherited (Lev. 25:46). The inheritance of one tribe could not be transferred to another, i.e., the land of one area could not be alienated (Num. 36:1–12). A prince could give property to his sons as their inheritance, but not to a servant, lest this become a means of rewarding them to the detriment of his family (Ezek. 46:16–17). If some land were given by a prince to a servant, it reverted at the year of liberty to the prince’s sons. The prince could not confiscate the people’s inheritance or land, i.e., the state could not seize property or confiscate it (Ezek. 46:18).

This latter is an important point in view of the contemporary situation. The Biblical laws of inheritance are God’s law; the modern laws of inheritance are the state’s law. The state, moreover, is making itself progressively the main, and sometimes, in some countries, the only heir. The state in effect is saying that it will receive the blessing above all others. There is, however, a perverse justice and logic in the state’s position, in that it is assuming the dual roles of parent and child. It offers to educate all children and to support all needy families as the great father of all. It offers support to the aged as the true son and heir who is entitled to collect all of the inheritance as his own. In both roles, however, it is the great corrupter and is at war with God’s established order, the family.

A final aspect of the economics of the family: throughout history the basic welfare agency has been the family. The family, in providing for its sick and needy members, in educating children, caring for parents, and in coping with emergencies and disasters, has done and is doing more than the state has ever done or can do. The state’s intrusion into the realm of welfare and education leads to the bankrupting of people and state and to the progressive deterioration of character. The family is strengthened by its discharge of those duties which always lead to the decline of welfare states. The family is the basic economic unit of society, and the strongest one. No society can prosper which weakens the family, either by removing the family’s responsibilities for education and welfare, or by limiting the family’s control of its property and inheritance by usurpation.

A final point, the Biblical law of primogeniture was governed by the prior standard of moral and religious requirements. Whereas in Western European history primogeniture governed almost without exception, in Biblical history, the exceptions are almost the rule. In the Biblical record, inheritance by primogeniture without moral qualification is rare. Again and again, the firstborn is set aside because of moral failure. Thus, very obviously, the spiritual and moral considerations governed inheritance, from the days of the patriarchs to Christ’s testamental provision for Mary from the cross.

  1. Education and the Family

A fundamental aspect of the support due a child from his parents is education in the broadest sense of the word. This involves, first of all, chastisement. According to Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Again, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Prov. 19:18); parents then were as inclined to be tenderhearted as now, but the necessity for chastening cannot be set aside by a foolish pity. Chastisement can be a lifesaver to the child: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (Prov. 23:13–14). Chastening is necessary, as Kidner points out, because, Proverbs holds,

First, “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”; it will take more than words to dislodge it (22:15). Secondly, character (in which wisdom embodies itself) is a plant that grows more sturdily for some cutting back (cf. 15:32, 33; 5:11, 12; Heb. 12:11)—and this from early days (13:24b: “betimes”; cf. 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it”). In “a child left to himself” the only predictable product is shame (29:15).[ccxcii]

But chastening is no substitute for sound instruction, for proper teaching. Thus, second, the parents have a duty to provide the child with a godly education. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7); “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). Wisdom rests on faith, and true knowledge has as its presupposition the sovereign God. There can be no neutrality in education. Education by the state will have statist ends.

Education by the church will be geared to promoting the church. The school cannot be subordinate to either church or state.[ccxciii] The church of Christ’s day taught men to give to the church, ostensibly to God, rather than providing for their parents (Mark 7:7–13). Sin was thus taught as a virtue. Children are required to obey their parents. The counterpart to this is the parents’ duty to teach the fundamentals of obedience to their children, the law of God. The law itself requires this:

For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons. (Deut. 4:7–9)

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deut. 6:6–7)

Once every seven years, in the sabbath year, children with adults had to hear the reading of the entire law (Deut. 31:10–13).

Very early, religious leaders in Israel undertook the task of education. The prophet Nathan became the instructor of the young Jedidiah “beloved of Jehovah” or Solomon (2 Sam. 12:25).[ccxciv]

Third, because the law is intensely practical, Hebrew education was intensely practical. The common opinion held that a man who did not teach his son the law and a trade, the ability to work, reared him to be a fool and a thief. It is said that Simeon, the son of the famed Gamaliel, observed: “Not learning but doing is the chief thing.”[ccxcv] Josephus, in his work Against Apion, compared the education of the Hebrews with that of the Greeks. Greek education veered from the severely practical to the abstract and theoretical, he pointed out, whereas Biblical law has a healthy relationship between principle and practice.

Fourth, Biblical education, being family-centered and emphasizing the responsibility of parents and children, was productive of responsible people. A person reared and schooled in the doctrine that he has a responsibility to care for his parents as need arises, provide for his children, and, to the best of his ability, leave an inheritance of moral discipline and example as well as material wealth, is a person highly attuned to responsibility. In such an educational system, the state is not the responsible party but the family is, and the man has a duty to be a competent and provident head of his household, and the wife a skilled helpmeet to her husband. The abandonment of a family-oriented education leads to the destruction of masculinity, and it renders women either fluffy luxuries for men or aggressive competitors to men. Men and women having lost their function gyrate unstably and without a legitimate sense of function. Modern education abstracts knowledge; the specialist prides himself on knowing nothing outside his field and wears his refusal to relate his knowledge to other areas as a badge of honor. If the scholar seeks social relativity, again it is without a transcendental principle, and the result is an immersion in the social process without a value structure; all else is charged off as meaningless save the process which at the moment becomes the incarnate structure.

In modern education, the state is the educator, and the state is held to be the responsible agency rather than man. Such a perspective works to destroy the pupil, whose basic lesson becomes a dependence on the state. The state, rather than the individual and the family, is looked to for moral decision and action, and the moral role of the individual is to assent to and bow down before the state. Statist education is at the very least implicitly anti-Biblical, even when and where it gives the Bible a place in the curriculum.

Fifth, basic to the calling of every child is to be a member of a family. Virtually all children will some day become husbands and wives, and fathers or mothers. The statist school is destructive of this calling. Its attempts to meet the need are essentially external and mechanical, i.e., home economics courses, sex education, and the like. But the essential training for family life is family life and a family-oriented school and society. It means Biblical education. It means discipline, and training in godly responsibility.

The statist school, moreover, basically trains women to be men; it is not surprising that so many are unhappy at being women.[ccxcvi] Nor are men any the happier, in that dominion in modern education is transferred from man to the state, and man is progressively emasculated. The major casualty of modern education is the male student. Since dominion is by God’s creative purpose a basic aspect of man, any education which diminishes man’s calling to exercise dominion also diminishes man to the same degree.

Sixth, Biblical education emphasized learning, godly learning. Jewish proverbs emphasized this. We have already referred to one, “Just as a man is required to teach his son Torah, so is he required to teach him a trade.” Moreover, “He who teaches his neighbor’s son Torah, it is as if he had begotten him.” But, supremely, “An ignorant man cannot be saintly.”[ccxcvii] Since holiness is not a self-generating act but requires a conformity to God’s law and righteousness, an ignorant man cannot be saintly. Moreover, since knowledge is not self-generating, and the meaning of factuality comes not from facts but from the Creator, knowledge requires as its presupposition in every area the knowledge of God, whose fear is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.

It needs more than ever to be stressed that the best and truest educators are parents under God. The greatest school is the family. In learning, no act of teaching in any school or university compares to the routine task of mothers in teaching a babe who speaks no language the mother tongue in so short a time. No other task in education is equal to this. The moral training of the child, the discipline of good habits, is an inheritance from the parents to the child which surpasses all other. The family is the first and basic school of man.

  1. The Family and Delinquency

The problem of juvenile delinquency appears in a law of central importance, but one unfortunately neglected by commentators, as far as any relevance to our society is concerned. The law reads:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deut. 21:18–21)

The law is clear enough; if only the interpreters were as clear!

At this point, we see Talmudic interpretation at its worst. There is long quibbling as to what constitutes a son; it is defined in terms of a beard and pubic hair. For example, “R. Hisda said: If a minor begot a son, the latter does not come within the category of a stubborn and rebellious son, for it is written, If a man have a son, but not if a son (i.e., one who has not reached manhood) have a son.” A discussion is also reported as to the age when a boy’s sexual activity ceases to be “innocent” and becomes sinful. The pornographic discussion which follows throws no light on the text but reflects the legalistic attempts to twist the meaning of words into an alien sense.[ccxcviii] Like jurists of our day, and like the U.S. Supreme Court, every attempt is made to make the law null and void by limiting the scope of its application, i.e., the son was not guilty if he drank expensive wines, because then he obviously could not get too much, so it must refer to cheap Italian wine! Again, if the delinquent has been sexually incapacitated by an accident of birth, then he is obviously not a son, we are told.[ccxcix]

In analyzing this law, certain things need to be recognized. First, it indicates a limitation in the power of the family. A Roman father had the power of life and death over his children. He could expose them as infants, and kill them as youths, and this power appears in many cultures. The parent as a god gave life, and as a god he took it. But, as Kline noted, “Chastening was the limit of the parents’ own enforcement of their authority (vs. 18).”[ccc] In fact,

The laws upon this point aim not only at the defense, but also at the limitation, of parental authority. If any one’s son was unmanageable and refractory, not hearkening to the voice of his parents, even when they chastised him, his father and mother were to take him and lead him out to the elders of the town into the gate of the place. The elders are not regarded here as judges in the strict sense of the word, but as magistrates, who had to uphold the parental authority, and administer the local police.[ccci]

In Biblical law, all life is under God and His law. Under Roman law, the parent was the source and lord of life. The father could abort the child, or kill it after birth. The power to abort, and the power to kill, go hand in hand, whether in parental or in state hands. When one is claimed, the other is soon claimed also. To restore abortion as a legal right is to restore judicial or parental murder. It is significant that, as innocent victims are killed, and capital punishment is withheld from their murderers, the same men who plead for the murderer’s life also demand the “right” to abortion. Gary North noticed, at a major university campus, the same picketeer carrying a sign one day, “Abolish Capital Punishment,” and “Legalize Abortion” another day. When this was called to a liberal professor’s attention, his answer was, “There is no contradiction involved.” He was right: the thesis is, condemn the innocent and free the guilty.

Second, the law requires that the family align itself with law and order rather than with a criminal member. Wright held that, “It is highly improbable that parents often appealed to such a law.”[cccii] The parents are not complaining witnesses in the normal sense, and as a result they are not required to be executioners as witnesses normally were (Deut. 17:7). It is “the men of the city” who are here executioners, and hence it is a complaint in a very real sense by the community against a criminal member. It will not do to plead humanitarianism here. In those days, in neighboring cultures, the father had the power to kill his children and often did. While the Hebrews had a different standard, neither their law nor their lives moved in terms of modern humanitarianism.

If the parents refused to complain against their son, they were then guilty of condonation and/or participation in his crimes. Their role was thus a formal but necessary one: would the family align itself with justice or stand in terms of blood ties? In view of the strong nature of family loyalties, the parental participation was necessary in order to ensure freedom from feud and also to place the family firmly against its criminal members. A parent refusing to file a complaint in such a case would become a party to the offense and a defender of crime. The principle required was clear-cut: not blood but law must govern.

Third, Biblical law is case law, and this law does not deal simply with sons. It means that if a son, who is beloved of parents and an heir, must be denounced in his crime, how much more so other relatives? A family turning over its son to the law will turn over anyone. Thus, daughters were clearly included. The law said, “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Deut. 23:17). “Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore” (Lev. 19:29). The evidence would indicate that no Hebrew girl could become an incorrigible delinquent, and, in periods of law and order, remain alive. It is significant that the term used in Proverbs for a prostitute is the strange or alien woman, a foreigner. This has two possible interpretations. Possibly, the daughter who became a prostitute was read out of the family and the nation and was no longer a member of the covenant people but a foreigner. More likely, as the literal reading plainly indicates, the prostitute was a foreign girl.

Clearly, then, the intent of this law is that all incorrigible and habitual criminals be executed. If a criminal son is to be executed, how much more so a neighbor or fellow Hebrew who has become an incorrigible criminal? If the family must align itself with the execution of an incorrigibly delinquent son, will it not demand the death of an habitual criminal in the community?

That such is the intent of the law appears from its stated purpose, “so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” The purpose of the law is to eliminate entirely a criminal element from the nation, a professional criminal class. The family is not permitted the evil privilege of saying, “We will stand behind our boy, come what may”; the family itself must join the war on crime. Since the law is a plan for the future, that plan clearly means the elimination of crime as any significant factor in godly society.

This law has had its effect on American law, in that habitual criminals are still technically liable to life imprisonment after so many convictions, but these laws are a weakened and declining reflection of the Biblical law. Originally, in the United States, habitual criminals could be executed, and some states still have such legislation on the books.

Since the Biblical law has no sentence of imprisonment but only restitution, its view of crime is that the act of crime is committed, not by a professional criminal, but a weaker citizen, who must restore the stolen goods plus at least an equal amount, in order to be restored himself to his citizenship in the community. Biblical law does not recognize a professional criminal element: the potentially habitual criminal is to be executed as soon as he gives plain evidence of this fact.

Fourth, at this point the factor of pity comes into view. The common humanistic view is that such a law is pitiless. The Biblical perspective is that it is not, that, in fact, the modern perspective reflects not pity, but misplaced pity. Shall the criminal or the community be pitied? The Biblical law demands pity for the offended, not the offender.

Pity, in fact, is specifically forbidden as evil in certain cases. Obviously, in the law concerning the delinquent son, pity for the son is forbidden. But in other laws pity is specifically cited as forbidden:

And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee. (Deut. 7:16)

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou has not known, thou, or thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. (Deut. 13:6–9)

But if any man hate his neighbor, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee. (Deut. 19:11–13)

And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deut. 19:21)

When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. (Deut. 25:11–12)

In Deuteronomy 7:16, pity for the evil inhabitants of Canaan was forbidden; God’s pity for them, and His patience, had lasted for centuries. Now the time for pity was gone: it was a time for judgment and death.

In Deuteronomy 13:6–9, pity for the subverter of the faith is forbidden, even when that person is a near and dear relative. The foundations of godly order are at stake, and pity here is an evil.

In Deuteronomy 19:11–13, pity for a murderer in a case of premeditated murder is forbidden. No extenuating circumstances can be pleaded against the fact of murder by premeditation.

In Deuteronomy 19:21, the general law of justice is stated: the punishment must fit the crime; there must be a comparable restitution or death. Pity cannot be used to set aside justice.

In Deuteronomy 25:11–12, no woman, in defending her husband who is fighting with another man, can attempt to aid her husband by mutilating the other man’s sexuality. Such an offense was a particularly fearful one. It is the only instance in Biblical law where mutilation is the punishment, and its significance is of central importance. A wife is under God to be a helpmeet to her husband, but only and always under God’s law. In a quarrel between two men, she could not take unfair advantage of her husband’s assailant. Faith requires staying within the law of God, and a woman can never help her husband lawlessly. If such were permitted, then a man could step aside and let his wife break the law for him with impunity. A lawless love is under the sentence of the law. Joab loved David as none other save Jonathan did, and Joab was often right where David was wrong, but Joab’s love was often a lawless love, and he only earned the hatred of his kinsman David, and final judgment. In the case of the lawless wife, the fact of mutilation was a grim public warning: a lawless hand or helpmeet was no hand or help at all. Her mutilated arm was a grim reminder to all of the prohibition of lawless love. She was not to be pitied, for pity must also move in terms of law, or it becomes the condonation of evil. Whether a wife, husband, or son be involved, pity must never become lawless.

Fifth, the crime of the delinquent son involves an assault or war on fundamental authority. Of Deuteronomy 21:18, Schroeder wrote, “He disputes the parental, i.e., divine authority in disposition and life, and indeed although it has been held before him, thus with full knowledge and purpose.” Of verse 19, he added, “With the parental, the civil authority is also endangered, and hence the case passes from that, to this.”[ccciii] Moreover, as Manley noted, “Seeing that parents stand towards their children as God’s representatives, obstinate rebellion is regarded as akin to blasphemy, and is condemned to the same punishment.”[ccciv]

Sixth, the principle of capital punishment (of which more later) is involved here. Life is created by God, governed by His law, and to be lived only in terms of His law-word. All transgression faces ultimate judgment; capital offenses require the death penalty here and now, by civil authorities. Neither the parents nor the state are the creators of life, and therefore they cannot fix the terms of life. In this fact is man’s greatest safeguard for freedom; the godly state does indeed deal severely with offenders, but it strictly limits the power of the state at any and all points in terms of the word of God. The power of parents is similarly limited under godly order: the Biblical family never has the despotic powers of the Roman or Chinese family. The parents are at all times limited by the law-word of God. Biblical law clearly favors the godly and deals severely with the lawless. As Waller wrote of the law concerning a delinquent son, “Manifestly this enactment, if carried out, would be a great protection to the country against lawless and abandoned characters, and would rid it of one very large element in the dangerous classes.”[cccv]

Seventh, the formal charges against the son are of especial interest. We have noted the fundamental assault on authority, covered by the words “stubborn and rebellious.” According to Waller, “The Hebrew words became proverbial as the worst form of reproach.”[cccvi] “A glutton and a drunkard” (cf. Prov. 23:20–22, where the same two words are found) adds to the picture of a rebellious, antisocial and incorrigible delinquent. The Talmud, by its reinterpretation of each term, made the law virtually inapplicable to anyone. The law, by its generalization, portrays an incorrigible delinquent whose general conduct confirms his lawless nature. The confirmed character of the son establishes, among other things, this: the delinquent and rebellious son has denied his inheritance of faith and law; in its ultimate meaning, this rebellion against his spiritual inheritance is a rebellion against life itself. Hence, the sentence of death. He is not a weak character, he is a strong one, but his character is dedicated to evil. The family is the earthly cradle of life, and the godly family gives an inheritance of life. To renounce this inheritance is finally to renounce life. Not every rebelling son goes this far in his rebellion, but the principle of his rebellion is still a rejection of his inheritance in the full sense of that word.

Eighth, as we have seen, law is a form of warfare. By law, certain acts are abolished, and the persons committing those acts either executed or brought into conformity to law. The law thus protects a certain class, the law-abiding, and every law order is in effect a subsidy to the people of the law. If the law fails to enforce that protection, it destroys itself in time. The failure of the law to execute the incorrigible and professional criminal is creating a major social crisis and leading increasingly to anarchy. In Los Angeles, California, in 1968, for example, the use of city park slides by little children became difficult. Young hoodlums were burying broken bottles, jagged edge up, in the sand beneath the slides. Young hoodlums were involved in so many other activities, that the resulting conditions were beyond the effective control of the police. Again,

Use of marijuana is so vast in the Bay Area that it is simply not in the realm of possibility for law enforcement agencies to stop it.

In Berkeley on a Saturday night there may be 2000 pot parties going on—can you have an informer or a policeman at each one?[cccvii]

In virtually every area of criminal activity, the incorrigible delinquent and the professional criminal are fast gaining a greater striking power. They outnumber the police and are a vast army of dedicated lawbreakers. The courts, by making their conviction difficult, are in effect subsidizing crime and making war on the law-abiding.

  1. The Principle of Authority

Statist education and statist intervention in the life of the family leads progressively to the breakdown of the family. This is not surprising since the principle of authority is at stake in the family.

The family is not only the first environment of the child, it is also his first school, where he receives his basic education; his first church, where he is taught his first and foundational lessons concerning God and life; his first state, where he learns the elements of law and order and obeys them; and his first vocation, where the child is given work to do, and responsibilities in terms of it. The essential world for a small child is the family, his father and mother in particular. Meredith has summarized the matter aptly: “In the eyes of a small child, a parent stands in the place of God Himself! For the parent is the child’s provider, protector, lover, teacher and lawgiver.”[cccviii]

Hence it is that theologians through the centuries have taught obedience to civil magistrates, and to all duly constituted authorities, under the heading of the fifth commandment. It has been rightly seen how deeply involved all authority is in the authority of parents. The destruction of the family’s position and authority is the destruction of all society and the introduction of anarchy.

But the introduction of radical anarchy is also precisely that which follows systematically the attack on the family. The student revolution of the 1960s had basic to it anarchism. Thus, Jorge Immendorff, age twenty-three, of Germany, called for revolution rather than reformation, because “you can’t improve junk—so revolution is the only answer.” The need is to “start from scratch” with only one standard, “life itself.” Anthony Duckworth, twenty-one, of England, states that, “At Oxford and Cambridge, the young teachers want to run administration policy, decide on books and courses, rooms and meals. They want to take charge.” Moreover, according to John D. Rockefeller III, aged sixty-two, “Instead of worrying about how to suppress the youth revolution; we of the older generation should be worrying about how to sustain it.” This youthful “idealism” must be sustained, according to Rockefeller, and furthered.[cccix] But what is it that Rockefeller asks us to sustain and accept? First, the student and youth revolution has an immoral premise, i.e., the assertion that youth has a “right” to control and govern other people’s properties. If a university belongs to the state, to a church, or to a private corporation, the student can receive an education there on the school’s terms. He is free to create his own institutions, but, as a student or an instructor, he is in a school on terms set by those whose property rights govern the school. The students bewail “coercion,” but their movements are among the most coercive of their century. The child has no right to govern his parents, the students their school, nor employees their employer. Second, the goal of the student revolution is simply amoral power, not “idealistic” hopes. To make “life itself” the standard is to say there is no standard save anarchy. To ask for a “start from scratch” is to call for the destruction of all law and order so that the anarchist can seize what the present possessor possesses. Third, this anarchism is inevitable in a generation of students who have been taught neither obedience to parents and all due authority, nor honor towards them to whom honor is due. To cite Meredith again,

The original command to “honor” father and mother applies to all of us throughout our lives, But in this place children (Eph. 6:1, 2), specifically, are told to obey their parents “in the Lord.”

Because of his total lack of experience and judgment, it is absolutely necessary that a child be taught to OBEY his parents instantly and without question. Explanations and reasons for this may and should be given to the child from time to time. But, at the moment a parental command is given, there may not be time or opportunity to give the reason why!

Therefore, it is imperative that a child be taught the HABIT of unquestioning obedience to his parents. For, until the young child develops, his parents stand to him in the place of God. And God holds them RESPONSIBLE for teaching and directing the child properly.

By direct implication, a parent is bound by the fifth command to make himself honorable. For to be honored, one must be honorable.

Every parent needs to realize that he represents God to his child![cccx]

The parent represents God, because he represents God’s law order. Judges, in the law, are referred to as “gods,” as are prophets (Ex. 21:6; 22:8; 1 Sam. 28:13; Ps. 82:1, 6; John 10:35). Since parents represent God’s law order, they must, on the one hand, be obedient to that law order, and, on the other hand, be obeyed as representatives of that kingdom.

In Exodus 21:6, the King James Version reads judges where the Hebrew reads Elohim, gods; the same is true of Exodus 22:8. The American Revised Version, and the Masoretic Text Version, read “God” and footnote “judges.” In 1 Samuel 28:13, the witch of Endor, on seeing Samuel, cries out, “I saw gods ascending out of the earth,” or, in the American Revised Version, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” The prophet is clearly meant. In Psalm 82:1, 6, civil authorities are referred to as “gods,” a usage confirmed by Jesus Christ (John 10:35). For this reason, because all due authorities represent God’s law order, the fifth commandment has often been associated with the first table of the law, i.e., with those having reference to our duties to God, as contrasted to the second table, those having reference to our duties to our neighbor. There is a validity to this division into two tables, although it cannot be pressed too far and is somewhat artificial, in that all the commandments have reference to our duty to God.

Calvin regarded the division of this commandment into the first table as foolish.[cccxi] Curiously, he tried to use Romans 13:9 in favor of his position, as well as Matthew 19:19, but these passages are not conclusive on this matter. More pertinent are the various laws, previously treated, which relate obedience to parents to sabbath-keeping and the avoidance of idolatry (cf. Lev. 19:1–4).

But to return to the more important point, the matter of obedience: it is commonly held, by the humanistic mind, that the unquestioning and faithful obedience required by the law of children is destructive of the mind. The free person, it is held, is a product of rebellion, of the constant challenge of authority, and true education must stimulate children and youth to break with authority and deny its claims. The “culture” of youth today is this demand for instant realization combined with a defiance of authority. Ross Snyder, in Young People and Their Culture, writes that “young people of our time are quite convinced that they are meant to be right now. And in all the fullness possible for them at their period of development.”[cccxii] This demand for instant realization is a characteristic of infantilism. The baby cries when hungry and voids its bladder and bowels at will. It cries with frustration and rage when gratification is not instantaneous. It is not surprising that a generation reared permissively has a high aptitude for destructive and revolutionary rage, often accompanied by gleeful public urination and defecation, and a low aptitude for disciplined work and study. The essence of the revolutionary mind is the demand for instant utopia, for instantaneous gratification, and a destructive, infantile rage against any order which fails to provide it. Freud coined the terms oral and anal personalities; the terms are irrelevant to any age of maturity or to men of maturity; they are apt in describing the ambivalent personality of an infantile and permissive age and its peoples.

But the roots go deeper. John Locke formulated the rootless psychology of the humanistic faith with his clean tablet concept. True education, he held, required that the mind be swept clean of all preconceived notions, implicitly of the teachings of parents, religion, and society. In terms of Locke’s concept and psychology, education must be revolutionary. Add to this Rousseau’s natural man, and all preconceived notions, all forms of inheritance from the past, become chains which must be broken. Marx and Freud drew the logical conclusions from the philosophies of Locke, Rousseau, and Darwin. Darwin, by his evolutionary faith, reduced everything in the past to a lower and more primitive level, and thus added justification to the demand for a clean sweep, for revolution. This hostility to discipline and obedience has invaded almost every area of endeavor in the twentieth century. In art, the ability to master and use skills in use of paints and in draughtsmanship is neglected in favor of “spontaneous” and “unconscious” expression lacking in reason and form. In religion, experience is given priority over or replaces doctrine. In politics, authority comes from below, from the lowest level, and the “charismatic” leader is the demagogue who can best satisfy the masses. In music, undisciplined emotionalism is most highly prized, and so on. The animosity towards obedience and discipline is general and deep.

But the best functioning mind is the obedient and disciplined mind. The child who is disciplined into obedience is not the servile youth but the freeman. He is, by virtue of the discipline of obedience, most in command of himself and best able to command in his field of endeavor.

The older humanism, because it grew up in the context of a Christian discipline, could produce a disciplined mind. Montaigne (b. 1533), in giving counsel on educating the child, spoke without any sense of novelty as he described good training in his day:

A few years of life are reserved for education, not more than the first fifteen or sixteen; make good use of these years, adult, if you wish to educate the child to the right maturity. Leave out superfluous matters. If you want to do something constructive, confront the child with philosophical discourses, those that are not too complicated, of course, yet those that are worth explaining. Treat these discourses in detail; the child is capable of digesting this matter from the moment that it can more or less manage for itself (Montaigne actually wrote: “from the moment it is weaned,” but probably he did not mean that too literally); the child will, in any case, be able to stand philosophical discourses much better than an attempt to teach it to write and to read; this had better wait a little.[cccxiii]

Since in Montaigne’s day the child was not weaned as hastily as in our own, there is no reason to doubt Montaigne’s statement. In Puritan America, children were usually taught to read by their mothers between the ages of two and four.

Van den Berg cites two examples of mature children from Montaigne’s era and later. They deserve citation in some detail:

We do have some data on the child’s nature in Montaigne’s time— the life of Theodore Agrippa d’Aubigne, Huguenot, friend of Henri IV, born in 1550. Montaigne was born in 1552, so he had reached the age of discretion when d’Aubigne was still a child. Observing young contemporaries of this d’Aubigne, Montaigne did not notice anything about maturation. Of d’Aubigne it is told that he read Greek, Latin, and Hebrew when he was six years old, and that he translated Plato into French when he was not yet eight.

Plato. Montaigne recommended the reading and explaining of philosophical discourses to children—well, if an eight-year-old child can translate Plato, what objections can there be to reading a translated version to him when he is four?

When d’Aubigne was still eight years old, he went through the town of Amboise, accompanied by his father, just after a group of Huguenots had been executed. He saw the decapitated bodies; and at the request of his father he swore an oath to avenge them. Two years later he was captured by Inquisiteurs; the ten-year-old boy’s reaction to the threat of death at the stake was a dance of joy before the fire. The horror of the Mass took away his fear of the fire, was his own later comment—as if a ten-year-old child could know what he meant by that. And yet a child who has translated Plato and who has been used to reading classics for four years, could not such a child know what he wants, and know what he is doing? But he can hardly be called a child. A person who observes the effects of an execution intelligently, who swears an oath to which he remains true through life, who realizes for himself the interpretation of the Holy Communion, and who fathoms the horror of death at the stake—he is not a child, he is a man.

At the time Montaigne died another child was standing on the threshold of great discoveries: Blaise Pascal, born in 1623, wrote, when he was twelve years old, without assistance, a treatise on sound which was taken seriously by expert contemporaries. At about the same time he happened to hear the word mathematics; he asked his father what it meant, and he was given the following incomplete answer (incomplete, because his father was afraid that an interest in the mathematics might diminish his interest in other sciences):

“Mathematics, about which I shall tell you more later on, is the science which occupies itself with the construction of perfect figures and with the discovery of the properties they contain.” Young Pascal brooded over this answer during his hours of leisure, and unassisted, he constructed circles and triangles which led him to the discovery of the sort of properties his father must have meant —for instance, that the sum of the angles of a triangle equals two right angles.[cccxiv]

We must grant that d’Aubigne and Pascal were remarkable men and child prodigies. But it must be added that in music, the sciences, and in many other fields, child prodigies were far more common then than now. We must also recognize that the intellectual level then was quite high even among the common people. The level of preaching is ample evidence of this. The ability of church members to listen to lengthy sermons of sometimes two hours, to reproduce all thirty or forty points faithfully later in the week, and to debate them or discuss them, is well documented. There was no lack of lawlessness in that era, but there was also a high order of discipline, and this discipline furthered the uses of intelligence. The men who, both in the early centuries of the Christian era, and in the Reformation and later eras, established the foundations of Western civilization and liberty were men of faith and discipline, men schooled in the academy of obedience.

A godly respect for power and authority as duly constituted and ordained by God is required by Scripture. Thus Exodus 22:28 declares, “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.” Again, the American Revised Version translates “gods” as “God” and footnotes it as “the judges.” Calvin noted, of this passage, Leviticus 19:32, and Deuteronomy 16:18 and 20:9, “in the Fifth Commandment are comprised by synecdoche all superiors, in authority.”[cccxv]

First of all, He commands that we should think and speak reverently of judges, and others, who exercise the office of magistrate: nor is it to be questioned that, in the ordinary idiom of the Hebrew language, He repeats the same thing twice over; and consequently that the same persons are called “gods,” and “rulers of the people.” The name of God is, figuratively indeed, but most reasonably applied to magistrates, upon whom, as the ministers of His authority, He has inscribed a mark of His glory. For, as we have seen the honour is due to fathers, because God has associated them with Himself in the possession of the name, so also here His own dignity is claimed for judges, in order that the people may reverence them, because they are God’s representatives, as His lieutenants, and vicars. And so Christ, the surest expositor, explains it, when He quotes the passage from Psalm lxxxii. 6, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High,” (John x. 34), viz., “that they are called gods unto whom the word of God came,” which is to be understood not of the general instruction addressed to all God’s children, but of the special command to rule.

It is a signal exaltation of magistrates, that God should not only count them in the place of parents, but present them to us dignified by His own name; whence also it clearly appears that they are to be obeyed not only from fear of punishment, “but also for conscience sake” (Rom. xiii. 5) and to be reverently honoured, lest God should be despised in them. If any should object, that it would be wrong to praise the vices of those whom we perceive to abuse their power; the answer is easy, that although judges are to be borne with even if they be not the best, still that the honour with which they are invested, is not a covering for vice. Nor does God command us to applaud their faults, but that the people should rather deplore them in silent sorrow, than raise disturbances in a licentious and seditious spirit, and so subvert political government.[cccxvi]

That such godly obedience does not constitute an endorsement of or a submission to evil is abundantly apparent from the history of the Old Testament prophets, and from the history of the church. Rather, godly obedience is the best ground for resistance to evil, in that it stands primarily in terms of a higher obedience to God and therefore is in obedience independent, and in resistance to tyrants, obedient to the higher authority of God.

But at one point, Calvin’s comment reflects (in the first sentence of the second paragraph above), not Biblical but Roman thought, when he compares rulers to parents and ascribes to them a parental authority. What is in common among parents, rulers, teachers, and masters is not parenthood but authority. It is a serious error to ascribe a parental power to the ruler and the state. The parents represent the authority of God to the child; the civil magistrate or ruler represents the authority of God in terms of a civil law order to the citizens; they have, parents and rulers, authority in common, not parenthood, and even with respect to authority, it is of differing kinds. Roman law, because it divinized the state, made the state and its ruler in effect the god of the people, and the people the children of that god. The emperor was father of his country, and this was a serious aspect of the civil theology.

The heavily classical learning of medieval and Reformation scholars often led them astray. A verse sometimes cited as evidence of the parental role of the state is Isaiah 49:23. But this verse refers to the remnant of Israel, who shall be restored to Jerusalem and re-established as a state under the protection of other states, who shall be as “nursing fathers.” The reference is to the re-establishment of the Hebrew commonwealth under Nehemiah, with the protection of the Medo-Persian Empire. The imagery has nothing to do with a parental role for the state and everything to do with the superior protecting role of a great empire for a small civil order which is reconstituting.

The primary and basic authority in God’s law order is the family. All other due authorities similarly represent God’s law order, but in differing realms. If parents are not obeyed by children, no other authority will be honored or obeyed. Hence, the law speaks of the key authority in terms of which social order stands or falls. Basic to the authority of every realm is the representation of God’s law order.

The state thus is established in order to extend God’s justice. According to Deuteronomy 16:18–20,

Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

It would be ridiculous to posit fatherhood as the purpose of this law: its goal is civil justice. Basic to the establishment of that justice is authority.

And the fifth commandment, as it speaks of parents, and by implication, all God-ordained authorities, is establishing first of all God’s authority. God knows, after all, that parents and rulers, churchmen, teachers, and masters are sinners. God is not interested in establishing sinners: the expulsion from Eden, and the constant judgment in history, is eloquent evidence of that. But God’s way of disestablishing sinners and establishing His law order is to require that authorities be obeyed. This obedience is first of all rendered to God and is a part of the establishment of God’s order. Sin leads to revolutionary anarchy; godly obedience leads to godly order.

  1. The Family and Authority

The Romans conquered Judea, but, later, when Christianity conquered Rome, the Romans said of this Biblical faith of Hebrew origins, “Victi victoribus leges dederunt,” “The conquered gave their laws to the conquerors.”[cccxvii] The law of the later Roman Empire and of the Christian West has been largely altered by Biblical law, and fundamental to this change is the alteration of family law.

The basic Christian legal reform was instituted by Justinian and his empress, Theodora, in the sixth century. Zimmerman has summarized the basic Christian reforms with respect to sex and the family. First, “only heterosex relations in marriage were made publicly allowable.” All sexual relations other than normal marital relations were now illegal and sinful. Second, this classification of all other forms of sexuality as “objectionable” was “applied to every social class” without distinction. The family became the normal and legal way of life for all. The preface to this part of the Novellae code stated:

Previous legislation has dealt with aspects of these matters piecemeal. Now we seek to put them all together and give the people certain clear rules of conduct so as to make the family (de nuptiis) the standard form of life for all human beings for all time, and everywhere. The purpose of this is to guarantee artificial immortality to the human species. This is the Christian way of life.

Third, prohibited sex activities were made punishable by law, especially forms of commercialized sex. Fourth, and Zimmerman notes, “fundamental,” “contracts involving non-family sex activities as repayment for support or gifts were made illegal.” All parties in such a contract became accessories to an illegal act. Among other things, concubinage lost its legal status. Fifth, these legal steps were “part of a wider movement to make the family the defined public way of life and status.” The result of this legislation was the redirection of civilization. It was the creation of a “family system which would fit best into planned greatness. The authors never considered a perfect man. They sought to enroll the average man in a social system which could reach some great civilized world unity.”[cccxviii]

The effects of this legislation were extensive. Two important areas of change were inheritance and property. Inheritance laws were now governed by family considerations, with the legitimate wife and her children having a status not given to a concubine or mistress and her children. The limitation of inheritance to the legitimate family made the family the significant agent and power with respect to property. The family was now far more than the basic social unit: it was in essence the social system. It was the social system, however, without the stultifying and immoral powers of the family system of ancestor worship. In ancestor worship, the family is geared to the past and hostile to the future. In the Christian family system, the Mosaic law as interpreted in terms of the New Testament rulings concerning the family, the perspective is on the Christian future, on the Kingdom of God and its requirements for today and tomorrow.

Without the authority of the family, a society quickly moves into social anarchy. The source of the family’s authority is God; the immediate locale of the authority is the father or husband (1 Cor. 11:1–15). The abdication by the father of his authority, or the denial of his authority, leads to the social anarchy described by Isaiah 3:12. Women rule over men; children then gain undue freedom and power and become oppressors of their parents; the emasculated rulers in such a social order lead the people astray and destroy the fabric of society. The end result is social collapse and captivity (Isa. 3:16–26), and a situation of danger and ruin for women, a time of “reproach” or “disgrace,” in which the once independent and feministic women are humbled in their pride and seek the protection and safety of a man.

Indeed, seven women, Isaiah said, seek amidst the ruins after one man, each begging for marriage and ready to support themselves if only the disgrace and shame which overwhelm the lone and defenseless woman be taken from them (Isa. 4:1).[cccxix]

Isaiah clearly saw the absence of the man’s authority as productive of social chaos. The man as the head of the family is the necessary principle of order, and also the principal in order. Dominion is God’s principle for man over nature (Gen. 1:28), and for the male in the person of the husband and father in the family (1 Cor. 11:1–15). Dominion as the male’s nature and prerogative is to be found throughout the animal world as a part of God’s creation ordinance. In animals, as Ardrey has pointed out, there is a primacy of dominion over sexual and other drives. “The time will come when the male will lose all interest in sex; but he will still fight for his status.” In fact, “dominance in social animals is a universal instinct independent of sex.”[cccxx] This male instinct for dominion reveals itself in animals in three ways: first, in territoriality, i.e., a property instinct and drive, and, second, in status, a drive to establish dominion in terms of rank in a rigidly hierarchical order, and, third, survival, and order as a means of survival. This is true of animals in a natural setting; zoo animals, being in a welfare society, are more absorbed with sex.[cccxxi] In the male, dominion leads to increased sexual potency and longevity.[cccxxii] Moreover, “It is a curious characteristic of the instincts of order that most are masculine.”[cccxxiii] The female’s sexual and maternal instincts are personal and thus in a sense anarchistic.

These characteristics are true of human life also. The woman becomes absorbed with problems of law and order in a personal way, i.e., when her family and her family’s safety is endangered by its decay. The man will be concerned with problems of society apart from a condition of crisis; the woman becomes concerned when social decay has personal implications, and her concern then is a major one.

Male and female need each other, and godly order means marriage, the union of man and woman under God and to His glory and service. Apart from one another, or in contempt or at odds with one another, the emphasis of man and woman tends to become one-sided. Perhaps as telling an example of this as any, extreme almost to the point of caricature, is that of Henry VIII of England and Queen Catherine.

Catherine, more than Sir Thomas More, deserved to become the Catholic saint of her day. More was first and last a humanist; Catherine was a godly woman of intense faith and courage. The daughter of the great Queen Isabella of Spain, she shared with her sister, wrongly called Joanna the Mad, an almost incredible absorption with the purely personal aspect of issues. As a result, her depraved father, Ferdinand, whom Catherine loved blindly, was able to use Catherine as a pawn for Spanish power, almost to the destruction of England. (Ferdinand had killed Juana’s husband and usurped Juana’s throne, and he had no scruples about taking advantage of any relative.) Catherine was equally blind in dealing with her husband Henry where more than personal issues were involved.[cccxxiv]

Henry VIII, on the other hand, cannot be viewed in purely personal (and feminine) terms, as one concerned basically with his lusts. Certainly Henry was a sinner here, but his basic motive was the desire to preserve the kingdom from anarchy by gaining a male heir. Prior to his father’s ascension to the throne, England had been long rent and wasted by a bloody and intermittent war of succession.[cccxxv] Henry’s basic concern was to preserve order by means of an assured and strong dynastic succession, which meant to him a male heir. This was to Henry the fundamental moral consideration, even as the personal relationship was the fundamental moral consideration to Catherine.

Henry read all events in terms of his principle and justified every step in terms of it. A talented and intelligent man, he was also immature and self-righteous.[cccxxvi] But he was not alone in considering England’s situation and his own in terms of the impersonal issues of order and succession. Both Luther and Melanchthon were ready to see the answer to Henry’s plight in a legal bigamy, and Pope Clement VII made a like suggestion. Attempts are made to excuse both, with little merit to the attempts; whatever their reasons, these religious leaders made the suggestion. All, as men, were concerned with the political scene and the problem of England’s order as against the purely personal problem of law and order between Catherine and Henry.

This episode, in sharpness and extreme form, reveals the varying natures of man and woman. But the men involved in this sorry event were at least concerned with some kind of order, even if immorally so at times. Today, men, having abdicated extensively their masculinity, are less concerned with order and more with gratification. As a result, women, because their security, and that of their children, is at stake, become involved with the problem of social decay and law and order. Social and political action thus becomes a pressing feminine concern. Their concern underscores the decay of society and the failure of men. Where women are concerned about their defense, it means normally that either a fearful outside invader is threatening the society, or else within the social order men are ceasing to function as men. Matriarchal power then develops as a substitute for a normal law order.

The matriarchal society is thus the decadent or broken society. The strongly matriarchal character of Negro life is due to the moral failure of Negro men, their failure to be responsible, to support the family, or to provide authority. The same is true of American Indian tribes, which are also matriarchal today. In such societies, women provide a considerable portion of the family income because the moral dereliction of the men makes it necessary. A strongly permissive element predominates in child training, and the moral failure of the male is transmitted to the next generation.

The same trend towards a matriarchal society is in evidence in Western culture today. It should be stressed that, contrary to popular opinion, a matriarchal society is not a society in which women rule, but, rather, a society in which men fail to exercise their dominion, so that women are faced with a double responsibility. They must do their own work, and then work to stave off the anarchy created by man’s moral failure. In a matriarchal society, women are burdened, not promoted; they are penalized, not rewarded.

The principles of Christian family order were outlined in 1840 by Matthew Sorin:

The duties arising out of (the marriage) relation . . .

  1. Mutual affection. According to the order and constitution of the divine government, man is appointed to rule in the affairs of this life. It is his prerogative to hold the reins of domestic government, and to direct the family interest, so as to bring them to a happy and honorable termination. This appointment of God is initiated in the order of the creation; and its propriety is manifested in the order of the fall. But still, as it is the right of the husband to rule, so it is his duty to rule with moderation and love—to love his wife “even as Christ loved the Church.” Eph. v. 25. And so, also, the obedience of the wife is not to be the reluctant offering of an ungracious spirit, but the cheerful service of a delighted mind; “that if any obey not the word, they also may, without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives.” I Peter iii. 1–5.
  2. Mutual confidence. Nothing is, or can be of more importance than this, in maintaining, in active and energetic exercise, conjugal affection. To destroy confidence, is to remove the foundations of all that is excellent or valuable in the family circle . . .
  3. Mutual attention and respect. Not the empty round of ceremonious attentions, that are ostentatiously crowded into the family circle, on certain occasions, seemingly more to please beholders, than to express the genuine sentiments of the soul. We speak of that simple, artless, and unpremeditated respect and attention, which genuine love inspires.
  4. Mutual assistance. The first woman was given to man, not to live upon his labor, nor yet to labor for his living; she was designed to be one with himself, an equal sharer in his sorrows and joys, she was to be a helpmeet for him . . . There is a threefold assistance that married persons owe to each other, in giving interest and enjoyment to the family circle.
  5. There is an assistance in promoting the temporal interests of the family.
  6. Again, there is a mutual assistance in the maintenance of order— in the education and government of children . . .

The rights of parents in their children are equal. If those children are honorable and prosperous in the world, it is the happiness of both. If they are prodigal and vicious, it is not more the misfortune of the one than of the other.

It is, therefore, a self-evident duty, and one most solemnly binding on parents, to contribute their united skill, influence, and authority, to “train up their children in the way they should go.”

  1. There is also a mutual assistance in promoting each other’s spiritual welfare . . .

In addition to these general views, we may here, with propriety, notice some other special duties, which are mutually due between man and wife. Thus it is required of woman to show a spirit of subordination, and to obey her husband. Eph. v. 22. But it is also required of the husband that he love and protect his wife—that he cultivate for her the most tender affection—that he protect her according to his power, in person—health—property—and reputation. Everything pertaining to her comfort, should be granted, as far as in his power, with a ready and cheerful mind. “He is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.” Eph. v. 25. “As it is required of the wife, that she reverence her husband, not as a superior being, but as her superior in the domestic economy; and that, therefore, she should not usurp authority over the man, because Adam was first formed, then Eve.” I Tim. ii. 11, 14.

So it is also binding on the husband not to render himself ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of his wife, by any indecencies of speech, or vile and trifling associations. He is to maintain his place, not so much by physical power or brute force, as by the excellency of his example, and those developments of mental and moral superiority, and greater tact in the management of affairs, which it is reasonable to expect from his relation, and which will, in most cases, insure a ready and cheerful submission to rule. I Peter iii. 3, 7. Again, as it is the duty of the woman to be keeper at home, and not to be wandering from her place, like an unhappy spirit seeking rest and finding none, Titus ii. 5, so most unquestionably, it is the duty of the husband to render that home as interesting and cheerful as possible . . .[cccxxvii]

Sorin’s statements are cited, not because they are remarkable or unusually good in interpreting Scripture, but because they reflect the faith and practice of Christian America in the 1840s. As Bode noted:

The book is valuable not only because it gives characteristic advice but also because it describes American home life at the middle-class level. Sorin was foreign-born and so he observes us more closely, takes us less for granted, than would a native of our country. He apologizes for the inadequacies of the book, saying that it might better have been written “by one specially adapted to the principles and habits of society in this country” but he is too modest. His objectivity is buttressed by considerable insight.[cccxxviii]

It is precisely the family order described by Sorin against which much revolutionary activity is directed. Permissiveness strikes directly at parental authority, and, in both home and school, is a revolutionary concept. The prevalence of permissiveness prevents the growth of self-discipline. Lack of self-discipline is seen by many as the reason for present juvenile delinquency. This delinquency stems from “a lack of self-discipline, and a degree of selfishness which is unbelievable to adults who themselves respect the rights of others and think of them before acting.” Blaine adds,

Self-discipline does not grow like Topsy, but is the result of a two-stage building process in which parents are the prime movers. Church, school, peers, and heroes play a part, too, but it is at home that the cornerstone is laid.[cccxxix]

The lack of self-discipline leads to self-importance. Having no authoritative criterion of judgment other than the self, permissively reared youth have no valid criterion of self-assessment. In other eras, teen-agers have been adults, and men of twenty and thirty have been men of affairs. The youthfulness of the men in the U.S. Constitutional Convention is evidence of the early maturity and the early capacity for disciplined action and progress of men in that era. But this maturity went hand in hand with responsibility and independence, self-support, and self-discipline: it was a natural and unified whole. Permissive youth demands, “Listen to us,” and claims maturity in terms of physical growth without any attendant maturity of mind and action.[cccxxx] The result is a self-importance based on the humanistic standard of being a human, a person. This radical inner immaturity leads to juvenile delinquency, adult criminality, a higher rate of divorce, and illegitimacy.[cccxxxi]

As already indicated, this self-importance of man as man destroys all standards save that of humanity. Thus, when youthful students visited the Soviet Union, they failed to see the essential nature of that order, because they had no criterion of judgment save humanism. They concluded,

People are people, no matter which side of the Iron Curtain they call home. That, at least, seems to be the discovery made by a group of 16 Valley students and their teacher-leaders after returning from a six-week study-tour of the Soviet Union.[cccxxxii]

This “discovery” could have been made without a journey to the Soviet Union! But, when the only standard is man, then when others are found to be men also, fellow members of humanity, coexistence is a moral necessity. There is no thought of the moral character of men, because no law beyond man is recognized. Thus, an important issue of Liberation strikes out against all “illegitimate authority,” i.e., any concept of transcendental law. Quite rightly, the writers see as the enemy any concept of law which has God lurking behind it. The immoral for them is the “dehumanizing,” any and everything which limits man. Since every man is his own sovereign and law under this humanistic concept, Paul Goodman raises the question, “Perhaps ‘sovereignty’ and ‘law’ in any American sense, are outmoded concepts.”[cccxxxiii] This anarchism has gone so far that “a U.S. military court has ruled that conscientious objection is a valid defense to a charge of being absent without leave.” The case involved a fueler of jet planes who was “absent without leave for 41 days from his post.”[cccxxxiv] This anarchism is a trait of old and young alike: the young are simply carrying the anarchism of their day a step further. A ludicrous example of the anarchism of the parents is the case of a woman, separated from her husband for six years, who still wanted to celebrate the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with a large party.[cccxxxv]

This anarchism erodes the family and its authority in every age. It reduces the father to a non-entity, and it gives to the mother an impossible burden, that of being the family to the children. The extent to which this legal disappearance and personal abdication of the father has gone is readily illustrated. Whereas the father as the source of authority once normally gained custody of the children in a divorce, today only six states, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas, “continue to declare the father ‘the preferred natural guardian.’”[cccxxxvi] Even more revealing is the Israeli law which denies Jewish nationality to any Jew whose mother was not Jewish, because children are in this law classified in terms of their mother, not their father.[cccxxxvii]

All this is erosion, and it is very real. But also present is a legal assault. From within the church comes a demand for “a genuine pluralism of sexual behavior,” which we are told “will certainly occur in two main areas.” First, there will be “the dissolving of the concept that sex and marriage are inextricably and exclusively linked to each other.”[cccxxxviii] Second, there will be

. . . the gradual social acceptance, if not legalization, of bigamy (or polygamy) and polyandry. In the next decade or two such bigamy is most likely to resemble the older pattern of single aunts living with a family. Social acceptance of such “common law bigamy” may well be the only way to initiate the required changes. Psychologists concerned with the mental health of older persons have recommended legalization of bigamy for persons over sixty. The Church, of course, is silent so far. It has no real plans for the aged, nor for the involuntarily single. Let us hope that it will not wait too long before it even considers the merits of polygamy (and polyandry) in meeting the needs of millions of persons for whom it has no other hope to offer.[cccxxxix]

But this is mild compared to the opinions of a Swedish doctor, who wants not only equal legal rights but special legal subsidies for those who practice incest, exhibitionism, pedophilia, saliromania, algolagnia, homosexuality, scopophilia, and other sexual deviations.[cccxl] Ullerstam’s system is hostile to Christian law order and would savagely penalize the Christian marital law order.

Apart from these theoretical proposals, the legal steps are serious enough. In country after country, there are moves to legalize homosexual unions; the laws against homosexuality have been extensively dropped, so that a tacit legality exists. Other perversions are similarly allowed to go unprosecuted. The legal safeguards of the family are increasingly removed, so that again society is threatened with the anarchy of an anti-familistic state and its legalized lawlessness. In the name of equal rights, women are being stripped of the protections of the family and given no place except the perverse competition of a sexual market in which increasingly shock, perversion, deviation, and aggressiveness command a premium. The women who gain by equal rights are those clearly who are hostile to Christian law.

The law, it must be remembered, is warfare against that which is defined as evil and a protection of that which is held to be good. In the developing law structure of humanism, warfare is implicitly waged against the parents and the family as evil, and protection is extended to perverts and lawbreakers on the assumption that their “rights” need protecting.[cccxli]

  1. The Holy Family

It is not accidental that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, was also a member of a human family. The incarnation was a reality, and basic to its reality was the nativity of Jesus in a Hebrew family and as the heir of a royal line. Christ was born in fulfillment of prophecy, and in terms of laws basic to the family.

Several aspects of this fact are immediately apparent. First, Jesus Christ was born as heir to the throne of David, and in fulfillment of promises concerning the future meaning of that throne. In 2 Samuel 7:12, God declares to David, “When thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.” This promise is celebrated in Psalm 89 and Psalm 132. This Kingdom of the Messiah or Christ is “his kingdom” (2 Sam. 7:12), and is defined in terms of Him.

Second, Christ’s Kingdom is the restoration of authority, law, and order. As promised in Isaiah to the faithful, “I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city” (Isa. 1:26). Since the judges or authorities were established at Sinai, or as a result of Sinai, so the law of God will be re-established as a result of the new Sinai, Golgotha, by the greater Moses, Jesus Christ. Accordingly, the Messiah is spoken of as the one in whom and under whom law and order are brought to fulfillment. He is the “Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isa. 9:6–7). We are also told of this shoot of the stock of Jesse that “with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth” (Isa. 11:4). He comes to bring justice and to “slay the wicked” (Isa. 11:4), to restore paradise, so that, figuratively speaking, the wolf and the lamb dwell together (Isa. 11:6, 9), and the earth is restored to greater fertility and blessedness: “The wilderness and the parched land shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1).[cccxlii]

Third, Christ’s Kingdom is not limited, like David’s, to Canaan: it covers the earth. Christ said to His disciples, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). St. Paul said, “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13). This important declaration means, according to Hodge:

The word heir, in Scripture, frequently means secure possessor. Heb. i. 2, vi. 17, xi. 7 &c. This use of the terms probably arose from the fact, that among the Jews possession by inheritance was much more secure and permanent than that obtained by purchase. The promise was not to Abraham, nor to his seed . . . i.e., neither to the one nor to the other. Both were included in the promise. And by his seed, is not here, as in Gal. iii. 16, meant Christ, but his spiritual children.[cccxliii]

The second half of the verse, as Murray points out, discussing Romans 4:13 in relation to 4:16–17, makes clear the meaning of law and faith with respect to the heirs. The real heirs are by faith:

And these verses also establish the denotation as being not the natural descendants of Abraham, but all, both of the circumcision and the uncircumcision, who are “of the faith of Abraham” (vs. 16). The “promise” is therefore that given to all who believe and all who believe are Abraham’s seed.[cccxliv]

Abraham’s true heirs are not by blood or law, but those who share Abraham’s faith. These receive their inheritance from the King, Jesus Christ. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).[cccxlv]

Some seek to deny Christ’s kingship over the earth by citing John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world . . .” Few verses are more misinterpreted. As Westcott noted, “yet He did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty of which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven.”[cccxlvi] “My kingdom is not of this world” means it “does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.”[cccxlvii] In other words, Christ’s Kingdom is not derived from this world, because it is of God and is over the world.

Fourth, Christ by His virgin birth was a new creation, a new Adam: like Adam a miracle, a creation directly from God, but, unlike Adam, who had no link to any earlier humanity, Christ was linked to the old humanity by His birth from Mary. St. Luke cited both Adam and Jesus as “the son of God” (Luke 1:34–35; 3:38). Christ is thus “the second man” or “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45–47), the fountainhead of a new humanity. By His birth of God, and of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ is head of the new race, as the new Adam, to provide the earth with a new seed to supplant the old Adamic race.[cccxlviii] The first Adam was tempted in paradise and fell. The new Adam was tempted in the Adamic wilderness and began there the restoration of paradise: He “was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him” (Mark 1:13). Communion was restored by “the second man” with the angels of heaven and the animals of the earth. As the true Adam, He exercised dominion (Gen. 1:28), and as the Lord of the earth, he issued His law on the mount, confirming the law He had earlier given through Moses (Matt. 5:1–7:29). In the ancient world, the king was the lawgiver, and a lawgiver was thus either the king or an agent of the king, as in the case of Moses. Jesus, by declaring in the Sermon on the Mount, “I say unto you,” declared Himself to be the King, and, by His Great Commission, made it clear that His kingship is over all the earth (Matt. 28:18–20).[cccxlix]

Fifth, Jesus Christ, as King of the earth, has the right of dominion. This means that He attacks and overthrows all those who deny His dominion. As God declared, “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him” (Ezek. 21:27). This overturning of His enemies continues today (Heb. 12:25–29).

Sixth, Jesus Christ was born under the law and into law, to fulfill the law. This fulfillment He began from His birth, by His membership in the holy family, where, as a dutiful son, He kept the fifth commandment all His days. As the legal heir of a royal throne, He laid claim to the God-given promises, and, as legal king of the earth, He is in process of dispossessing all false heirs and all enemies from His possession.

Seventh, Jesus Christ obeyed the family law. As a dutiful son, He made provision for His mother from the cross. John was given to Mary as her new son, to care for her. But the new “son” Christ gave to Mary was in terms of the family of faith (John 19:25–27), so that Christ indicated that true heirship (for the heir inherits responsibilities) is by faith more than by blood. This principle He had earlier declared with reference to His mother and brothers. When their doubts led them to a position of fearfulness with respect to His calling, He declared His true family to be “whosoever shall do the will of my Father” (Matt. 12:50). He did not thereby separate Himself from His responsibility to His mother, whose care was His dying concern. In the holy family, therefore, the Biblical law of the family is clearly exemplified. Particularly in His heirship, Jesus Christ demonstrated the responsibility of an heir. As heir of a family, He fulfilled His family responsibilities; as heir to a throne, He met His royal obligations; as heir to the racial mantle as the second Adam, He met His duties to the race. He thus demonstrated that heirship is responsibility.

  1. The Limitation of Man’s Authority

The problem of authority is basic to the nature of any and every society. If its doctrine of authority is shattered, a society collapses, or else it is held together only by total terror. It has become commonplace on the part of scholars to avoid the fact that authority is a religious matter; the god or ultimate power of any system is also the authority and the lawgiver of that system.

Iverach, in line with the humanistic evasion of the nature of authority, began his analysis by stating that, “The word ‘authority,’ as used in ordinary language, always implies a certain amount of coerciveness. The most common meaning is that of a power to enforce obedience.”[cccl] This is certainly true as far as it goes, but it is false by its misdirection of emphasis. It is like defining a man as a creature who is largely hairless, has a thumb, and walks erect; technically, this definition is correct; practically, it has told us nothing, and has evaded the central facts concerning man. Iverach recognized this limitation, and he therefore led the argument, step by step, to the conclusion that “[a]ll authority is thus ultimately Divine authority. This is true whether we regard the world from the theistic or from the pantheistic point of view.”[cccli] Since the starting point of all authority is religious, then the starting point of all discussions of authority must be religious. God is not the final link in authority but the Alpha and the Omega of all authority.

All authority is in essence religious authority; the nature of the authority depends on the nature of the religion. If the religion is Biblical, then the authority at every point is the immediate or mediated authority of the triune God. If the religion is humanistic, then the authority is everywhere implicitly or explicitly the autonomous consciousness of man. Men either obey authority on religious grounds, or they disobey on religious grounds. Adam and Eve were no less religious in their disobedience than in their obedience. When they assumed that man is autonomous and has a freedom of choice with respect to God’s law, and the freedom to determine what shall be law, they made a moral and a religious decision, and they acted in obedience to their new religious presuppositions. Disobedience to existing authority means that a new authority is in view. The disrespect of disobedience is a religious defiance of an authority; it is the denial of that authority in the name of another. When a child defies his parent, saying, “I don’t want to, and I won’t do it,” he replaces parental, and religious, authority with his own will; he opposes his own demand for autonomy and moral independence against the claims of God in His word and his parents in their person. If the child obeys only through fear, it is still a religious obedience, in that power, or punishment, is the religious motive force in his life. The religions vary, but the fact that authority is religious remains constant.

Authority is rightful power; it is dominion and jurisdiction. Men respond to acknowledged authority; they resent obeying authorities they do not recognize as such. The chief priests and elders of the people asked the right question of Jesus, for the wrong reasons, being unwilling to admit what their own doctrine of authority was. But the question remains: “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” (Matt. 21:23). They had already seen what His declared authority was, and had observed, “thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33). Jesus grounded His authority on His Father, and on Himself as God incarnate.

Without a valid doctrine of authority, no order stands. To appeal to sentiment or gratitude is futile: either a religious doctrine of authority binds man, or he is not bound, save at his pleasure or convenience, which is no bond at all. Let us turn again to Egyptian moral instruction for examples of this, as witness the “Instructions” of a father to his son:

Double the food which thou givest thy mother, carry her as she carried thee. She had a heavy load in thee, but she did not leave it to me. After thou wert borne she was still burdened with thee; her breast was in thy mouth for three years, and though thy filth was disgusting, her heart was not disgusted. When thou takest a wife, remember how thy mother gave birth to thee, and her raising thee as well; do not let thy wife blame thee, nor cause that she raise her hands to the god.

Consider also the words of Ptahhotep of the Fourth Dynasty:

If thou art a man of standing, thou shouldest found a household and love thy wife at home, as is fitting. Fill her belly, and clothe her back; ointment is the prescription for her body. Make her heart glad, for she is a profitable field for her lord.[ccclii]

These words are beautiful and moving, and the moral sentiment is commendable but futile. The appeal is to sentiment, not to an absolute moral law. There is here no absolute religious and moral authority undergirding the family and protecting mother and wife, nor is there a civil authority to enforce that religious law: the welfare of the mother and the wife are left to the pleasure of the individual, and so the appeal is a futile attempt to tug at the heartstrings: it is an appeal without authority.

If a doctrine of authority embodies contradictions within itself, then it is eventually bound to fall apart as the diverse strains war against one another. This has been a continuing part of the various crises of Western civilization. Because the Biblical doctrine of authority has been compromised by Greco-Roman humanism, the tensions of authority have been sharp and bitter. As Clark wrote, with reference to authority in the United States,

It is a doctrine of both Mosaic and Christian law that governments are divinely ordained and derive their powers from God. In the Old Testament it is asserted that “power belongeth unto God,” (Ps. 62:11) that God “removeth kings and setteth up kings,” (Dan. 2:21) and that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (Dan. 4:32). Similarly in the New Testament it is stated that “. . . there is no power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1).

In Roman law it was originally considered that the emperor’s power had been bestowed upon him by the people, but when Rome became a Christian state his power was regarded as coming from God. In America also God has been recognized as the source of government, though it is commonly thought that in a republican or democratic government “all power is inherent in the people.”[cccliii]

In early America, there was no question, whatever the form of the civil government, that all legitimate authority is derived from God. The influence of the classical tradition revived the authority of the people, which historically is equally compatible with monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, or democracy, but it is not compatible with the doctrine of God’s authority. As a result, the authority of God has been progressively displaced in America by the authority of the new god, the people. When God is invoked, He is seen as someone who bows to the people, as a God who longs for democracy.

This is no less true elsewhere. Thus in England, Queen Elizabeth II, in her 1968 Christmas message, declared, “The essential message of Christmas is still that we all belong to the great brotherhood of man . . . If we truly believe that the brotherhood of man has a value for the world’s future, then we should seek to support those international organizations which foster understanding between people and nations.”[cccliv] Christ, who came to divide men in terms of Himself, is seen by the queen as one who came to unite men in terms of humanity. The Marxists, because they lack this schizophrenic and/or hypocritical position, are able to function more vigorously and systematically. The Marxist authority is rigorously humanistic and is enforced by an unabashed total terror.

Under a Biblical doctrine of authority, because “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1), all authority, whether in the home, school, state, church, or any other sphere, is subordinate authority and is under God and subject to His word. This means, first, that all obedience is subject to the prior obedience to God and His word, for, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; cf. 4:19). Although civil obedience is specifically commanded (Matt. 22:21; 23:2–3; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; Rom. 13:1–5; Titus 3:1; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Pet. 2:13–16, etc.), it is equally apparent that the prior requirement of obedience to God must prevail. Thus, the apostles had orders from their King to proclaim the gospel, and they therefore refused to be bound to silence by the legal authorities (Acts 4:18; 5:29; cf. 1 Macc. 2:22).

Second, all authority on earth, being under God and not itself God, is by nature and necessity limited authority. This limited nature of all subordinate authority is sharply set forth in a number of laws, of which an interesting one is Deuteronomy 25:1–3:

If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judges shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

Wright observed, of the last phrase,

Seem vile (KJV) is incorrect; see the RSV. The Hebrew literally has “be made light.” To give a man the punishment due him for his crime was not to dishonor him as a fellow Israelite, but to beat him indiscriminately in public was to treat him like an animal rather than with the respect due a fellow human being.[ccclv]

This point is important. Since Biblical law did not permit the growth, in times of obedience, of a class of professional criminals and incorrigible delinquents, “the wicked man” is thus not a depraved criminal but a sinful citizen and neighbor. He submits to the judgment and is reinstated in the community; he is not vile, or is not degraded, made light, in the eyes of the community or the authorities by the punishment. In fact, at a later date, according to Waller, the punishment “was inflicted in the synagogue, and the law was read meanwhile from Deuteronomy xxviii, 58, 59, with one or two other passages.”[ccclvi] The reading of Deuteronomy 28:58–59, is important: the purpose of man’s judgment was declared thereby to fulfill God’s requirement and avoid God’s judgment, for, “If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law . . . Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful” (or extraordinary).

This brings into focus a significant aspect of the intention of the law. By requiring capital punishment for incorrigible criminals, the law eliminated the enemies of godly society, it purged them from society. This is the killing side of the law. On the other hand, by requiring restitution of other significant offenders, and corporal punishment (the stripes) of minor offenders, the law worked to restore man to society, to cleanse and to heal. The man who made restitution, or who received his stripes, had paid his debt to the offended person and to society and was restored to citizenship. The reading of Deuteronomy 28:58–59 had in mind the avoidance of God’s destroying judgment by the application of God’s healing judgment.

Where the law seeks to heal without killing, it kills. The surgeon must remove a hopelessly diseased organ to save the body, to heal it of its infection. But a mildly infected finger is not cut off; it is purged of infection in order to be maintained as a functioning part of the body. Whether in killing or healing, the authority of civil government is strictly governed and limited by the word of God.

The authority of the judges is thus limited authority: a maximum of forty stripes, lest it put a distance between judge and people, lest the sinning citizen become a subject of the judge rather than both together subjects of God the King. Punishment is always subject to the law of God; the normal sentence is restitution; in minor causes of personal controversy, it was corporal punishment, a beating. The kind of offense which was covered by corporal punishment is, among others, that of Leviticus 19:14, “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear thy God: I am the Lord.” According to Ginsburg, “The term deaf also includes the absent, and hence out of hearing.” Moreover,

According to the administration of the law during the second Temple, this prohibition was directed against all cursing whatsoever. For, said they, if to curse one who cannot hear, and whom, therefore, it cannot grieve, is prohibited, how much more it is forbidden to curse one who hears it, and who is both enraged and grieved by it.

Nor put a stumbling block before the blind. In Deut. xxvii. 18, a curse is pronounced upon those who lead the blind astray. To help those who are thus afflicted was always regarded as a meritorious act. Hence among the benevolent services which Job rendered to his neighbours, he says “I was eyes to the blind” (Job xxix. 15). According to the interpretation which obtained in the time of Christ, this is to be understood figuratively. It forbids imposition upon the ignorant, and misdirecting those who seek advice, thus causing them to fall. Similar tenderness to the weak is enjoined by the Apostle: “That no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Rom. xiv. 13).[ccclvii]

Third, the law asserts the supremacy of the written law-word of God. Man’s authority is under God and limited; God’s authority is unlimited. Men have no right to interpret the will of God in terms of their wants and wishes; the will of God for man is declared in His law-word. The form of the civil order may vary: it may be the commonwealth governed by judges or governors (Deut. 17:8–13), or a monarchy (Deut. 17:14–20), but the supremacy of God’s law and authority remains. The only authority in any sphere of government, home, church, state, school, or other, is the written word of God (Deut. 17:9–11). This law-word must be applied to the varying conditions of man and to the diverse social contexts. “The written word is the chain that binds. Nor does the varying relation between the executive and legislative authority alter the principle.”[ccclviii] The man who refused to recognize the authority of God’s law-word as binding on himself when the verdict was given was executed, “to put away the evil from Israel,” or to purge it from the land (Deut. 17:12–13).

If a king ruled, he was to be (a) one of the covenant people, i.e., a man of faith because the covenant requires faith; (b) he was not to “multiply horses,” i.e., instruments of aggressive rather than defensive warfare, nor “multiply wives” (polygamy), and “neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold,” for his purpose must be the prosperity of the people under God rather than his own wealth; a rich state means a poor people; (c) the king must have, read, and study the law-word of God “all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them;” and (d) the purpose of his study is not only to further God’s law order, but also “[t]hat his heart be not lifted up above his brethren,” since he is a fellow subject of God, and that he may rule in obedience to God all his days (Deut. 17:14–20). Jesus Christ, as the true King, came to fulfill God’s law-word and to establish God’s dominion: “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:7–8; Heb. 10:7, 9). According to Wright, writing of Deuteronomy 17:14–20, “It is impossible to imagine such writing in another nation of the ancient Near East. Kingship was as subject to the divine law as were all the other offices of the nation.”[ccclix] But in Biblical law, king, judge, priest, father, and people are all under the written law-word of God, and the higher the position the more important is obedience.

Thus, fourth, as is already apparent, personal whims cannot take precedence over God’s law even where our property is concerned. A legitimate and godly heir cannot be set aside in favor of another son, simply because the father loves the second son. This is specified in the case of a polygamous marriage, where the firstborn may be the son of a hated wife (Deut. 21:15–17). In any case, the father is not at liberty to use personal and nonreligious reasons as the criterion of heirship. God’s law must prevail. The only legitimate grounds of heirship are religious.

We must therefore conclude that authority is not only a religious concept but also a total one. It involves the recognition at every point of our lives of God’s absolute law order. The starting point of this recognition is in the family: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” Out of this commandment, with its requirement that children submit to and obey the authority of their parents under God, comes the basic and fundamental training in religious authority. If the authority of the home is denied, it means that man is in revolution against the fabric and structure of life, and against life itself. Obedience thus carries the promise of life.

The Sixth Commandment

  1. “Thou Shalt Not Kill”

The sixth commandment is, together with the eighth, the shortest statement in the table of ten (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17). It appears in both Exodus and Deuteronomy without variation.

Its most elementary meaning is clearly stated by Calvin:

The sum of this Commandment is, that we should not unjustly do violence to any one. In order, however, that God may the better restrain us from all injury of others, He propounds one particular form of it, from which men’s natural sense is abhorrent; for we all detest murder, so as to recoil from those whose hands are polluted with blood, as if they carried contagion with them.[ccclx]

It should be noted that Calvin cited unjust violence as forbidden by the law; capital punishment, legitimate warfare, self-defense, and similar acts are not forbidden. Calvin added, as he began his study of the details of the subordinate legislation, “It will, however, more clearly appear hereafter, that under the word kill is included by synecdoche all violence, smiting, and aggression.”[ccclxi]

Calvin pointed out further, in a passage more than ever relevant today,

Besides, another principle is also to be remembered, that in negative precepts, as they are called, the opposite affirmation is also to be understood; else it would not be by any means consistent, that a person would satisfy God’s Law by merely abstaining from doing injury to others. Suppose, for example, that one of a cowardly disposition, and not daring to assail even a child, should not move a finger to injure his neighbours, would he therefore have discharged the duties of humanity as regards the Sixth Commandment? Nay, natural common sense demands more than that we should abstain from wrong-doing. And, not to say more on this point, it will plainly appear from the summary of the Second Table, that God not only forbids us to be murderers, but also prescribes that every one should study faithfully to defend the life of his neighbour, and practically to declare that it is dear to him; for in that summary no mere negative phrase is used, but the words expressly set forth that our neighbours are to be loved. It is unquestionable, then, that of those whom God there commands to be loved, He here commends the lives to our care. There are, consequently, two parts in the Commandment,—first, that we should not vex, or oppress, or be at enmity with any; and, secondly, that we should not only live at peace with men, without exciting quarrels, but also should aid, as far as we can, the miserable who are unjustly oppressed, and should endeavour to resist the wicked, lest they should injure men as they list.[ccclxii]

Jesus, in his summary of the law, declared the “two tables” of the law to be summed up in the love of God and the love of neighbors (Matt. 22:36–40). “On these two commandments hang [depend, BV] all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40). The proper meaning of the law involves both the negative precept and the positive affirmation. To limit obedience, and to test character, merely by the negative factor is dangerous. It leads too often to the belief that a good man is the one Calvin singled out for his ugly example: the coward who would not dare “assail even a child” but who is incapable of any discharge of his duties. Too often the church has equated these cowards with righteous men and advanced cowardly snivellers, whose weapons are those of backbiting and talebearing, to positions of authority.

But all men have, as Calvin noted, “the duties of humanity as regards the Sixth Commandment.” If they do not seek to prevent injury, assault, or murder, they are themselves in part guilty of the offense committed. The unwillingness in many instances of witnesses to act in cases of assault or murder may mean no entanglement on earth, but it incurs fearful entanglement and guilt before God.

Thus, a fundamental principle here appears, one which functioned in Israel, in later Christian law orders, and which became a part of the American legal tradition, namely, the police power of every citizen. The law asks two things of every man, obedience and enforcement. To obey a law means in effect to enforce it in one’s own life and in one’s community. God’s law is not a private matter; it is not for us to obey personally simply because we like it, meanwhile leaving other men to follow whatever law they choose. The law is valid for us because it is valid for all; to obey it means to accept a universal order as binding on us and upon all men. Obedience therefore requires that we seek a total enforcement of the law. This, then, is the first important principle which appears in this law.

But, second, as appears in Calvin’s statement, and in our Lord’s summary of the law, this commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is more than purely political in its reference. It refers to vastly more than cases of assault and murder which are criminal offenses and subject to trial by civil authorities. The police power and duty of the person involves a common defense of godly order. Law and order are the responsibilities of all good men without exception. Injuries to our fellow men, or to our enemies, which are not subject to civil or criminal action, are still our responsibilities. Our police power involves action against backbiting and talebearing. It also requires that we, in love of our neighbor, have a regard for his property as well as his reputation, to avoid injury to it. This is certainly no less true of his family, his marriage, and his wife. But our police power and the prohibition against killing requires that we use the earth and its natural resources entirely subject to the word of God and under His law. Thus, only a fraction of the exercise of man’s police power is political.

Third, the law makes it abundantly clear that capital punishment, the death penalty, is a part of this law, so that it involves no murder to take life on God’s terms and under His law. Life is created by God, and can be assailed or taken only on God’s terms. The terms of life are established by God. God as the giver of all life establishes the laws for all of life, and for all things else. Hence, every aspect of this law is a religious duty. Both the giving and the taking of life are aspects of man’s religious duty. This means that a man must not only avoid committing murder, and seek the apprehension of a murderer, but he must also seek the death penalty for murder.

Fourth, since the protection and nurture of man’s life under God is the positive affirmation of the sixth commandment, it becomes apparent why, in Biblical tradition, both in Israel and in Western civilization, medicine has been closely linked to religion. Tournier has stated that, “In the very essence of his vocation the doctor is the defender of the weak.”[ccclxiii] This is a strange and perverse interpretation, modern in its reading of the sick as the weak and in its orientation to the weak. The doctor is not concerned with the weak as against the strong and treats both as need or care requires it. The doctor’s function is to further healing and to protect and further man’s life under God. This conserving function has given medicine a conservative orientation, and one of the functions of socialized medicine has been the assault on medicine because of its conservative heritage, now rapidly being lost. The attempts at a mechanistic and materialistic medical approach function to sever the link between medicine and Biblical faith. On the other hand, psychosomatic medicine, despite its many materialistic emphases, has worked to give room again for a return to a Biblical emphasis, as has the renewed interest in the godly use of the soil and the proper growing of foods.

Fifth, while respect for life is required by this commandment, it cannot be confused with Albert Schweitzer’s anti-Biblical principle, reverence for life. Not reverence for life but reverence for God and His law-word is basic to this and every other commandment. As Ingram noted, “All rightness toward God is grounded upon strict, uncompromising observance of the First Commandment, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ It is thereby against the law to put anybody or anything before God.”[ccclxiv] Life cannot be placed before God, neither our life nor any other man’s. To view death as the ultimate evil is thus morally wrong. Rather, death is a consequence of the real evil, sin; it was sin which brought death into the world, and it is sin rather than death that man must reckon with.

Sixth, we have seen that this commandment has a political, social, and religious reference; indeed, its every reference is religious. But it should be added that the purely personal aspect is also included. Adam Clarke cited this. Establishing it on a general principle, Clarke wrote:

God is the Fountain and Author of life—no creature can give life to another: an archangel cannot give life to an angel—an angel cannot give life to man—man cannot give life even to the meanest of the brute creation. As God alone gives life, so He alone has a right to take it away: and he who, without the authority of God, takes away life, is properly a murderer. This commandment, which is general, prohibits murder of every kind.[ccclxv]

Clarke then cited ten forms of murder, of which four concern us here:

  1. All who by immoderate and superstitious fastings, macerations of the body, and wilful neglect of health, destroy or abridge life, are murderers;—whatever a false religion and ignorant superstitious priests may say of them. God will not have murder for sacrifice.
  2. All who put an end to their own lives by hemp, steel, pistol, poison, drowning, &c. are murderers—whatever coroners’ inquests may say of them; unless it be clearly proved that the deceased was radically insane.
  3. All who are addicted to riot and excess; to drunkenness and gluttony; to extravagant pleasures, to inactivity and slothfulness; in short, and in sum, all who are influenced by indolence, intemperance, and disorderly passions, by which life is prostrated and abridged, are murderers; for our blessed Lord, who has given us a new edition of this commandment, Matt. xix. 18, proposes it thus: Thou shalt do NO murder,—no kind or species of murder; and all the above are either direct or consequent murders; and His beloved disciple has assured us, that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. I John iii. 15.
  4. A man who is full of fierce and furious passions; who has no command of his own temper, may, in a moment, destroy the life even of his friend, his wife, or his child. All such fell and ferocious men are murderers; they ever carry about with them the murderous propensity, and are not praying to God to subdue and destroy it.[ccclxvi]

The purely personal violations of this law involve any and every abuse of our body which is destructive of our health and in violation of God’s will for us. It also means that tempers of mind which are destructive and suicidal are contrary to this law.

The personal application includes markings, cuttings, and tattoos of the body, for the body must be used under God’s law, and all such acts are forbidden in the law, whether for mourning, as religious marks, or for ornamental or other uses (Lev. 19:28; 21:5). Tattooing was practiced religiously to indicate that one adhered to or belonged to a god; it also indicated that a man was a slave, that he belonged to a lord or owner.[ccclxvii] The believer, as a freeman in Christ, indicates Christ’s lordship by obedience, not by servile markings: the body is kept holy and clean unto the Lord. The persistence of a mark of slavery among men is indicative of man’s perversity.

Seventh, the sixth commandment, like the first, has a reference to all ten commandments. When the law declares, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3), it means in part that every violation of any law involves placing ourselves and our will above God’s word and is therefore a violation of the first commandment. Similarly, when the law declares, “Thou shalt not kill,” it means that any violation of the first and second “tables” of the law involves a destruction of our life in relationship to God. We pass under the death penalty, and into the processes of death by disobedience. But, when we violate the fifth commandment, we also bring death to the family, as we do with violations of the seventh, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). Not only the family but society is assaulted or killed by violations of these and other commandments. The eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:15), protects property and thereby protects the life of the family and also the social order. This is no less true of the prohibitions of the ninth and tenth commandments against false witness and covetousness: men and nations are injured and destroyed by these things.

Thus, to worship God alone is the essence of the law; to live is to worship God by using life on God’s terms only. The law is total, because God is totally God, absolute and omnipotent. Health for man is wholeness in terms of God’s law.

Moreover, the bent and direction of every man is towards wholeness and totality in terms of a fundamental presupposition. The logic of men and nations is that they live and act out their faith; however great the social inertia, the direction of a society is governed by and moves clearly towards its fulfilment of a basic presupposition.

Man is born into a world of total meaning, so total that the very hairs of his head are all numbered; not a sparrow falls apart from God’s sovereign purpose, and the wild flowers whose life span is brief and fleeting are still a part of God’s total government and have a meaning in terms of it (Matt. 6:26, 30; 10:29–31; Luke 12:6–7). All life thus has direction in terms of God’s creative purpose. Even when man sins, he cannot escape meaning; in his sin, he substitutes another direction and purpose for God’s purpose in imitation of God’s creation mandate.

A man acts out of faith, and a man will act on his faith; “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:16, 20). Every fiber of man’s life is geared to meaning, and he will therefore act progressively with more and more consistency in terms of his faith. The problem of a transition period in history is that men still have a hangover of the old faith, whereas they are progressively acting in terms of their new faith. Modern man, being humanistic, progressively drops his relics of Christian law and order in favor of his humanistic heart and faith. A man will act on his faith, not on his waning sentiments for a past order, and today even “conservatives” reveal their basic humanism.

Thus, some libertarian economists, whose classical economics rests on a world of law and order which presupposes God, are now increasingly espousing total relativism. They ask for a free market for all faiths and practices, because none are true, since there is no truth. The one great enemy of the “new” libertarians is Biblical faith, since it holds to an absolute truth, and many who have had experience with these relativistic libertarians can testify that they will join forces with anyone, including Marxists, to make war on the Christians. Men will act on their faith, and there is an inescapable consistency in man, because he was created into a unified and total world of meaning and cannot live, even in sin, in any other kind of world. “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:16–18). There is a process of maturation, and there are diseases which from time to time infect good trees, but a tree is true to its nature, and a man acts in terms of his basic faith.

Thus, if a man’s orientation is to God by His sovereign grace, then that man will be oriented to life and to obedience to the law-word of life. But if a man’s presuppositions are not Biblical, if his basic faith is humanistic, then his orientation will be towards sin and death. Fearful of death, he will speak with intensity about reverence for life, but his nature begets death. The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” prohibits suicide, for we are not our own, nor can we use or take our lives in terms of our word, but those outside God and His law realm are suicidal. In words eminently true of himself, and applicable to the reprobate only, Oscar Wilde, in “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” wrote that “all men kill the thing they love.” Certainly all reprobates do, and just as certainly all men, acting on their faith, either kill themselves by degrees, and kill their society as well, or, by God’s grace and law-word, they and their societies move towards life, and that more abundantly.

  1. The Death Penalty

A man will act on his faith, and, if his faith be humanistic, inevitably his basic standard will be man, not God’s law. He will view the world, not as God’s handiwork, but as his own. A theologian of the Death of God school, William Hamilton, has called attention to the fact that man now rarely looks at the starry sky with a sense of reverence for God. Instead, he cites his experience with his son as illustrative of a new attitude:

The other night I was out in the backyard with one of my children who had to identify some constellations for his science homework . . . My son is a full citizen of the modern world, and said to me, after he had located the required constellations, “Which are the ones we put up there, Dad?” He had become a technological man, and this means something religiously.[ccclxviii]

The boy’s reaction was clearly logical. If the God of Scripture does not exist, then man is his own god and the world’s lord and maker.

Moreover, if man is his own god, then man and man’s life are the highest value. The greatest sin then becomes the taking of life. Accordingly, Arthur Miller, the dramatist, declares that “life is God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it.”[ccclxix] It follows from such a faith that the worst kind of sin is capital punishment, the deliberate taking of life by the state. This was precisely the point made by an editorial in the New York Herald Tribune, May 3, 1960, “A Barbarous Form of Punishment,” protesting the execution of Caryl Chessman:

Chessman succeeded in making himself a worldwide symbol of the fight against the death penalty . . .

He may or may not have been guilty, twelve years ago, of robbery and sexual assault (called kidnapping by a strange quirk of California law). The courts found him guilty; to the end he maintained his innocence, and the germ of doubt thus left will continue to cloud the case. But certainly the man killed yesterday by the sovereign state of California was not the same man whom that state’s courts originally sentenced.

. . . California sentenced a young thug; it killed a man who had learned the law, and probably citizenship, the hard way . . .

The law should inculcate respect for life by itself respecting the sanctity of life. The state should not, as California did yesterday, put itself in the position of the errant father telling his wayward son, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Death is final. It leaves no room for second thoughts, or for correction of the errors that are a mathematical certainty in a system of justice based on fallible human judgment. And the quintessential premeditation which judicial killing represents makes it more coldly vicious than a crime of passion.

The very concept of a death chamber is antithetical to the ideals of Western civilization.[ccclxx]

In terms of such a faith, the most vicious people of all are those who favor the death penalty. By their offense against man, they commit the unpardonable sin for humanism. In order to give man the preeminence the humanist logically must destroy any concept of justice as a real and objective standard. Man must be above law and therefore above justice. Justice is therefore reduced to rationalization and organized hatred. Thus, a University of Leicester sociologist has written of justice,

But could all this instead, perhaps be some kind of historical confidence trick? It has already been suggested that our idea of justice may be a rationalization of what is at bottom punitive behaviour. This would not be to argue that the idea of justice is a fake, but rather, that instead of taking it at face value, we might try to understand what needs it is intended to satisfy. It may appear then as a kind of collective psychological defence. As proof of the validity of our ideals, we are often inclined to refer to the sense of conviction that we and other people possess about them. Most of us certainly have strong convictions about the rightness of the ideal of justice. But all that a sense of conviction does is to prove its appropriateness for us: that in the present state of our emotional economy, such a belief has for us a very special and much needed part to play. But justice seen in this light is not merely the solvent of unrest within us; it is a positive outlet through which these tensions can be discharged in (as it seems to us) a constructive fashion. Through the idea of justice the bad things within us are transformed into something new and worthwhile. All this, so long as we do not look too closely at the outcome. For to stand the famous phrase upon its head and thus perhaps give it more validity: justice may more often “manifestly appear to be done” than to be done in fact.[ccclxxi]

Justice William O. Douglas has pointed out the obvious fact that law once had a divine sanction and rested on “God’s will.” Now, however, the sovereignty of God has been replaced by “the sovereignty of the individual.” In terms of this, for Douglas the civil liberties struggle is of necessity hostile to the old order. Indeed, “Law and order is the guiding star of the totalitarians, not of free men.”[ccclxxii] For Douglas, “Revolution is therefore basic in the rights of man,”[ccclxxiii] and naturally so, since man is above the law, and submission to the law is tyranny. In a “decent society” there is respect for and effort to preserve “the sovereignty and honor” as well as “the dignity of each and every individual.”[ccclxxiv] In the anarchistic world of Douglas, what law can bind man, who is above the law? And what state can survive if free men are those who are hostile to law and order?

Clearly, a religious war is in process, between humanism and Christianity, and in that war, church, state, and school are almost wholly on the side of humanism as against Christianity. But history has never been determined by majorities but rather always and only by God.

The struggle is between God’s absolute justice and His law order and man’s lawless self-assertion and autonomy. God’s law order requires the death penalty for capital offenses against that realm. Man’s law claims to value life too highly to take it, but humanistic societies do exact death for those whom they deem to be their enemies.

The death penalty appears at the onset of God’s covenant with Noah: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast I will require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s beast will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he him” (Gen. 9:5–6). Not only every murderer but every animal which kills a man must pay with its life: God requires this of a country, and brings judgment finally for noncompliance. As Rand noted, “Contrary to popular belief the Bible does not hold life cheaply. It is a serious thing to take life, and for the taking of life the murderer forfeits his life.”[ccclxxv] For this reason, there can be no ransoming or pardoning of murder (as distinguished from accidental killing), nor a ransom taken, for to do so is to defile the land where God dwells in the midst of His people (Num. 35:29–34).

In terms of Biblical law, the required modes of punishment, as summarized by Rand, were as follows:

1) The death penalty for capital offenses.

2) Whipping from one to forty stripes for minor offenses.

3) In cases of stealing and destruction of another man’s property, restitution: to which must be added from one hundred to four hundred per cent as punishment.

4) Those who were financially unable to make restitution, or pay the fine, were compelled to contribute their work and labor until the debt had been fully paid.

5) Confinement in a city of refuge for accidental killing.[ccclxxvi]

The replacement of this system by imprisonment is relatively recent; “as late as 1771, a French criminologist wrote that imprisonment was permissible only in the case of people awaiting trial.”[ccclxxvii] But, “Today prison is all there is: the death penalty is out of fashion (only one man was executed for crime in the United States after legal process in 1966).”[ccclxxviii]

The prison system, a humanistic device, is now under attack by the humanists, who want to replace it with the mental institution and psychiatric retraining. However, since their theory holds that it is a sick society which breeds sick men or criminals, the major attempt is to have psychological reconditioning (or brainwashing) of all people by means of the schools, pulpit, press, and television. Humanistic environmentalism requires such an approach. Marxism, as a more rigorous form of environmentalism, is dedicated to a total remaking of the social environment.

This humanistic environmentalism is a form of the same basic evolutionary faith which was formulated by Lamarck. Man can be and is determined by his environment and by acquired characteristics rather than by his own inner being. Not man’s sin but the world around him determines man’s will. Thus, the Marxist, Lincoln Steffens, in referring to man’s fall, blamed not Adam, nor Eve, nor the serpent: “it was, it is, the apple,” i.e., the environment, the world man lives in.[ccclxxix] From such a perspective, it is wrong to blame man. It is the world which must be remade by man to be fit for man. To punish man is thus seen as evil: it is God, who made the world, and the men who under God established God’s law order, who must be punished. Thus, between Biblical law and humanistic law, there is an unbridgeable gap and an unceasing warfare.

The principle involved in the Biblical law of punishment is stated in Exodus 21:23–25: “Thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Some choose to interpret this literally, but the very context (Ex. 21:1–36), a delineation of offenses and penalties, makes it clear that it means that the punishment must fit the crime; it must be proportionate to the offense, neither lesser nor greater. This principle is restated in Leviticus 24:17–21 and Deuteronomy 19:21. The comment of Oehler is of interest:

The Mosaic principle of punishment is the jus talionis, as it is repeatedly expressed in the sentence, “Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” etc., Ex. xxi. 23–25; Lev. xxiv. 18ff.; Deut. xix. 21: it shall be done to him who has offended as he has done; in other words, the punishment is a retribution corresponding in quantity and quality to the wicked deed. But that the talio is not meant to be understood in a merely external sense is not only shown by various provisions of punishment, but by the fact that not simply the deed itself, but the guilt lying at the root of the deed, is often taken into account in determining the punishment. The punishment of death is attached apparently to a large number of crimes. It is prescribed not only for the crime of murder, maltreatment of parents, man-stealing (Ex. xxi. 12ff.), adultery, incest and other unnatural crimes, idolatry, and the practice of heathen divination and witchcraft (Lev. xx., Deut. xiii. 6ff.), but for overstepping certain fundamental ordinances of the theocracy,—the law of circumcision, Gen. xvii. 14; the law of the Passover, Ex. xii. 15, 19; the Sabbath law, xxxi. 14f.; the pollution of sacrifices, Lev. vii. 20ff.; sacrificing at other places than the sanctuary, xvii. 8f.; certain laws of purification, xxii. 2, Num. xix. 13, 20. Yet the peculiar expression, “to be cut off from the people” . . . is chosen for the punishment of transgressions of the latter class in distinction from the former,—an expression which, indeed, cannot refer to simple banishment (as some have interpreted it), but still, in some cases, seems to point to a punishment to be executed not by human judgment, but by the divine power, what is said in Lev. xvii. 10 with reference to the person who eats blood: “I will blot out that person.” . . . When the punishment was really to be executed by human judgment, the term . . . he shall be put to death, is used—as of the violation of the Sabbath law, Ex. xxxi. 14, and in the passages of the former kind, Ex. xxi. 12ff., Lev. xx., etc. In general, in all cases where the people did not execute judgment on the transgressor, Jehovah Himself reserves the exercise of justice to Himself; see, as main passage, Lev. xx. 4–6.[ccclxxx]

There are thus two kinds of capital punishment. First, God directly executes judgment and death upon men and nations for certain offenses. This He does at His time and will and none can say Him nay. Second, God delegates to man the duty of inflicting death for certain offenses, and that without undue delay and without hesitation.

In examining the obligation of man to inflict the death penalty, we see, first, that, normally, no ransom or fine could be paid for murder to release the guilty. As Numbers 35:31 declared, “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.” The one exception to this is in cases where an ox, with a record of goring, kills a man; the owner then “shall be put to death,” unless “there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him” (Ex. 21:29–30). In such cases, because the ox is the primary murderer, there is a possibility of escape for the owner.

Second, as appears in the case of the goring ox, Biblical law holds animals as well as men liable for murder charges. This clearly appears in Genesis 9:5 as well as in the law. If a man owns an animal, and the animal kills a man, the animal dies. The owner is not guilty if the animal has no previous record of unprovoked violence (Ex. 21:28). But if the animal had a record of violence in the past, then the owner is liable for murder charges and capital punishment. For a freeman, ransom was possible; with slaves, the ransom is specified by law, thirty shekels of silver, to prevent undue ransom being required for a slave as the alternative to death (Ex. 21:29–32). An offense by an ox against another man’s ox is also guilty before the law and liable. If the criminal animal had no previous record, then it must be sold, and the proceeds divided between the two owners, and the killed ox is also sold and the proceeds divided. But if the criminal ox had a record of misconduct, then it is sold and the proceeds given entirely to the owner of the dead ox, who retains possession of the proceeds of the dead ox (Ex. 21:35–36). This principle of animal liability, and the liability of their owners, is still a part of our law. If the executed ox was killed by stoning, its flesh could not be eaten, having not been bled (Ex. 21:28). A strange modern application or misapplication of this law appears in a modernist commentary: “The animals that kill men today are not oxen but tiny organisms, germs of disease. If the possessors of these are careless in spreading them around, they too should be put to death, or charged a very high ransom.”[ccclxxxi]

Third, we have seen that the principle is life for life, i.e., a punishment proportionate to the crime. This crime has no reference to the criminal or his mentality but only to the nature of the act. If death is the penalty for animals on the principle of life for life, then this is certainly true for men. Thus, on this principle, Biblical law has no plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Neither is there any privileged status before the law for a minor. Murder requires the death penalty whether the offender is an animal, an “insane” man, a child, or a feeble-minded person. The modern plea of not guilty by reason of insanity arose in 1843 in the trial of Daniel M’Naghten for the murder of Edward Drummond, secretary to Sir Robert Peel. As a result of M’Naghten’s trial, the M’Naghten Rules were developed. It was (a) presumed that every man is sane until the contrary is proved, but (b) a man who was insane or laboring under a defect of reason while committing the act, so that he did not realize the nature of the act or its wrongness, was not guilty by reason of insanity. M’Naghten was committed to an asylum instead of being executed. The M’Naghten Rules led to the decision in 1954 by David T. Bazelon of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that no one could be held “criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or mental defect.”[ccclxxxii] This was the Durham case, the trial of Monte Durham, a housebreaker and check-passer who had been in and out of jails and mental hospitals for seven of his twenty-four years.

Such pleas as the M’Naghten and Durham Rules permit the courts to set aside the life for life principle, the principle of justice and justice itself, in favor of a humanistic concern for the life of the criminal. Supposedly, prisons are “punitive” and heartless as compared to mental treatment. But, as Mayer has noted,

The most cursory look at our institutions reveals that some prisons, in Wisconsin, in California and in the federal system, are in fact much less punitive than the ordinary state mental hospital. And a man is not likely to be much better off in the job market later if his record shows a civil commitment to an institution for the criminally insane rather than a conviction for a crime.[ccclxxxiii]

The prison system is a humanistic device, an ostensibly more humane way of treatment than the older Biblical law required. Now the mental health approach is supposedly even more humane, when in actuality, as Solomon long ago noted, that here as elsewhere, “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10).

But we are told by psychiatrists like Menninger that society can be made healthy only by replacing “the punitive attitude with a therapeutic attitude.” To demand punishment of criminals is to reveal our own mental sickness; he speaks of it in fact as “the crime of punishment,” so that in his eyes the good people of society are all criminals when they demand punishment.[ccclxxxiv] Menninger holds that the crime of society against the criminal is greater than that of the criminal against society: “I suspect that all the crimes committed by all the jailed criminals do not equal in total social damage that of the crimes committed against them.”[ccclxxxv] Of the criminal, Menninger says,

We need criminals to identify ourselves with, to envy secretly, and to punish stoutly. They do for us the forbidden, illegal things we wish to do and, like scapegoats of old, they bear the burdens of our displaced guilt and punishment—“the iniquities of us all.”[ccclxxxvi]

As a humanist, Menninger regards man’s life as the greatest good, and any injury to life as the greatest evil: “the great sin by which we are all tempted is the wish to hurt others, and this sin must be avoided if we are to live and let live.”[ccclxxxvii]

Similar opinions are to be found in the legal profession and in fact dominate it. This was apparent in the 1968 convention of the American Bar Association (ABA). The kind of thinking which appealed to many was definitely to the left, and was all humanistic. Thus,

A Negro lawyer, William Coleman of Philadelphia, argued that society should be prepared to sanction a certain amount of unrest and inconvenience as the price of progress. He contended that persons engaged in civil disobedience should be paid for their trouble in fighting unjust laws.

When a cause is worthy, agreed Louis H. Pollak, dean of Yale Law School, prosecutors should refuse to press charges against persons engaged in civil disobedience. He did not set forth specific guidelines for determining whether a cause is worthy.[ccclxxxviii]

Of course, rioters were already being extensively subsidized in their civil disobedience and rioting, as numerous studies and reports have demonstrated, federal grants being generously given.[ccclxxxix] There was a dissenting voice at the ABA convention, a guest, Lord Justice Widgery of the court of appeals in England:

After listening to conferences on crime and civil disorder for five days, the British jurist said it had “struck me very forcibly that I have heard not one word of commendation or criticism of the police . . . the shock troops in the fight against crime.” How do lawyers and judges expect to keep the peace, he said, “unless they have an efficient police force?”

The lord justice also questioned the dictum expressed moments earlier by Attorney General Clark that “poverty is the mother of crime.” Lord Justice Widgery dryly advised his audience not to “attach too much importance” to this theory. “Anyone who thinks relief of poverty will bring a decrease in crime is in for some kind of disappointment,” he said.

The greatest part of England’s slums, he said, were razed by World War II bombing, so poor housing is no excuse for crime. And Britain has had “very great success . . . with its Robin Hood fiscal policy of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, and you would think there would be a drop in the crime figures. But nothing like this has happened. There’s been an increase in every department,” among the poor, the middle class, and the well-to-do.

Crime and civil disorder continue to increase, he suggests, because societies throughout the Western world have “lost discipline,” acceptance by its members of a code of discipline.[cccxc]

In 1968, the attorney general of the United States, Ramsey Clark, quoting the Fabian socialist, George Bernard Shaw, that “murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another but similars that breed their kind,” urged Congress to abolish capital punishment for federal crimes. According to Clark’s testimony before a Senate subcommittee,

In the midst of anxiety and fear, complexity and doubt, perhaps our greatest need is reverence for life, mere life: Our lives, the lives of others, all life . . .

A humane and generous concern for every individual, for his safety, his health and his fulfilment will do more to soothe the savage heart than the fear of state-inflicted death which chiefly serves to remind us how close we remain to the jungle.[cccxci]

The courts today, moving in terms of humanistic law, are already hostile to law and order. As Gardner has pointed out, “The rights of the individual are being protected, provided the individual has committed a crime.[cccxcii] The concern for the criminal has reached the point where prison chaplains in Germany have formed a labor union for convicts, and West Germany has given the union a charter.[cccxciii]

To return to the insanity plea, some cities already have a separate psychiatric court, as witness Los Angeles, to which many cases are referred. “The court handles all cases involving mental illnesses, including court commitments of persons to mental hospitals; civil and criminal narcotics cases; and determinations for the municipal courts on questions of criminal insanity.”[cccxciv] The move to abolish the death penalty substitutes “medicine for morals,” and it denies “the legal doctrine of individual responsibility,” one of the fundamentals of godly law.[cccxcv] The door to pagan savagery is opened by this psychiatric approach. Instead of individual responsibility, guilt, and punishment, group responsibility, guilt, and punishment is stressed. The society at large and the family get the blame, not the criminal. The time is drawing closer when it will be dangerous to be innocent of crime, because innocence will constitute the greatest guilt. This is already the belief of the civil rights revolutionists.

Already, the defense in one court case indicates the direction of the law. A convicted rapist who entered a belated plea of innocent by reason of insanity has been defended in court on two grounds: (a) he has an abnormal chromosome makeup, and (b) he felt rejected by women.[cccxcvi] In fact, Menninger has declared, “The unconscious fear of women goads some men with a compulsive urge to conquer, humiliate, hurt, or render powerless some available sample of womanhood.”[cccxcvii] The rapist is not guilty; his fears, and perhaps his chromosomes also, drive him to rape; Menninger has made clear his belief in the guilt of the innocent. The criminal is not responsible; he is “driven” by society to crime. Thus, as a Mrs. John Connolly of St. Paul, Minnesota, said of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, when his trial for the murder of Senator Robert F. Kennedy began, “I think this poor fellow Sirhan is a very sad creature. It’s hard to imagine anyone who would be driven to something like this.”[cccxcviii] If Sirhan and other criminals are “driven” men, then someone did the driving and is therefore guilty. And if the criminal is predetermined to crime by his environment, the humanists, by asserting this, have substituted determinism by the environment for predestination by God. Fourth, the death penalty is required by Scripture for a number of offenses. These are for:

  1. murder, but not for accidental killings (Ex. 21:12–14);
  2. striking or cursing a parent (Ex. 21:15; Lev. 20:9; Prov. 20:20; Matt. 15:4; Mark 7:10). It should be noted that Christ condemned the scribes and Pharisees for setting aside this law;
  3. kidnapping (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7);
  4. adultery (Lev. 20:10–21), to be discussed later;
  5. incest (Lev. 20:11–12, 14);
  6. bestiality (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 20:15–16);
  7. sodomy or homosexuality (Lev. 20:13);
  8. unchastity (Deut. 22:20–21), to be discussed later;
  9. rape of a betrothed virgin (Deut. 22:23–27);
  10. witchcraft (Ex. 22:18);
  11. offering human sacrifice (Lev. 20:2);
  12. incorrigible delinquency or habitual criminality (Deut. 21:18–21);
  13. blasphemy (Lev. 24:11–14, 16, 23), already discussed earlier;
  14. sabbath desecration (Ex. 35:2; Num. 15:32–36), already discussed earlier; now superseded;
  15. propagation of false doctrines (Deut. 13:1–10), also discussed earlier;
  16. sacrificing to false gods (Ex. 22:20);
  17. refusing to abide by the court decision and thus denying the law (Deut. 17:8–13);
  18. failing to restore the pledge or bailment (Ezek. 18:12–13), because such an act destroyed the possibility of community trust and association.

The methods of capital punishment were by burning (Lev. 20:14; 21:9); stoning (Lev. 20:2, 27; 24:14; Deut. 21:21); hanging (Deut. 21:22–23; Josh. 8:29); and the sword (Ex. 32:27–28). The use of the sword was in an exceptional circumstance; and the basic requirement in every case was the death penalty itself rather than the form of the penalty.

Moreover, as Carey has pointed out,

Capital punishment was never to be inflicted on the testimony of less than two witnesses (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15). In specified instances capital punishment was to be executed by the witnesses themselves as in Deuteronomy 13:6–10, 17:7. In some instances execution was by the congregation (Numbers 15:32–36; Deuteronomy 13:6–10), or by nearest of kin, the avenger of blood (Deuteronomy 19:11–12).[cccxcix]

To the humanistic mind, these penalties seem severe and unnecessary. In actuality, the penalties, together with the Biblical faith which motivated them, worked to reduce crime. Thus, when New England passed laws requiring the death penalty for incorrigible delinquents and for children who struck their parents, no executions were necessary: the law kept children in line. Some laws secure their desired effect without any necessity for prosecution. Thus, to cite one instance, from the 1920s, as described by Llewellyn,

The books of the New York Public Library persisted in disappearing. This was a field peculiarly of juvenile delinquency; the opportunity was open to all, but the rewards of theft so petty as to make juveniles the likely prospects. A statute was passed making exhibition for sale of a book bearing a library stamp an offense. The library officials saw to it that every secondhand book dealer in the city received notice of this statute. Promptly the thefts decreased almost into nothingness. The market had become unprofitable. There has never been a prosecution under the law. There is no need.[cd]

This is not always the case, for when the religious and moral character of a people disintegrate, the lawbreakers begin to outnumber the police and the law-keepers. Biblical law eliminates the incorrigible and habitual criminals; Biblical faith gives to the people a godly character and a law-abiding disposition. The breakdown of humanistic law orders is due to the radical criminal disposition of its lawless peoples. In spite of all the extensive pity for criminals, the fact remains that 80 percent of all accused persons plead guilty. Some of the remaining 20 percent are guilty, but the complaining party has dropped the charges (Mayer notes of these that many are “like our young man whose girl decided she wanted him even though he had beaten her to a pulp”). To speed up the legal logjam, many guilty parties are allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid delay and expense. Other studies show of every one-hundred picked up by the police (as against those formally accused), fifty are convicted on a guilty plea; five are convicted after trial; thirty are released without charges being brought; thirteen are released “by administrative process after arraignment but before trial,” and two are acquitted after trial. Thus, while in any fallible, human system, mistakes are made, they are obviously not very common. Justice has rough edges, but there is no alternative to justice.[cdi] Moreover, as Mayer noted of New York’s criminal courts, lawyers never wear hats, “because if you put a hat down anywhere in a criminal court building, somebody steals it.”[cdii] Moreover, “criminal practice is the one branch of the law where lawyers collect their fee in advance.”[cdiii] The reason, of course, is the radical dishonesty of their clients.

But more important is the situation with respect to juveniles:

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 48 percent of all arrests for serious offenses in 1964 were arrests of children under the age of eighteen, and 43.3 percent of all those formally charged with serious crimes by the police were referred to the juvenile court for disposition. The peak comes at age fifteen. (Generally speaking, incidentally, the larger the city, the smaller the proportion of those under eighteen in the total number of arrests.) It has been estimated that one-ninth of the nation’s children—one-sixth of the boys—make some contact with a juvenile court (usually for a quite minor offense) between the ages of ten and seventeen.[cdiv]

The figures after 1964 grew markedly worse. Too many of the children not involved in the juvenile courts are also schooled in lawlessness by humanistic education and religion. The result is the policemen’s impossible task: “In Berkeley on a Saturday night there may be 2000 pot parties going on—can you have an informer or a policeman at each one?”[cdv]

The law breaks down when the faith behind the law is gone. The hostility to the death penalty is humanism’s hostility to God’s law. But God’s government prevails, and His alternatives are clear-cut: either men and nations obey His laws, or God invokes the death penalty against them.

We have cited above the high ratio of guilt in all indicted persons. This does not mean that innocent men are not sometimes condemned. The Dudley Boyle case appears to have been such a case. Dudley Boyle, a mining engineer and a high-spirited young man, was arrested during the Depression for robbing the Bank of Sparks. He was defended by McCarran, later U.S. Senator for Nevada, who was convinced of Boyle’s innocence. The trial revealed amazing irregularities as McCarran’s daughter summarizes some of its aspects:

One of the most unique devices used by the prosecution was that the State called to the witness stand the one man who could prove Dudley Boyle’s alibi—that he had left Reno early on the morning of the robbery and journeyed by automobile to Goldfield. Summerfield elicited the man’s name and address and then dismissed him from the stand. Thereafter, McCarran, continually overruled by Judge George Bartlett, was unable to cross-examine the man, or elicit from him the confirmation of Boyle’s alibi. This would be unbelievable if it were mere news reporting. The transcript is available. Even on appeal, Judge Edward A. Ducker, who had succeeded McCarran on the Supreme Court, handed down a terribly facile decision against Boyle, who had been sentenced from five to twenty years in the State Prison. He was released after six years and subsequently, committed suicide. When he had been working for parole, Boyle had written to McCarran: “You know and I know that I am innocent.” This was, unfortunately, in the depth of the Depression when everyone was desperately distracted. There was much to suggest that when the owner of the Bank of Sparks desired a conviction, it could be obtained.[cdvi]

This is not an isolated case.[cdvii] But it is not the common case. The fact is still true that virtually all indicted men are guilty, and they, in most cases, plead guilty. To avoid enforcing the law, or to break down the law, because of such cases of injustice, is to compound the injustice. The enforcement of civil and criminal law is in the hands of sinful and fallible men; it cannot be made infallible. To improve the quality of law enforcement, and to bring about greater obedience, it is necessary that we have more godly men. There is no answer, but only further decay in any weakening of the law. To use cases of injustice to destroy the law is itself a very great and deadly act of injustice.

  1. Origins of the State: Its Prophetic Offices

Historically, theologians have quite regularly found the origins of the state, or civil government, in the sixth commandment, or, more accurately, in the fall of man. Before the fall, it is held, there was no need for a state, since man was sinless. After the fall, death entered the world because of sin as God’s judgment on sin, and the state was created in order to keep man’s sin in check and to invoke penalties up to death in judgment on sin. The state is thus God’s hangman, an institution which exists between the fall and the Second Coming to keep man in order.

This view is extensively echoed in Cullmann, who sees the state “as something ‘provisional.’”[cdviii] According to Cullmann, Christ and Christianity reject “the Jewish theocratic ideal . . . as satanic.”[cdix] Moreover, “Jesus does not regard the State as a final institution to be equated somehow with the Kingdom of God. The State belongs to the age which still exists even now, but which will definitely vanish as soon as the Kingdom of God comes.”[cdx] It is not necessary for the state to be Christian, but it is necessary that the state “know its limits.[cdxi] Closely related to this is the Scholastic and Lutheran view which grounds the state in natural reason and thus absolves it of any direct connection with and responsibility to God.

In a sense, this position is accurate, if we hold that the provisional character of the state has reference to the form of the state. But the same can be said of the church: it too is provisional in its form. There will be no offices of bishops, pastors, elders, or deacons in heaven or in the final new creation. This does not mean that the church is merely provisional, any more than it means that the state is merely provisional.

Moreover, Cullmann is viciously wrong in holding that the theocratic ideal of Israel was in Christ’s eyes satanic, for He had come to restore that true kingdom. It was the perversion of that ideal which was satanic, the perversion and imitation. At this point, Cullmann is right in observing that, “It belongs to the Devil’s inmost nature that he imitates God.”[cdxii] That which is imitated is the divine government, the Kingdom of God. This kingdom existed in Eden; its laws governed Adam and Eve and were finally broken by Adam and Eve. Civil authorities, as well as the church, school, and family, were ordained by God as varying aspects of the abiding Kingdom of God; each bears the marks of the fall, but all are ordained by God. The direct government by God has since been mediated through various institutions, of which one is the state. It is precisely because even these sin-ridden institutions still reflect God’s government of the world that obedience is commanded, and resistance is declared to be resistance to God (Rom. 13:1–7). Moreover, as Calvin clearly pointed out,

. . . to despise the providence of him who is founder of civil power, is to carry on war with him. Understand further, that powers are from God, not as pestilence, and famine, and wars, and other visitations for sin, are said to be from him; but because he has appointed them for the legitimate and just government of the world.[cdxiii]

Plague, famine, and war are results of and judgments on man for his sin, but the state is not such a visitation (although evil rulers may be) but rather an aspect of God’s righteous government. There will be government in the new creation as there is in heaven and must be on earth. The necessity to be righteous and just does not disappear in the new creation; rather, perfect obedience becomes the response to perfect government.

Now government is a vastly broader term than the state. Government means, first, self-government, then the family, church, state, school, calling, and private associations as well as much else. But the state as a “higher” but not highest power represents God’s ministry of justice, the fullness of which is seen in heaven and hell. For the state to culminate, together with church, family, school, and calling, in the Kingdom of God in the new creation is no more its finish than the time of birth is the death of the fetus. Rather, it is truest life.

The first and basic duty of the state is to further the Kingdom of God by recognizing the sovereignty of God and His word and conforming itself to the law-word of God. The state thus has a duty to be Christian. It must be Christian even as man, the family, the church, the school, and all things else must be Christian. To hold otherwise is to assert the death of God in the sphere of the state. Because of its failure to require that the state be Christian, because of its implicit Death of God theology, the church has surrendered the state to apostate reason and the devil. The church has done this because it has denied the law of God. It has, in fact, implied that God is dead outside the walls of the church, and it then must logically proclaim His death within the church.

The reason why the concept of the state as founded in the fall and in sin has failed is because the state has been separated from God except as a kind of slap from God, like a plague or a famine. Then, when a positive doctrine of the state is sought, it must be located, not in the Kingdom of God, but in natural reason, the autonomous reason of the natural man. If the state is separated from the Kingdom of God, how long will the idea of sin remain? After all, sin is an offense against God in His Kingship, against the laws of His Kingdom. The result is that if the state is not a part of the kingdom, then there is no sin in the world of justice and human relations.

This, of course, is the essence of humanism. The humanist is easily disillusioned with God, man, and society when all is not well, but he is not disillusioned with himself. Thus, the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran in his youth “conceived the universe as perfect and devoid of evil.”[cdxiv] In reaction to his disillusionment with the world and with God, he became a disciple of Nietzsche, whose philosophy governed Gibran’s writings.[cdxv] In terms of this, he saw the age of superman dawning: “We live in an era whose humblest men are becoming greater than the greatest men of preceding ages.”[cdxvi] His own attitude, as the arrived superman, was one of total self-righteousness. As his own superman and god, he was beyond criticism and beyond law.

Clearly, if the state is not an aspect of the Kingdom of God, it will inevitably drop the concept of sin because it has no true God. And, because man becomes under humanism his own god, no law can then govern gods, who are their own law. As Calvin noted, without laws, the state or civil magistracy “cannot subsist, as, on the other hand, without magistrates laws are of no force. No observation, therefore, can be more correct than this, that the law is a silent magistrate, and a magistrate a speaking law.”[cdxvii]

A state therefore witnesses against itself when it maintains to any degree God’s law order, and, if a state does not maintain that law order to some degree, it collapses into anarchy. The state is recognized as an order to which men under God must render obedience, and Scripture repeatedly requires this obedience where obedience is due even when the authority is a Nero. We cannot despise gold and silver simply because they are in the hands of ungodly men. On the contrary, we must seek to possess them ourselves by godly means. We must confess that gold is gold, whoever possesses it and however they use it. Similarly, the state is the state, created and destined to be a part of God’s Kingdom, called to magnify God by enforcing His law order, and it therefore cannot be despised, however ungodly the rulers of it may be. If we despise and abandon gold, we cannot complain if its new possessors are not to our taste; if we renounce the state as God’s ordination and an important aspect of His Kingdom, can we complain if evil men make use of it?

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” has both a negative aspect, the punishment of those who unjustly commit acts of violence, and a positive side, the protection of life in terms of God’s law. The state is usually grounded in the negative aspect and made at best God’s hangman. The state is indeed to be “a terror to . . . the evil,” the protector of the good, “and the praise of the same” (Rom. 13:3). By protecting life and furthering the safety of the family and of religion, the state is clearly positive in its ministry. Protection is not a mere negation: it is a present and continual climate of peace and safety. The charge of King Jehoshaphat to the judges of Judah is revealing: “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts” (2 Chron. 19:6–7).

The law is given as principles (the Ten Commandments) and as cases (the detailed commandments), and its meaning is to be hammered out in experience and in trial. This does not mean that the law is a developing thing but that man’s awareness of its implications develops as new situations bring fresh light on the possible applications of the law. The psalmist in Psalm 119 clearly saw the law as a positive force in his growth and in his ability to stand up to the adversities of history.

The sanctuary, as we have seen, was God’s throne room. When the civil government of Israel was established, it was done before the sanctuary. God there talked with the seventy elders of the people and poured out His Spirit upon them, so that the first Pentecost was the civil Pentecost at the ordination of the civil authorities (Num. 11:16–17, 24–30). The meaning of this event is generally neglected, because the law as a whole is neglected. Moses here, as the representative of Christ the King, mediated the gift of the Spirit. That this was not an exceptional event is made clear by the anointing of Saul, who also prophesied (1 Sam. 10:1–7). The fact of prophecy was not their office or calling, either with the seventy elders or with Saul: they were civil rulers. The Spirit-filled witness of the prophecy attested to their office, that it was of God’s ordination. These two civil Pentecosts came at the start of the two forms of civil government in Israel, the commonwealth and the monarchy. The ordination of others was by anointing. The early church saw its continuity with the church Pentecost, by its rites of coronation. The form of the rite still remains, although the faith is gone. The oath required of Queen Elizabeth II stated:

Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops, and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do and shall appertain to them or any of them?[cdxviii]

After this oath, the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland brought to the queen the Bible, saying:

Our gracious Queen: to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the Law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.

Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.[cdxix]

After the anointing, which cited the anointing of Solomon, the presentation of the sword of state followed, with the archbishop of York, receiving it from the Lord Great Chamberlain, presenting it to the queen with these words:

Receive this kingly sword, brought from the Altar of God, and delivered to you by the hands of us the Bishops and servants of God, though unworthy. With this sword do justice, stop the growth of iniquity, protect the holy Church of God, help and defend widows and orphans, restore the things that are gone to decay, maintain the things that are restored, punish and reform what is amiss, and confirm what is in good order: that doing these things you may be glorious in all virtue; and so faithfully serve our Lord Jesus Christ in this life, that you may reign for ever with him in the life which is to come. Amen.[cdxx]

When the orb with the cross was given to the queen, the archbishop declared:

Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.[cdxxi]

This service is an echo of the age-old coronation services, and of the Biblical faith, however often abused in coronation rites, that the civil order is directly under God and is established by His order as a part of His Kingdom. When the people replace God as lord and sovereign, then the civil Pentecost gives away to Babel and to the confusion of tongues.

Attempts have been made by scholars to turn these seventy men of Numbers 11:16–17 to ecclesiastical figures, but there is no warrant for this, and the parallel civil Pentecost at Saul’s anointing, in echo of Numbers 11:24–30, makes it clear that civil order is in view. The gift of prophecy was involved in both cases, not because they became prophets as preachers, but because the office of civil magistrates, offices of state, are prophetic offices, in that the civil officer must speak for God, and the primary meaning of prophet is one who speaks for God. The state thus can speak for God, and officers of state are prophets, insofar as they observe, obey, study, and enforce the law of God. For the state to seek an independent prophetic office is to renounce its office and become a false prophet.

Whether by laying on of hands, or by anointing, or by an oath of office and prayer, officers of church and state are inducted into the office of prophet and are men who speak for God in their respective spheres. This is a neglected fact, but a fact of Scripture all the same. The ecclesiastical point of view was expressed very bluntly by the Anglican, the Reverend R. Winterbotham, in his commentary on Numbers 11:17, 24–30: “the gifts of the Spirit are not independent of ecclesiastical order.” While he added that “[i]t is the purpose of God which is operative, not the ceremonial, however authoritative. The Spirit of God is a free Spirit, even when he elects to act through certain channels (cf. Acts i. 26; xiii. 2; 1 Cor. xii. 11; 2 Cor. iii. 17),”[cdxxii] he nonetheless restricted the Spirit to the church, a totally false point of view. Rather, the gifts of the Spirit are not independent of God’s order, and both church and state can be a part of that order. They can also be hostile to and alien to God’s order.

  1. “To Make Alive”

As we have seen, the state is more than God’s hangman; it is God’s instrument for the protection of godly life by furthering justice.

Although there are many remarks in Luther’s writings which seem to give substance to the Lutheran reduction of the state to a hangman, Luther’s actual effect was long in the other direction. As Rosenstock-Huessy noted,

The civil servant is the result of the mutual permeation of Luther’s prophecy of the universal Reformation of the prince’s carrying out of their special reformation.

The civil servant is the man who first hears the prophetic voice of universal truth, and who later enters the service of a secular authority to carry out his part in the Reform.[cdxxiii]

The two important institutions in the German Reformation were the university and the state, both moving in terms of principles deeply rooted in Christendom. “Luther’s prince, therefore, was not protecting Luther as a personal friend; he was standing for the right of a High Magistrate to harbour a sovereign university in his territory.”[cdxxiv] But Luther, in the name of God, in turn offered Frederick his protection as God’s servant: “he who believes most will protect most; and because I feel that Your Grace is still weak in the faith, I cannot by any means think of Your Grace as the man who could protect or save me.”[cdxxv] In Germany, “the universities became the heirs of the bishops’ chair, the cathedra. The professor’s chair was called ‘Katheder.’”[cdxxvi] According to Rosenstock-Huessy,

But the prince had no grip on the universities, no more than the cobbler. The universities represented the life of the Holy Ghost in the German Nation, whereas the prince and his State were blind and deaf in matters of religion without the help of the preachers and teachers of the faith. State and government were not at all glorified by Luther. “Princes are God’s hangmen and jailers,” he said.[cdxxvii]

This element was clearly present in Luther, but it was not the entire picture. Christian prince and Christian scholar, Christian state and the Christian ministry of the word in its broader sense to stress the scholar of the word, were the two central institutions in the German Reformation and for Luther.

But, far more than Luther, we must stress the work of the state as a ministry under God (not under the church), and with a negative task in punishing evil and injustice, which means, positively, establishing a law order in which the godly can thrive and prosper.

Not without reason, as we have previously seen, civil and other authorities are called “gods,” in that they share by God’s calling and grace in His sovereign work of government. God declared through Moses, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand” (Deut. 32:39). This same declaration appears in part in 1 Samuel 2:6, and in Isaiah 43:13. In the Song of Moses, it is clearly related to the law: the Lord is the great lawgiver and judge, and hence His power to kill and to make alive, to wound and to heal. This power is delegated to human authorities to be used in terms of God’s law-word, and all authorities thus have in varying degrees the power to restrict, kill, or injure life on the one hand, and to heal or make alive by furthering God’s law order and word on the other.

This function clearly belongs to the state and to the church. The power of the keys given to the church, to forgive sins or to bind them in terms of God’s word, is an aspect of this delegated authority to kill and to make alive (Matt. 16:19; 18:18 John 20:23). The church can forgive sins where God’s word declares forgiveness and know that this forgiveness stands before heaven; it can refuse forgiveness where God’s law conditions are not met, confident that the forgiveness is denied in heaven. The church “makes alive” by the ministry of the word and the sacraments, not because any power to communicate life resides in the church, but because God is faithful to His word where it is truly ministered.

The school, too, has the duty, as does the home, to kill and to make alive, to wound life in judgment where God’s word requires it, and to further life by its teaching and discipline.

An important aspect of the duty to “make alive” as it appears in the Scriptures is art, in particular, music. An entire book of hymns, the book of Psalms, is a part of the inspired word and repeatedly commands that God’s praise be sung and played on musical instruments.[cdxxviii]

Another important area of legislation to “make alive” concerns duties towards persons:

  1. To widows and orphans:

Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. (Ex. 22:22–24)

Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge: But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing. (Deut. 24:17–18)

Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Deut. 27:19)

Oppression is repeatedly cited as a particularly hateful sin in the sight of God, and rulers and judges are warned against it, and commanded to be watchful to prevent it. But, apart from the legal penalties for the particular instances of oppression, another penalty is cited: God’s judgment. When the helpless cry to the Lord, then He will be their defender. The phrase, “cry at all unto me,” can be rendered, “cry earnestly unto me.” The lex talionis principle, life for life, tooth for tooth, is here cited by God: if men oppress the widows and orphans, their own wives and children will be widowed and orphaned by God’s judgment.

  1. To neighbors, i.e., fellow members of the covenant:

Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again. (Deut. 22:4)

Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him. (Lev. 19:13a)

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. (Lev. 19:18)

While animals are a part of this law, the primary concern is love of one’s neighbor. This is very clearly apparent in Exodus 23:4–5: “If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden . . . thou shalt surely help with him.” Neither enmity nor indifference can allow us to refuse that righteous care for our neighbor’s (or enemy’s) problems which God requires of us. The only basis for our relationship with other men is God’s law, not our feelings.

  1. To the poor:

Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. (Ex. 23:6–7)

And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:9–10)

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shall fear thy God. (Lev. 25:35–43)

In the courts, the poor are not to be favored (“neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause” (Ex. 23:3), nor disfavored (Ex. 23:6–7); false matters or accusations are to be avoided, lest it lead to the injury or death of innocent men; God will in no wise justify the wicked. In everyday living, the deserving poor, both natives and aliens, had a legal right to glean. No farmer could harvest his fields totally; the fruit hard to reach, the grain along the fences and banks, and the lone bunches here and there on branches had to be left for the gleaners. The farmer then granted gleaning rights to certain of the poor and sometimes favored an especially deserving person, as Boaz did Ruth. In American gleaning, until World War II, some farmers carried certain families as their permanent gleaners and thus gave to these poor ones a real measure of security. The gleanings could be used either for the table or be sold for extra income. Gleaning was hard work, since it involved more effort than the regular harvest, when the fruit or grain was plentiful. In some cases, however, sometimes improvident Israelites, burdened by debt, and sometimes men beset by adversity, sold themselves as bondsmen. As members of the covenant, they were still brothers. Before he becomes, a bondsman, when he is “fallen in decay” (or “his hand faileth”), “thou shalt relieve him,” or “thou shalt lay hold of him” and give him the same consideration and care which strangers and sojourners had to receive. As the ARV reads it, “as a stranger and a sojourner shall he live with thee” (Lev. 25:35). If he is in need of funds, loans to him should be without interest or increase.

The authorities during the second Temple defined the words which are translated “usury” (neshech) and “increase” (tarbith, or marbith) as follows: If a person lends to another a shekel worth four denarii, and gets in return five denarii, or if he lends him two sacks of wheat, and receives back three, this is usury. If one buys wheat for delivery at the market price of 25 denarii a measure, and when it rises to 30 denarii he says to the vendor, “Deliver me the wheat, for I want to sell it and buy wine,” and the vendor replies, “I will take the wheat at 30 denarii and give thee wine for it,” though he has no wine, this is increase. The “increase” lies in the fact that the vendor has no wine at the time, and that he may possibly lose again by the rise in wine. Accordingly, the former is a charge upon money, whilst the latter is on products.[cdxxix]

If the loan fails, then the poor man becomes a bondservant, except that, although technically such, he is a bondsman with the jubilee in prospect; he is a brother destined for liberty. Meanwhile, he cannot be treated as a slave, like an unbeliever, but rather as a hired servant who is in some sense still a freeman. The reason for this is plainly stated by God: “For they are my servants” (Lev. 25:42). Both master and servant are servants of God, who governs absolutely the lives and relationships of both. In view of this, St. Paul declared, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20). It should be noted that the law here is mindful of the temptation to treat a weaker member of the covenant with disrespect; hence, it is stated that, while held as a brother, he is to be given the respect and courtesy normally accorded a stranger and a sojourner. The true believer is a freeman in the Lord; thus, even in debt and in servitude, he is entitled to a liberty not granted to others, who are slaves by nature.

A point of importance with respect to gleaning is that, in the older form, it was agricultural; modern life is more urban. A significant attempt at urban gleaning began some years ago, the Goodwill Industries. By collecting discarded goods and items, and then repairing and selling them by using unemployed or handicapped persons, an income for many has been provided. The rise of welfarism has limited the growth of urban gleaning, but its potentialities are very real and deserving of greater development.

  1. To sojourners, aliens, or strangers:

Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Ex. 22:21)

Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Ex. 23:9)

And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:33–34)

For the Lord your God is a God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deut. 10:17–19)

Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee. (Deut. 24:14–15)

Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge. (Deut. 24:17)

Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Deut. 27:19)

From these verses, as well as the foregoing, an important fact comes clearly into view. Thus, while Biblical law is severe in its condemnation of crime, and of laziness (as much of Proverbs testifies), it is equally severe in its condemnation of all who oppress the weak or the stranger. To use the modern terms, society as Biblical law envisions it is competitive and free but not atomistic. The essence of both modern capitalism and of communism is that they are atomistic; because the necessary presupposition of true society, Biblical faith, has been dissolved, society has been atomistic and unable to establish true community. In order to have true community, first, faith is necessary, a common bond of religious doctrine and practice. Second, a religious humility is necessary: “ye were strangers in the land of Egypt,” an awareness of our own origins and of God’s grace. Third, the stranger and our neighbor are alike to be loved as we love ourselves, i.e., to be granted the same regard for their life, family, property, and reputation, in word, thought, and deed, as we ourselves desire. Fourth, not only are aliens and the weak not to be oppressed, but in their need they are to receive our help and attention. Fifth, the alien and the weak, widows and orphans, are to receive the same conscientious justice in courts of law as we accord to the great of our day, i.e., without favor and with due regard for the law and for their rights before the law. Sixth, there is to be a measure of favoritism to the needy fellow believer in loans; they are without interest, and their necessities (“a widow’s raiment”) cannot be taken as security. Moreover, day laborers are to be paid on the evening of their labor, “for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it.”

  1. To the needy and defenseless: These appear in the foregoing classifications, but they are still singled out specifically by the law, and thus Galer rightly gives this as a distinct category of legislation.[cdxxx] Deuteronomy 24:14 and 27:19 have already been cited. Leviticus 19:14, “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shall fear thy God: I am the Lord,” was also cited previously, in another context.
  2. To slaves and servants:

If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him to the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. (Ex. 21:2–6)

Deuteronomy 24:14–15 (cited above).

And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day. (Deut. 15:12–15)

The poor were to be aided in their needs, but aid could not be a subsidy. Some became, because of their inability to meet their debts, bondservants for a period of not more than six years, to the next sabbath year or little jubilee. The bondservant was not only to be well treated, but he was to be discharged with a liberal pay for his services. (This system of bondservants was a part of English law, and many Americans came from ancestors who reached America only by selling themselves as bondservants for a sabbath of years.) The bondservant, however, could not have the best of both worlds, the world of freedom and the world of servitude. A wife meant responsibility: to marry, a man had to have a dowry as evidence of his ability to head a household. A man could not gain the benefit of freedom, a wife, and at the same time gain the benefit of security under a master. If he married while a bondservant another bondservant, or a slave, he knew that in so doing he was abandoning either freedom or his family. He either remained permanently a slave with his family and had his ear pierced as a sign of subordination (like a woman), or he left his family. If he walked out and left his family, he could, if he earned enough, redeem his family from bondage. The law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognize his position and accept it with grace. Socialism, on the contrary, tries to give the slave all the advantages of his security together with the benefits of freedom, and, in the process, destroys both the free and the enslaved. The old principle of law, derived from this law, that the welfare recipient cannot exercise the suffrage and related rights of a free citizen, is still valid.

  1. Reverence for the aged:

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord. (Lev. 19:32)

Again, the weak are protected by law: the protection extends thus from the young (orphans) to the aged.

  1. To construct battlements:

When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence. (Deut. 22:8)

Scholars who love to find parallels to Biblical law in other ancient legal codes are unable here (as elsewhere) to find a parallel. A principle of safety in building construction as well as a general liability principle is stated. The flat roofs of the day were commonly used for summer living; the roof had to have a wall or railing to prevent falls. A property owner had thus a general responsibility to remove occasions of hurt to legitimate persons on his land or in his home. The obligation to “make alive” is the duty to remove the potential sources of damage.

  1. Gleanings and shared offerings: This has already been cited. Texts requiring gleaning are Exodus 23:10–11; Leviticus 17:2–9; 19:9–10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 16:10–14; 24:19–21; cf. Ruth 2. Two of these passages are not strictly with reference to gleaning (Lev. 17:2–9; Deut. 16:10–14) but have reference to shared offerings, a form of charity to the poor, to aliens, and to Levites. There is a reference to gleaning in Gideon’s proverb, “Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?” (Judg. 8:2). The Chaldee interpretation of it, or paraphrase, reads, “Are not the weak of the house of Ephraim better than the strong of the house of Abiezer?”[cdxxxi] The gleanings required work on the part of the recipient. The shared offerings placed the poor, the alien, and the Levites within the family of the giver as they rejoiced together before the Lord. It was not entirely nor essentially charity, in that the sojourner might be prosperous, and the Levite well off, although the fatherless and the widow (Deut. 16:10–14) were often needy. In essence, the shared offering set forth their common life under God’s gracious government. The shared offerings and the gleanings alike served also to unite men and to further community. As St. Paul declared, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). But, with respect to responsibility and work, as St. Paul added, “every man shall bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:5). Men are made “alive” by godly help; they are not made “alive” by being relieved of their godly responsibilities. Herman N. Ridderbos’s comment on Galatians 6:5 is of interest:

Every man is responsible for his own conduct to God. Hence, one should conduct himself as verse 4 recommends. Burden does not refer so much this time to the oppressive weight (as in verse 2), as to the normal duty which falls upon every man. The words shall bear connote the certainty of this statement, as well as the coming judgment, where it will be made manifest.[cdxxxii]

Men and society are destroyed by false charity, for “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10), but a faithful adherence to the law of the Lord makes alive.

Since man lives in a fallen world, he has a task of restoration. To him is delegated by God, in every area of authority, to kill and to make alive in order to re-establish the intended dominion God ordained for man at the creation of all things. Man can never establish dominion without enforcing both aspects of this duty under God and according to His law. To kill alone accomplishes nothing; the tyrants of history are only destroyers. With all his lawless killing, Stalin gained nothing; he left Russia and the world poorer and more wretched for all his efforts to establish paradise by means of death. But, similarly, those who seek to avoid all injury, all killing, as a means of creating a new world only succeed in giving the victory to evil. Their tender mercies are cruelty, and by giving life to evil they bring death to society. Only by faithfully observing God’s mandate to kill and to make alive according to His law-word can man establish dominion over the earth and accomplish the required task of restoration.

  1. Hybridization and Law

The student newspaper at a fundamentalistic college carried a student attack on certain common attitudes. One of the condemned positions was summarized thus: “I can’t imagine ever having a homosexual for a friend.” The answer to this was, “Can you honestly imagine any of your friends not living with some awfully serious hang-ups?” The article continued,

“Westmont students should know the Christian answer to marijuana.” (Just what is the “Christian” answer? Or is there more than one possible position? Is the use of marijuana inherently evil? Is it wrong because it’s illegal? What happens if the law is changed?) “I am repulsed by the thought of homosexuality, drug addiction, and prostitution.” (Some people are repulsed by ignorance of social conditions, hypocrisy, false piety, and willing detachment from reality.)

“I can’t afford the time to become socially involved in the community problems of Santa Barbara. After all, my first responsibility is to be a student.” (How can I afford not to become involved? What does being a student mean? Can it ever exclude being a person and all that that means?)[cdxxxiii]

Such attitudes of permissiveness and antinomianism come as a shock to many, especially when they come from ostensibly evangelical circles. But the reality is that in fundamentalistic circles, and in Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic, and other circles, such opinions are becoming the rule rather than the exception. Those who oppose them are in the minority, and they lack the theological grounds, usually, to be effective in their opposition, because, where the law is set aside, then the ethics of love takes over. Where antinomianism prevails, love becomes the new “law” and the new savior: it is then the answer to every problem, to perversion, criminality, heresy, and all things else. Where love is the answer, all law and order must give way to the imperative of love. How widely people believe in love as the cure-all appeared in the trial of a Bel Air, California, physician who was involved in the Friars Club card cheating conspiracy, although not taken to trial after being indicted, and who also pleaded guilty to making false statements in his 1964 income tax returns.

Dr. Lands pleaded with Judge Gray to “remand me to my family and my dog—at least I know he loves me.”

The physician declared, “I feel like a motherless child—both unloved and unwanted.”[cdxxxiv]

Love without law is total permissiveness: it is ultimately a denial of good and evil in favor of a supposedly higher way. The ethics of love leads to situation ethics, in that, instead of God’s absolute law, the morality of a situation is determined by the situation itself and the loving action it calls for. Wherever the law is denied, the logic of that position leads inevitably to situation ethics unless the rule of law is restored in life and thought. Those evangelical circles which, denying the law, are still not in situation ethics, represent merely cases of arrested development: an administrative fiat, like a papal encyclical, blocks the logical progress into situation ethics.

The law is thus necessary and basic to Christian faith. Love, in Biblical thought, is not antinomian: it is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:8–10). Old-fashioned fathers are thus scripturally sound in declaring that they administer their discipline as an act of love.

Antinomianism is destructive of discrimination and of the intelligent use of things, and is forbidden. Some of the legislation in this area is extremely interesting:

Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee. (Lev. 19:19)

Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: Lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of diverse sorts, as of woollen and linen together. (Deut. 22:9–11)

Ginsburg’s comment on Leviticus 19:19 is, despite some details, to the point,

The Holy God has made everything “after its kind” (Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25 &c.) and has thus established a physical distinction in the order of His creation. For man to bring about a union of dissimilar things is to bring about a dissolution of the Divine laws and to act contrary to the ordinances of Him who is holy, and to whose holiness we are to attain . . .

Not to sow thy field with mingled seed.—According to the administrators of the law during the second Temple, the prohibition is only applicable to diverse seeds for human food, mixed together for the purpose of sowing them in the same field, as, for instance, wheat and barley, beans and lentils. These an Israelite must neither sow himself nor allow a non-Israelite to do it for him. Seeds of grain and seeds of trees, as well as seeds of different kinds of trees, may be sown together. The opening words of the parable, “A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard” (Luke xiii. 6), do not contravene this law. Seeds which were not intended for human food, such as of bitter herbs, or of vegetables intended for drugs, were exempted from this law, and like the hybrids of mixed parents, the seeds sown with diverse kinds were allowed to be used . . . Though trees are not mentioned here, the law was applied to grafting. Hence it was forbidden to graft an apple-tree on a citron-tree, or herbs into trees . . . According to the administrators of the law during the second Temple, an Israelite must not mend a woolen garment with a flaxen thread, and vice versa.[cdxxxv]

Certain legal conclusions clearly appear from these laws: First, the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is a law which clearly favors fertility. To harm or destroy the fertility of men, plants, and animals is to violate this law. Hybrids are clearly a violation of this law, as these case laws of Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:9–11 make plain. Hybrid plants and animals are sterile and frustrate the purpose of creation, for God made all plants with their seed “in itself” (Gen. 1:12). Hybridization seeks to improve on God’s work by attempting to gain the best qualities of two diverse things; there is no question that some hybrids do show certain advantageous qualities, but there is also no question that it comes at a price, bringing some serious disadvantages. Above all, it leads to sterility and thereby violates God’s creation ordinance.

Second, the commandments clearly require a respect for God’s creation. If God is the creator of all things, then all things have a purpose and are in their created function good. If all things have evolved, then everything, including man, has at most a demonstrated ability at survival but at worst is an evolutionary mistake and therefore destined to disappear. There is no assured good to anything in any evolutionary world. The law, however, requires us to respect the integrity of every living thing by refraining from hybridization. A man can kill and eat plants and animals under the law: this is within God’s law. But to attempt by hybridization to alter or transcend one of God’s created “kinds” is against His law.

Third, a general moral principle of total avoidance of and abhorrence for any and all violations of “kinds” is also asserted by the law. Thus, the law declares

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. (Lev. 18:22–23)

Homosexuality and bestiality were religious practices of the cults of chaos, and their persistence and spread in the modern world is closely associated with anti-Christian and revolutionary impulses. The penalty for such offenses was death for all involved, including the animals (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 20:13, 15–16). It is revealing of the antinomian nature of fundamentalism that Merrill F. Unger fails to cite the death penalty for homosexuality in his dictionary.[cdxxxvi] The New Testament makes it clear that homosexuality is the burning out of man, the culmination of apostasy (Rom. 1:27; cf. Gal. 5:19; 1 Tim. 1:10), and that those who practice it are outside the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9–10; Rev. 22:15).

The laws of Puritan New England required the death penalty in terms of Scripture. Thus, John Winthrop recorded, “One Hackett, a servant in Salem . . . was found in buggery with a cow, upon the Lord’s day”; in accordance with Biblical law, both man and cow were executed.[cdxxxvii]

Fourth, St. Paul referred to the broader meaning of these laws against hybridization, and against yoking an ox and an ass to a plow (Deut. 22:10), in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Unequal yoking plainly means mixed marriages between believers and unbelievers and is clearly forbidden. But Deuteronomy 22:10 not only forbids unequal religious yoking by inference, and as a case law, but also unequal yoking generally. This means that an unequal marriage between believers or between unbelievers is wrong. Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and woman in the reflected image of God in man, and from man (Gen. 2:18, 21–23; 1 Cor. 11:1–12). “Helpmeet” means a reflection or mirror, an image of man, indicating that a woman must have something religiously and culturally in common with her husband. The burden of the law is thus against interreligious, interracial, and intercultural marriages, in that they normally go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish.

Unequal yoking means more than marriage. In society at large it means the enforced integration of various elements which are not congenial. Unequal yoking is in no realm productive of harmony; rather, it aggravates the differences and delays the growth of the different elements toward a Christian harmony and association.

To return now to our second point, the respect for God’s creation required by the law: Scripture makes it clear that God, in creating all things, pronounced them “good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Man therefore cannot treat his fellow men or any part of creation with contempt.

Animals are specifically referred to in the law. These references are as follows, i.e., references calling for kindness to animals:

  1. Exodus 20:8–11; 23:10–12 and Leviticus 25:5–7 refer to the need for rest or a sabbath for animals. The wild animals eat of the fruit of the sabbatical year’s harvest, and the domestic animals are included in the weekly sabbath rest. The sabbath year is also a rest for the land.
  2. The threshing ox is included in the rewards of the harvest (Deut. 25:4). This law establishes the principle that the laborer is worthy of his hire or reward (1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18).
  3. The law against killing both mother and young is directed against the destruction of a species (Ex. 34:26b; Lev. 22:28; Deut. 22:6–7).
  4. The return of stray domestic animals is required (Ex. 23:4–5; Deut. 22:1–4); this means a kindness to one’s neighbor, and also the animal, which is to be relieved if under too heavy a load.

But respect for creation means far more than kindness to animals. It means recognizing that, because God is the creator, all things have a purpose in terms of Him. In recent years, a fundamental disrespect for the world has been basic to much of science. Some of us can recall being taught in schools and colleges that some day, thanks to science, man would live in a totally germ-free and sterile world. This degenerate perspective has already wrought much havoc, as Carson’s study revealed.[cdxxxviii] Lewis Mumford called attention to the new science and its contempt for life:

“What will be left of the plant world,” Dr. Mumford states, “if we allow the basically village culture, founded on a close symbiotic partnership between man and plants, to disappear . . . There are plenty of people working in scientific laboratories today who, though they may still call themselves biologists, have no knowledge of this culture except by vague hearsay and no respect for its achievements.

“They dream of a world composed of synthetics and plastics, in which no creatures above the rank of algae or yeasts would be encouraged to grow.”

A biological factor of safety existed when 70 to 90 per cent of the world’s population was engaged in cultivating plants. “In the past century this biological factor of safety has shrunk. If our leaders were sufficiently awake to these dangers they would plan not for urbanization but for ruralization.”

. . . As insects are eliminated, Dr. Mumford points out, the plants that depend on them for fertilization are doomed.[cdxxxix]

Man’s rash interference with the balance of nature is creating serious problems. Francois Mergen, dean of the School of Forestry at Yale University, has written:

A fuller understanding of natural processes is an absolute must if we are to avoid major environmental calamities. Some past environmental disasters are attributable to our abuse of natural systems . . .

The World Health Organization carried on extensive programs of pest control for the people of Borneo. In order to eradicate mosquitoes, considered a pest of serious dimension, the Organization sprayed villages extensively with DDT. Shortly after the applications, palm-thatched roofs of the village houses began to collapse. It turned out that a certain caterpillar which feeds on the palm fronds had suddenly increased. Because of its habitat the caterpillar was not exposed to the DDT, but a predatory wasp which ordinarily keeps the caterpillar population at non-destructively low levels was vulnerable to the poison and consequently was annihilated.

Harrison goes on to relate further ecological reactions to spraying. To eradicate flies inside the village houses, World Health workers sprayed DDT indoors. Up to that time the flies were controlled by a little lizard that inhabits many homes in Borneo. The lizard kept on eating the flies which were now heavily contaminated with DDT, and then the lizards began to die. The lizards in turn were eaten by house-cats and the house-cats in turn died from DDT poisoning. As a result of cats being wiped out, the rats began to invade the dwellings. As we all know, rats not only consume human food but they also pose a serious threat of spreading diseases, such as the plague.

The rats appeared in such large numbers that the World Health Organization had to parachute a fresh supply of cats into Borneo in an attempt to restore a balance that had been successfully operative but unrecognized by the technicians who had come to help. I recount this true and recent story because it shows the interrelationship between living beings and their environment. To live in harmony with his environment man must modify many of his actions, and know nature. In reality we can consider ourselves lucky that none of the “scientific discoveries” has apparently interrupted the food chain processes to the extent where they have caused major catastrophes.

So far I have talked about very elementary facts that are well known to ecologists. If, however, these things are known to the administrators and engineers who plan manipulations of the environment, they seldom make it apparent. The myth that technology is the solution to all of our problems, however, is being questioned more and more by planners, as well as by the public at large. We no longer feel that the fountains of science and technology are bottomless and we are beginning to recognize that there are biological limitations imposed on our cultures. There is a greater appreciation of the fact that man is an integral part of these very complex systems and that a lack of understanding can bring about serious losses.[cdxl]

Mergen is much too optimistic. As long as man sees himself as god in an evolving world, he will seek the technological manipulation of that world. In many areas today, problems are created by means of planned interference: squirrels increase enormously when coyotes are killed off; mosquitoes multiply when the birds, toads, and other natural checks against them are destroyed, and so on.

In eastern Pennsylvania, spraying has worked considerable damage, killing off bees and wiping out the businesses of beekeepers. The loss of bees has its penalties: it can lead to pollination problems.[cdxli]

On the other hand, a respect for God’s creation can lead to very happy answers. In Griggsville, Illinois, a movement began in 1962 to restore a natural solution to the problem of pests:

The Griggsville campaign started modestly in 1962. The Jaycees of Griggsville installed 28 purple martin houses along its main street. The purple martins moved in, and the town had some astonishing results. Citizens found that their mosquito problem was solved! At last townspeople were able to enjoy lawns, gardens and patios without annoyance. That was only the beginning. For the town’s annual Fair, it had been customary to spray with chemical pesticide to control biting insects. But that year, by some fortuitous circumstance, the usual shipment was sidetracked to another town, and failed to arrive in Griggsville in time. But the purple martins had arrived and were hungry. Since these birds live solely on live insects they thrived at the Fair. When the chemical firm’s troubleshooter arrived in town and apologized for the shipping delay, the Fair committee told him they no longer needed the pesticides. In their words: “We told him if he could find a fly or mosquito on the premises we’d order ten times as much spray. He couldn’t and took the order back.”

The Griggsville experience broadened out, to neighboring farmers, who recognized the economic values of attracting purple martins. Cattlemen, for example, learned that nesting boxes for these birds, set in stockyards, were an asset by having fewer insects bother livestock. This yielded better cattle gains.

The initial purple martin project in Griggsville was so successful that it soon involved the local Boy Scouts, school children, community park board, Western Illinois Fair Board, businessmen, farmers, orchardists, state and municipal officials, conservationists, civil workers throughout the nation, and the snowballing continues. The promotion of the purple martin spread to many other communities. For example, in Lu Verne, Iowa, $200 worth of insecticide had already been purchased, but after attracting purple martins, they did not have to resort to even 25c worth of spray! Again, in Danville, Kentucky, a purple martin project was initiated as a direct result of the municipality’s concern about the hazards of chemical pest control. Their action caused a newspaperman to editorialize: “Using natural checks on pest populations strikes us as far superior to mosquito abatement district practices of indiscriminating spraying insecticide over large residential areas . . . We think most people would prefer the sight of martins dipping through the skies and the song of birds to the hiss of the sprayer. Such a program would also save the taxpayer money now spent on expensive chemicals and probably provide better controls. At least it should be given a try.”

In publicizing this bird, the fact has often been quoted that a single purple martin can devour about 2,000 flying insects daily. Mr. Wade feels that this is a gross underestimation. Based on research, the actual average seems to be between 10,000 and 12,000 mosquitoes daily when these insects are plentiful! The purple martin will also eat flies, beetles, moths, locusts, weevils, and other insects which we consider damaging or as nuisance. Contrary to popular belief among some, the purple martin does not eat bees. The kingbird, for which the martin is sometimes mistaken, is the real culprit in bee-eating, nor does the purple martin eat any berries or seeds. Its diet is 100% live insect fare.[cdxlii]

All insects and animals have their God-given place in the life cycle; destruction of that cycle makes pests of otherwise useful animals and insects. The work of earthworms, squirrels, moles, and gophers in preventing soil erosion and making possible the necessary absorption of water into the earth is very great. But snakes and coyotes, among others, keep these from getting out of hand, and are themselves kept in check by other creatures.

Similarly, weeds have their place in God’s plan, in that they penetrate deep into the subsoil and bring necessary minerals to the topsoil. To treat weeds simply as an enemy rather than as a God-given ally is to despise creation. Weeds have rightly been called “guardians of the soil” for their restorative work.[cdxliii]

Pasteur remarked once that, in the contagion of diseases, the soil is everything, i.e., the physical health of the recipient is the determining factor. Sir Albert Howard, in his experiments in India, demonstrated the resistance which cattle, fed properly on feed grown on a healthy and well-balanced soil, had for diseases:

My work animals were most carefully selected and everything was done to provide them with suitable housing and with fresh green fodder, silage, and grain, all produced from fertile land. I was naturally intensely interested in watching the reaction of these well-chosen and well-fed oxen to diseases like rinderpest, septicaemia, and foot-and-mouth disease which frequently devastated the countryside. None of my animals were segregated; none were inoculated; they frequently came in contact with diseased stock. As my small farmyard at Pusa was only separated by a low hedge from one of the large cattle-sheds on the Pusa estate, in which outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease often occurred, I have several times seen my oxen rubbing noses with foot-and-mouth cases. Nothing happened. The healthy well-fed animals reacted to this disease exactly as suitable varieties of crops, when properly grown, did to insect and fungous pests—no infection took place.[cdxliv]

The earth itself must be treated with respect. The foolish destruction of the microorganisms which are basic to the fertility of the soil is working extensive damage in many areas. The same is true of careless tampering with natural drainage areas.[cdxlv] The introduction of new animals into an area works considerable damage, as witness the rabbit in Australia, where the rabbit’s natural enemies are lacking, and perhaps now the Asian walking catfish (Clarias batrachus) in Florida.[cdxlvi]

The Christian, as he faces the world around him, must realize three things: First, the world is not an enemy, nor a hostile element, but is God’s handiwork and man’s destined area of dominion under God. Man therefore must work in harmony with creation, not attack it as an alien and hostile force. Second, although the world is by nature essentially good, it is all the same a fallen world. To ascribe perfection to it, and to assume that the “natural” way is the perfect way is not Christian but humanistic. Because the world is fallen, and the ground itself under a curse (Gen. 3:17–18), what is natural is not therefore of necessity good. Man has a restorational and healing work to do. He cannot seek hybridization, but he can work to improve a stock. He must respect the basic pattern of creation and work within its framework, but what is, is not for him the normative or the standard. He can never say, with the humanists, “Whatever is, is right.” Even in Eden, before the fall, Adam’s work was to subdue, utilize, and develop the earth under God.

“To make alive” is thus not a return to Eden, nor a return to a past standard, but a move forward in terms of the Kingdom of God and man’s dominion over the earth.

The logic of the perfectionist view of nature is not only raw foods and vegetarianism, but also nudism and the avoidance of all inventions and constructions, including houses. If nature is perfect, then a return to a natural way of life requires the abandonment of all man’s artifices and constructions. Cooking, clothing, and housing all become unnatural refinements and hence logically taboo. Few of those who advocate a return to nature are as logical as this, however.

In any case, the belief that nature is normative is anti-Christian and clearly un-Biblical. It is God who is normative, and His law that governs man and nature alike, so that the world around is fully God’s handiwork, and, although fallen, as fully to be governed by the law of God as is man.

Third, hybridization and unequal yoking involve a fundamental disrespect for God’s handiwork which leads to futile experimentation, such as organ transplants, which represent sterile and limited gains in some areas, and a basic loss of moral perspective in every area. For the evolutionist, the world is fertile with potentiality because it is not fixed and set into a pattern. For the creationist, the fertility and the potentiality of the world rest precisely in its vital patterns, in its fixity, whereby man can work productively and with a full assurance of success. Knowledge and science require a basis of law, fixity, and pattern. Without this, there can be neither science nor progress. Hybridization is an attempt to deny the validity of law. Its penalty is an enforced sterility. In every area, where man seeks potentiality by a denial of God’s law, the penalty remains the same, limited gains and long-range sterility.

  1. Abortion

Abortion, the destruction of the human embryo or fetus, has long been regarded by Biblical standards as murder. The grounds for this judgment are the sixth commandment, and Exodus 21:22–25. Cassuto’s “explanatory rendering” of this latter passage brings out its meaning:

When men strive together and they hurt unintentionally a woman with child, and her children come forth but no mischief happens— that is, the woman and the children do not die—the one who hurt her shall surely be punished by a fine. But if any mischief happens, that is, if the woman dies or the children die, then you shall give life for life.[cdxlvii]

The comment of Keil and Delitzsch is important:

If men strove and thrust against a woman with child, who had come near or between them for the purpose of making peace, so that her children come out (come into the world), and no injury was done either to the woman or the child that was born, a pecuniary compensation was to be paid, such as the husband of the woman laid upon him, and he was to give it . . . by (by an appeal to) arbitrators. A fine is imposed, because even if no injury had been done to the woman and the fruit of her womb, such a blow might have endangered life . . . The plural . . . is employed for the purpose of speaking indefinitely, because there might possibly be more than one child in the womb. “But if injury occur (to the mother or the child), thou shalt give soul for soul, eye for eye . . . wound for wound”: thus perfect retribution was to be made.[cdxlviii]

It is interesting to note that antinomian dispensationalism sees no law here or elsewhere. Waltke of Dallas Theological Seminary sees no law against abortion here and, in fact, feels that “abortion was permissible in Old Testament law.”[cdxlix]

The importance of Exodus 21:22–25 becomes all the more clear as we realize that this is case law, i.e., that it sets forth by a minimal case certain larger implications. Let us examine some of the implications of this passage: First, very obviously, the text cites, not a case of deliberate abortion but a case of accidental abortion. If the penalty for even an accidental case is so severe, it is obvious that a deliberately induced abortion is very strongly forbidden. It is not necessary to ban deliberate abortion, since it is already eliminated by this law. Second, the penalty for even an accidental abortion is death. If a man who, in the course of a fight, unintentionally bumps a pregnant woman and causes her to abort, must suffer the death penalty, how much more so any person who intentionally induces an abortion? Third, even if no injury results to either the mother or the fetus, the man in the case is liable to a fine and, in fact, must be fined. Clearly, the law strongly protects the pregnant woman and her fetus, so that every pregnant mother has a strong hedge of law around her. Fourth, since even a mother bird with eggs or young is covered by law (Deut. 22:6–7), clearly any tampering with the fact of birth is a serious matter: to destroy life is forbidden except where required or permitted by God’s law. Christianity very early was confronted with the fact of abortion, in that the Greco-Roman world regarded the matter as valid if the state deemed it advisable. Plato’s Republic is very plainspoken on this matter:

I should make it a rule for a woman to bear children to the state from her twentieth year to her fortieth year: and a man, after getting over the sharpest burst in the race of life, thenceforward to beget children to the state until he is fifty-five years old . . .

If then a man who is either above or under this age shall meddle with the business of begetting children for the commonwealth, we shall declare his act to be an offense against religion and justice; inasmuch as he is raising up a child for the state, who, should detection be avoided, instead of having been begotten under the sanction of those sacrifices and prayers, which are to be offered up at every marriage ceremonial, by priests and priestesses, and the whole city, to the effect that the children to be born may ever be more virtuous and more useful than their virtuous and useful parents, will have been conceived under cover of darkness by the aid of dire incontinence . . .

The same law will hold should a man, who is still of an age to be a father, meddle with a woman, who is also of the proper age, without the introduction of the magistrate: for we shall accuse him of raising up to the state an illegitimate, unsponsored, and unhallowed child . . .

But as soon as the women and the men are past the prescribed age, we shall allow the latter, I imagine, to associate freely with whomsoever they please, so that it be not a daughter, or mother, or daughter’s child, or grandmother: and in like manner we shall permit the women to associate with any man, except a son or a father, or one of their relations in the direct line, ascending or descending; but only after giving them strict orders to do their best, if possible, to prevent any child, haply so conceived, from seeing the light, but if that cannot sometimes be helped, to dispose of the infant on the understanding that the fruit of such a union is not to be reared.

That too is a reasonable plan; but how are they to distinguish fathers, and daughters, and the relations you described just now?

Not at all, I replied; only, all the children that are born between the seventh and tenth month from the day on which one of their number was married, are to be called by him, if male, his sons, if female, his daughters; and they shall call him father, and their children he shall call his grandchildren; these again shall call him and his fellow-bridegrooms and brides, grandfathers and grandmothers; likewise all shall regard as brothers and sisters those that were born in the same period during which their own fathers and mothers were bringing them into the world; and as we said just now, all these shall refrain from touching one another. But the law will allow intercourse between brothers and sisters, if the lot chances to fall that way, and if the Delphian priestess also gives it her sanction.[cdl]

In this perspective, the state is the ultimate order and the working god of the system, so that the state can order abortion, infanticide, and incest. Aristotle’s position was similar, in that he required abortion where state-allowed births were exceeded.[cdli] In Rome, when abortion was made illegal for women, it was done not on the grounds of ultimate moral law, but that it defrauded the husband of legitimate offspring.

Very early, the church condemned abortion (Didache, 2.) The Apostolic Constitutions (canon par. 3) stated, “Thou shalt not slay the child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged as being unjustly destroyed, Ex. 21:23.” Tertullian (Apologeticus, chap. 9) stated the Christian stand clearly: “To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed.”[cdlii]

The modern attitude toward abortion has been increasingly permissive. Thus, A. E. Crawley saw its main reason to be poverty, stating, indeed, that “as often as not . . . the sole reason is poverty.”[cdliii] Havelock Ellis saw civilization as leading to a decrease in abortion as life became more rational and scientific. In other words, abortion is not a sin but a primitive remedy for economic distress and for reckless sexual behavior.

However, abortions have not decreased; the decline of the authority of Biblical law has led to an increase in abortions. In 1946, the Inez Burns abortion case in San Francisco led to the realization that, whereas the annual births were 16,000, the annual abortions in that city numbered 18,000. In 1958, estimates of U.S. abortions ranged from 200,000 to 1,200,000.[cdliv] Evidence indicates that the majority of abortions are procured by married women.

An extensive program of the 1960s asserted women’s “right” to abortion, a position taken by the U. S. Public Health Association.[cdlv] In the Soviet Union, abortions are free and legal.[cdlvi] The legalization in California of therapeutic abortions, with a broad definition which permitted abortion if the mother’s mental or physical health might be impaired, did not stop illegal abortions; the answer of the author of the measure was a pledge to expand the law even further.[cdlvii] Under the impact of humanism, the legal situation became badly clouded. In Boston, an unborn baby, aborted by an accident, recovered damages for wrongful injury against the owners of a truck which struck an automobile occupied by Mrs. Zaven Torigian so that her child was born prematurely.[cdlviii] This ruling was in line with Biblical law. But, in New York, Mrs. Robert Stewart, who gave birth to a retarded child after contracting measles and being denied an abortion, won a suit against the hospital for denying her an abortion.[cdlix] An important study of abortion in “primitive” societies revealed that its main functions are a revenge against the father, a hatred of responsibility (the Papuans of Geelvink Bay declare, “Children are a burden and we get tired of them. They destroy us.”), a desire to avoid shame, an analogue to suicide, a hatred of life, a hatred of men, and a castration of the father. As a flight from parenthood, the motivation of abortion is (1) the preservation of beauty, (2) the continued enjoyment of freedom and irresponsibility, and (3) the avoidance of the sexual abstinence common to many cultures during pregnancy and lactation. The essence of these motives is, according to Devereux, “a neurotic flight from maturity.”[cdlx] That even these “primitive” societies are aware that abortion is murder appears in Devereux’s section, “The Eschatology of the Fetus.”[cdlxi] A telling argument against abortion appeared in the American Bar Association Journal, written by Dr. A. C. Mietus, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA, and his brother, Norbert J. Mietus, chairman of the division of business administration at Sacramento State College. According to them,

They said those who deplore the loss of 5,000 to 10,000 mothers annually in illegal abortions ignore the 1 million or more unborn children “sacrificed in the process of this massive assault on human life.”

The Mietus brothers said some persons would justify abortion in the case of unborn infants that would be born crippled or defective.

“Would any reputable doctor propose to try LIVING cripples, or mental or physical defectives, in comparable ex parte proceedings? Start by eliminating senile parents; then the millions of blind persons?

“Move on to all who are bedridden—then those confined to wheel chairs—and finally those who use crutches? Proceed gradually with the disposition of the millions who wear spectacles, use hearing aids, are equipped with false teeth, are too stout or too thin.

“Where draw the line between acceptable and the unacceptable level of fitness?” the Mietus brothers asked. “No human being is perfect. Would the world, moreover, really be a better place after the destruction of the millions of defective individuals? Has the world gained or lost from the services of the epileptic Michelangelo, of the deaf Edison, of the hunchbacked Steinmetz, of the Roosevelts—both the asthmatic Theodore and the polioparalyzed Franklin?

“It must be recognized that liberalized abortion laws would logically be followed by pressures for legalized euthanasia. The attack on life is essentially the same,” they said.[cdlxii]

The essence of the demand for abortion is to return to pagan statism, to place life again under the state rather than under God. The implications of abortion concern more than the fetus; they involve every living man.

The demand for abortion is antinomian to the core. Significantly, when a group of young women invaded a New York state legislative hearing to break it up with their demand for total repeal of the antiabortion law, they declared that “they were tired of listening to men debate something that was of primary concern to women. ‘What right do you men have to tell us whether we can or cannot have a child?’ shouted one of the women.”[cdlxiii] The logic of this position is revealing: the women held that men cannot legislate with respect to childbirth, because they do not experience it. The test of legislative validity in both the law and the lawmakers is thus experience. By this logic, it can be held that good citizens cannot legislate with respect to murder, since the act of murder is outside their experience. Humanism (and experiential religious philosophies) reduces all things to the test of man’s experience and thus undercut all law and order. Men who cannot, like women, bear children can legislate with respect to abortion because the principle of law is not experience but the law-word of God.

One final note: A common rhetorical test case asks whether a doctor should attempt to save the life of the mother or of the child in a critical case. Whose life should be sacrificed? The fetus or the mother? The question is an artificial one, according to competent doctors. A doctor works in a crisis to save life and does all that he can for mother and child. No doctor questioned has had such a “choice,” only the responsibility always to do all, moment by moment, to save the life of mother and child. Morality is not furthered by posing artificial questions whose purpose is to place a person in the place of God.

In California, the liberalized abortion law led rapidly to a very serious crisis, one which most people chose to ignore. Governor Reagan observed, on April 22, 1970, that the law was creating an ugly situation:

Reagan said, “It took a lot of soul searching” for him to sign Beilenson’s 1967 liberalization bill.

Under that act, abortions are allowed when the prospective mother’s physical or mental health is in danger, or when the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. Previously, abortions were permitted only when the woman’s life was endangered.

“Let me tell you what’s happened even with the liberalization that we have,” Reagan told the women. Pointing to the mental health section, the governor said:

“Our Public Health Department has told us its projections that if the present rate of increase continues in California, a year from now there will be more abortions than there will be live births in this state. And a great proportion of them will be financed by Medi-Cal.”

He said “under a technicality” a “young, unmarried girl” can become pregnant, go on welfare “and she is automatically eligible for the abortion if she wants it, under Medi-Cal. And all she has to do is get a psychiatrist—and they’re finding that easy to do—who will walk by the bed and say she has suicidal tendencies.”

Reagan said that in Sacramento “a 15-year-old girl has just had her third abortion, with the same psychiatrist each time saying she has suicidal tendencies. I don’t think the state should be in that business.”[cdlxiv]

As the governor spoke, Senator Anthony C. Beilenson had submitted a bill to remove all restrictions on abortion except a requirement that a physician must perform it. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jesse Unruh, supported Beilenson’s proposal.

  1. Responsibility and Law

A central aspect of Biblical law is summed up in a single sentence: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deut. 24:16). This law is cited in 2 Kings 14:6 and 2 Chronicles 25:4 as the authority for King Amaziah’s action in sparing the children of his father’s murderers. Jeremiah emphasized the same doctrine (Jer. 31:29–30), as did Ezekiel (18:20). Wright’s comment on this law is of interest:

Such a law as this seems superfluous in modern society when the individual is the primary unit and the sense of community solidarity is weak or entirely lacking. In patriarchal and seminomadic life, however, the sense of community responsibility was very strong, particularly that of the family. A nomadic blood feud could annihilate a whole family for a crime of one of its members (for exceptional cases of this in Israel see Josh. 7:24, 25; II Sam. 21:1–9).[cdlxv]

Wright is correct in stating that nomadic blood feuds denied the principle inherent to this law, but the same menace to this law exists in another form today. He is wrong, moreover, with respect to Achan (Josh. 7:24–25); in Achan’s case, the gold and silver hidden in the earth in the midst of the tent required the complicity of every member of the family; his interpretation of 2 Samuel 21:1–9 is also faulty. The common practice of antiquity was to punish, penalize, or execute the entire families of some offenders.

To analyze the law, it is important to recognize certain central aspects of it. First, responsibility is an aspect of every law system. Someone must be held responsible for offenses; if there is no responsibility somewhere, then no law enforcement is possible. Who is responsible is the important question, and the answer is a religious answer. Responsibility can be attached to the family, the community, the environment, the gods, or to the person. Where the responsibility is placed makes for a fundamental difference in the social order.

Second, the Biblical doctrine is, as Deuteronomy 24:16 makes clear, one of individual responsibility. It is the essence of sin, according to Genesis 3:9–13, to attempt to evade individual responsibility. Adam and Eve refused to acknowledge their guilt: they shifted the responsibility to another, Adam blaming Eve and God, Eve blaming the serpent. The godly man acts responsibly and assumes the responsibility for his actions.

Third, related to the question of responsibility is the basic one, responsibility to whom? If man is responsible, to whom is he responsible? To the family, to the community, or to the state? The Biblical doctrine of responsibility holds that man’s primary responsibility is to God, secondarily to his fellow men. It is God who confronts Adam, and who at every turn confronts man, with His sovereign claims and His total law.

Fourth, in terms of this law, guilt cannot be shifted to others or passed on to the people around a man. Guilt is non-transferable; a disposition or nature can be inherited, but not guilt. Man inherits from Adam the total depravity of his nature, but his guilt before God is entirely his own, even as Adam had to bear his own guilt. This distinction between guilt and nature is fundamental to Biblical doctrine and law. It is absent in such legal systems as that of Islam. Since the law deals with guilt and punishes the guilty, the non-transferable nature of guilt in Biblical law is of central importance. Where guilt is transferable, punishment is also transferable. This is the essence of the principle of the blood feud: if a Hatfield commits an offense, then all Hatfields share in the guilt, and all are punished. Similarly, if all Americans were guilty of President Kennedy’s assassination, then all Americans must, according to this pagan theory, be punished. Responsibility, guilt, and punishment are inseparable in law: where there is responsibility for an offense, there is guilt, and there also punishment or penalties must be applied.

Today this doctrine of individual responsibility has been undercut by the theory of evolution. Basic to evolutionary theory is environmentalism; man is a product of his environment and has evolved in relationship to a changing environment and its actions upon him. As a result, not only is man a product of his environment, but he is also a creature of his environment rather than of God. Man is what an evolving world has made of him, and man’s actions are a product of that environment and its molding of man. This means that the guilt for man’s actions rests with his environment, his social and personal world, and it is this world which is punished when man sins. Thus, society is blamed for the conduct of delinquents and criminals, and parents for the sins of their children. Punishment then falls on society and on parents. In such a scheme of things, the lawless are absolved of guilt, and the guilty are made innocent.

Does the Bible teach nothing of community responsibility? As a matter of fact, Biblical law does assert community responsibility, a responsibility to see that justice is done. There is community guilt, if justice is not done.

First, there is community responsibility for justice. Immediately after the law concerning individual responsibility comes one of the many laws concerning justice: “Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take the widow’s raiment to pledge” (Deut. 24:17). Where there is a family, the family cannot be held guilty for the criminal’s offense. Where there is no family, the community must not take advantage of the person’s helplessness. If a foreigner (“the stranger”) is on trial, alone and without friends, his right to justice remains unchanged. His helplessness can no more be exploited than the wealth of a criminal’s relatives can be confiscated or their persons attacked. Justice is not social: it is individual. The doctrine of social justice goes hand in hand with the doctrine of social guilt. Social justice is not only an attack on individual responsibility but also on the immunity of the innocent.

Second, since the community responsibility means that justice must be enforced, it follows that community guilt ensues where justice is not done. This is dealt with in Deuteronomy 21:1–9. If a murder cannot be solved, the whole community bears the responsibility as well as the unknown murderer. The murderer bears the responsibility before God for the murder, and the community for failing to avenge the murder, for failing to bring the murderer to justice. Since the offense is against God, the leaders of the community make atonement to God for the offense, so that no guilt be incurred by them. In brief, a community could not be indifferent to any offense in their midst, and crimes going unpunished had to have ritual atonement.

The form of this law is that of the Old Testament sacrificial system; it is no longer binding on us. The substance of the law is, however, still valid. The community has a responsibility to God to see that justice is done, and it also has a responsibility to the victims of the crime.

A comment by Waller is of interest here: “It is remarkable that to our time the most effectual remedy against outrages of which the perpetrators cannot be discovered is a fine upon the district in which they occur.”[cdlxvi] This is in keeping with the purpose of this law; similarly, restitution to victims of the crime is an essential part of the community’s atonement, as is the prayerful petition for God’s mercy by the officers of state. The latter is essential and basic, because the primary offense is always against God in any violation of law. As Ehrlich has noted, the Bible does not use the word “crime.” Every offense is called a “transgression.” “The absence of the term ‘crime’ indicates that the will of God is the sole source of all the law, and thus all punishable acts constitute sins which are in violation of God’s law.”[cdlxvii] The concept of transgression is being replaced by the doctrine of social conditioning and compulsive behavior; the life span of such an environmental concept is relatively brief, because its impact is suicidal for any society.

Moreover, basic to this pagan concept is a thorough impersonalism; man being an evolutionary product of an impersonal universe is basically governed by an impersonal world and impersonal forces. In Biblical law, man, as the creature of the personal and triune God, transgresses personally against that God in his every sin. Every offense involves responsibility because it’s personal and is a transgression. Law that is geared to personal responsibility is respectful of persons: they are the central and essential figures of society. Things are not in charge; people are responsible. Law that is humanistic and evolutionary is disrespectful of persons: people are not in charge; things govern the world. Men therefore are treated callously by the social scientists who seek to play the role of gods by governing things and manipulating people. After all, why should people who have always been ruled by things object to the rule of elite men? The de-Christianization of society is also the depersonalization of man.

  1. Restitution or Restoration

God’s purpose in redemption is the “restitution” or “restoration” of all things in, through, and under Jesus Christ as King (Acts 3:21). The goal of history is the great “regeneration,” or new genesis, of all things in Christ (Matt. 19:28). “The times spoken of by the prophets are here described as times of restoration, when Christ shall reign over a kingdom in which none of the consequences of sin will any longer appear.”[cdlxviii]

Wright observed of the word “restoration,” that “[r]ound this word gather some of the most fascinating problems of our thought in regard to the possibilities of human destiny.” It involves the declaration that humanity is to be restored to blessedness, and the earth blessed together with man.[cdlxix] This restoration or restitution does not mean universalism.[cdlxx]

The principle of restitution is basic to Biblical law; it appears with especial prominence in laws under the sixth and eighth commandments, but it is basic to the purpose of the whole law. The “eye for an eye, tooth for tooth” concept is not retaliation but restitution. Not only liberal but evangelical scholars often err at this point, as witness the premillennial, dispensationalist scholar, Unger, who reads Exodus 21:24–25 as literal, and as vengeful retaliation.[cdlxxi] But the very context of the passage cited militates against this: a pregnant woman who is struck by a man, although unintentionally, is compensated by a fine; if harm follows to either mother or child, the man pays with his life. Is this retaliation, or is it restitution? (Ex. 21:22–25). The passage which immediately follows (Ex. 21:26–36) again sets forth the principle of restitution, usually by compensation, unless death ensues. To read the eye for an eye principle as the literal blinding of a man who has put out another man’s sight is to do violence to the plain statement of Scripture. The same applies to Leviticus 24:17–21; the restitution for some offenses is capital punishment, for others, compensation.

Some of the laws of restitution have reference to damages. Clark’s summary of the Biblical law of damages is excellent:

The law of damages is that one who injures or wrongs another shall make reparation or restitution. Rules concerning the duty of restitution, and the amount or measure of damages, are stated in the Scriptures. Thus restitution is required of a thief (Ex. 22:3), of one who causes a field or vineyard of another to be “eaten” (Ex. 22:5), of one who kindles a fire which escapes and burns “stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field” of another (Ex. 22:6); of a bailee from whom an animal delivered to be kept is stolen (Ex. 22:10, 12); and of one who kills an animal belonging to another (Lev. 24:21). One who commits an assault upon another with a stone or with his fist is required to pay for the loss of his victim’s time and to cause him to be thoroughly healed (Ex. 21:19). The owner of an ox that gores another’s manservant or maidservant is required to pay thirty shekels of silver to the master (Ex. 21:32). And the seducer of a damsel is required to pay fifty shekels of silver to her father (Deut. 22:29). Similarly, a husband who slanders a newly married wife is required to pay a hundred shekels of silver to the wife’s father (Deut. 22:19).[cdlxxii]

Some of the categories of damages are as follows:

  1. for maiming persons, Exodus 21:18–20; Leviticus 24:19;
  2. for killing animals, or an animal killing another animal, Exodus 21:35–36; Leviticus 24:18, 21;
  3. for various wrongs committed, restitution to God, Numbers 5:6–8.

Many other laws of restitution deal with property. Our concern here is with injuries to persons primarily. Certain principles of liability appear: First, the guilty party is liable for the medical expenses of the injured: he “shall cause him to be thoroughly healed” (Ex. 21:19). Second, the guilty party is liable for the time lost from work (Ex. 21:19). If the guilty party were an owner, and the injured party was his slave, then there was liability for death or for injury, but not for time lost, since the loss was the loss of the owner; he had at this point damaged himself (Ex. 21:20–21; Lev. 24:17–20). Third, the penalty applied if an animal owned by a man were guilty of the injury; if the animal had no previous record of violence to man, then the animal died (and of course the injured person was cared for and compensated). But, if the animal had a previous record of violence, the owner now became liable to the death penalty for murder (Ex. 21:28–29). Fourth, the guilty party is liable to the damages laid upon him by the court for the injury, in addition to compensation for time lost and for medical expenses.

The principle of restitution is not entirely gone from law today, but there are significant differences. A study of the subject by Stephen Schafer is important in this context. According to Schafer,

“The guilty man lodged, fed, clothed, warmed, lighted, entertained, at the expense of the State in a model cell, issued from it with a sum of money lawfully earned, has paid his debt to society; he can set his victims at defiance; but the victim has his consolation; he can think that by taxes he pays to the Treasury, he has contributed towards the paternal care, which has guarded the criminal during his stay in prison.” These were the bitter and sarcastic words of Prins, the Belgian, at the Paris Prison Congress in 1895, when during a discussion of the problem of restitution to victims of crime, he could no longer contain his indignation at various practical and theoretical difficulties raised against his proposals on behalf of the victim.[cdlxxiii]

Restitution has long been in the background of virtually all legal systems and at times been very prominent. Thus, under early American law, “A thief, in addition to his punishment, was ordered to return to the injured party three times the value of his stolen goods, or in the case of insolvency, his person was placed at the disposal of the victim for a certain time.”[cdlxxiv]

In modern law, the term restitution is usually replaced by “compensation” or “damages.”[cdlxxv] But the significant difference is this: in Biblical law, the offender is guilty before God (and hence restitution is due to God, Num. 5:6–8), and before the offended man, to whom he makes direct restitution, whereas in modern law the offense is primarily and essentially against the state. God and man are left out of the picture in the main. According to Schafer,

“It was chiefly owing to the violent greed of feudal barons and mediaeval ecclesiastical powers that the rights of the injured party were gradually infringed upon, and finally, to a large extent, appropriated by these authorities, who exacted a double vengeance, indeed, upon the offender, by forfeiting his property to themselves instead of to his victim, and then punishing him by the dungeon, the torture, the stake or the gibbet. But the original victim of wrong was practically ignored.” After the Middle Ages, restitution, kept apart from punishment, seems to have been degraded. The victim became the Cinderella of the criminal law.[cdlxxvi]

The idea of restitution was severed from the concept of punishment. “The theory developed at the end of the Middle Ages that crime is an offense exclusively against the state had severed that connection. The concept of punishment remained untouched by the civil concept of restitution.”[cdlxxvii] In fact, Schafer noted,

If one looks at the legal systems of different countries, one seeks in vain a country where a victim of crime enjoys a certain expectation of full restitution for his injury. In rare cases where there is state compensation the system is either not fully effective, or does not work at all; where there is no system of state compensation, the victim is, in general, faced with the insufficient remedies offered by civil procedure and civil execution. While the punishment of crime is regarded as the concern of the state, the injurious result of the crime, that is to say, the damage to the victim, is regarded almost as a private matter. It recalls man in the early days of social development, when, left alone in his struggle for existence, he had himself to meet attacks from outside and fight alone against his fellow-creatures who caused him harm. The victim of today cannot even himself seek satisfaction, since the law of the state forbids him to take the law into his own hands. In the days of his forefathers, restitution was a living practice, and “it is perhaps worth noting, that our barbarian ancestors were wiser and more just than we are today, for they adopted the theory of restitution to the injured, whereas we have abandoned this practice, to the detriment of all concerned.” “And this was wiser in principle, more reformatory in its influence, more deterrent in its tendency, and more economic to the community, than the modern practice.”[cdlxxviii]

Certain things appear from the foregoing. First, the shift from restitution to imprisonment has its roots in the seizure of power by church and state, and was in its origin designed to shake down the guilty for ransom or confiscatory purposes. Second, the state made its doctrine of punishment the criminal law, and relegated restitution to civil law.

Thus, if an injured party seeks restitution today, it involves the expense of a civil suit through the medium of an essentially uncooperative court, so that, even if the injured party wins, collection is very difficult. As a result, because of this division, the criminal faces prison, a mental institution, or a correctional facility and care by an increasingly indulgent state rather than restitution. Third, since one form of Biblical restitution was the right of self-defense, the right under certain circumstances to kill the aggressor or thief, the increasing limitation on the right of the injured to protect himself means that we are returning to barbarism without the protection barbarism involved, i.e., freedom to defend oneself. Fourth, the systems of imprisonment or “rehabilitation” of criminals involves in fact, as Prins noted, a subsidy to criminals and a tax on the innocent and the injured. It is thus a further injury to the godly which requires restitution from the hands of God and man. A society which subsidizes the criminal and penalizes the godly will end up by encouraging increasing violence and lawlessness and is thus destined for anarchy. Fifth, Wines noted, while giving us the false source as the preferred one, “That there are but two possible sources of civil power, viz., God and the people.”[cdlxxix] If power is from God, then God’s law must prevail; if power be from the people, then the people’s will shall prevail, and there is no principle of law above and over the people. Restitution as a principle is thus alien to a democratic society, because it is a theocratic principle which requires that man conform to an absolute and unchanging justice.

Restitution as a theocratic principle involves three things: First, it involves restitution to the injured person. Second, since the law order broken was God’s law order, where no person existed, in the event of death, to whom restitution could be made, it was made to God (Num. 5:6–8). In cases of sin where God was directly involved, a fifth part was added in the restoration; this fifth part represented one-fourth of the original amount, another fourth, in other words (Lev. 5:14–16). In every case, restitution had to be made to God by offerings of atonement (Lev. 5:17–19). Third, it is apparent from these case laws that restitution is always mandatory for a society to be healthy before God. This carries the implication that the state must make restitution to the injured persons whenever and wherever the state, as the ministry of justice, fails to discover the offending party. The goal of godly society is restoration; at every point, it must be effected, with evil penalized, and the godly defended by restitution.

The goal is central to the faith, and to prayer. The Lord’s Prayer declares, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). This is plainly a plea for restoration, and all true prayer must incorporate it.

The failure of a society to ground itself on restitution, or its departure from this principle, means a growing necessity for costly protection by means of insurance. Much insurance is, all too often, a form of self-restitution, in that the buyer pays for protection against irresponsible people who will not make restitution. The large insurance premiums paid by responsible persons and corporations are their self-protection against the failure of the law to require restitution.

Such a society cannot in good conscience pray, “Thy kingdom come,” because it denies that petition by neglecting God’s law. The premillennial dispensationalists who deny the law and therefore refuse to pray the Lord’s Prayer are thus more consistent than the millions who use it regularly without making any effort to restore God’s law order.

  1. Military Laws and Production

The military laws of Scripture are of especial relevance to man, in that they involve not only laws of warfare, but also an important general principle.

In surveying military laws, we find that, first, when wars are fought in terms of a defense of justice and the suppression of evil, and in defense of the homeland against an enemy, they are a part of the necessary work of restitution or restoration, and they are therefore spoken of in Scripture as the wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14). The preparation of the soldiers involved a religious dedication to their task (Josh. 3:5).

Second, the law specified the age of the soldiers. All able-bodied men twenty years old and up were eligible for military service (Num. 1:2–3, 18, 20, 45; 26:2–4). This standard long prevailed and was, for example, the basis of operation in the American War of Independence. It was, however, still a selective service (Num. 31:3–6), so that, for example, out of 46,500 eligible from Reuben, 74,600 from Judah, and 35,400 from Benjamin (Num. 1), in the war against Midian, only a thousand from each tribe were taken (Num. 31:4). The eligibility of each able-bodied man was thus in principle to assert their availability in an extreme crisis.

Third, since warfare against evil is godly and serves God’s task of restoration, God promised to protect His men if they moved in terms of faith and obedience. According to Exodus 30:11–16, “At the census, which is a military act, each shall give a ransom (i.e., provide a “covering”) for himself.”[cdlxxx] As Ewing noted, “Its purpose was to make an atonement for the lives of those who went into battle.” The word “plague” in Exodus 30:12 is the Hebrew negeph, which “comes from a primitive root meaning to push, gore, defeat, slay, smite, put to the worse. This ransom was for the life of the soldier, that he might not be slain in battle.” In the battle against Midian, cited above, 12,000 Israelite soldiers burned all the cities of Midian and slew their men, brought back 675,500 sheep, 72,000 head of cattle, 61,000 asses, and 32,000 unmarried women, without any loss of life. Out of this, a tithe or portion was given to the Lord.[cdlxxxi] Thus, where a war is waged in terms of God’s law and in faith and obedience to His law-word, there men can count on His protecting and prospering care even as Israel experienced it.

Fourth, exemption from military service was provided by law. The purpose of an army should be to fight God’s battles without fear (Deut. 20:1–4). Exemptions were given to several classes of men: (a) those who had built a new house and had not dedicated nor enjoyed it; (b) those who had planted a vineyard and had not yet enjoyed its fruit; (c) and those who have “betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her”; such men would have a divided mind in battle; finally, (d) all who were “fearful and faint-hearted” were excused as dangerous to army morale, “lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart” (Deut. 20:5–9). The exemption of the newlywed men was mandatory according to Deuteronomy 24:5, “When a man taketh a new wife, he shall not go out in the host, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” Also exempt from military service (e) were the Levites (Num. 1:48–49). The Levites very often fought, but they were exempt from a draft.

From these exemptions, a general principle appears: the family has a priority over warfare. The young bridegroom cannot serve; the new home must come first. The new farmer similarly gains exemption. Important as defense is, the continuity of life and godly reconstruction are more important.

A fifth aspect of military law requires cleanliness in the camp (Deut. 23:9–14). A latrine outside the camp is required, and a spade “to cover up your filth” (Deut. 23:13, Moffatt): “For the Eternal your God moves within your camp, to rescue you and to put your enemies into your power; hence your camp must be sacred—that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you” (Deut. 23:14, Moffatt).

Another general principle appears from this law as well as the first and third laws (above), namely, that it is not enough for the cause to be holy: not only the cause, but the people of the cause, must be holy, both spiritually and physically.

A sixth military law requires that, prior to an attack, or rather, a declaration of war, an offer of peace be extended to the enemy. The offer of peace cannot be an offer to compromise. The cause, if it be just, must be maintained; the enemy must yield to gain peace. A “sneak attack” after a declaration, in Gideon’s manner, is legitimate: hostilities are in progress. But, prior to a declaration of war, an attempt to negotiate with honor to the cause is required. The formal blowing of trumpets, both before war and in rejoicing at the time of victory, placed the cause before God in expectancy of victory and in gratitude for it (Num. 10:9–10).

Seventh, warfare is not child’s play. It is a grim and ugly if necessary matter. The Canaanites against whom Israel waged war were under judicial sentence of death by God. They were spiritually and morally degenerate. Virtually every kind of perversion was a religious act: and large classes of sacred male and female prostitutes were a routine part of the holy places. Thus, God ordered all the Canaanites to be killed (Deut. 2:34; 3:6; 20:16–18; Josh. 11:14), both because they were under God’s death sentence, and to avoid the contamination of Israel. Among related and adjacent peoples whose depravity was similar but not as total, men (Num. 31:7; Deut. 7:1–2, 16; 20:16–17) and sometimes married women as well were killed (Num. 31:17–18), but the young virgins were spared (Num. 31:18). With other foreign countries, of better calibre, any woman taken prisoner could be married, but could not be treated as a slave or as a captive (Deut. 21:10–14), clearly indicating the difference in national character between Canaanites and other peoples. These provisions are quite generally condemned by the modern age, which has hypocritically resorted to the most savage and total warfare in history. These laws were not applicable to all peoples but only to the most depraved. They assert a still valid general principle: if warfare is to punish and/or to destroy evil, the work of restoration requires that this be done, that an evil order be overthrown, and, in some cases, some or many people be executed. The war crimes trials after World War II represented ex post facto law (and were thus justly opposed by Senator Robert Taft); they were also based on weak legal and humanistic principles as well as unduly a product of the demands of the Soviet Union. They are thus not proper examples of this principle. But the general principle of guilt is a valid one; if there be no guilt in a war, then there is no justice either. This has been the case in most warfare: no justice, and hence no real concept of guilt.

Eighth, the normal purpose of warfare is defensive; hence, Israel was forbidden the use of more than a limited number of horses (Deut. 17:16), since horses were the offensive weapon of ancient warfare.[cdlxxxii]

Thus, still another general principle appears: since war is to be waged in a just cause only, and, normally, in defense of the homeland and of justice, the right of conscientious objection means that one has a moral right to refuse support to an ungodly war.

Ninth, a very important military law appears in Deuteronomy 20:19–20, one which also embodies a basic principle of very far-reaching implications. According to this law,

When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege: Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.

The last portion of Deuteronomy 20:19 is rendered by various translators to read, “for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee?” (MJV). In other words, war is not to be waged against the earth, but against men. But, even more centrally, life must go on, and the fruit tree and the vineyard represent at all times an inheritance from the past and a heritage for the future: they are not to be destroyed. Other trees can be cut down, but only as needed to “build bulwarks against the city.” Wanton destruction is not permitted.

Related to this is a word of Solomon: “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field” (Eccles. 5:9). This is rendered by the Masoretic text, Jewish translation, as, “But the profit of a land every way is a king that maketh himself servant to the field” (MJV). This word, and the law concerning fruit trees and other trees, adds up to an important general principle: production is prior to politics. Warfare is an aspect of the life of the political order, and its role is important, but production is more basic. Without production, without the fruit trees and the farmer, the worker and the manufacturer, there is no country to defend. The priority of politics is a modern heresy which is steadily destroying the world; only the great vitality of free enterprise is maintaining the productive level in the face of great political handicaps and interferences. In any godly order, therefore, production, freedom of enterprise, must always be prior to politics, in wartime as well as in peace.

Tenth, and finally, the laws of booty provided a reward to the soldiers (Num. 31:21–31, 42; Deut. 20:14), so that there is legal ground not only for soldiers’ pay but also a pension, a reward for their services. War indemnity was an aspect of the penalty imposed on an enemy (2 Kings 3:4) as penalty for their offense, and to defray the costs of the war.

In terms of Scripture, in a sinful world, war is ugly, but it is a necessity if evil is to be overcome. Clark’s summary is to the point:

According to the Scriptures, “there is no peace unto the wicked” (Isa. 48:22; 57:21), and it is futile to cry “peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). If men would have peace, they must “seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33), for peace is the “work of righteousness” (Isa. 32:17), and there can be no lasting and universal peace until “righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10). There shall be peace when “the inhabitants of the world . . . learn righteousness.” It is “in the last days” (Isa. 2:2) and when “the Lord alone shall be exalted” (Isa. 2:11) that “. . . the nations . . . shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4).[cdlxxxiii]

  1. Taxation

Commentaries and Bible dictionaries on the whole cite no law governing taxation. One would assume, from reading them, that no system of taxation existed in ancient Israel, and that the Mosaic law did not speak on the subject. Galer, for example, can cite no passage from the law concerning taxation, although he lists various passages from the historical and prophetic writings which refer to confiscatory and tyrannical taxation. He does note, however, that the census was taken under the law “for tax purposes.”[cdlxxxiv]

This failure to discern any tax law is due to the failure to recognize the nature of Israel’s civil order. God as King of Israel ruled from His throne room in the tabernacle, and to Him the taxes were brought. Because of the common error of viewing the tabernacle as an exclusively or essentially “religious,” i.e., ecclesiastical center, there is a failure to recognize that it was indeed a religious, civil center. In terms of Biblical law, the state, home, school, and every other agency must be no less religious than the church. The sanctuary was thus the civil center of Israel and no less religious for that fact. Once this fact is grasped, much of Biblical law falls into clearer focus. There were, then, clearly defined taxes in the Mosaic law, and these taxes were ordered by God, the omnipotent King of Israel.

There were, essentially, two kinds of taxes. First, there was the poll tax (Ex. 30:11–16). The fact that atonement is cited as one of the aspects of this tax misleads many. The meaning of atonement here is a covering or protection; by means of this tax, the people of Israel placed themselves under God as their King, paying tribute to Him, and gained in return God’s protecting care. The civil reference of this tax is recognized in part by Rylaarsdam, who cites its relation to the census, “which is a military act.”[cdlxxxv] The amount of this tax was the same for all men, half a shekel of silver, and it had to be paid by all men twenty years of age and over. The shekel at that time was not a coin but a weight of silver. Later on, the shekels were coined and were 220 grains troy (like a U.S. trade dollar), and a half shekel was thus about 110 grains.[cdlxxxvi] This tax was the basic and annual tax in Israel. As Fairbairn noted,

. . . there is the clearest proof of its having been collected both before and after the captivity; allusion is made to it in 2 Ki. xii. 4; 2 Ch. xxiv. 9; and both Josephus and Philo testify to its being regularly contributed by all Jews, wherever they were sojourning, and to a regular organization of persons and places for its proper collection and safe transmission to Jerusalem (Jos. Ant. xviii. 9, sec. 1; Philo, De. Monarch, ii. t, 2, p. 234). This, then, is what the collectors came to ask of Peter; and which, as having reference to a general and indisputed custom, he at once pledged his Master’s readiness to give.[cdlxxxvii]

The fact that it was called the temple tax in the New Testament era misleads many; the temple was the civil as well as the ecclesiastical center. At the temple, priests officiated who had nothing to do with civil law. But at the temple, the Sanhedrin met as the civil power in Israel, directly under the Roman overlordship.

This head tax is specified as equal for all. “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less” (Ex. 30:15). By means of this stipulation of an equality of taxation, the law was kept from being unjust. It had to be small, since a large amount would be oppressive for the poor, and it had to be the same for all, to avoid the oppression of the rich. Thus, discriminatory taxation was specifically forbidden.

This tax was collected by the civil authority and was mandatory for all males, twenty years old and older, except for priests and Levites, who were not subject to military draft. The just and basic tax, the head tax, was paid to the civil authorities as the required tax for the maintenance of a covering or atonement by the civil order.

The second tax was the tithe, which was not paid in a central place but was “holy unto the Lord” (Lev. 27:32). It went to the priests and Levites as they met the necessary ecclesiastical and social functions of society. Sometimes the Levites served in civil offices as well, as social conditions required it (1 Chron. 23:3–5). Their work in music is well known to us from the Psalms as well as all Scripture, and their teaching duties are cited often, as witness 2 Chronicles 17:7–9 and 19:8–11. The Levites and priests were scattered throughout all Israel to meet the needs of every community, and they received these tithes as the people gave them.

Both forms of taxation, the head tax and the tithe, are mandatory, but a major difference exists between them. The state has a right to collect a minimal head tax from its citizens, but, while perhaps the state can require a tithe of all men, as has often been done, it cannot stipulate where that tithe shall go. The state thus controls the use of the head tax; the tither controls the use of the tithe tax. This is a point of inestimable importance. Since the major social functions are, in terms of Biblical law, to be maintained by the tithe, the control of these social functions is thus reserved to the tither, not the state. The head tax supports the state and its military power plus its courts. Education, welfare, the church, and all other godly social functions are maintained by the two tithes, the first tithe and the poor tithe. A society so ordered will of necessity have a small bureaucracy and a strong people.

The head tax is thus the support of the civil order, and the tithe is the support of the social order. In Biblical law, there is no land tax or property tax. Such a tax destroys the independence of every sphere of life and government—the family, school, church, vocation, and all else—and makes every sphere dependent on and subordinate to the state, or civil government.

Since Scripture declares repeatedly that the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof (Ex. 9:29; Deut. 10:14; Ps. 24:1; 1 Cor. 10:26, etc.), a land tax is not lawful. A tax on the land is a tax against God and against His law order. God Himself does not tax the land which He gives to men as a stewardship under Him; He taxes their increase, or their production, so that the only legitimate tax is an income tax, and this is precisely what the tithe is—an income tax. But it is an income tax which is set at 10 percent and no more. Beyond that, what a man gives is a freewill offering; the tithe is a tax, not an offering.

The subject of taxation belongs properly to both the sixth and eighth commandments. Ungodly taxation is theft. But the modern power to tax is the power to injure and to destroy, and it is thus basically connected with the sixth commandment. A Biblically grounded tax structure will protect and prosper a social order and its citizenry, whereas a lawless tax structure spells death to men and society.

Increasingly, the function of taxation is to reorder society. By means of property, inheritance, income, and other taxes, wealth is confiscated and redistributed. Thus, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has declared, through its secretary-general, that the number of people working in farming must be decreased, and, at the same time, “The average size of farm enterprises has to be increased.”[cdlxxxviii] How can this be done?

Two methods are open to the various states as disguised means of confiscating land and reshaping farmers and farming. First, price supports favor, as Kristensen pointed out, the big farmers rather than the small farmer. Second, taxation can be used to wipe out the small farmer and make room for large farm operations alone. Both methods are being extensively used, and both are forms of theft and means of murder, means of destroying men and societies.

The power to tax is in the modern world the power to destroy. It is no longer the support of law and order. The more taxes increase in the twentieth century, the less law and order men have, because taxation serves the purpose of promoting social revolution. As such, modern taxation is eminently successful.

  1. Love and the Law

One of the most important of all humanists was Jean Jacques Rousseau, the father of democracy. Rousseau was a tramp, a “kept” man for Madame de Warens, and a thoroughly irresponsible man. He lived for many years out of wedlock with Therese Levasseur, a hotel employee. Five children were born to them, and all were immediately carted off by Rousseau to a foundling home. This great expert on child training could not be bothered with children. Rousseau was for virtue, and he tells us that he wept when he thought about it, but in action he was a totally irresponsible and vicious man. He believed his heart, and the heart of all men, to be good; organized society, the environment, makes men bad. A very typical act of this great humanistic reformer took place in Venice. Rousseau took a prostitute to his room. After she undressed, and they both lay down in bed, Rousseau began to beg her to take the path of virtue. He was, of course, in the wrong position for such a plea, but it mattered little to him. For Rousseau, the heart, the feelings of man, was everything.

Under the influence of such humanistic beliefs, law has been extensively eroded. It is no longer the act of the murderer which is judged, but his feelings or mental state in the commission of the act. Like Rousseau, a murderer may be not guilty by virtue of his mental state. Love, thus, as the great humanistic virtue, has become all-important. Those who belong to the party of love are the holy ones of the humanistic world even in the commission of crimes, whereas the orthodox Christian, as a hatemonger by definition, is guilty even in the non-commission of a crime.

Love does appear in the law, but in the context of law, not humanistic feelings. Love of one’s neighbor is required by the Mosaic law in Leviticus 19:17–18:

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

The Berkeley Version renders the latter half of verse 17, “lest you incur sin on his account,” and the Torah Version reads it as, “but incur no guilt because of him.” The religious authorities during the second temple era read it as, “but thou shalt bear no sin by reason of it,” i.e., “execute the duty of reproof in such a manner that thou dost not incur sin by it.”[cdlxxxix] St. Paul’s explanation sums up the matter: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). To love one’s neighbor means to keep the law in relation to him, working him no ill, in word, thought, or deed. If a neighbor’s course of action leads to evil, or to problems, a word of warning is to be given as a means of preventing him ill. The meaning of neighbor in this passage (Lev. 19:17–18) is a fellow believer. In Leviticus 19:33–34, it includes foreigners and unbelievers. The law of love here gives no grounds for trying to govern our neighbor, nor does it reduce love to a frame of mind: it is a principle which is manifested as a totality in word, thought, and deed. The Bible is not dualistic in its view of man: it does not recognize a good heart with evil deeds. Man is a unit. As a sinner, he is clearly evil. As a redeemed man, he is in process of sanctification, and thus manifests both good and evil, but an evil thought begets an evil deed as clearly as a godly thought begets a godly act. Rousseau mistook his fantasies and illusions concerning his heart and mind as the reality concerning himself, whereas he was evil in heart and mind, and therefore in his fantasies. “Every imagination of the thoughts” of man’s heart is “only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5), and it is a part of that evil imagination for man to think well of his evil.

Because man is a sinner, he cannot take the law into his own hands: “Thou shalt not avenge” (Lev. 19:18). Because man is not God, man cannot therefore assume the judgment seat of God to judge men in terms of himself. We cannot condemn men for their likes or dislikes in terms of ourselves. We can judge them in relationship to God, whose law alone governs and judges all men. Personal judgment is forbidden: “Judge not . . .” (Matt. 7:1), but we are required to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

The Pauline principle states the issue clearly with respect to love: first, it works no ill to his neighbor; second, love is the fulfilling of the law.

To work ill to one’s neighbor is thus clearly forbidden. It is a form of killing our neighbor’s life and liberty. The fact that both life and liberty are in view in this law appears from the case laws of Scripture. Thus, the only kind of slavery permitted is voluntary slavery, as Deuteronomy 23:15–16 makes very clear. Biblical law permits voluntary slavery because it recognizes that some people are not able to maintain a position of independence. To attach themselves voluntarily to a capable man and to serve him, protected by law, is thus a legitimate way of life, although a lesser one. The master then assumes the role of the benefactor, the bestower of welfare, rather than the state, and the slave is protected by the law of the state. A runaway slave thus cannot be restored to his master: he is free to go. The exception is the thief or criminal who is working out his restitution. The Code of Hammurabi decreed death for men who harbored a runaway slave; the Biblical law provided for the freedom of the slave. The slave in the master’s house shall dwell “in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best (where he is most suited): thou shalt not oppress him” (Deut. 23:16).

Kidnapping a fellow believer to sell him as a slave (i.e., to a foreigner or foreign country, since he could not legally be sold at home) is a capital offense, punished without exception by death (Deut. 24:7). The death penalty applied not only to the kidnapper but to his associates who received or sold the person (Ex. 21:16). The force of this law is all the clearer when we realize that Biblical law had no prison sentences. Men either died as criminals or made restitution. Biblical law requires a society of free men whose freedom rests in responsibility.

Biblical law protected a man who accidentally killed a man, as in the case of two men chopping wood, and the axe-head of one flying off and killing the other. Cities of refuge protected the man from a blood feud (Deut. 19:1–10; cf. Ex. 21:13; Num. 35:9–34).

Murder, however, was punishable by death (Ex. 21:12–14, 18–32; Lev. 24:17–22; Num. 35:30–33; Deut. 19:11–13), and no exception to this sentence was permitted by law.

The test of love was thus the act of love. Love works no ill to the neighbor, and love means the keeping or fulfilling of the law in relationship to other men. Love is thus the law-abiding thought, word, and act. Where there is no law, there is also no love. Adulterous persons do not love their spouses, although they may claim to do so; they may enjoy their wives or husbands, as well as their lovers, but love is the keeping of the law.

Humanistic man, having forsaken law, must then logically forsake love also. There are already evidences of this. Lionel Rubinoff, himself a humanist, has described the modern problem of evil in The Pornography of Power. As a reviewer summarizes Rubinoff’s thesis,

It is, however, in his analysis of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that the assumption underlying The Pornography of Power is most readily grasped. Of Stevenson’s portrayal of the ambivalence of human nature, Rubinoff writes: “Dr. Jekyll, the humanist, originally creates Mr. Hyde (in itself a thoroughly evil act) so that the forces of evil incarnated in a Hyde can be scientifically studied and eventually banished from the human psyche. So confident is Jekyll in the iron strength of his own virtue that he sincerely believes he can give birth to evil without being corrupted by it. Alas, the virtuous Jekyll is no match for the satanic Hyde: once the demon has been released, the angel seeks every excuse to descend himself into the depths of depravity.”

Few men can comfortably contemplate the concept of the natural supremacy of evil over good in humanity. The Judeo-Christian tradition eases the anguish by holding out the hope of salvation through the exercise of a semblance of free will in the worldly fight with the Devil’s forces. What is an increasingly secular age to do with the knowledge that evil is an inextricable part of man’s nature? Face it, says Rubinoff. Bring it out into the open.[cdxc]

Thus, as some humanistic thinkers are beginning to recognize, man faces the world, not with love and goodness, but with evil. The more humanistic man becomes, the more justice, authority, and legitimacy fade from the world. Lawlessness increasingly governs national and international affairs. The expression of man’s heart and imagination is only evil continually. Rubinoff admits that man’s evil urge leads to a demonic use of power, to what he calls the pornography of power. Rubinoff’s answer is not love but evil:

The greatest evil in becoming addicted to such pornography, says Rubinoff, is that it stunts the growth of the imagination, the only instrument by which man can truly understand—and so live with—the despairing truth of his dual nature. As examples of how to use the creative imagination in facing up to evil, Rubinoff singles out Jean Genet and Norman Mailer. Much of their writing, he says is essentially an effort to create positive values by confronting

the negative and the irrational within themselves, living with it and turning it into art.

Like most programs for self-improvement, Rubinoff’s ideas are easier to talk about than to apply. On one level, his book could encourage low-grade scatology as a form of salvation. On another, The Pornography of Power offers an esthetic substitute for religion, by which men less creative than Genet and Mailer must try to grope their way to self-knowledge with the aid of the artist’s images of evil.[cdxci]

Rubinoff’s answer is that we become artistic rather than scientific Jekylls, creating a legion of Hydes. He proposes that we enter a world of love and law by embracing evil, by expressing it boldly and freely as an artistic and creative venture. It is a program of sinning to make grace abound. What Rubinoff has expressed, his humanistic generation is practicing. Students, slum dwellers, diplomats, politicians, clergymen, teachers, and others all now practice a lawless doctrine of evil as the higher law and the higher love. Since the humanistic doctrine of love is antinomian through and through, it is inescapably therefore the love of evil. It is thus a logical development of humanistic love that it should become evil incarnate. Love without law is in essence the affirmation of evil and its manifestation.

  1. Coercion

A society without coercion is often dreamed of by humanistic revolutionists. Anarchism is of course that philosophy which maintains that man can find fulfilment only in a non-statist, voluntaristic, and non-coercive society. Libertarianism is increasingly an openly anarchistic and relativistic philosophy. Since the libertarian definition of anarchism is the best, let us examine this position as defined by Karl Hess, who, in the 1964 presidential campaign, was Senator Goldwater’s writer:

Libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit, that all men’s social actions should be voluntary and that respect for every other man’s similar and equal ownership of life and, by extension, the property and fruits of that life, is the ethical basis of a humane and open society.[cdxcii]

Moreover, Hess states, “each man is a sovereign land of liberty, with his primary allegiance to himself.”[cdxciii] For Hess, man is not a sinner but rather his own god. The sinner, the great evil, is the state. As he analyzes liberals and conservatives on the issue of the state, Hess states:

Just as power is the god of the modern liberal, God remains the authority of the modern conservative. Liberalism practices regimentation by, simply, regimentation. Conservatism practices regimentation by, not quite so simply, revelation. But regimented or revealed, the name of the game is still politics.

The great flaw in conservatism is a deep fissure down which talk of freedom falls, to be dashed to death on the rocks of authoritarianism. Conservatives worry that the state has too much power over people. But it was conservatives who gave the state that power . . . Murray Rothbard, writing in Ramparts, has summed up this flawed conservatism in describing a “new, younger generation of rightists, of ‘conservatives’ . . . who thought that the real problem of the modern world was nothing so ideological as the state vs. individual liberty, or government intervention vs. the free market; the real problem, they declared, was the preservation of tradition, order, Christianity, and good manners against the modern sins of reason, license, atheism and boorishness . . .”

For many conservatives, the bad dream that haunts their lives and their political position (which many sum up as “law and order” these days) is one of riot. To my knowledge, there is no limit that conservatives would place upon the power of the state to suppress riots.[cdxciv]

Hess is right in stating that the conservative rests on “revelation,” i.e., on “the preservation of . . . Christianity,” and it is the failure of conservatism that it fails to see this, that it attempts to defend on humanistic premises a Christian product. But what does Hess’s position rest on? The belief in man’s goodness, man’s ability to live without coercion or violence, and in the sovereignty of man does not rest on either experience, history, or reason. Hess here provides his own revelation out of himself. He calls for “communities of voluntarism” and summons man “to go it alone metaphysically in a world more of reason than religion.”[cdxcv] While calling his position “not quite anarchy,” Hess does not distinguish it from anarchism.[cdxcvi]

Modern libertarianism rests on a radical relativism: no law or standard exists apart from man himself. Some libertarian professors state in classes and in conversation that any position is valid as long as it does not claim to be the truth, and that therefore Biblical religion is the essence of evil to them. There must be, according to these libertarians, a total free market of ideas and practices.

If all men are angels, then a total free market of ideas and practices will produce only an angelic community. But if all men are sinners in need of Christ’s redemption, then a free market of ideas and practices will produce only a chaos of evil and anarchy. Both the libertarian and the Biblical positions rest on faith, the one on faith in the natural goodness of man, the other on God’s revelation concerning man’s sinful state and glorious potential in Christ. Clearly the so-called rational faith of such irrationalism as Hess and Rothbard represent has no support in the history of man nor in any formulation of reason. It is a faith, and a particularly blind faith in man, which they represent.

A cardinal reason for the growing lawlessness of the twentieth century is precisely relativism and moral anarchism. An inquiring reporter in Fremont, California, asking, “Should Unrestricted Abortions Be Legalized in California?” received among others this answer from A. W. S., a retired salesman:

Yes. A woman should be able to have one if that’s what she wants. It’s up to the individual. In a way, it is taking a human life. But if it’s a medical necessity, regardless of the person’s wishes, it should be done.[cdxcvii]

Let us examine this statement. First, it is admitted that abortion “is taking a human life,” i.e., is murder. But, second, it is further asserted that a woman has this power over her fetus: “It’s up to the individual.” What is hers, is also hers to dispose of or to murder. By logic, this position, which holds to the individual’s anarchic freedom, means also that a fetus, as a subordinate life, has no such freedom. Does this mean that a mother, as a superior person, can dispose of an unwanted child by murder, or a couple rid themselves of aged parents by murder? This is an implicit position, because, third, the woman’s desire to retain the fetus can be overruled: “But if it’s a medical necessity, regardless of the person’s wishes, it should be done.” In other words, more powerful and knowing persons in S.’s anarchistic society can decree death in terms of superior scientific wisdom. In an anarchistic world, where man is his only law, the consequences of anarchism are violence to the weak by the stronger, and the destruction of intelligence by brute force.

When the humanist deals with evil, he resorts to evasion to efface man’s guilt. Thus, Steve Allen has observed, “I’m not completely convinced of it, but I think there is almost no evil intent in the world.”[cdxcviii] This distinction between intent and act, now so basic to humanistic law, goes back to Greek philosophy, and to Aristotle. It is ironic that modern humanists, who rail against dualism, should themselves resort to it so heavily. In terms of this distinction, a murderer can escape from the death penalty. The courts now are ready to regard the death penalty as possibly cruel and unusual punishment and hence illegal. One of the California cases involved is of a man guilty of three murders in much less than a decade. In this kind of consideration for the murderer, the victim’s rights are lost and denied.[cdxcix] In Biblical law, the act is the intent. A murder involves a murderous intent. If an axe handle obviously breaks accidentally and suddenly flies and kills a man, the act is an accident and the intent and act are thus not murder, so the penalty is not for murder.

Because history so clearly manifests evil, it is only by resorting to the dualistic distinction between intent (spirit) and act (matter) that humanism is able to claim a natural goodness (or at least a neutral nature) for man.

How, then, does humanism account for the obviously evil intent of men who flagrantly broke the law during the Boston police strike? Or how shall they explain the 1969 violences in Pakistan, such as cited in this report:

Dacca, East Pakistan (UPI)—Political turmoil in East Pakistan has spawned numerous “people’s courts” in the interior that are summarily issuing sentences of death by clubbing or knifing, government sources and travelers reported Tuesday.

“Madness is sweeping the rural areas,” said one traveler on arriving here. He said he has spent the past week in villages and towns north of Dacca.

“No one is safe,” he said, “servants can turn against masters.” He said the people’s courts have no juries and always issue the death sentence, which is carried out immediately by peasants wielding clubs or knives.[d]

It is to be noted that the flagrant evil of the Nazis is omitted here, and the most flagrant evil of the Soviet Communists. How are all these things explained? The title of the Pakistan report reveals the answer: “‘Madness’ Sweeps Pakistan.” Similarly, a book review of Stalin’s reign of terror is titled, “Mad Efficiency for Extermination.”[di] This is the answer: it is not that man is a sinner, but that social conditions have incited man to this reflex action which is at worst madness and at best revolutionary heroism. Such reasoning rests on a blind faith in man which is immune to facts.

Moreover, because humanistic thinking cannot account for evil except as a temporary madness (and its answer, after Rubinoff, is to give expression to this madness in order to exorcise it), humanism cannot deal with evil or coercion honestly. It denies evil in man as the basic fact concerning fallen man’s nature, and then it denies the legitimacy of coercion. The two facts are related. If man, as in humanism, is his own god, then how can that god be coerced? Coercion becomes then the great evil for a logical humanism.

Is coercion ever legitimate? The Bible, clearly, has laws against coercion in some forms, such as murder, kidnapping, and the like. Thus in Leviticus 24:17–22, it is declared:

And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him. Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.

The laws here stated appear also in Exodus 21:12ff., 24–25, 33–34. It is the principle of restitution, and the death penalty. Unlawful coercion faces a severe penalty in Biblical law. The murderer, as the man guilty of the most extreme form of physical coercion, must without exception be put to death. But, it must be noted, coercion against evildoers is the required and inescapable duty of the civil authority. God requires coercion in the suppression of lawlessness. Without godly coercion, the world is surrendered into the hands of ungodly coercion. No man wants a hose of water turned against his living room, but, in case of fire, that water is a necessity and a welcome help. Similarly, coercion is a God-ordained necessity to enable man to cope with outbreaks of lawlessness.

The humanistic perspective is schizophrenic. Because of its basic dualism, it denies responsibility: intent and act are divorced. Works of evil then become, not an expression of man’s sinful heart, but a form of strange madness. Man himself is basically good, or, at worst, after Rubinoff, neutral, part angel and part devil. Instead of restraint, humanism demands self-expression. This, of course, is the death of law and order and the rise of massive anarchy and coercion. In the name of abolishing coercion, humanism ensures its triumph in the form of lawless violence.

  1. Quarantine Laws

The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” has, as its positive requirement, the mandate to preserve and further life within the framework of God’s law. Basic to this framework of preservation are the laws of quarantine.

In Leviticus 13–15, detailed laws of quarantine or separation are given. The details of these laws are not applicable to our times, in that they have an earlier era in mind, but the principles of these laws are still valid. It should be noted that these laws, in particular those dealing with leprosy, were enforced in the “medieval” era and were instrumental in eliminating that disease from Europe as a serious problem. The laws in these chapters are of two varieties: first, those dealing with diseases, Leviticus 13:1–15:15; and, second, those dealing with sex, 15:16–33; since sexual rites were commonly used as a means of communion with the gods, sex was emphatically separated from worship (Ex. 19:15). Ritual prostitution at temples was an accepted part of worship in the Mosaic era among pagans. Once again, sexual acts are being restored to a ritual role by the new pagans both within and without the church. Thus, Bonthius has written, “the act of intercourse is itself to serve as an outward and visible symbol of communion, not merely between man and wife but with God.”[dii]

To return to the quarantine laws with respect to diseases, those cited in Leviticus 13 and 14 are generally described as leprosy and plague. The term leprosy has changed its meaning extensively from its Biblical and “medieval” meaning.[diii] The meaning then covered a variety of infectious diseases. In terms of this, the meaning of this legislation is that contagious diseases must be treated with all necessary precautions to prevent contagion. Legislation is thus necessary wherever society requires protection from serious and contagious diseases. The state has therefore a legislative power in dealing with plagues, epidemics, venereal diseases, and other contagious and dangerous diseases. Such legislation is plainly required in the Mosaic law (Num. 5:1–4). Not only is it declared to be a matter of civil legislation, but also an essential aspect of religious education (Deut. 24:8).

It is clear, however, that this legislation, requiring some kind of quarantine or separation for those who are diseased, or who handle the dead (Num. 5:2), has implications beyond the realm of physical diseases. Even as the risk of physical contagion must be avoided, so likewise the risk of moral contagion must be avoided. This is plainly stated:

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord. (Lev. 18:1–5)

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you. (Lev. 18:24)

Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 18:30)

Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people. (Lev. 20:22–24)

As the last statement declares, God identifies Himself as the God who separates His people from other peoples: this is a basic part of salvation. The religious and moral separation of the believer is thus a basic aspect of Biblical law. Even as segregation from disease is necessary to avoid contagion, so separation from religious and moral evil is necessary to the preservation of true order.

Segregation or separation is thus a basic principle of Biblical law with respect to religion and morality. Every attempt to destroy this principle is an effort to reduce society to its lowest common denominator. Toleration is the excuse under which this leveling is undertaken, but the concept of toleration conceals a radical intolerance. In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as though no differences existed. The believer has a duty of lawful behavior toward all, an obligation to manifest grace and charity where it is due, but not to deny the validity of the differences which separate believer and unbeliever. In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to tolerate all things because the unbeliever will tolerate nothing; it means life on the unbeliever’s terms. It means that Biblical order is denied existence, because all things must be leveled downward.

An example, albeit a mild one, of this intolerance appeared in the Ann Landers column:

Dear Ann Landers: Why do you pin orchids on the virgins without knowing the facts? If you could see some of those white flower girls you’d know they couldn’t give it away. Why not use your valuable newspaper space to praise the sought-after, sexy girl who is constantly chased by men and is sometimes caught?

I’m a woman in my middle forties who has worked ten years with young girls in a steno pool. I see the goody-goody types in their little white shirtwaist blouses and oxfords, so smug and proud of their chastity, as if they had a choice. They make me sick.

Only last Friday a darling little readhead, just 21, sobbed out her story in the ladies’ room. Lucy had been jilted by an executive after six months of steady courtship. They had been intimate and she was counting on marriage. It was the fourth time she’d had this terrible thing happen to her. Girls like Lucy need Ann Landers to tell them they aren’t all bad. Give them encouragement, not a put-down. I’ve been reading your silly column for 12 years and I think you are a perfect fool.—Mama Leone.

Dear Mama: Thanks for the compliment, but nobody’s perfect.

I don’t happen to have any good conduct medals lying around for girls who think the bedroom is a shortcut to the altar. Moreover, a girl who makes the same mistake four times is what I call (in polite language) a non-learner.[div]

This letter by “Mama Leone” reveals a bitter hatred of virtue together with a strong sympathy for the promiscuous girl, who is seen as the finer person. There is no tolerance here, but only a savage intolerance. The basic premise of the modern doctrine of toleration is that all religious and moral positions are equally true and equally false. In brief, this toleration rests on a radical relativism and humanism. There is no particular truth or moral value in any religion; the true value is man himself, and man as such must be given total acceptance, irrespective of his moral or religious position. Thus, Walt Whitman, in his poem, “To a Common Prostitute,” declared, “Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you.” Total acceptance and total integration are demanded by this relativistic humanism. Thus, this position, by reducing all nonhumanistic positions to equality, and then setting man above them as lord, is radically anti-Christian. It places man in God’s place and, in the name of toleration and equality, relegates Christianity to the junk heap.

But integration and equality are myths; they disguise a new segregation and a new inequality. “Mama Leone’s” letter makes it clear that, in her view, promiscuity is superior to virginity. This means a new segregation: virtue is subjected to hostility, scorn, and is separated for destruction.

Every social order institutes its own program of separation or segregation. A particular faith and morality is given privileged status and all else is separated for progressive elimination. The claim of equality and integration is thus a pretext to subvert an older or existing form of social order.

State control of education has been a central means of destroying Christian order. It excludes from the curriculum everything which points to the truth of Biblical faith and establishes a new doctrine of truth. In the name of objective reason, it insists that its highly selective hostility to Biblical faith be regarded as a law of being.

Education is a form of segregation, and, in fact, a basic instrument thereof as well. By means of education, certain aspects of life and experience are given the priority of truth and others are relegated to unimportance or are classed as wrong. Education inescapably segregates and classifies all reality in terms of certain premises or presuppositions. These premises are religious premises and are always pre-theoretical and are determinative of all thinking.

Not only education but law also segregates. Every law order, by legislating against certain types of conduct, requires a segregation in terms of its premises. The segregation demanded by the democratic and the Marxist states is as radical and thorough as any history has seen, if not more so.

All religions segregate also, and humanism is certainly no exception. Every religion asserts an order of truth, and every other order is regarded as a lie. Humanism is relativistic with respect to all other religions, but it is absolutistic with respect to man. Man is the absolute of humanism, and all else is treated as error.

Segregation, separation, or quarantine, whichever name is used, is inescapable in any society. The radical libertarian claims that he will permit total liberty for all positions, i.e., a free market for all ideas and religions. But he outlaws all positions which deny his own. In the academic world, these libertarians have proven to be ruthless enemies of Biblical faith, denying its right to a hearing. The state cannot exist, in such a libertarian order, nor can the church except on the enemy’s terms. The new libertarians are congenial to Marxists, but not to Christians. While ostensibly against coercion, they are not above a common front with Marxists, as the libertarian journal Left and Right indicated. For the truth of Scripture, they have no toleration, nor any “common front” except a surrender on their terms. Every faith is an exclusive way of life; none is more dangerous than that which maintains the illusion of tolerance. An openly heartless faith is surely dangerous, but a heartless faith which believes in itself as a loving agent is even more to be feared.

Because no agreement is possible between truth and a lie, between heaven and hell, St. Paul declared, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17).

  1. Dietary Rules

Eating and drinking are clearly regulated by Biblical law. The laws of diet, or kosher laws, are generally well known, but, unfortunately, here as elsewhere, man in his perversity sees law, which was ordained as a principle of life, instead as a restraint on life. Moreover, the Biblical principle of eating and drinking is not ascetic: the purpose of food and drink is not merely to maintain life, important as that is, but is a part of the enjoyment of life. The usual picture of a robust, jolly medieval monk or priest as somehow reprobate as against the emaciated ascetic as a saint is probably in need of revision. According to Scripture, “every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God” (Eccles. 3:13). Note that it reads “every man.” Again, “Behold, that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion” (Eccles. 5:18). However, it should be noted that “every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25).

In Genesis 1:29–30, it would appear that, prior to the flood, only permission to eat non-carnivorous foods is given, whereas in Genesis 9:3, the permission to eat meats is obviously given.[dv] There is no reason to assume that any return to this original diet is possible. Again, there is reason to believe that, after the fall, permission to eat meats may have been granted. God clothed the fallen Adam and Eve in coats of skin (Gen. 3:21), and the use of cattle appeared very early. Very early, with Jabal, of the line of Cain, specialization in cattle work appeared (Gen. 4:20), indicating a demand for the meat. God’s instructions to Noah before the Flood referred to the distinction between clean and unclean beasts as an established one, indicating the legitimacy of the distinction at least for sacrifice and probably for food. Moreover, the warrant for meat-eating is a divine one and remains unchanged. As a matter of fact, one of the marks of “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” in “the latter times” is, “Forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:1, 3). Religious vegetarianism thus is very sharply condemned.

The laws of diet appear in a number of passages, centrally in Leviticus 11. The reaction of most people to this legislation is that it is strange, difficult, and oppressive to follow. In reality, the Mosaic laws of diet are basic to the patterns of virtually every Christian country. Certain notable breaches of these laws are apparent, but in the main the laws are obeyed. In examining these laws, one problem is the translation of some of the animal names. Thus, the “coney” of Leviticus 11:5 is said to be “hyrax syriacus, a form of rock rabbit,”[dvi] also called a “rock badger,”[dvii] but there is no certainty.

Our purpose is not to examine each particular animal but to understand the general classifications involved. According to Leviticus 11:3, “Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.” Exceptions to this rule are also cited. With respect to seafoods, fins and scales are required, or else the food is banned (Lev. 11:9–10). Again, a list of banned birds is given (Lev. 11:13–19). Insects that crawl are banned, and, except for a few exceptions, all winged insects also (Lev. 11:20–23). A variety of animals is cited in Leviticus 11:29–30 as forbidden. The eating of blood is banned (Lev. 17:10–14; 19:26), as is animal fat (Lev. 7:23–25). Dead animals are also ruled out (Deut. 14:21). These rules appear in Deuteronomy (14:3–20) as well as in Leviticus. In both cases, it is given as a law of holiness (Lev. 11:44–47; Deut. 14:1–3).

Certain general rules appear in this list: First, the eating of blood is forbidden on principle; the animal cannot be strangled; it must be bled. This rule is restated in Acts 15:20. Second, dead, i.e., unbutchered, animals are ruled out also. In both these cases, most Christian countries are in agreement. Pagan cultures have had no objections normally to either dead animals or to blood. For some, the discovery of a dead animal has been the discovery of a delicacy.

Third, animal fats are forbidden. This rule has not been observed, but it is significant that modern medical advice tends to rule against animal fats. The Biblical ban does not extend to vegetable fats, nor, apparently, to poultry fats.

Fourth, with respect to animals and birds, and in most cases, fish also, the scavenger animals are forbidden foods. Here again the tastes of the Western world have been radically altered by Biblical law. Many of the ancient delicacies included scavengers. Among seafoods, shellfish are banned for this reason. Among fish, the partial exception is the carp, which is permitted, and is not placed in the banned class, since it has both fins and scales. The catfish, however, is forbidden. In eating kosher meats, the “scavenger” organs are banned, i.e., those organs which work to clear the body of impurities. Some recent medical testimony tends to support this ban.

The kidneys are clearly forbidden (Ex. 29:13, 22; Lev. 3:4, 10, 15; 4:9; 8:16, 25); these same verses refer also to the liver. These organs were dedicated, i.e., to be burned on the altar and not eaten. Liver is nowadays regarded as kosher meat by Jews. The King James Version limits the ban to “the caul that is above the liver” (Ex. 29:13); other versions render this as “the membrane.” The Berkeley Version gives it as the “lobe” of the liver. Bush made it clear that “lobe” is the correct reading, i.e., “the greater lobe of the liver,” and probably the gallbladder, which is “attached to this part of the liver,” is also forbidden food.[dviii]

Fifth, carnivorous animals are forbidden food, as witness the lion, dog, and the like. And without exception, these animals are avoided in countries influenced by Christian law. In pagan societies, as among some American Indian tribes, the dog was regarded as a choice food.

Thus far, the modern divergences are slight. The marked exceptions are the horse in France, and pork and shellfish in most countries. Pigs as scavengers are banned, and the fact that some authorities cite them as carriers of over 200 diseases is of note, as well as the fact that it is almost impossible to eliminate all of these by cooking.

Sixth, as is apparent, herbivorous animals are clearly allowed, unless they neither chew the cud nor divide the hoof. The horse thus is banned. Grain-feeding birds are also among the permitted foods, but not birds of prey.

Seventh, almost all insects except those of the locust family are forbidden. These were permitted but not prized food, usually survival fare (Lev. 11:22). When John the Baptist lived in the wilderness to typify the coming destruction and flight of the people, he lived on locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4), i.e., he lived off the land to typify the survival fare which would become national fare for the survivors of the coming destruction.

Eighth, no legislation is given with respect to fruits, grains, eggs, and vegetables. All these are clearly legitimate and require no lines of division as among meats. Taste, value, and practicality are the governing rules here.

Ninth, although very obvious rules of health appear in the legal prohibitions, the primary principle of division is religious, of which the medical and hygienic is a subordinate aspect. The terms used are clean and unclean, and the forbidden foods are an abomination; religious and moral purity is clearly in mind, of which hygienic purity is a part.

Tenth, not only was the flesh of animals which had dropped dead forbidden, but also of animals torn by wild beasts (Ex. 22:31); such an animal, if it died, had to be fed to the dogs. Since foreigners had no scruples about eating the meat of animals which died, and often were partial to them, such animals could honestly be sold for what they were to foreigners (Deut. 14:21). There was no attempt to regulate the diet of unbelievers.

Eleventh, also forbidden were all foods and liquids remaining in uncovered vessels in the tent or room of a dying or dead man (Num. 19:14–15). The purpose here was to preserve cleanness in its total sense.

Twelfth, as noted with respect to other laws, it was forbidden to seethe a kid in its mother’s milk (Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21). The Ras Shamra Tablets indicate that such seething was a Canaanite sacred ritual. It would appear that the fertility cults believed that they could either stimulate or destroy fertility at will, since it was under their control.

Thirteenth, out of reverence for Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, the Israelites denied themselves the sinew of the hip (Gen. 32:32). This was not a law, however.

Fourteenth, with temperance as the rule, wines were an acceptable part of the diet. Distilled liquors are a modern invention. Wines were a part of the legitimate offerings to God (Num. 15:5, 7, 10). The use of wines, being governed by God, and governed by His law of temperance, was on the whole temperate. To this day, alcoholism is rare among Jews. The New Testament warnings against intemperance are many (Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 2:3; 1 Pet. 4:3, etc.). On the other hand, St. Paul urged Timothy to drink a little wine for his health’s sake (1 Tim. 5:23). Wine was commonly used with water as a mixer (2 Macc. 15:39).

In the patriarchal era, the diet included not only meats but leguminous foods (beans, peas, lentils) as a favorite food (Gen. 25:34). Honey, spices, and nuts are also mentioned (Gen. 43:11). Milk was an important item in the diet of Israel, but more than cows’ milk was used. Goats’ milk and sheep’s milk are both mentioned (Deut. 32:14; Prov. 27:27). Butter is often mentioned (Deut. 32:14; Prov. 30:33), as is cheese (1 Sam. 17:18; 2 Sam. 17:29). Raisins and dried figs were common (1 Sam. 25:18), date cakes (2 Sam. 16:1), and the like. Game meats were favored (1 Kings 4:23; Neh. 5:18), in addition to domestic meats.

To what extent are the Mosaic dietary laws still valid for us? Acts 10 is commonly cited as abolishing the old dietary restrictions. There is no reason for this opinion. Peter’s vision did not instruct him to eat pork, dogs, cats, or the like: it prepared him for the coming of Cornelius’s servants. The Gentiles were to be received into the kingdom: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:15). Peter did not see the meaning of the vision as a permission to eat forbidden foods. Rather, he said, “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28). There is no evidence in the chapter that the vision had anything to do with diet; it did have everything to do with the Great Commission and the admission of Gentiles into the kingdom.

However, in Colossians 2:16–17, there is a clear reference to the dietary laws:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

The significance of this has been noted with respect to the sabbath law. The sabbath law is no longer law for us, in that it no longer is a civil and religious offense to fail in one’s observance, but it is a principle of life and a moral rule. Similarly, the dietary laws are not legally binding on us, but they do provide us with a principle of operation. The apostles, as they moved into a Gentile world, did not allow diet to be a barrier between them and the Gentiles. If they were served pork or shrimp, they ate it. On their own, they maintained the kosher rules as God’s rules of health and life. St. Paul rebuked St. Peter to his face when he withdrew from the Gentiles, with whom he had been eating, because of fear of criticism on the part of some Judaizers (Gal. 2:9–15). With reference to our salvation, the laws of diet have no significance, although Pharisaism gave it such a significance (Gal. 2:16). With reference to our health, the rules of diet are still valid rules. We do not observe the sabbath of Israel, but we do observe the Lord’s day. We do not regard the kosher legislation as law today, but we do observe it as a sound rule for health.

It is ironic that those churchmen who deny that Colossians 2:16 has any reference to the sabbath have still used it to deny totally any validity to the laws of diet. If the dietary laws are totally abrogated, so is the sabbath. But both remain, not as laws but as principles for the health of man, the sabbath for man’s spirit, and the rules of diet for man’s body. Our observance of these dietary rules should never be to place a barrier between ourselves and other men but for our health and prosperity in Christ.

  1. Christ and the Law

The cross of Christ is often cited as being the death of the law, and it is commonly stated that in Christ the believer is dead to the law. Romans 7:4–6 is cited as evidence for this opinion, although nothing is said about Romans 8:4. St. Paul’s point is that we are free from the law, or dead to the law, as a sentence of death against us, but we are alive to it as the righteousness of God. Christ, as our substitute, died for us, and we are dead unto the law in Him, and also alive unto the law in Him. The very death of Christ confirmed the law: it revealed that God regards the death penalty as binding for violation of His law, so that only the atoning death of Christ could remove the curse of the law against sinners.

In Ephesians 2:1–10, St. Paul makes clear again the meaning of the law in relationship to the cross. In commenting on St. Paul’s description of sinners as “dead in trespasses and sins” (v. 1), Calvin stated:

He does not mean that they were in danger of death; but he declares that it was a real and present death under which they laboured. As spiritual death is nothing else than the alienation of the soul from God, we are all born as dead men, and we live as dead men, until we are made partakers of the life of Christ,—agreeably to the words of our Lord, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live” (John v. 25).[dix]

In this condition of spiritual death, men are governed by demonic forces and impulses in fulfilment of their own sinful nature (v. 2–3) as “children of disobedience”; Calvin commented on this latter phrase, “Unbelief is always accompanied by disobedience; so that it is the source—the mother of all stubbornness.”[dx] Very bluntly, Calvin affirmed after St. Paul “that we are born with sin, as serpents bring their venom from the womb.”[dxi]

What, then, is the remedy for man? Clearly, the remedy is not the law. Man has broken the law, is dead in sin and cannot keep the law. Calvin pointed out, of Ephesians 2:4, that “there is no other life than that which is breathed into us by Christ: so that we begin to live only when we are ingrafted into him, and begin to enjoy the same life with himself.”[dxii] Our salvation is entirely of God’s grace, totally His work (v. 8). In Calvin’s words, “God declares that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace . . . If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.” The faith itself is the gift of God (v. 8). All Scripture is emphatic: God is man’s only redeemer; the law is not given as man’s way of salvation but as God’s way of righteousness, His law for His chosen people, His Kingdom. The law therefore came “through Moses” (John 1:17)—from God through Moses—because it is the law for God’s Kingdom. Where converted into a way of salvation, the law is perverted. Where the law represents the government and obedience of faith, there the law fulfills its God-given purpose. In Calvin’s words again, “man is nothing but by divine grace.”[dxiii]

In Ephesians 2:10, St. Paul declares, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Calvin noted,

He says, that, before we were born, the good works were prepared by God; meaning, that in our own strength we were not able to lead a holy life, but only as far as we are formed and adapted by the hand of God. Now, if the grace of God came before our performances, all ground of boasting has been taken away.[dxiv]

Plainly, therefore, we are regenerated “unto good works,” that is, unto obedience to God’s law-word, and the purpose of our salvation, ordained beforehand by God, is this obedience.

But, some object, the law is called “carnal” in Scripture, as witness Hebrews 7:16. Calvin stated, “It was called carnal, because it refers to things corporeal, that is, to external rites.”[dxv] When St. Paul summons believers to “temperance,” he is asking for obedience in a “carnal,” that is, corporeal matter as well as with respect to an attitude of mind (Gal. 5:23).

The calling of believers is unto liberty, which means, St. Paul said, to love one another, i.e., to fulfill the law in relationship to one another (Gal. 5:13–14). In relationship to our fellow men and to God, the works of our fallen human nature are these:

Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:19–23)

St. Paul attacked the law as a saving ordinance, as man’s way of salvation; he upheld the law as man’s way of sanctification rather than justification. After citing lawless behavior, beginning with adultery, he cites godly behavior and says of it, “against such there is no law.” Obviously, against the other catalog of actions, beginning with adultery, there is a law, the law as given by God through Moses.

Thus, clearly, the law still stands. The implication of St. Paul’s words is that there is a law against the catalog of sins of Galatians 5:19–21; moreover, in terms of Ephesians 2:10, we are God’s new creation for the purpose of keeping His law and performing good works.

In what sense, then, is the law dead, or even wrong, and in what sense does it still stand?

First, as we have seen, the law as a sentence of death is finished when the guilty party dies or is executed. For believers, the death of Christ means that they are dead in Him to the death sentence of the law, since Christ is their substitute (Rom. 7:1–6). This does not permit us to call the law “sin,” for the law itself made us aware of our sinfulness before God, and our need of His Savior (Rom. 7:7–12).

Second, our salvation in Jesus Christ sets forth the salvation by God’s gracious act which is the only doctrine of salvation all Scripture sets forth. The sacrificial and ceremonial law set forth the fact of salvation through the atoning act of a God-given substitute, an animal whose innocence typified the innocence of the one to come. The Messiah, the Lamb of God, having come, the old, typical laws of sacrifice and their priesthood and ceremonies were succeeded by the atoning work of Christ, the great High Priest (Heb. 7). It is a serious error to say that the civil law was also abolished, but the moral law retained. What is the distinction between them? At most points, they cannot be distinguished. Murder, theft, and false witness are clearly civil offenses as well as moral offenses. In almost every civil order, adultery and dishonoring parents have also been civil crimes. Do these people mean, by declaring the end of civil law, that the Old Testament theocracy is no more? But the kingship of God and of His Christ is emphatically asserted by the New Testament and especially by the book of Revelation. The state is no less called to be under Christ than is the church. It is clearly only the sacrificial and ceremonial law which is ended because it is replaced by Christ and His work.

Third, the law is condemned by the New Testament as a means of justification, which it was never intended to be. The law is not our means of justification or salvation, but of sanctification. Pharisaism had perverted the meaning of the law and made it “of none effect,” according to Christ’s declaration (Matt. 15:1–9). What the Pharisees called the law was “the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9), and against this Christ and St. Paul levelled their attack. The law in this sense never had any legitimate status and must in every age be condemned. The alternative to antinomianism is not Pharisaism or legalism. The answer to those who want to save man by law is not to say that man needs no law.

Pharisaism or legalism leads to statism. If law can save man, then the answer is that society must work to institute a total law order, to govern man totally by laws and thus remake man and society. This is the answer given by statism, which invariably draws its strength from Pharisaic religion. Socialism and communism are saving law orders, and the call by preachers of the social gospel for a “saving society” is an expression of faith in man’s law as savior. This latter point is important: God’s law does not permit itself to be assigned a saving role, and as a result, man devises a humanistic law order for the total regeneration of man and society by means of total government. Biblical law has a limited role; a saving law must have an unlimited power, and as a result, Biblical law is replaced by Pharisaism with a total law. The modesty of God’s law was an offense to the Pharisees. Thus, whereas the law required only one fast a year, on the Day of Atonement, and then only until sundown, the Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12). A yearly fast which ended in a banquet involved no government over man; a twice-weekly fast both governs man and becomes a means of self-commendation before God and man.

The law is thus to be condemned when it is made into more than law, when it is made into a savior, or a favor done to God rather than man’s necessary obedience and response to God’s mandate and calling. Law is law, not salvation, and the law as savior leads to statism and totalitarianism.

Antinomianism, on the other hand, leads to anarchism. Religious antinomians are usually practical rather than theoretical anarchists. Their disinterest in law leads them to surrender the civil order to the enemy and to further the decline of law and order. Although antinomians would be shocked if called anarchists, they must be so designated. The logical implication of their position is anarchism. If Christ has abolished the law, why should society maintain it? If the Christian is dead to the law, why should not the Christian church, state, school, family, and calling be also dead to the law? A consistent faith on the part of antinomians would require them to be anarchists, but perhaps consistency is itself too much of a virtue, too much of a law, and too intelligent a position to ask from such stupidity.

The law in every age sets forth the holiness of God. The holiness of God is His absolute distinction from all His creatures and creation, and His transcendent exaltation above them in His sovereign and infinite majesty. This separation of God is also His moral separation from sin and evil and His absolute moral perfection. As Berkhof noted,

The holiness of God is revealed in the moral law, implanted in man’s heart, and speaking through the conscience, and more particularly in God’s special revelation. It stood out prominently in the law given to Israel.[dxvi]

There can be no holiness, no separation unto God, without the law of God. The law is indispensable to holiness.

The law is also basic to the righteousness of God. Again, Berkhof’s phrasing is to the point:

The fundamental idea of righteousness is that of strict adherence to the law. Among men it presupposes that there is a law to which they must conform. It is sometimes said that we cannot speak of righteousness in God, because there is no law to which He is subject. But though there is no law above God, there is certainly a law in the very nature of God, and this is the highest possible standard, by which all other laws are judged. A distinction is generally made between the absolute and the relative justice of God. The former is that rectitude of the divine nature, in virtue of which God is infinitely righteous in Himself, while the latter is that perfection of God by which He maintains Himself over against every violation of His holiness, and shows in every respect that He is the Holy One. It is to this righteousness that the term “justice” more particularly applies.[dxvii]

The righteousness of God is revealed in the law of God, and the norm by which men are declared to be sinners is their violation of God’s law. The sin of Adam and Eve was their violation of God’s law, and the criterion of a man’s faith is the fruit he bears, his works, in brief, his conformity to the law of God, so that the law is his new life and nature (Jer. 31:33; Matt. 7:16–20; James 2:17–26). In the neglect or defiance of God’s law, there can be neither righteousness nor justice. To forsake God’s law is to forsake God.

The law is also basic to sanctification. Sanctification cannot be confused, as Berkhof pointed out, with mere moral rectitude or moral improvement.

A man may boast of great moral improvement, and yet be an utter stranger to sanctification. The Bible does not urge moral improvement pure and simple, but moral improvement in relation to God for God’s sake, and with a view to the service of God. It insists on sanctification. At this very point much ethical preaching of the present day is utterly misleading: and the corrective for it lies in the presentation of the true doctrine of sanctification. Sanctification may be defined as that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which He delivers the justified sinner from the pollution of sin, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works.[dxviii]

According to St. Paul, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17); the law is written into every fiber of that word. If this law-word is basic to faith and to hearing, it is clearly basic to the believer’s growth in sanctification. Sanctification depends on our law-keeping in mind, word, and deed. The perfection of the incarnate Word was manifested in His law-keeping; can the people of His Kingdom pursue their calling to be perfect in any way other than by His law-word?

If the law is denied as the means of sanctification, then, logically, the only alternative is Pentecostalism, with its antinomian and un-Biblical doctrine of the Spirit. Pentecostalism does, however, represent a very logical outgrowth of antinomian theology. If the law is denied, how is man then to be sanctified? The answer of the Pentecostal movement was an attempt to fill this lack. Protestant theology left man justified but without a way to be sanctified. The holiness movement, with its belief in the instant perfection of all believers, ran so clearly counter to common sense: any observer could see that the holiness people were and are extremely far from perfection! The answer of Protestant Pentecostals and Roman Catholic ascetics and ecstatics has been this doctrine of the Spirit. Ostensibly supernormal and antinomian manifestations of the Spirit place the believer on a higher plane. Many parallel movements, like Keswick, cultivate this higher way as the alternative to law for sanctification. These movements at least represent a logical concern for sanctification, although an illicit one. Deny the law, and your alternatives are either indifference to sanctification, or Pentecostalism and similar doctrines.

The disinterest in or contempt for canon law is a part of this antinomianism.

To separate the law from the gospel is to separate oneself from the law and the gospel, and from Christ. When God the Father regarded the law as so binding on man that the death of God’s incarnate Son was necessary to redeem man, He could not regard that law as something now trifling, or null and void, for man. Man is saved “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled” in him (Rom. 8:4). To say that man is no longer under the law, and yet obliged to avoid murder, adultery, theft, false witness, and other sins, is to play with words. Either a law is a law and is binding, or it is no law, and man is not bound but is free to commit those acts.

The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” means that man’s life cannot be taken. Is not the perversion of the word of life a means of taking or injuring life? Must not false preachers be termed murderers? In an age when the foundations of law are under attack, the faithful servant of God will most zealously and clearly proclaim that law. In Martin Luther’s words,

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

With Adam’s fall, man fell, and God’s law order was broken. With Christ’s victory, man in Christ triumphed, and God’s law order was restored, with its mandate to exercise dominion under God and to subdue the earth. Can any man of God proclaim less?

  1. Work

Normally, work is considered as properly an aspect of the fourth commandment: “Six days thou shalt labour . . .” (Ex. 20:9), and this is most obviously a valid classification. Some compelling reason is necessary, therefore, to justify placing work elsewhere. This purpose is to be found in the original mandate, to subdue or work the earth, and to exercise dominion over it (Gen. 1:28). Work continued, obviously, after the fall, now with a curse on it, and with frustration (Gen. 3:17–18), but with an obviously restorational function. By work, man was originally called to subdue the earth; after the fall, man knew the frustration of sin in this calling. With the fall came a curse on man’s work, but work is not a curse. With redemption, the effects of sin are steadily overcome as man works to restore the earth and to establish his dominion under God. Man, life, and the earth have been injured and killed by the effects of sin. To undo the fall, to protect and prosper life under God, means that, under the sixth commandment, man has a mandate to restore the earth by work and to inhibit and limit the injuring and killing effect of sin. The importance of restitution to the law is the ground whereby work, an aspect of the fourth commandment, is also properly an aspect of the sixth. It is also an aspect of the eighth, for “Thou shalt not steal” means “Thou shalt work” to gain whatever is needed and desired. The goal of restitution is the restored Kingdom of God as described by Isaiah 11:9: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

Work thus has a position of importance in Biblical thought. Proverbs repeatedly stresses its necessity, dignity, and importance; “he that gathereth by labour shall increase” (Prov. 13:11). “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute” (Prov. 12:24). “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Prov. 13:4). “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings” (Prov. 22:29). Work thus has as its goal the restored Kingdom of God; work therefore is a religious and moral necessity.

The effect of work as a factor in the rehabilitation of the mentally retarded is a major one. Where such persons have been taken from institutions to work in factories, the results have been very good on the whole. They have enjoyed the work, performed it successfully, and sometimes have been regarded as the superior workmen by employers. The employers have often responded by stating that these employees appear to be as intelligent as any others.[dxix]

Among Hutterites, subnormal and neurotic people are treated with Christian patience but without relativism. Authority and differences are recognized.[dxx] The Hutterites have a religious distrust of psychologists and psychiatrists.[dxxi] By accepting subnormals and neurotics and giving them a disciplined and accepted place in society, they make them useful and happy members of their culture. The Hutterites as a whole, with their strong belief in work from a Christian perspective, are mentally healthy and show an absence of psychosomatic and stress-induced diseases. The list of significantly lower problems includes chronic insomnia, drug addiction, asthma, food allergies, hay fever, suicides, urinary tract infections, male impotence, fear of death, coronary heart diseases, obesity, cancer, constipation, spastic colitis, menstrual disorders, female frigidity, and the like.[dxxii]

The Hutterite “psychiatry” insists on fitting the “patient” into the “straitjacket” of cultural conformity; it requires that the faith and life of the group be respected and maintained. “Hutterite ‘psychiatry’ is future-oriented.” It looks ahead in Christ and demands that the individual think less of himself and more of God’s requirements.[dxxiii] Because Hutterite society is a working society, it requires purposive work of all its members.

Moreover, no impossible burden is placed on the individual: “Taking their cue from the dogma that man is born to sin, they do not expect perfection from anyone.”[dxxiv] This realism concerning man is productive of mental health. The Hutterites thus heal their neurotic members and make useful and happy their mentally retarded members by means of work.

The restorative function of work is well established. Its usefulness in dealing with neurotic and retarded persons is clearly recognized. But this function of work simply reflects a part of the basic nature of work for all society, for all men. It is the God-given means whereby man establishes dominion over the earth and realizes his calling under God.

Man should therefore enjoy work and delight in it. On the contrary, however, escape from work is a common desire among men. The lure of Marxism and similar faiths is their declaration that man is fettered to work and must be freed from it. More recently, the claim is made that automation can abolish work and that a free society is one freed from work. Two things which are in clear contradiction seem nonetheless all too prevalent among men, first, a recognition of the curative nature of work, and, second, a flight from work as slavery.

Why this contradiction? The contradiction exists first of all in man’s being and then in man’s society. Man knows in the depths of his being that work is his destiny under God, that it is his self-realization as well as his calling, that a man’s manhood is essentially tied to his ability to work and his development in terms of work. But, at the same time, man comes face to face with the fact of the fall, with God’s curse on his work (Gen. 3:17–19), and man flees from this reality. The curse is there, and he knows it, but, rather than recognize that he is the sinner, in rebellion against God, man frets and revolts against work, because work reveals to him the fact of the fall and the curse. Work is his calling, but his calling lays bare the ruinous work of sin in history. The mentally retarded may find contentment in work, but most men who are in rebellion against God progressively find in work their frustration, and they will not face up to the reason for it. They then either try to drown that frustration in more work, or they turn to play as a substitute for work. Socialist dreamers capitalize on man’s frustration. With this frustration as their capital, they offer man a utopia in which the curse has supposedly been abolished by the abolition of a certain class of men who are called the exploiters. Somehow, then, paradise will be restored. According to Marx, man will be freed from the curse on man and work by the socialist paradise, in which the division of labor will disappear:

For as soon as labour is distributed, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.[dxxv]

As Gary North points out, “Marx’s concept of human alienation was used by him as a substitute for the Christian doctrine of the fall of man.”[dxxvi] In all such thinking, man is in flight from reality and therefore from work. The worker today, whether a union member, an office worker, or an executive, all too often lives to escape work. But the escape from work to play is no escape from the basic problem, and, as a result, man’s flight continues, back to work, into play, liquor, anywhere but into responsibility. The result is that man shows a chronic discontent combined with self-righteousness. But, as Brennan noted, “Anger, impatience, self-righteousness, are all the symptoms of a human being out of touch with reality. And being out of touch with reality is only a broad definition of insanity.”[dxxvii] When man is in flight from reality, he is less concerned with being someone than with seeming to be someone, with appearances rather than reality.[dxxviii] The culture then becomes radically dislocated, as this radical spiritual poverty makes hypocrisy and appearances more important than life itself. “The poor may suffer from reality, but that is better than suffering from make-believe.”[dxxix] Since the world is maintained in its social and cultural order and progress by work, not make-believe, a world in which make-believe gains the ascendency is a world moving toward collapse.

An age in which actors and actresses are public idols and heroes is a world of make-believe. Between World Wars I and II, the Hollywood actors and actresses very extensively dominated the minds of youth and adults. They have since given way to prominent socialites and jetsetters, but with these new pacesetters, the ideal remains the same, appearance and make-believe. Their new religion being appearance, the language of religion is applied to the techniques of appearance. As a prominent count and member of these “international nomads” (the jet set or cafe society) has reported:

“Between the hair stylist and the woman,” Alexandre stated to me, in a most articulate manner, caressing ever so softly his beard, “a complete communion is necessary like in a church [sic]. In order to reach this relationship there must be full confession of the client to the man she trusts with one of her most precious possessions: her locks.”[dxxx]

An actor-dominated society (and the actors need not be professionals; they may be a populace in love with appearances) is a consumption-centered society: it progressively loses its capacity to produce. In its insane self-absorption and enchantment with appearances, it commits a narcissistic suicide.

The socialist finds it easy to oppose the actor: it is ostensibly reality versus dreams. But the socialist, too, is in a flight from reality, equally enamored of appearances. The actor is often readily both an actor and a socialist because the two worlds are basically one. Marx’s dream of man “freed” from work to be fisherman, hunter, cattleman, or critic at will is a social dream as well as a personal one. Instead of dealing with man’s fallen nature, Marx dreamed of a new world to remove the curse from work. The actor and socialist are very much at peace with one another; they are united in their hostility to covenant man.

The decline of productivity and the rise of make-believe are thus signs of a society in decline. Continued very long, they point to the death of a society. “Thou shalt not kill” has as its affirmative formulation the protection and furthering of life under God and in terms of His law-word. Work is an important aspect of this free and restored life.

  1. Amalek

For centuries, Assyria was scarcely known to many historians, who discounted the Biblical narrative and questioned whether so great an empire existed. The same neglect has even longer prevailed with respect to Amalek, in very ancient times “the first of the nations” (Num. 24:20). Its origin is misunderstood even by Biblical scholars, who derive it from Esau’s grandson, Amalek (Gen. 36:12, 16). But, long before this Amalek’s birth, the nation Amalek existed (Gen. 14:7).

Amalek is identified, with some interesting evidence, with the Hyksos by Velikovsky.[dxxxi] This identification certainly dovetails with the narrative of Exodus 17:8–16.

The importance of Amalek to Biblical law has reference to a judgment pronounced by God against it, with God’s covenant people being entrusted with its execution. Since a decree of judgment is an aspect of law, it must be considered in any discussion of law, especially when it is included in the legal code.

After Israel left Egypt, Amalek met and attacked them (Ex. 17:8–16). Two passages describe the encounter in terms of God’s sentence:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. (Ex. 17:14–16)

Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it. (Deut. 25:17–19)

This passage states several things. First, in some sense Amalek was at war against God. The psalmist later cited Amalek as one of the conspiring nations: “For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee” (Ps. 83:5, 7). Samuel declared to Saul, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (1 Sam. 15:2–3). In 1 Samuel 28:18 reference is made to God’s “fierce wrath upon Amalek.” As the foregoing verses make clear, second, God was also at war against Amalek. Third, Israel had been attacked by Amalek and been savagely treated. Fourth, Israel was required to wage war unto death against Amalek. This war, fifth, was to continue from generation to generation, and the remembrance of Amalek was to be blotted out.

To examine these points more carefully, first, what was the offense of Amalek against God? The Hebrew of Exodus 17:16 can be read, “Because the hand of Amalek is upon (or against) the throne of heaven, therefore the Lord will have war . . .”[dxxxii] Certainly God’s enmity towards Amalek indicates that in some sense Amalek’s hand was raised against God; hence, Moses’s arms had to be raised to God to indicate Israel’s dependence on God.

The seriousness of Amalek’s offense is reflected in the Talmud. Thus, R. Jose taught, “Three commandments were given to Israel when they entered the land; (i) to appoint a king; (ii) to cut off the seed of Amalek; (iii) and to build themselves the chosen house (i.e., the Temple) and I do not know which of them had priority.”[dxxxiii] The Talmud showed awareness of the humanistic horror concerning God’s judgment on Amalek and ascribed this horror to Saul in one of its legends:

When the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Saul: Now go and smite Amalek, he said: If on account of one person the Torah said: Perform the ceremony of the red heifer whose neck is to be broken, how much more (ought consideration to be given) to all these persons! And if human beings sinned, what has the cattle committed; and if the adults have sinned, what have the little ones done? A divine voice came forth and said: Be not righteous overmuch.[dxxxiv]

Rawlinson pointed out, with reference to Exodus 17:16, “Amalek, by attacking Israel, had lifted up his hand against the throne of God, therefore would God war against him from generation to generation.”[dxxxv]

And old tradition specifies the nature of Amalek’s warfare against God and Israel:

Midrashic lore reveals how the Amalekites made themselves particularly hateful by cutting off “the circumcised members of the Israelites” (both prisoners and corpses), tossing them into the air and shouting with obscene curses to Yahweh: “This is what you like, so take what you have chosen!” This tradition is deduced from Deuteronomy 25:18, “and cut off the tails of all your stragglers,” . . . alluding to Amalek’s harassment of the Hebrews at Rephidim during the Exodus.[dxxxvi]

The verb form “cut off the tail” can mean “to castrate,” or, used as a military image, as in Joshua 10:19, its one usage other than Deuteronomy 25:18, it can mean, as rendered in the King James, “smote the hindmost,” the stragglers. It may have this military usage in both cases, but the ancient tradition which cites castration as Amalek’s act has perhaps truth behind it. It accounts for both the divine wrath against, and the prophetic horror for, Amalek: blasphemy and perversity met in Amalek’s cruel act. Amalek hated Israel because Amalek above all else hated God: hence its radical perversity with respect to Israel. This perversity continued into Esther’s day in the attempt of Haman to destroy all the Jews (Esther 3).

Second, God was at war with Amalek, and this warfare is to be continued “from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:16). Note the distinction: Israel’s war against Amalek is to continue until Amalek and its “remembrance” is blotted out, and Amalek as an empire is today indeed forgotten, but God’s war is “from generation to generation.” It is not presuming upon the text but in conformity with Biblical typology to recognize here a declaration of God’s continuing warfare, from generation to generation, with the Amalekites of every age, race, and nation.

Perverse violence, contempt for God and for man, has commonly marked fallen man. Consider, for example, the report of Maurice R. Davie:

“In Africa, war captives are often tortured, killed, or allowed to starve to death. Among the Tshi-speaking peoples ‘prisoners of war are treated with shocking barbarity.’ Men, women and children—mothers with infants on their backs and little children scarcely able to walk—are stripped and secured together with cords round the neck in gangs of ten or fifteen; each prisoner being additionally secured by having the hands fixed to a heavy block of wood, which has to be carried on the head. Thus hampered, and so insufficiently fed that they are reduced to mere skeletons, they are driven after the victorious army for month after month, their brutal guards treating them with the greatest cruelty; while, should their captors suffer a reverse, they are at once indiscriminately slaughtered to prevent recapture. Ramseyer and Kuhne mention the case of a prisoner, a native of Accra, who was ‘kept in log,’ that is, secured to the felled trunk of a tree by an iron staple driven over the wrist, with insufficient food for four months, and who died under this ill-treatment. Another time they saw amongst some prisoners a poor, weak child, who, when angrily ordered to stand upright, ‘painfully drew himself upright showing the sunken frame in which every bone was visible.’ Most of the prisoners seen on this occasion were mere living skeletons. One boy was so reduced by starvation, that his neck was unable to support the weight of his head, which, if he sat, drooped almost to his knees. Another equally emaciated, coughed as if at the last gasp; while a young child was so weak from want of food as to be unable to stand. The Ashantis were much surprised that the missionaries should exhibit any emotion at such spectacles; and, on one occasion when they went to give food to some starving children, the guards angrily drove them back.” Both the regular army and the levies in Dahomey show an equal callousness to human suffering. “Wounded prisoners are denied all assistance, and all prisoners who are not destined to slavery are kept in a condition of semi-starvation that speedily reduces them to mere skeletons . . . The lower jaw bone is much prized as a trophy . . . and it is very frequently torn from the wounded and living foe . . .” The scenes that followed the sack of a fortress in Fiji “are too horrible to be described in detail.” That neither age nor sex were spared was the least atrocious feature. Nameless mutilations inflicted sometimes on living victims, deeds of mingled cruelty and lust, made self-destruction preferable to capture. With the fatalism that underlies the Melanesian character many would not attempt to run away, but would bow their heads passively to the club stroke. If any were miserable enough to be taken alive their fate was awful indeed. Carried back bound to the main village, they were given up to young boys of rank to practice their ingenuity in torture, or stunned by a blow they were laid in heated ovens; and when the heat brought them back to consciousness of pain, their frantic struggles would convulse the spectators with laughter.[dxxxvii]

Usually such matters are treated as evidences of primitivism, as evolutionary survivals in man rather than as evidence of his fallen nature. Civilized man, no less than the tribes of Africa and Melanesia, is given to perverse violence, to cruelty, and a delight in cruelty. The communist terror far surpasses the tribal terror in perversity, violence, and scope. The evidence is here all too extensive.[dxxxviii]

The use of terror is a routine political fact in the modern world of humanism. Men are killed ostensibly to save man and society, and the universal love of mankind is proclaimed with total hatred. Man exercises perverse violence as a means of asserting omnipotence. “To be as God,” this is man’s sin (Gen. 3:5), and yet man cannot exercise omnipotence or power to create a new world or a new man. Man turns, therefore, to destruction as a means of asserting his claim to omnipotence. As O’Brien, in 1984, declared, “We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you ourselves.”[dxxxix] As Orwell had O’Brien say, in a famous passage:

Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love and justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy—everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty toward the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no employment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on the enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.[dxl]

Here, plainly stated, the sin of man comes to self-realization. In order to play at god, to gain the sensation of omnipotence, total terror and total destruction, effected with full perversity, are man’s way of godhood.

But this perverse violence, a pseudo-omnipotence, brings forth God’s wrath, so that, “from generation to generation,” God’s enmity to every Amalekite remains. As surely as the first Amalek was blotted out, and in Haman, the last of the known Amalekites, so the Amaleks and Amalekites of today are under judgment, and to be obliterated. Note the destiny of Haman:

And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified. (Esther 7:9–10)

Third, Israel was attacked by Amalek. According to Deuteronomy 25:18, Amalek “feared not God.” Amalek’s attack on Israel, according to the “Midrashic lore,” was an obscene defiance of God and a contempt for God. Where men attack God’s people, there we often have a covert or overt attack on God. Unable to strike directly at God, they strike at God’s people. There is thus continual warfare between Amalek and Israel, between God’s people and God’s enemies. The outcome must be the blotting out of God’s enemies.

Thus, fourth, the covenant people must wage war against the enemies of God, because this war is unto death. The deliberate, refined, and obscene violence of the anti-God forces permits no quarter.

Fifth, this warfare must continue until the Amalekites of the world are blotted out, until God’s law order prevails and His justice reigns.

Because God’s omnipotence is total, the pseudo-omnipotence of man, the would-be god, is also total in its vain imaginations. This pseudo-omnipotence becomes progressively more and more violent, more and more perverse. It does not mellow. Its goal is the manifestation of sheer power, and, because it cannot manifest power to regenerate, it manifests power to destroy.

The typology of Moses’s upraised hands (Ex. 17:11–12) tells us of the means whereby Amalek is to be destroyed: with a full-scale offensive on all fronts, but always with a full reliance on the Lord, who is the only ground of victory.

  1. Amalek and Violence

It is not surprising that a lawgiver, Solomon, spoke of the feverish desire for violence on the part of wicked men. They cannot sleep, he observed, unless they do evil: it is their life and joy to do harm, “and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall” (Prov. 4:16). Their nourishment, the food that is the life of their being, Solomon described as “the bread of wickedness, and . . . the wine of violence” (Prov. 4:17). Solomon, as a lawgiver and teacher, felt that the recognition of this fact was important.

For some, “evil” is simply misplaced righteousness. The basically sound impulses of sound humanity can be misdirected into destruction or socially sterile channels; in this view, man’s need is not judgment but redirection. Solomon’s premise was man’s depravity: the wicked enjoy their evil; it is their life and their way of life. The statement is made by Wertham, who begins with false premises, “If we do not start from sound premises, we leave the door open to false ones.”[dxli] His basic tenet is environmentalism, although he tries, inconsistently, to retain responsibility.[dxlii]

Wertham reports a number of interesting examples of violence, as, for example, the following:

Recently two middle-aged women in Brooklyn on a summer evening were walking on a side street toward one of the larger avenues, after visiting a friend nearby. They intended to take a taxi home. About 250 feet from the avenue, a group of boys came up, crowding the sidewalk. The women drew back to let them pass. The last boy grabbed the right arm of one woman, to take her purse, then knocked her down on the sidewalk and jumped on her again and again. When she was taken to the hospital, it was found that she had a broken shoulder, broken elbow, broken arm, and a compound fracture of her right thighbone, for which an elaborate operation was necessary. She needed three nurses around the clock. And when she recovers, she will have to wear a brace from her hip to her heel and will be permanently crippled, with one leg shorter than the other. In my professional contact with this case, I learned what terrible pain and shock were caused—and that the expenses involved wiped out a family’s savings. There was no sexual connotation to this attack. Since the boy had the pocketbook, there was no reason for pure gain to explain his stomping the woman so mercilessly.

Twenty-five years ago this would have been an exceptional case and would have caused a sensation. Now it did not raise a ripple and was not even reported as news. It happens too often. The boys were never caught; if they had been caught, the authorities would not have known what to do with them. This is today’s violence in pure culture. I have known a number of similar cases. They are as a rule not fully reported, far less solved or resolved. Those who use the fashionable explanation for violence, that it is due to domineering mothers or inadequate ones, to pent-up aggressive instincts or a revolt against early toilet training, do not know the current facts of life in big American cities. They try to reduce ugly social facts to the level of intriguing individual psychological events. In this way they become part of the very decadence in which present-day violence flourishes.[dxliii]

To cite one more example from Wertham:

A boy of thirteen was walking home from school in a suburban area. A short distance from the house, a car roared up and several boys jumped out. They attacked and beat him unmercifully. Then they jumped back into the car and roared away. Their victim was taken to the hospital with severe facial lacerations and concussion of the brain. He did not know his attackers and had never seen them before.[dxliv]

These are not extreme cases, and they are printable ones. Some of the most depraved instances of perverse violence involve sexual assaults. In cases known to this writer, no excuse of a repressive environment could be offered: the guilty persons came from loving, congenial, and permissive backgrounds where no religious inhibitions concerning sex prevailed. Instead of free, loving personalities, these persons manifested startling imaginations in their perversity and depravity.

Not only do we have this unorganized, spontaneous violence, but planned violence in the form of rioting, looting, demonstrating, and warring against the police is increasingly in evidence.[dxlv]

As we have seen, the essence of this obscene violence is its pseudo-omnipotence. Since man cannot become the Creator God, he seeks to be a devil-god. Milton’s Satan declared,

To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell

Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.

(Paradise Lost, 1:262–263)

To reign as the devil-god, man must also deny and wage war against the God of Scripture. The Soviet Union in 1923 declared, “We have declared war on the Denizens of Heaven,” and, again, in 1924, “The Party cannot tolerate interference by God at critical moments.”[dxlvi] To abolish God and prove evolution, the Soviet scientists actually sent an expedition to Africa in the mid-twenties to create a new race by trying to fertilize apes artificially with human semen.[dxlvii] Right and wrong as objective values were abolished. Krylenko, the state prosecutor, “urged the judges to remember that in the Soviet State their decisions must not be based on whether the prisoner be innocent or guilty, but on the prevailing policy of the Government and the safety of the State.” This view was stated also in Krylenko’s book, Court and Justice.[dxlviii] When men seek to supplant God, they supplant God’s justice with their perversity and violence.

When men begin to free themselves from God’s law order, and to manifest their violence, certain developments appear. First, violent men, because their violence is a religious act, a manifestation of pseudo-omnipotence, try to provoke a religious awe by means of shock. By fresh and new acts of violence, new reactions of shock are provoked. The violent feed on this fresh awe. The degenerate hoodlum who indulges in unprovoked acts of violence delights in the shocked response of his victim, and of those who hear or read of his acts. The readiness sometimes of such people to confess, whether to law authorities, clergymen, friends, or even strangers, is due to this religious pleasure in the shock of violence. It feeds their lust for power.

Second, this need for a fresh shock means a continual stepping up in the intensity and perversity of violence. Violence leads to greater violence. Nothing is more absurd than the idea of some that violent acts purge the degenerate of his lust for violence: there is no “catharsis,” but rather only a greater addiction. Violence does not cure itself. To wait for violence to pass away or to dissipate itself is like waiting for the sun to turn cold. Violence does not abdicate: it is either destroyed, or it destroys.

Third, the liberals and socialists believe that the answer to violence is a change of environment, by legislation, statist action, or social planning. Some hold that love is the cure for the violent. Pietistic Christians believe that conversion is the answer: the violent must be reached with the gospel offer and become born again. Some men may need love; however questionable this idea may be, let us grant it for the moment. All men do need regeneration, clearly, but again evangelism is not the answer to all problems, although it must be always operative. The restraint of the law and its punishment must at all times be operative for a society to exist in which love and evangelism can function. Violent men need conversion, or execution if they continue in violence to the point of incurring the death penalty. On the other hand, if not enough regenerate men exist in a society, no law order can be maintained successfully. Thus, a healthy society needs an operative law order and an operative evangelism in order to maintain its health. The law order can keep the residue of violent men in check if it is at all times nourished by strict enforcement and the progressive growth of men in terms of the ministry of grace. In brief, love, conversion, and law order can never be substitutes for one another: each has its place and function in social order.

Fourth, it is not surprising that we have a violent generation, in that everything has been done to flout God’s law order: education has become statist; discipline has given way to permissiveness; the church has replaced the doctrine of regeneration with social revolution, and, instead of executing incorrigible criminals in terms of God’s law, society today largely subsidizes these incorrigibles. A violent generation has been fostered, and is on the increase. Not surprisingly, by 1969, the incidence of narcotics and lawlessness was greater on the high school level than on the college level. The younger the child, the more lawless his potential and his mental outlook. The very fact that violence is being fostered more intensively in the young will serve to step up the increase in the prevalence of violence as well as in its intensity and perversity.

Fifth, although the 1960s saw more talk about love than any previous era, no age saw less love and more hatred. Romantic love, for better or for worse, long the major theme of popular music, gave way to other themes. Winick wrote of “the virtual disappearance of idealized romantic love as a guiding principle” in popular song. Where the word “love” appears, as in the song “Careless Love,” it refers to other things—in “Careless Love,” to pregnancy before marriage.

One of the most successful phonograph records ever released was “Hound Dog,” a paean of hostility and a representative early rock-and-roll number with traditional chord progressions. The Marquis de Sade would have been thrilled by “Boots,” a more recent favorite. Nancy Sinatra is sure of a wild surge of applause when she grinds her heels into the stage as she triumphantly exults that her boots will “walk over you.”[dxlix]

A generation which thrills to this song of violence will also thrill to the Marquis de Sade. As a result, his works, long banned in every country, are now being published and promoted with high praises. The Marquis de Sade is the man of today. A generation has been reared to believe, however much it deceives itself with talk of brotherhood, that violence is the fulfillment of man, and the more perverse the violence, the more fulfillment it affords. The humanistic remedies for violence are about as effective as gasoline is in putting out a fire.

Sixth, a society which breeds violence and fosters it is characterized also by a phenomenon known as running amok (or amuck). The word comes from the Malay, among whom it is a common event. It has also been found among Fuegians, Melanesians, Siberians, and in India. It is described as “a manic and homicidal condition following a state of depression.” When people from these cultures are faced with a new environment, or problems beyond themselves, their reaction is one of total violence. Grief, confusion, mental depression, brooding over circumstances all can precipitate the condition. The man works himself into a trance and then runs to do violence. It is often the case that the man running amok attacks his superiors because he cannot cope with them and fancies an insult from them.[dl]

A generation brought up permissively, given to tantrums and to violence, and dedicated also to a belief in its own righteousness, is a generation virtually committed by its nature and breeding to running amok. It will do so, unless brought down, in utter conviction of its own righteousness and the moral necessity of its violence. Such a generation has a necessary commitment to violence.

Amalek thus is very much with us. It must be dealt with.

The education which breeds Amalekites must be replaced with Christian education. Churches which are congregations of Amalek must be replaced with Christian churches which believe, teach, and apply the whole word of God. The state must become Christian and apply Biblical law to every area of life, and must enforce the full measure of God’s law. The permissive family must give way to the Christian family. Only so can Amalek be destroyed.

In 1948, George Orwell saw the future as one of horror, “a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” Within twenty years, Nancy Sinatra was grinding boot heels into the stage as she sang that her boots will “walk over you,” and the youth of more than one country saw her vision as one of delight. Orwell’s horror had become a popular hope. Amalek was reborn.

  1. Violence as Presumption

The essence of Amalek’s offense was his defiance of God, a religious lawlessness whereby God was challenged and denied. This is described in the law as acting presumptuously (in the KJV), or acting with a high hand (ARV), that is, raising one’s hand in defiance of the Lord, taking aggressive action against God and His law order. Two passages in the law treat this offense as a capital crime:

But the soul that doeth aught presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. (Num. 15:30–31)

And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest, that standeth to minister before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. (Deut. 17:12–13)

The reference in Deuteronomy 17:12–13 to the priest is to the fact that the court in Israel was often held before or at the sanctuary (God’s palace and throne room), with a priest (or the high priest) included in the supreme court.

Waller observed of this passage (Deut. 17:12–13) that “presumptuously” means “a proud self-assertion against the law. The penalty of death arises necessarily out of the theocracy. If God is the king of the nation, rebellion against His law is treason, and if it be proud and wilful rebellion, the penalty of death is only what we should expect to see inflicted.”[dli]

The marginal reading of Exodus 17:16 makes it clear that this was basic to Amalek’s position: “Because the hand of Amalek is upon (or against) the throne of heaven, therefore the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

The essence of the Amalekite is, as we have seen, the desire to exercise omnipotence in destruction. But, because, although man is mighty, he is not almighty, his power is exercised in pseudo-omnipotence. Instead of creating a culture, the Amalekite destroys every culture he touches, both as a parasite and also as a systematic destroyer.

As an example of the strange extremes to which perversity and presumption will go is the “church” and “university” movement uncovered in April 1969. An international movement, it made the mistake of locating a branch near a small city and thus was exposed. Leftist in orientation, using narcotics religiously, its “university” catalogue offered, among other things, a course on cannibalism, listing course number and teacher and calling the course a “co-op.” Whether seriously intended or not, its framework was one of total possibility and no law:

The participants in this co-op should be willing to help obtain some freshly killed human flesh and/or prepare it and/or eat it.

We will meet weekly at a communal Sunday evening meal which we will all help prepare together, everyone cooking their own creations until we can obtain some human flesh.

We will first consider the historical and legal status of cannibalism and then go on from there.

The first meeting will be February 16, 1969 at 5:30 p.m. Call the Redbook at the Midpeninsula Free University, 328-4941, for information.[dlii]

This is not a new intellectual aberration. The Cynic philosophers of Greece espoused cannibalism as a logical use of human flesh.[dliii]

Behind these ideas is a religious principle. The word libertine comes from liber, “free” in the Latin, and the concept of freedom involved in libertinism is freedom from God. “One of Sade’s ambitions” was “to be innocent by dint of culpability; to smash what is normal, once and for all, and smash the laws by which he could have been judged.”[dliv] As Blanchot comments:

Sadean man denies man, and this negation is achieved through the intermediary of the notion of God. He temporarily makes himself God, so that before him men are reduced to nothing and discover the nothingness of being before God. “It is true, is it not, prince, that you do not love men?” Juliette asks. “I loathe them. Not a moment goes by that my mind is not busy plotting violently to do them harm. Indeed, there is not a race more horrible, more frightful . . . How low and scurvy, how vile and disgusting a race it is!” “But,” Juliette breaks in, “you do not really believe that you are to be included among men? . . . Oh, no, no, when one dominates them with such energy, it is impossible to belong to the same race.” To which Saint-Fond: “Yes, she is right, we are gods.”

Still, the dialectic evolves to further levels: Sade’s man, who has taken unto himself the power to set himself above men—the power which men madly yield to God—never for a moment forgets that this power is completely negative. To be God can have only one meaning: to crush man, to reduce creation to nothing. “I should like to be Pandora’s box,” Saint-Fond says at one point, “so that all the evils which escaped from my breast might destroy all mankind individually.” And Verneuil: “And if it were true that a God existed, would we not be his rivals, since we destroy thus what he has made?”[dlv]

The goal thus of the violent ones is total destruction; they may speak of creating a new social order, but their primary and essential work is to destroy all existing ones. They may speak, as humanists, of a love of man, but man has never before known such radical hatred as that directed against him by these violent ones.

The violent ones love perversity because it is perverse; they love a lie, because it is a lie; their pleasure and power are in deception and destruction. As a person, when caught in a lie, remarked with relish and triumph, “But I had you believing it, didn’t I?”

The ultimate victory thus is to grind down man and to proclaim the death of God. In Verneuil’s words, “And if it were true that a God existed, would we not be his rivals, since we destroy thus what he has made?” Men must be reduced to nothing to prove that the Amalekite, the violent one, is the new god, supplanting the supposedly dead one.

These presumptuous men, high-handed men, are, according to the law, to be executed. To deny the law and to array oneself against God is to seek to murder the whole of society and deserves the death penalty. Civil disobedience which is firmly grounded in Biblical law is one thing, but civil disobedience which places man above the law is another: it is anarchy. It is a denial of the principle of transcendental law.

Hence it is that God is at war with Amalek in every generation, because in every generation God’s absolute law order is the only true foundation of society, whereas Amalek, determined to be his own god, seeks to destroy every trace of God’s law order.

Because the Amalekite hates God, he also hates life. In the words of Christ, speaking as Wisdom, “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36). This hatred of life colors the whole of life and manifests itself in every area. To cite a revealing example: in the spring of 1969, a television commercial by a prominent company manufacturing baby oils and related products used this sentence: “It isn’t easy to be a baby.” This repeated statement at the heart of the commercial was used because it was obviously a telling statement in this day and age. Now, logically, if it is hard being a baby, then it is a problem being alive. A generation which accepts the thesis that “[i]t isn’t easy being a baby” will certainly rebel at being youths facing oncoming responsibilities, and will rebel even more at being adults with responsibilities. If “[i]t isn’t easy being a baby,” then we can expect truly violent tantrums at being an adult.

Again, violence is begotten by false teachings which, in the name of God, deny God. Thus, in 1968, in a women’s Bible study group, ostensibly “fundamental” and strongly Arminian, this statement was made and accepted with almost no dissent: “Human needs come before God’s law.” This is an incitement to break the law, for there is not a law of God which cannot be contradicted by human need. When churchmen make such assertions, the world has no need for the Marquis de Sade or the Marxists to have violence: it is a historical inevitability that “human needs” will violently assail God’s law order.

To return to the law, as stated in Numbers 15:30–31, in the Torah Version:

But the person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles the Lord; that person shall be cut off from among the people. Because he has spurned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off—he bears his guilt.

That more than excommunication is meant by this is apparent from Deuteronomy 17:12–13, where the capital penalty, death, is required for this “proud self-assertion against the law.” To defy the law and treat it with contempt, to place oneself above the laws of God and man, is to be at total war with God and man, and the penalty is death.

Wherever a society refuses to exact the required death penalty, there God exacts the death penalty on that society. The basic fact of God’s law order is that, from Adam’s fall on, the death penalty has been effective. Societies have fallen in great numbers for their defiance of God, and they shall continue to fall as long as their violation of God’s order continues. Every state and every society thus faces a choice: to sentence to death those who deserve to die, or to die themselves. But all they that hate God choose death. Certainly, the sin of presumption is total revolution against God and man; all who permit it have chosen death whether they recognize it or not.

All who are guilty of presumption are hated by God. As Solomon declared, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward (deceitful) mouth, do I hate” (Prov. 8:13). This is clearly a reference to people (not merely characteristics) of a particular kind. God hates them and expects us to hate them also if we fear Him. To fear God is to hate evil in its every form, and to love evil men is to hate God and to despise His law-word.

The humanistic mind tries to be wiser and holier than God; it claims to be able to love evil men into salvation. It views with horror those who rejoice in the downfall of evil men. God, however, makes clear His pleasure and laughter in the downfall of fools, scorners, the willfully simple, all evil men of every kind:

Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Prov. 1:24–33)

Not only is the hatred of God for evil men clearly apparent in this declaration, but also His refusal to be used as an insurance policy by them. Man is willing to grant God a place in the universe, provided that man can use God and make God serve man. Not the sovereign claims of the omnipotent God but the sovereign claims of a morally free man are asserted. This humanistic man will accept God at best as an ally and partner, although more often only as an insurance policy, a spare tire to be used in case of trouble, if used at all. But God will not be used. The presumption of those who make pious use of God is as evil as the presumption of those who, like Amalek, defy Him. There are degrees in the expression of their evil and their presumption, but presumption, explicit or implicit, governs them alike. Satan tried it first, and, after centuries of effort, is no nearer his goal.

  1. Social Inheritance: Landmarks

An important law, cited in Deuteronomy 19:14, has reference basically to the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.” This is apparent in the text as well as later references to the law:

Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it. (Deut. 19:14)

Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Deut. 27:17)

Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof. (Job 24:2)

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. (Prov. 22:28)

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee. (Prov. 23:10–11)

The reference to property is obvious, but there is also a reference to the conservation of a heritage. An inheritance is to be preserved, a heritage of land. But, quite rightly, these references in Deuteronomy and Proverbs have been seen as referring to a broader fact, a respect for the landmarks, moral, spiritual, and social, of our inheritance in God’s covenant. Thus, W. F. Adeney saw in Proverbs 22:28 a reference to the landmarks of property, of history, of doctrine, and of morals.[dlvi] There is Biblical ground for this reading, in that Hosea 5:10, in citing the religious and moral apostasy of the nation, and the corruption of its leaders, reads, in the American Revised Version, “The princes of Judah are like them that remove the landmark: I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.” Of this verse, Reynolds and Whitehouse observed, “They (the princes of Judah) break down the barrier between right and wrong, between truth and falsehood, between Jehovah and Baalim.”[dlvii] This is the significance of this law with reference to the sixth law-word, “Thou shalt not kill.” To destroy the barrier between right and wrong, between truth and falsehood, and between God and false gods, is to murder society and to kill its most basic inheritance.

The removal of landmarks has been a major task of education and of politics in recent years. Of education, Black, in surveying the education of nineteenth century America, wrote:

As we look back on those years, we can see that the textbooks and the schools themselves held the Puritan ethic as their basic moral principle. It was this ethic that shaped and unified the nation. “The value judgment,” writes Ruth Miller Elson, “is their stock in trade: love of country, love of God, duty to parents, and the necessity to develop habits of thrift, honesty, and hard work in order to accumulate property, the certainty of progress, the perfection of the United States. These are not to be questioned. Nor in this whole century of great external change is there any deviation from these basic values. In pedagogical arrangements the schoolbook of the 1790’s is vastly different from that of the 1890’s, but the continuum of values is uninterrupted . . . The child is to learn ethics as he learns information about his world, unquestioningly, by rote. His behavior is not to be inner-directed, nor other-directed, but dictated by authority and passively accepted.”

Thus we entered the twentieth century.[dlviii]

This description of the nineteenth century textbooks is unfair in some of its terminology, but it is accurate in portraying the difference between textbooks and schools then and in the twentieth century. In place of a Christian morality, a relativistic ethics is taught; instead of a respect for the landmarks of Christian society (never seen as “perfection” but as an attempt to realize godly order), a contempt of the past is taught. This has been done in the name of democracy although in contempt of popular beliefs and wishes.

The old landmarks have been denied in favor of new landmarks. Instead of affirming the sovereignty of God, the educators and intellectuals now affirm the sovereignty of chance. Thus Charlotte Willard declares, “Chance is the only certainty in the universe.”[dlix] Each new faith means a new area of possibility even as it closes the door on other areas. For Willard, the sovereignty of God, an absolute morality, the movement of history in terms of God’s decree to inescapable victory, and man’s destiny under God, all are impossible. But new areas of possibility are opened up by a world of chance in which man assumes the role of god and creator. Willard, reviewing Jack Burnham’s Beyond Modern Sculpture: The Effects of Science and Technology on the Sculpture of This Century, writes:

Mr. Burnham climaxes his thesis by quoting from Intelligence in the Universe, by Roger MacGowan and Frederick Ordway; the former is chief of the Scientific Digital Branch, Army Missile Command Computation Center, Huntsville, Alabama, and the latter president of the General Astronautics Research Corporation, London. They prophesy that the intelligent life we may encounter in stellar space will probably be the product of biological evolution but will be inorganic artificially constructed intelligent life. Political leaders back on earth will soon learn that intelligent artificial automata having superhuman intellectual capabilities can be built. They believe, in fact, that these automata will take over the earth. Man, in short, will bring about his own transformation from a biological creation to an inorganic concentration of information-processing energy. Mr Burnham concludes triumphantly that “the physical boundaries which separate the sculptor from the results of his endeavors may well disappear.” The final illustration in the book is a bent and upright pipe arrangement which is labeled God.[dlx]

Charlotte Willard’s reaction to this is not a happy one, but she has no real basis for opposition. To deny God means ultimately to deny man: this is the consequence of removing the ancient landmarks. A death of God philosophy in reality spells the death of man. Man as God’s creation is removed in favor of automata which are man’s creation. Thus, man plays god by committing suicide, a point made by Dostoyevsky in The Possessed.

The old landmarks have been replaced in law with new relativistic ones. The U. S. Supreme Court has extensively replaced historic American law, with its Biblical orientation, with humanistic law. New legal landmarks have been used to modify old laws and to subvert the social order.

But a relativistic, humanistic landmark is not a landmark at all. Relativism gives only a rubber yardstick, which measures differently for every man, according to his personal measure and purpose. As a result, men can live in a crisis and fail to recognize it. Thus, although crime rose sharply between 1967 and 1969, the American public became more accustomed in those years to living in a world of crime and violence. Having no objective standard, their judgments reflected their own reactions rather than an objective fact. The Harris Survey showed that “[a] substantial majority of the American people, 59%, do not feel that crime is increasing in their own communities, although just over one in three still believe crime is on the rise. These results mark a sharp decrease in public apprehension over crime, compared with a similar survey taken in 1967.”[dlxi] Not surprisingly, in Los Angeles, on May 27, 1969, a large number of voters voted for Thomas Bradley, a colored candidate, because it was “the in-thing” to do.

To war against landmarks is to war against progress. When ancient China became relativistic in philosophy, the consequence was stagnation.

What progress China experienced over the centuries was due to forces extraneous to its basic philosophy. Today, educational philosophers and teachers are increasingly stating in class lectures that it is impossible to set goals in education. In a world of change, how can a man know the future and educate in terms of the unknown? Since we live in a world of change, the only thing which can be validly taught is the certainty of change. Educators thus agree with Willard that “[c]hance is the only certainty in the universe.” Thus, instead of morality, amoralism must be taught; instead of certain basic facts about man and society, there is taught instead the certainty of change. As a result, students logically demand continuous change or revolution as the one moral necessity in an amoral universe. With such an educational philosophy, education for revolution is inescapable, and only a rigorously Christian education can counteract it. Other philosophies of education, i.e., other than humanistic and Christian, are essentially nostalgic: they seek to retain a desired order but without valid cause.

In a world without landmarks, every law or landmark is a criminal offense. Thus, the moral premise of the Marquis de Sade was that, “In a criminal society one must be a criminal.”[dlxii] This means total warfare against any and every establishment, against all social order. It also means isolation, every man being an island unto himself. As Sade said, “My neighbor is nothing to me; there is not the slightest relationship between him and myself.”[dlxiii] As a result, Sade was at war with the idea of law and of courts; the only “justice” he could approve of was the vendetta, the personal act of murder. In a world of anarchism, without landmarks binding on all, every man’s acts have total validity because total licence is the only law possible. As Simone de Beauvoir has summed up:

To sympathize with Sade too readily is to betray him. For it is our misery, subjection, and death that he desires; and every time we side with a child whose throat has been slit by a sex maniac, we take a stand against him. Nor does he forbid us to defend ourselves. He allows that a father may revenge or prevent, even by murder, the rape of his child. What he demands is that, in the struggle between irreconcilable existences, each one engage himself concretely in the name of his own existence. He approves of the vendetta, but not of the courts. We may kill, but we may not judge. The pretensions of the judge are more arrogant than those of the tyrant; for the tyrant confines himself to being himself, whereas the judge tries to erect his opinions into universal laws. His effort is based upon a lie. For every person is imprisoned in his own skin and cannot become the mediator between separate persons from whom he himself is separated. And the fact that a great number of these individuals band together and alienate themselves in institutions, of which they are no longer masters, gives them no additional right. Their number has nothing to do with the matter.[dlxiv]

If a man’s wishes are his only landmarks, then, in a world without meaning, man himself becomes meaningless. For Sade, the only possible contact with others was aggression, and the only possible meaning was crime. In Sade’s own words, “Ah, how many times, by God, have I not longed to be able to assail the sun, snatch it out of the universe, make a general darkness, or use that sun to burn the world! Oh, that would be a crime . . .”[dlxv] The only reality, then, is aggression. But what if man and his aggression are only “parts” of a universal nothingness? The conclusion of Chinese relativism, and, increasingly of Western forms of the same faith, is indeed that chance is the only certainty and nothingness is the universal destiny and reality. Wang Wei (A.D. 701–761), in passing beyond the “illusions” of good and evil, wrote, “Do not count on good or evil—you will only waste your time . . . Who knows but that we all live out our lives in the maze of a dream?”[dlxvi] The cure, according to Wang Wei, for man’s loneliness and isolation in a world of relativism is “the Doctrine of Non-Being—there is the only remedy.”[dlxvii] Deny all meaning as the cure for meaninglessness. In a world where landmarks are destroyed, deny the possibility of landmarks. In brief, tell the starving man that hunger is a myth. This is the conclusion of relativism.

If it is a crime to alter property landmarks to defraud a neighbor of his land, how much greater a crime to alter social landmarks, the Biblical foundations of law and society, and thereby bring about the death of that social order? If it is a crime to rob banks, then surely it is a crime to rob and murder a social order.

The Seventh Commandment

  1. Marriage

The purpose of the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” is to protect marriage. It is important, therefore, to analyze the Biblical meaning of marriage in order to understand the significance of the laws governing its violation. The institution of marriage (Gen. 2:18–25) in Eden describes the meaning of marriage in relationship to man; this will be considered subsequently. At present, the meaning of marriage in relationship to God must first be understood and will be analyzed.

While marriage is of this earth, since there is no marrying nor giving in marriage in heaven (Matt. 22:29–30), it nonetheless has reference to and is governed by the triune God, as are all things. The great statement of this fact is Ephesians 5:21–23, which begins with the general commandment, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God,” rendered by the Berkeley Version, “Be submissive to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Calvin commented on this:

God has bound us so strongly to each other, that no man ought to endeavor to avoid subjection; and where love reigns, mutual services will be rendered. I do not except kings and governors, whose very authority is held for the service of the community. It is highly proper that all should be exhorted to be subject to each other in their turn.[dlxviii]

Thus, a general principle of subjection and service is affirmed, and marriage is then cited as illustrative of this principle. As Hodge noted, “The apostle enjoins mutual obedience as a Christian duty, v. 21. Under this head he treats of the relative duties of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants.”[dlxix] Man has through the ages been in revolt against this necessity of subjection and service and dreamed rather of autonomous power. The young Louis XIV expressed his pleasure at the concept to the Duc de Gramont in 1661:

Louis: I have just been reading a book with which I am delighted.

Gramont: What is that, Sire?

Louis: Calcandille. It pleases me to find in it arbitrary power in the hands of one man, everything being done by him or by his orders, he rendering an account of his acts to no man, and obeyed blindly by all his subjects without exception. Such boundless power is the closest approach to that of God. What do you think, Gramont?

Gramont: I am pleased that Your Majesty has taken to reading, but I would ask if he has read the whole of Calcandille?

Louis: No, only the preface.

Gramont: Well then, let Your Majesty read the book through, and when he has finished it, see how many Turkish Emperors died in their beds and how many came to a violent end. In Calcandille one finds ample proof that a Prince who can do whatever he pleases, should never be such a fool as to do so.[dlxx]

With anarchism, this dream of autonomous power has become the hope of a large number of people.

This general principle of subjection and service is rooted in far more than men’s interdependence; rather, it is grounded in a theocratic faith. Men are to be in subjection to one another, and in mutual service (Eph. 5:21–29), not because the needs of humanity require it but in the fear of God and in obedience to His law-word. The human interdependence exists because the prior dependence on God requires the unity of His creation under His law.

Moreover, because man is not God, man is a subject, a subject primarily and essentially to God, and to others in the Lord only. Where man rejects his subjection to God and asserts his autonomy, man does not thereby gain independence. The subjection of man to man continues in pagan, Marxist, Fabian socialist, anarchist, and atheistic groups, but this subjection is now without the restraint of God’s law. The Biblical subjection of man to man, and of a wife to her husband, is at every point governed and limited by the prior and absolute subjection to God, of which all other subjections are aspects. God’s prior and absolute lordship thus limits and conditions every situation of man and permits no trespass without offense. To deny the Biblical principle of subjection is thus to open the door to totalitarianism and tyranny, since no check then remains on man’s desire to dominate and use his fellow man. The Biblical principle of subjection conditions every relationship by the prior requirement and totally governing jurisdiction of God’s law, so that all relationships on earth are limited and restrained by God’s law-word. Thus, wives are not placed in bondage by the Biblical commandment of submission (Eph. 5:22) but are rather established in the liberty and security of a God-ordained relationship.

Without Biblical faith, the only sustaining factor in marriage becomes the frail bond of feeling. Mary Carolyn Davies, in her poem, “A Marriage,” wrote

Took my name and took my pride

Left me not much else beside,

But the feeling . . . that insures: Sort of joy at

being yours. Property! That’s what it

meant. Property! And we content!

Now you’re gone; and can I be

Anything but property?[dlxxi]

Where feeling is the basis of marriage rather than a religious principle, then ultimately marriage becomes robbery, each partner using the other and then departing when there is nothing new to be gained. Again, Mary Carolyn Davies catches the materialistic impersonality of sexual relations when divorced from Biblical morality:

“Here is a woman,”

They’ll say to all men,

“A little soiled by living,

A little spoiled by loving,

A little necked,

A little specked—”

Oh, they are forgiving.

To you who did the wrong, but still of me,

Like Cabbage in a market, critically,

They’ll say: “Not quite as fresh as she should be.”[dlxxii]

Romantic feelings, mutual exploitation, and self-pity become the lot of those who reduce the man-woman relationship to one of anarchic liberty from God’s law.

The Biblical principle of subjection is hierarchical in that there are classes or levels of authority, but this does not mean that all levels are not directly and absolutely liable to God in terms of His law-word. According to St. Paul, “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). On this foundation principle, St. Paul adds, “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Eph. 5:24). The comment of the Right Reverend Alfred Barry on these verses is of interest here:

(23, 24) . . . The words “and” and “is” are wrongly inserted, and the word “therefore” is absolutely an error, evading the difficulty of the passage. It should be, He Himself being the Saviour of the Body. But . . . This clause, in which the words “He Himself” are emphatic, notes (as if in comparison) that “Christ” (and He alone) is not only Head, but “Saviour of the Body,” i.e., “of His body the Church,” not only teaching and ruling it, but by His unity infusing into it the new life of justification and sanctification. Here no husband can be like Him, and therefore none can claim the absolute dependence of faith which is His of right. Accordingly St. Paul adds the word, “but.” Though “this is so,” yet “still let the wives,” etc.

The subjection of the Church of Christ is a free subjection, arising out of faith in His absolute wisdom and goodness, and love for His unspeakable love. Hence we gather (1) that the subordination of the wife is not that of the slave, by compulsion and fear, but one which arises from and preserves freedom; next (2), that it can exist, or at any rate endure, only on condition of superior wisdom and love in the husband; thirdly (3), that while it is like the higher subordination in kind, it cannot be equally perfect in degree—while it is real “in everything,” it can be absolute in nothing. The antitype is, as usual, greater than the type.[dlxxiii]

This thoughtful statement misses the point of the passage in grounding the obedience on love rather than law. The obedience of the wife is not conditional upon the “superior wisdom and goodness and love in the husband”; there is nothing in the law to indicate this. Barry’s interpretation denies in effect that St. Paul’s statement is God’s law-word: it is rather presented as a description by Barry of marital relationships. Lenski is guilty of the same error. He comments, “This is also a voluntary self-subjection and not subjugation.”[dlxxiv] Certainly, the subjection of a wife to her husband is not slavery, nor involuntary subjugation. St. Paul is not concerned with the feelings, or the voluntarism of the wife: he is stating God’s law and setting forth its meaning. To discuss law without citing the fact that it is law is certainly strange exegesis. It requires a curious blindness.

What is meant by St. Paul is that the whole universe is one of submission to authority, and that the fulfillment of each and every aspect is to discharge its duties in terms of that submission. It is the place and fulfilment of the wife to be in submission to her husband in all due authority. Even as Christ is the head of the church and the savior of His body, the church, so the authority of the husband is to be exercised toward the health and furthering of his wife and family. Even as the church must submit to Christ, so the wife must submit to her husband “in every thing” (Eph. 5:24). Hodge commented on this phrase:

As verse 22 teaches the nature of the subjection of the wife to her husband, and verse 23 its ground, this verse (24) teaches its extent. She is to be subject . . . in every thing. That is, the subjection is not limited to any one sphere or department of the social life, but extends to all. The wife is not subject as to some things, and independent as to others, but she is subject as to all. This of course does not mean that the authority of the husband is unlimited. It teaches its extent, not its degree. It extends over all departments, but is limited in all; first, by the nature of the relation; and secondly, by the higher authority of God. No superior, whether master, parent, husband or magistrate, can make it obligatory on us to do what God forbids, or not to do what God commands. So long as our allegiance to God is preserved, and obedience to man is made part of our obedience to him, we retain our liberty and our integrity.[dlxxv]

In a world without submission to law and to authorities under law, very quickly only lawless force would prevail, and nothing could be more destructive of a woman’s welfare, or a man’s, for that matter. The world of God’s law and God-ordained authorities is man’s true liberty. It is only when we first establish the primacy of that law and authority that we can, with Barry and Lenski, speak of that voluntary submission to law and authority as man’s happiness and fulfilment. Here the matter is best stated by Ingram, who begins with the law and sees the assent as assent to law:

Public witness to mutual consent and pledges of troth: these are the things that make a marriage.

The integrity of the whole moral argument of the Ten Commandments begins to stand out even more clearly in this. The mystery of making and keeping a pledge of loyalty, a promise, to God, to a spouse; the taking of the name of God in a solemn oath: these are the things upon which the moral law is built. These are the foundations of society. These are the things that are kept alive and in force by the inflicting of penalties for breaking them. Promises, vows, pledges, loyalties all vanish if they are broken with impunity. Society turns on keeping pledges and punishing violations. Credit is an extension of the principle into the business world. The contract is established by a spoken word, and is no better than that word. The bond of loyalty or the effect of a pledge lies in what we might call the spirit world: it has no shape or weight or size; it cannot be touched, seen, or heard. But it controls human life.

What an adulterer really does is to break a particular solemn vow. By his act he tramples upon marriage itself, mocks God and society, and figuratively tosses that particular promise into the trash can, making it of no value.[dlxxvi]

God makes certain promises and threats to man and society conditional upon the fulfillment or violation of His law-word. Man’s studied disregard of that law-word is an implicit or explicit declaration that man replaces God’s authority with his own, that moral submission is denied in favor of autonomy.

The alternative to submission is exploitation, not freedom, because there is no true freedom in anarchy. The purpose of submission is not to degrade women in marriage, nor to degrade men in society, but to bring to them their best prosperity and peace under God’s order. In a world of authority, the submission of the wife is not in isolation nor in a vacuum. It is set in a context of submission by men to authority; in such a world, men teach the principles of authority to their sons and to their daughters and work to instill in them the responsibilities of authority and obedience. In such a world, interdependence and service prevail.

In a world of moral anarchism, there is neither submission to authority nor service, which is a form of submission. A husband and father who uses his authority and his income wisely to further the welfare of the entire family is serving the welfare of all thereby. But in a world which denies submission and authority, every man serves himself only and seeks to exploit all others. Men exploit women, and women exploit men. If the woman ages, she is abandoned. If the man’s income wanes, he is deserted if a better opportunity presents itself. The “jet-set” world, and the arena of the theatre, provide us with abundant examples of the fact that the world of anarchism and lawlessness, i.e., the world outside God’s law insofar as submission is concerned, is a world of exploitation, in particular, of sexual exploitation.

Another significant fact appears in St. Paul’s Ephesian declaration: although Scripture repeatedly assumes and cites love as an aspect of a woman’s relationship to her husband, love is not cited here by St. Paul with reference to the wife and her reaction to her husband. The primacy is given to submission by the wife, and love by the husband. The husband’s love, however, is defined as service, and it is compared to the redemptive work of Christ for His church (Eph. 5:22–29). Thus, the husband’s evidence of love is his wise and loving government of his household, whereas the wife demonstrates her love in submission. In both cases, submission and authority are governed, not by the wishes of the parties involved, but by the law-word of God. Where the submission and authority are premised on God’s law, that submission and authority interpenetrate. The husband submits to Christ and to all due authority, and the wife submits to her husband and thereby furthers his exercise of authority in every realm and becomes her husband’s helpmeet in his authority and dominion. The wife normally derives her status from her husband, and to undercut him is to undercut herself. Similarly, “men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Eph. 5:28–29). The basis of such a relationship is faith, and obedience by faith to God’s law-word. Authority and law are not essentially physical things but primarily of the spirit; where men recognize the religion and faith which establishes authority, there the physical manifestations of authority are respected. If the religious foundations of authority are broken, then that authority rapidly crumbles and disappears. Thus, very little policing is necessary in India to keep Hindus on a vegetarian diet, since that diet is undergirded by the strictest religious faith, but it would be virtually impossible to impose such a diet on Americans today.

When the Biblical faith which undergirds Western family life is denied, then the nature of the marital relationship is also altered. The humanistic relativism of modern man dissolves the ties between man and woman as far as any objective law and value are concerned and reduces them to purely relative and personal ties. Now a purely personal tie is impersonal in its view of other people. A man whose judgment is governed by his personal considerations only, does not consider the personal considerations of other people, except insofar as they can be used to further his own ends. As a result, an externalism prevails. Thus, the coarse humanist, Thomas More, advocated in Utopia that young people view each other in the nude before deciding to marry. When Sir William Roper praised this aspect of Utopia and asked that it be applied to More’s two daughters, whom he was courting, More took Roper to the bedroom where the two girls were asleep together, “on their backs, their smocks up as high as their armpits. More yanked off the cover, and the girls modestly rolled over. Roper slapped one on her behind, stating, “I have seen both sides; thou art mine.”[dlxxvii] The fact that Roper had a happy marriage does not alter the fact of the basic coarseness of both father and husband. Had not Roper and his wife both had a background of strict Catholic faith, the results would not have been as happy.

The externalism of the anarchist is alien to the hierarchy of authority which is basic to God’s law order. That authority rests on a doctrine of God, and, with respect to marriage, a central aspect of the meaning of marriage is that it is a type of Christ and His church (Eph. 5:25–32). In Ephesians 3:14–15, St. Paul speaks of God as the Father of all families in heaven and earth, or, more literally, the “Father of all fatherhoods” according to Simpson:

God Himself is the archetype of parentage, faintly adumbrated by human fatherhood. From His creative hand have proceeded all rational beings in all their multiplicity of aspects and manners and usages, divergent or interrelated. To the “Father of Spirits” they owe their existence and the conditions that have stamped it with both an individual and collective impress, an actual or potential scope and orbit.[dlxxviii]

James Moffatt’s translation renders this passage thus, “For this reason, then, I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name and nature.” The name and nature of all earthly relationships is derived from the triune God, so that there is no law, no society, no relationship, no justice, no structure, no design, no meaning apart from God, and all these aspects and relationships of society are types of that which exists in the Godhead. Hell has none of these things, but bare existence, which is itself God’s creation. For man to deny God is to deny ultimately everything, since all things are from God and testify to Him.

According to Simpson, the typology of marriage and its relationship to Christ and the church has four implications. First, it sets forth the fact of dominion, which is basic to God’s purpose and His kingdom. Second, it has reference to devotion or self-sacrifice. Third, it is in terms of a design, a sovereign purpose and destiny. Fourth, it declares the derivation.[dlxxix]

The “one flesh” described by St. Paul does not mean, as Hodge pointed out, an “identity of substance, but community of life.”[dlxxx] Just as hell is the final and total loss of all community, so true marriage, like every aspect of the godly life, is a realization of a phase of life in community under God. St. Paul, in citing Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31, makes it clear that he has simply made clear to the Church of Ephesus that which was declared from the beginning. The “great mystery” spoken of by St. Paul in Ephesians 5:32 is, according to Calvin, “that Christ breathes into the church his own life and power.”[dlxxxi] Where this life and power are received faithfully, and each authority, receiving God’s grace directly and also as mediated through all due authorities, discharges its duties of submission and authority faithfully, there God’s Kingdom flourishes and abounds. With respect to salvation and God’s providence, Christ is the only mediator between God and man. But God’s grace moves, not only directly from God to man through Christ, but also through man to man as they discharge their duties under God. What covenant member with godly parents can deny that his parents, by their prayers and their discipline, their love and their teaching, did not reveal God’s grace and law order to them? The fact that their salvation is entirely the work of God does not alter the reality of the covenantal instruments. That covenantal instruments are instruments in God’s hands must clearly be recognized, but to deny them even that status is to deny God’s order. Pastors, parents, teachers, civil authorities, and all others, as they discharge their duties under God faithfully, mediate from man to man God’s order, justice, law, grace, word, and purpose. Clearly and without any doubt, “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Protestantism has rightly upheld the exclusiveness of that mediation, but, it must be added, it has done harm by denying often that there is a mediation between men. A godly state, which applies God’s law order faithfully and carefully, clearly mediates God’s justice to evildoers and His care to His own. It is for this reason that Scripture refers to authorities to whom the word of God is given, i.e., who are established as authorities by God’s word, as “gods,” because they set forth or mediate an aspect of God’s order (John 10:34–35). The alternative to mediation is anarchism, nor will it do to quibble at the word “mediation” until the dictionaries are altered.

Every legitimate area of administration is an area of mediation, whereby Christ’s law order is mediated through church, state, school, family, vocation, and society. To administer is to mediate, because an administrator applies not his own but a higher rule to the situation under his authority. This clearly means a hierarchy of authorities, and the higher rule or standard of all hierarchies as of all men is the Bible, God’s enscriptured word.

What the Biblical doctrine of marriage makes clear is that, in life’s most intimate relationships, the law order of God not only governs every relation but is the ground of the happiness and prosperity thereof.

That Christ Himself in His incarnation confirmed the necessity of submission and the validity of authority by His own example, the New Testament abundantly testifies. To this fact also a Collect of the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Family gives beautiful witness:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, being subject to Mary and Joseph, didst sanctify home life with unspeakable virtues: grant, that, by the aid of both, we may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family, and attain to eternal fellowship with it: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, World without end. Amen.

  1. Marriage and Man

Man can be understood only in terms of God and His sovereign purpose in man’s creation. According to Genesis 1:26–28, man was created to exercise dominion over the earth and to subdue it, and the command to “be fruitful, and multiply” was an aspect of the call to exercise dominion over the earth. Man therefore is to be understood in terms of God’s Kingdom and man’s calling therein to manifest God’s law order in a developed and subdued earth.

Man is thus primarily and essentially a religious creature who is truly understood only by reference to his Creator and his ordained destiny under God. Man’s destiny, to bring all things under the dominion of God’s law-word, confronted man from the beginning of his creation. To subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it, as the task was assigned to Adam in Eden, had two aspects. First, the practical aspect: man was required to take care of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). Urban man tends to forget that fruit trees, vegetables, and plants require work and care, even in the perfect world of Eden. Adam was given the responsibility of dressing or tilling the garden and keeping or taking charge of it. Second, the cognitive aspect: man was required to name the creatures. Names in the Old Testament are descriptions and classifications, so that to name anything meant to understand and classify it. By work and knowledge man was called to subdue the earth, develop its potentialities, increase and multiply in order to extend his dominion geographically as well as in knowledge.

This, then, was man’s holy calling under God, work and knowledge toward the purpose of subduing the earth and exercising dominion over it. Thus, any vocation whereby man extends his dominion, under God, to God’s purpose, and without abuse of or contempt for the earth God has ordained to be man’s domain under Him, is a holy calling. The common opinion in every branch of Christendom that a Christian calling means entrance into the ranks of the clergy could not be more wrong. Such an attitude leads to the supplanting of the Kingdom of God by the church, to ecclesiasticism as God’s purpose in creation.

Thus, man was created, not as a child, so that he cannot be understood with reference either to a primitive past or to his childhood, but in terms of mature responsibility and work. Man realizes himself in terms of work under God, and hence the radical destructiveness to man of meaningless or frustrating work, or of a social order which penalizes the working man in the realization of the fruits of his labors. Similarly, man realizes himself as he extends the frontiers of his knowledge and learns more of the nature of things and their utility as well. Men find an exaltation in a task well done, and in knowledge gained, because in and through work and knowledge their dominion under God is extended.

The earth thus was created to be God’s Kingdom, and man was created in God’s image to be God’s vicegerent over that realm under God. The image of God involves knowledge (Col. 3:10), righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:24), and dominion over the earth and its creatures (Gen. 1:28). Thus, while Adam was shaped out of dust, or the topsoil, the red earth, he was still ordained to a glorious nature and destiny under God.

Man was required to know himself first of all in terms of his calling before he was given a helpmeet, Eve. Thus, not until Adam, for an undefined but apparently extensive length of time, had worked at his calling, cared for the garden and come to know the creatures thereof, was he given a wife. We are specifically told that Adam named or classified all the animals, a considerable task, prior to the creation of Eve. However general and limited this classification was, it was still an accurate and overall understanding of animal life. The Adam of Eden was thus a hardworking man in a world where the curse of sin had not yet infected man and his work.

Thus it must be noted that Adam was given Eve, first, not in fulfillment of a natural or merely sexual need, although this was recognized (Gen. 2:20), but, after delay, in fulfillment of his need for a “help meet,” which is what Eve is called. She is thus very clearly a helper to Adam in his life and work as God’s covenant man, called to exercise dominion and subdue the earth.

This means, second, that the role of the woman is to be a helper in a governmental function. Man’s calling is in terms of the Kingdom of God, and woman’s creation and calling is no less in terms of it. She is a helper to man in the subduing of the earth and in exercising dominion over it in whatever terms necessary to make her husband’s life and work more successful. The implications of this will be discussed later in relationship to woman in marriage.

Third, God created Eve only after Adam had proven himself responsible by discharging his duties faithfully and well. Responsibility is thus clearly a prerequisite to marriage for the man. Hence, later, the dowry system required the bridegroom to demonstrate his responsibility by turning over a dowry to the bride as her security, and the children’s security, for the future.

Fourth, since man is called to exercise dominion, and marriage and his government of the family is a central aspect of that dominion, the exercise of dominion in work and knowledge precedes the exercise of dominion as husband and father. The covenant family is central to the Kingdom of God, and hence marriage was at its inception hedged about with safeguards in order to establish the precedent of responsibility.

Fifth, marriage is clearly a divine ordinance, instituted, together with the calling to work and to know, in paradise.

Sixth, marriage is the normal state of man, for, according to God, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Unless men are physically incapacitated, or else called by God to the single estate (Matt. 19:10–12), marriage is their normal state of life. Only in an age of studied immaturity do men mock at marriage as though it were bondage. What they are saying, in effect, is that responsibility, or more simply, manhood, is bondage, and permanent childhood, freedom. Such persons are not worth answering.

Seventh, while the family and dominion therein are a part of man’s calling and a very important part thereof, it is far from being the totality of his calling. Whereas the woman’s calling is in terms of her husband and the family, the man’s calling is in terms of the vocation he assumes under God.

Eighth, man, before marriage, is called, as we have seen, to demonstrate two things, the pattern of obedience and the pattern of responsibility, and he is then ready to establish a new home. Genesis 2:24 makes it clear that a man shall leave his parental home and cleave unto his wife. Basic to the development of man’s dominion over the earth are change and growth. Family systems which do not permit the independence of the young couple seek to perpetuate an unchanging order, whereas change and growth are ensured by the Biblical pattern which requires a break with parents at marriage. The break does not end responsibility to parents, but it ensures independent growth.

Ninth, the Hebrew word for bridegroom means “the circumcised,” the Hebrew word for father-in-law means he who performed the operation of circumcision, and the Hebrew word for mother-in-law is similar. This obviously had no reference to the actual physical rite, since Hebrew males were circumcised on the eighth day. What it meant was that the father-in-law ensured the fact of spiritual circumcision, as did the mother-in-law, by making sure of the covenantal status of the groom. It was their duty to prevent a mixed marriage. A man could marry their daughter, and become a bridegroom, only when clearly a man under God.

Thus, the parents of the bridegroom had an obligation to prepare their son for a life of work and growing knowledge and wisdom, and the parents of the bride had a duty, under Biblical standards, to examine the faith and character of the prospective bridegroom.

Maturity thus is not only basic to manhood but also to marriage. The maturity required is more than physical maturity. In other eras, marriages have often been contracted in the early teens, as in some frontier situations, but in many such cases the males were experienced and working men, the girls trained and capable women, whereas in other eras immaturity is the chronic and chosen condition of men and women. Certainly, physical maturity is wisest, but without a maturity of faith and character, the marital relationship is plagued with conflicts and tensions.

Since marriage is so closely linked from creation with God’s covenant with man, it is especially fitting that the Roman Catholic service, in the blessing which concludes the Marriage Mass, should invoke the Old Testament covenant phrase. In the wording of the New Saint Andrew Bible Missal,

May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob be with you, and may he fulfill in you his blessing, so that you may see your children’s children to the third and fourth generation and afterward possess everlasting and boundless life. Through the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Finally, it must be noted that, while marriage is the ordained sexual relationship between man and woman, it cannot be understood simply in terms of sex. When marriage is reduced to sex, then marriage disintegrates as an institution and amoral sex replaces it. Marriage has reference first of all to God’s ordination and then to man and to woman in their respective callings. Because man is to be understood in terms of his calling under God, all of man’s life is to be interpreted in terms of this calling also. Dislocation in a man’s calling is a dislocation in his total life. When work is futile, men cannot rest from their labors, because their satisfaction therein is gone. Men then very often seek to make work purposeful by working harder. Frustration in terms of his calling means poor health for man in terms of his physical and mental health, his sexual energy, and his ability to rest, whereas success in work means vigor and vitality to a man. Every attempt to understand marriage only in terms of sex will aggravate man’s basic problem.

If marriage cannot be reduced to sex, neither can it be reduced to love. The Scripture gives no ground whatsoever to the idea that a marriage can be terminated when love ends. While love is important to a marriage, it cannot replace God’s law as the essential bond of marriage. Moreover, a woman can make no greater mistake than to assume that she can take priority in her husband’s life over his work. He will love her with a personal warmth and tenderness as no other person, but a man’s life is his work, not his wife, and the failure of women to understand this can do serious harm to a marriage. The tragedy of an apostate age is that women see clearly the futility or emptiness of much of man’s work, but they fail to see that a godly man’s answer to a sick world is more work. Because work is man’s calling, men often make the serious mistake of trying to solve all problems by working harder, whereas, in the same situation, the woman is all the more convinced of the futility of work. But to tell a man that work is futile is to tell him that he is futile. A basic and unrecognized cause of tensions in marriage is the growing futility of work in an age where apostate and statist trends rob work of its constructive goals. The area of man’s dominion becomes the area of man’s frustration. There are those who can recall when men, not too many years ago, worked ten hours or more daily, six and seven days a week, often under ugly and unsafe circumstances. In the face of this, they could rest and also enjoy life with a robust appetite. The basic optimism of that era and the certainty of progress, the stability of a hard-money economy, and the sense of mastery in these assurances, gave men a satisfaction in their labors which made rest possible. An age which negates the meaning and satisfaction of work also negates man at the same time. Not all the more desirable conditions and hours of work can replace the purpose of work. Dostoyevsky pointed out that men could be broken in Siberia, not by hard labor but by meaningless labor, such as moving a pile of boulders back and forth endlessly. Such work, however slowly or lazily done, destroys a man, whereas meaningful work strengthens and even exalts him.

Because of the centrality of work to a man, one of the chronic problems of men is their tendency to make work a substitute religion. Instead of deriving the meaning of life from God and His law order, men often derive their private world of meaning from their work. The consequence is a disorientation of life, family, and order.

Whether retired or actively working, a man’s thinking is still in terms of the world of work, and he continues to assess reality in the same terms. Man, having been called to exercise dominion through work, is tied to work in thought and action alike. But there is no true dominion for man in and through work apart from God and His law order.

A final note: Men have through the centuries felt so closely linked to their work, that for them there has been a particular satisfaction in being near their tools. To this day, in some parts of the world, men take pleasure in having their tools close at hand. Some resistance to the Industrial Revolution came from men who enjoyed having their workshop in their home and felt a loss at moving into other premises. Not uncommonly, doctors carry their little black bags with them on a vacation, and a high point of a European tour for one doctor was the opportunity to use his medicine. Many men rest better if their tools are close at hand.

  1. Marriage and Woman

The definition of woman given by God in creating Eve and establishing the first marriage is “help meet” (Gen. 2:18). This is literally, “as agreeing to him,” or, “his counterpart.”[dlxxxii] Robert Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible renders it, “an helper—as his counterpart.” R. Payne Smith pointed out that the Hebrew is literally, “a help as his front, his reflected image.”[dlxxxiii] The implication is of a mirrored image, a point made by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1–16; man was created in God’s image, and woman in the reflected image of God in man. In this passage, as Hodge noted, the principle is affirmed “that order and subordination pervade the whole universe, and is essential to its being.”[dlxxxiv] The covered head is a sign of being under authority to another person; hence, the man, who is directly under Christ, worships with uncovered head, the woman with a covered head. A man, therefore, who worships with covered head dishonors himself (1 Cor. 11:1–4). The uncovered woman might as well be shorn or shaven, because it is as shameful for her to be uncovered as to be shaven (1 Cor. 11:5–7). As Leon Morris notes with reference to verses 8–9, “Neither in her origin, nor in the purpose for which she was created can the woman claim priority, or even equality.”[dlxxxv]

Accordingly, St. Paul continued, “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels” (1 Cor. 11:10). James Moffatt rendered “power on her head” as “a symbol of subjection,” following thereby popular opinion rather than the Greek text. “Power on her head” means rather, as Morris and others have pointed out, “a sign of her authority.”[dlxxxvi] Because angels are witnesses, a godly witness must be rendered. To many, a serious contradiction seems to be involved here: first, St. Paul insists on subordination, and then, second, speaks of what seems to be a sign of subordination as a sign of authority. This seeming contradiction arises from the anarchic concept of authority which is so deeply imbedded in man’s sinful nature. All true authority is under authority, since God alone transcends all things and is the source of all power and authority. A colonel has authority because he is under a general, and his own authority grows as the power, prestige, and authority of those above him grow, and his unity with them in mind and purpose is assured. So, too, with the woman: her subordination is also her symbol of authority. Very frequently, in various societies, prostitutes have been forbidden to dress themselves in the same manner as wives and daughters, for to do so would be to claim an authority, protection, and power they had forfeited. Thus, in Assyria, an unmarried prostitute who covered her head was severely punished for her presumption.[dlxxxvii] Similar laws existed in Rome. On the American frontier, the woman who was a wife or daughter carried an obvious authority and normally commanded the respect and protection of all men.

Men and women, St. Paul declared (1 Cor. 11:11), are “mutually dependent. The one cannot exist without the other.”[dlxxxviii] “The one is not without the other, for as the woman was originally formed out of the man, so the man is born of the woman.”[dlxxxix] Church councils very early censured long hair in men as a mark of effeminacy, as had the Romans before them. There is no evidence to support the usual portrayal of Christ and the apostles as long-haired men; the evidence of the age indicates very short hair.

To a woman, however, in all ages and countries, long hair has been considered an ornament. It is given to her, Paul says, as a covering, or as a natural veil; and it is a glory to her because it is a veil. The veil itself, therefore, must be becoming and decorous in a woman.[dxc]

It is thus with Biblical grounds that a woman’s hair is spoken of as her “crowning glory,” and her delight in wearing it as an attractive crown is God-given when done within bounds, although the time some give to it is certainly not so.

The Biblical doctrine of woman thus reveals her as one crowned with authority in her “subjection” or subordination, and clearly a helper of the closest possible rank to God’s appointed vicegerent over creation. This is no small responsibility, nor is it a picture of a patient Griselda. Theologians have all too often pointed to Eve as the one who led Adam into sin while forgetting to note that her God-given position was such that counsel was her normal duty, although in this case it was clearly evil counsel. Men as sinners often dream of a patient Griselda who never speaks unless spoken to, but no other wife would please them less or bore them more. Martin Luther, who dearly loved his Katie, on one occasion vowed, “If I were to marry again, I would hew a meek wife out of stone: for I doubt whether any other kind be meek.” His biographer, Edith Simon, properly asks, “How would he have fared with a meek wife?”[dxci] The answer clearly is, not too well.

It is a common illusion that in man’s primitive, evolutionary past, women were the merest slaves, used at will by primitive brutes. Not only is this evolutionary myth without foundation, but in every known society, the position of women, as measured in terms of the men and the society, has been a notable one. The idea that women have ever submitted to being mere slaves is itself an absurd notion. Women have been women in every age. In a study of an exceedingly backward society, the natives of Australia, Phyllis Kaberry has shown the importance and status of women to be a considerable one.[dxcii]

Few things have depressed women more than did the Enlightenment, which turned woman into an ornament and a helpless creature. Unless of the lower class, where work was mandatory, the “privileged” woman was a useless ornamental person, with almost no rights. This had not been previously true. In seventeenth century England, women were often in business, were highly competent managers, and were involved in the shipping trade, as insurance brokers, manufactures, and the like.

Up to the eighteenth century women usually figured in business as partners with their husbands, and not in inferior capacities. They often took full charge during prolonged absences of their mates. In some instances, where they were the brighter of the pair, they ran the show.[dxciii]

A legal “revolution” brought about the diminished status of women; “the all too familiar view of women suddenly emerging in the nineteenth century from a long historical night or to a sunlit plain is completely wrong.”[dxciv] A knowledge of early American history makes clear the high responsibilities of the woman; New England sailing men could travel on two and three year voyages knowing that all business at home could be ably discharged by their wives.

The Age of Reason saw man as reason incarnate, and woman as emotion and will, and therefore inferior. The thesis of the Age of Reason has been that the government of all things should be committed to reason. The Age of Reason opposed the Age of Faith self-consciously. Religion was deemed to be woman’s business, and, the more the Enlightenment spread, the more church life came to be the domain of women and children. The more pronounced, therefore, the triumph of the Age of Reason in any culture, the more reduced the role of women became. Just as religion came to be regarded as a useless but sometimes charming ornament, so, too, women were similarly regarded.

These ideas moved into the United States through the influence of Sir William Blackstone on law, who in turn was influenced by England’s Chief Justice Edward Coke, a calculating opportunist. As a result, the law books of the first half of the nineteenth century showed woman in a diminished role. Three examples of this are revealing:

Walker’s Introduction to American Law: The legal theory is, marriage makes the husband and wife one person, and that person is the husband. There is scarcely a legal act of any description that she is competent to perform . . . In Ohio, but hardly anywhere else, is she allowed to make a will, if happily she has anything to dispose of.

Roper’s Law of Husband and Wife: It is not generally known, that whenever a woman has accepted an offer of marriage, all she has, or expects to have, becomes virtually the property of the man thus accepted as a husband; and no gift or deed executed by her between the period of acceptance and the marriage is held to be valid; for were she permitted to give away or otherwise settle her property, he might be disappointed in the wealth he looked to in making the offer.

Wharton’s Laws: The wife is only the servant of her husband.[dxcv]

There is an extremely significant clause in Roper’s statement: “It is not generally known . . .” The full implications of the legal revolution were not generally known. Unfortunately, they did come to be generally supported, by men. Even more unfortunately, the churches very commonly supported this legal revolution by a one-sided and twisted reading of Scripture. The attitude of men generally was that women were better off being left on a pedestal of uselessness. At a women’s rights conference, one speaker answered these statements, Sojourner Truth, a tall, colored woman, prominent in antislavery circles and herself a former slave in New York state. She was eighty-two years of age, had a back scarred from whippings, could neither read nor write, but had “intelligence and common sense.” She answered the pedestal advocates powerfully and directly, speaking to the male hecklers in the audience:

Wall, chilern, whan dar is so much racket dar must be somethin’ out of kilter. I tink dat ’twixt de niggers of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin’ ’bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all dis here talkin’ ’bout?

Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place! And a’n’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! . . .

I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a’n’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear de lash as well! And a’n’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen ’em mos’ all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a’n’t I a woman?

Den dat little man in black dar, he say womin can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wan’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? . . .

Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin’ to do wid Him.

’Bleeged to ye for hearin’ me, and now ole Sojourner han’t got nothin’ more to say.[dxcvi]

The tragedy of the women’s rights movement was that, although it had serious wrongs to correct, it added to the problem, and here the resistance of man was in as large a measure responsible. Instead of restoring women to their rightful place of authority beside man, women’s rights became feminism: it put women in competition with men. It led to the masculinization of women and feminization of men, to the unhappiness of both. Not surprisingly, in March 1969, Paris couturier Pierre Cardin took a logical step in his menswear collection show: “the first garment displayed was a sleeveless jumper designed to be worn over high vinyl boots. In other words, a dress.”[dxcvii]

Thus, the Age of Reason brought in an irrational supremacy for men and has led to a war of the sexes. As a result, the laws today work, not to establish godly order, but to favor one sex or another. The laws of Texas reflect the older discrimination against women; the laws of some states (such as California) show a discrimination in favor of women.

To return to the Biblical doctrine, a wife is her husband’s helpmeet. Since Eve was created from Adam and is Adam’s reflected image of God, she was of Adam and an image of Adam as well, his “counterpart.” The meaning of this is that a true helpmeet is man’s counterpart, that a cultural, racial, and especially religious similarity is needed so that the woman can truly mirror the man and be his image. A man who is a Christian and a businessman cannot find a helper in a Buddhist woman who believes that nothingness is ultimate and that her husband’s way of life is a lower way. Cross-cultural marriages are thus normally a failure. Where we do find such marriages, they prove often on examination to be the union of two humanists whose backgrounds vary but whose faith unites them. Even then, such marriages have a high mortality. A man can identify character within his culture, but he cannot do more than identify the general character of another culture. Thus, a German reared in a Lutheran atmosphere can discern the subtle differences among women in his society, but if he marries a Moslem girl, he sees in her the general forms of Moslem feminine conduct rather than the fine shades of character, until it is too late to withdraw easily.

The Biblical doctrine shows us the wife as the competent manager who is able to take over all business affairs if needed, so that her husband can assume public office as a civil magistrate; in the words of Proverbs 31:23, he can sit “in the gates,” that is, preside as a ruler or judge. Let us examine the women of Proverbs 31:10–31, whose “price is far above rubies.” Several things are clearly in evidence:

  1. Her husband can trust her moral, commercial, and religious integrity and competence (v. 11–12, 29–31).
  2. She not only manages her household competently, but she can also manage a business with ability (v. 13–19, 24–25). She can buy and sell like a good merchant and manage a vineyard like an experienced farmer.
  3. She is good to her family, and good to the poor and the needy (v. 20–21).
  4. Very important, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (v. 26). The useless woman of the Age of Reason, and the useless socialite or jet-set woman of today who is a showpiece and a luxury, can and does speak lightly, and as a trifler, because she is a trifle. The godly woman, however, has “in her tongue the law of kindness.” People, men and women, who are not triflers avoid trifling and
  5. cheap, malicious talk. Loose talk is the luxury of irresponsibility.
  6. She does not eat “the bread of idleness” (v. 27); i.e., the godly woman is not a mere luxury and a pretty decoration. She more than earns her keep.
  7. “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (v. 28).

Obviously, such a woman is very different from the pretty doll of the Age of Reason, and the highly competitive masculinized woman of the twentieth century who is out to prove that she is as good as any man, if not better.

A Biblical faith will not regard woman as any the less rational or intelligent than man; her reason is normally more practically and personally oriented in terms of her calling as a woman, but she is not less intelligent for that.

Another note is added by King Lemuel in his description of the virtuous woman:

  1. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who reveres the Lord will be praised” (v. 30, Berkeley Version).

Nothing derogatory towards physical beauty is here intended, and, elsewhere in Scripture, especially in the Song of Solomon, it is highly appreciated. The point here is that, in relation to the basic qualities of a true and capable helpmeet, beauty is a transient virtue, and clever, charming ways are deceitful and have no value in the working relationships of marriage.

Important, thus, as the role of a woman is as mother, Scripture presents her essentially as a wife, i.e., a helpmeet. The reference is therefore not primarily to children but to the Kingdom of God and man’s calling therein. Man and wife together are in the covenant called to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it.

There are those who hold that procreation is the central purpose of marriage. Certainly the command to “increase and multiply” is very important, but a marriage does not cease to exist if it be childless. St. Augustine wrongly held that 1 Timothy 5:14 required procreation and defined children as the basic purpose of marriage, and many hold to this opinion.[dxcviii] But St. Paul actually said that he was requiring that the younger women, or widows, specifically marry and have children rather than seeking a religious vocation (1 Tim. 5:11–15); this is very different from a definition of marriage as procreation. Luther for some time held to the belief that marriage served to provide for procreation and to relieve concupiscence. (Augustine had limited sexual relations to “the necessities of production.”)[dxcix] Edith Simon calls attention to the change in Luther’s thinking on the subject:

Before Luther had himself cast off celibacy, he had condemned it merely as a source of continual temptation and distraction to those who were not equal to perpetual chastity—in other words, his attitude then was still basically orthodox, accounting chastity as the higher state. Upon his own experience of marriage, however, that attitude was changed dramatically to one more positive. Perpetual chastity was bad. Only in marriage were human beings able to acquire the spiritual health which they had used to seek in the cloister. So the strange thing was that before he had ever experienced sexual release himself, Luther saw marriage as a primarily physical affair, and afterwards saw its benefits as primarily spiritual—evidently not for want of physical communion.[dc]

God Himself defined Eve’s basic function as a helpmeet; important as motherhood is, it cannot take priority over God’s own declaration.

[i] Friedrich Heer, The Intellectual History of Europe (Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Co., 1966), 184.

[ii] Joseph G. Brin, “The Social Order Under Hebrew Law,” Law Society Journal vol. 7, no. 3 (August 1936): 383–387.

[iii] Henry Bamford Parkes, “Morals and Law Enforcement in Colonial England,” New England Quarterly vol. 5 (July 1932): 431–452.

[iv] Charles Hoadly, ed., Records of the Colony and Plantation of New Haven from 1638 to 1649 (Hartford, CT: Case, Tiffany, and Company, 1857), 69.

[v] ibid., 130.

[vi] John A. Albro, ed., The Works of Thomas Shepard, vol. 3, Theses Sabbaticae (1649) (Boston, MA: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1853; New York, NY: AMS Press, 1967), 49.

[vii] Hermann Kleinknecht and W. Gutbrod, Law (London, England: Adam and Charles Black, 1962), 21.

[viii] Mao Tse-Tung, The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains (Peking, China: Foreign Languages Press, 1966), 3.

[ix] Morris Raphael Cohen, Reason and Law (New York, NY: Collier Books, 1961), 84–85.

[x] Ernest F. Kevan, The Moral Law (Jenkintown, PA: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1963) 5–6. S. R. Driver, “Law (in Old Testament),” in James Hastings, ed., A Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3 (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919), 64.

[xi] Kleinknecht and Gutbrod, Law, 44.

[xii] W. J. Harrelson, “Law in the OT,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (New York, NY: Abingdon Press, 1962), 3:77.

[xiii] Kleinknecht and Gutbrod, Law, 125.

[xiv] ibid., 74, 81–91.

[xv] ibid., 95.

[xvi] Hugh H. Currie, “Law of God,” in James Hastings, ed., A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908), 2:15.

[xvii] Olaf Moe, “Law,” in James Hastings, ed., Dictionary of the Apostolic Church (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919), 1:685.

[xviii] Meredith G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy: Studies and Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1963), 16. See also J. A. Thompson, The Ancient Near Eastern Treaties and the Old Testament (London, England: Tyndale Press, 1964).

[xix] ibid., 19.

[xx] ibid., 17.

[xxi] Gustav Friedrich Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1883), 177.

[xxii] ibid., 182.

[xxiii] Kline, Treaty of the Great King, 41.

[xxiv] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. John Allen (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1936), bk. 4, chap. 20, par. 14 in original; see 2:787–88.

[xxv] See H. de Jongste and J. M. van Krimpen, The Bible and the Life of the Christian, for similar opinions (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1968), 66ff.

[xxvi] ibid., 73.

[xxvii] ibid., 75.

[xxviii] The very term “nature” is mythical. See R. J. Rushdoony, “The Myth of Nature,” in The Mythology of Science (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1967), 96–98.

[xxix] Giorgio del Vecchio, Justice: An Historical and Philosophical Essay, ed. and additional notes by A. H. Campbell (Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, [Italian edition, 1924, 1952] 1956), 2.

[xxx] See, for a study of such a concept, Dr. Stephen Schafer, Restitution to Victims of Crime (London, England: Stevens and Sons; Chicago, IL: Quadrangle Books, 1960).

[xxxi] John Henry Blunt, ed., Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology (London, England: Longmans, Green, 1891), 645.

[xxxii] Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1966), 221–22.

[xxxiii] H. de Jongste and J. M. van Krimpen, The Bible and the Life of the Christian, 27, recognize this, “That mandate has never been revoked,” and then proceed to revoke it by their amillennial presuppositions by foreseeing the revocation of the mandate by the triumph of the Antichrist: “There is no room for optimism: towards the end, in the camps of the satanic and the Antichrist, culture will sicken, and the Church will yearn to be delivered from its distress” (85). But this is a mythical and un-Biblical definition of Antichrist, who, according to St. John, is simply anyone, present from the beginning, who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7). To ascribe such deniers the role of final dominion and power is without any Biblical warrant.

[xxxiv] Cf. Keil and Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3, The Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1949), 322.

[xxxv] Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, ed., The Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nezikin, vol. 4, Aboth (London, England: Soncino Press, 1935), 22, n 8.

[xxxvi] The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America, [1917] 1961).

[xxxvii] C. H. Waller, “Deuteronomy,” in Charles John Ellicott, ed., Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2:25.

[xxxviii] 5. Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse, eds., The Marquis de Sade: The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings (New York, NY: Grove Press, 1965), 329–337.

[xxxix] Patrick Fairbairn, The Revelation of Law in Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, [1869] 1957), 29–31.

[xl] 7. Dr. J. A. Huffman and Knute Larson, Through the Bible in Two Years, second year, second quarter (Winona Lake, IN: Lambert Huffman, 1962) bk. 6:5.

[xli] Babylonian Talmud: Seder Mo’ed, vol. 1, 264, n 9.

[xlii] Jaroslav Pelikan and Daniel Poellot, eds., Luther’s Works, vol. 9, Lectures on Deuteronomy (St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1960), 70.

[xliii] Keil and Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, 324.

[xliv] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses in the Form of a Harmony (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1950), 1:265.

[xlv] ibid.

[xlvi] Masoretic Text of the Jewish Publication Society of America, hereinafter referred to as MTV.

[xlvii] Luther, Deuteronomy, 73–74.

[xlviii] Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 325–326.

[xlix] Luther, Deuteronomy, 74–75.

[l] H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis (Columbus, OH: The Wartburg Press, 1942), 500–501.

[li] Oswald T. Allis, God Spake By Moses (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1951), 62–63.

[lii] Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 451.

[liii] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses, vol. 1, 424.

[liv] Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 393.

[lv] Waller, “Deuteronomy,” in Ellicott, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 2:54.

[lvi] J. Gray, “Molech, Moloch,” in Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, K-Q, 422–423.

[lvii] John D. Davis, A Dictionary of the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, [1924] 1936), 510.

[lviii] T. Robert Ingram, The World Under God’s Law (Houston, TX: St. Thomas Press, 1962), 24.

[lix] ibid., 25.

[lx] Luigi Barzini, The Italians (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1965), 109.

[lxi] Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, 99.

[lxii] John Cuthbert Lawson, Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion (New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, [1909] 1964), 276–277.

[lxiii] Hermann L. Strack, The Jew and Human Sacrifice (London, England: Cope and Fenwick, 1909).

[lxiv] Waller, in Ellicott, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 2:42.

[lxv] ibid., 2:54.

[lxvi] Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses, 1:434.

[lxvii] Review of the News, vol. 4, no. 22 (May 29 1968): 16.

[lxviii] Helen Hill Miller, Sicily and the Western Colonies of Greece (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1965), 146. For a reference to the sacrifice of a boy to Moloch by Himilco of Carthage, see 165.

[lxix] Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1948), 103.

[lxx] ibid., 104–105.

[lxxi] See, for example, Nathaniel Micklem, “Leviticus,” in Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 2, 60–61, and J. P. Hyatt, “Circumcision,” in Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, A–D, 629–631.

[lxxii] Micklem, Interpreter’s Bible, 2:60.

[lxxiii] A. M. Stibbs, The Meaning of the Word Bloodin Scripture (London, England: Tyndale Press, [1948] 1962), 30–31.

[lxxiv] ibid., 11.

[lxxv] The Torah: The Five Books of Moses; A New Translation (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1962).

[lxxvi] Patrick Fairbairn, “First-Born,” in Fairbairn’s Imperial Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, [1891] 1957), 2:297–298.

[lxxvii] Vos, Biblical Theology, 107.

[lxxviii] Waller, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 2:44–45.

[lxxix] P. W. Thompson, All the Tithes or Terumah (London, England: Covenant Publishing Co., 1946), 19.

[lxxx] Rev. George Rawlinson, in H. D. M. Spence and J. S. Exell, eds., The Pulpit Commentary: Exodus, vol. 2 (New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, n.d.), 305. See also J. C. Connell, “Exodus,” F. Davidson, A. M. Stibbs and E. F. Kevan, eds., The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1953), 128; Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 210–212.

[lxxxi] U. Z. Rule, Old Testament Institutions: Their Origin and Development (London, England: S.P.C.K., 1910), 322.

[lxxxii] A. Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services as They Were at the Time of Christ (New York, NY: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.), 385.

[lxxxiii] John M’Clintock and James Strong, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (New York, NY: Harper, 1894), 3:574.

[lxxxiv] Joseph Bingham, The Antiquities of the Christian Church (London, England: Bohn, 1850), 1:189.

[lxxxv] For pictures of tithe-barns of medieval England, see Sacheverell Sitwell, Monks, Nuns and Monasteries (New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1965), illust. between 42–43.

[lxxxvi] George C. M. Douglas, “Tithe,” in Fairbairn’s Imperial Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 6:290.

[lxxxvii] For the tithe, see Oswald T. Allis, “Leviticus,” in Davidson, Stibbs, and Kevan, New Bible Commentary, 161; Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, 783–784; H. H. Guthrie, Jr., “Tithe,” in Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, R-Z, 654. See the three tithes as the practice of later Judaism, i.e., prior to and including the New Testament era.

[lxxxviii] Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, 44.

[lxxxix] Henry Snyder Gehman revision of John D. Davis, The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1944), 34.

[xc] Henry Lansdell, The Tithe in Scripture (London, England: SPCK, 1908), 32–33.

[xci] ibid., 23–36.

[xcii] Thompson, All the Tithes, 30.