Neglecting the weightier provisions of the law...
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)
One commenter calls our attention to the blog of a writer of economic treatises popular within some Reformed circles who, in the linked blog post, makes the case that Federal laws against abortion are unconstitutional and that conservatives seeking federal action to protect the babies is the legal equivalent of liberals using the Constitution to declare baby-murder legal. Both sides abuse the Constitution for their own pet projects, this Theconomist argues.
(PLEASE NOTE: The paragraph above has been changed substantially in order to clarify that I meant for the words below to be more general than personal; but also that I did not intend them to be read as applying personally to the commenter, Scott, who provided the link to the other blog.)
Here's my own limited response. In the next day or so, though, we'll post another response written by a Presbyterian elder with significant appellate experience who currently serves as a civil magistrate in an high post of civil authority.
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To argue that the federal government doing something to stop the wholesale slaughter of the nation's millions of defenseless infants is usurpation of powers is the sort of heartless rabbinical self-justification we should expect from those who tithe their mint and cummin. I've said over and over again that the Declaration of Independence was the basis for the mounting of our nation's revolution and the moral and legal context from which our Constitution was birthed and has any meaning or purpose yet today. The central purpose of our Constitution is the protection of the nation's citizens--not the protection of states' rights--and when that central purpose is defied or denied, the rest is straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic.
I've quoted the Declaration in this discussion. Its words are clear. If our federal civil magistrates' hands are tied in stopping the slaughter of our nation's fifty million wee ones...we need new federal civil magistrates. And if those seeking to replace them argue, even before taking office, that the Constitution bars them from acting to protect the wee ones, we know they are not the ones to elect.
The lawyer asked Jesus who his neighbor was because he was "seeking to justify himself." This is always the case with those erecting legal boundaries defining the limits of compassion.
So now, leave the cruel ones behind and let's get back to our nation's founding legal Declaration of Independence, and therefore Declaration of Statehood.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
Of course everyone knows that conservatives and liberals ignore the Constitution when it comes to their pet projects. This is a boring observation. Any idiot knows it.
Any idiot or really smart man also knows that using this observation as justification for opposing our nation's civil magistrates from acting to end the systematic slaughter of 50,000,000 of her defenseless citizens is simple heartlessness.
If a government can't protect her most vulnerable citizens from wholesale slaughter--well over 50,000,000 now and increasing by 1,300,000 per year--that government is presiding over anarchy. There is no rule of law.
Any idiot or really smart man knows this.
Here we have the Hutu father sitting on his porch holding forth on the boundaries of his property and the limits of his legal powers and obligations as a group of neighbors use machetes to hack to shreds his own Hutu son and Tutsi daughter-in-law and their eight children (his own grandchildren).
But of course, the bloodshed is out in the street just beyond his property line.
The hacking is exquisitely legal. The nation's civil magistrates commanded it and what right does he have to stop it? The whole world's doing it and he's just a father and grandfather. Sphere sovereignty and all that, you know.
He's the pastor of the local Presbyterian church and he is regularly featured as a conference headliner across East Africa. He's always talking about the importance of the church not meddling in the civil magistrate's turf. Says Machen agrees with him.
His best-known work (that's only sold in the tens of thousands because this is Rwanda, you have to understand) is titled, Let the Church Be the Church: Gospel Centrality from My Front Porch.
Recently when he took his African Reformed preacher victory lap across America, he reminded his fellow Gospel coalitionists that they had no right to talk. After all, he and his people had only killed their hundreds of thousands while Americans continue to kill their tens of millions. "There's simply no comparison in the amount of bloodshed," he said. "Who are you to talk?"