The Ten Commandments: A Necessary Rebuke of Secular Libertarianism Part 4
by Pastor Cary Gordon
Part 4 of a 6 Part Series
In the opening remarks of this article, I shared my humorous childhood belief of why I thought God had carved His laws into two tablets of stone, instead of one. As promised, I now wish to share the real reason this was done. The law was purposely divided physically in that it was carved on two stone tablets. It was divided relationally in the sense of how its message was to be directed. Here’s how: the first table of the law speaks to us as individual persons, and it educates our self-government (self-discipline). The second table of the law speaks to our self-government as well, but it goes on to provide the template of human behavior for all governments of the world, informing all nations how to govern in order to create an atmosphere where liberty can thrive.
The first table of the law that God gave Moses was “vertical” law. It dealt with self-governance.
It spoke to man’s private relationship with God. The first table of the law was not within the realm of civil government’s jurisdiction. In contrast, the second table was “horizontal” law. It dealt with human-to-human interactions. Today, it forms the basis of all good civil governments of the world. If it is not the officially recognized basis of any particular government in our world, then that government is not good and its evil should be confronted by authentic Christianity until the wrong is righted, for the sake of the common good. Period.
It should be understood by obedient and humble Christian men that any attempt to use civic power to enforce the first table of the law is tyrannical and abusive. All civic authorities who attempt this demonstrate incredulous arrogance by playing equal with God. James Madison agreed with Moses use of the Ten Commandments in his famous writing “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments”[i] He specifically referred to the first table of the law as off-limits to civil government coercion by use of the phrase “the duty we owe our Creator.”
With that said, it is equally arrogant for civil authority to refuse to involve themselves with the implementation of the second table of the law. It is a rebellious failure for civil government to attempt to act as if some part of the second table is better suited (in their sinfully stained opinion) to have been placed on the first table of the law. “That is a private matter, and not the role of government” is the excuse of rebels. Rejection of the law of God by secularists is a new kind of defacto tyranny. It is dereliction of duty – the tyranny of desertion and rebellion against the Creator of all government according to Romans 13th Chapter.
The second table of the law begins by protecting the root of all successful civilizations – marriage.
Good government does not pretend to create or authorize marriage. Marriage is outside the purview of mankind, because man is subject to natural laws that pre-exist him. As with the law of gravity, civil government is obliged to recognize marriage’s preeminence in nature, protecting and preserving it from ignorant forces. The public consequences for failing to do so cannot be overstated. Marriage, like gravity, does not need protection. It’s the fools who trifle with both that can bring down an empire. Thus, the first horizontal law of the second table is, “Honor your father and mother” (see Exodus 20:12).
The marriage institution is the God-authorized gift of creative power handed to human beings. It is the power for a male and female to create immortality. Every child created in the intimacy of sexual intercourse is an endless soul that will inevitably live in either Heaven or Hell for all eternity. The recipients of life granted by this natural law of procreation are told to honor their parents, personally, and honor the concept of marriage, corporately.
The second law of the second tablet of stone extends this logic to the issue of life itself. While the institution of marriage creates life and the recipient of life is told to honor those who granted it to them, the next commandment states, “Thou shalt not kill” (see Exodus 20:13). In these first two commands of the second tablet, the institution that creates life is protected, and life itself is safeguarded. The logic unfolds more with the addition of the third command on this table of the law. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is charged to the man and wife.
In summary, the child is told to honor the marriage institution. The citizen is told not to murder the life created by the marriage institution. The husband and wife are told to honor one another within the marriage institution. The first three laws that directly apply to the rationale for civil authority’s existence deal with the foundation of good civil government, which is wholesome family government.
Any modern government which exclusively and erringly claims these first three laws of God (on the second tablet of stone) are “personal issues” and “not the role of civil government” are in rebellion against God’s law. Americans who have bought-in to this French Enlightenment malarkey have committed a great sin, and in doing so, helped secularists of all stripes to destroy the good and moral characteristics of an America that once was. As stated before, twelve of the original thirteen states codified the entire Decalogue of Moses into law. Let any man who boasts himself to be a “defender of constitutional originalism” check himself for honesty. Most libertarians are, in this specific sense, aggressors against American constitutional originalism, as they vehemently oppose the 13 states’ wise and historic decisions to have codified the Ten Commandments into American law during the founding era, and they will not hesitate to tell you that you are “trying to turn America into a theocracy just like Iran” when you dare muse aloud of what joy liberty beneath the leadership of William Penn, must have been like.
The irony of pro-private-property secularism is that without healthy and stable family government beneath the upper structures of civil authority, there is no basis for private property. Studied Christians know that all children are born with a sin nature and eventually awaken to the corrupt desire to steal from others. If this sin nature is not crushed by family government (good parenting), the civilization that results over time will no longer experience private property. Once the poorly-parented child reaches adulthood, the heightened and inadequately restrained drive of the theft instinct will inevitably institutionalize itself into the act of government-sanctioned confiscations. The sin nature reaches its pinnacle in the abolishment of privately-owned property, and after the theft the stolen property is re-purposed and labeled as “state-owned.” Thus, the tyranny of theft permeates the fabric of all governments where the first three laws of God for government are ignored, abandoned, or rejected or re-labeled as “private matters.”
To refuse the external influence of righteous law upon the conscience of a nation by arguing that “salvation is an internal matter of the heart and should not be externally coerced” is the equivalent of shunning the external influence of an anointed preacher on Sunday morning, claiming “salvation is an internal matter of the heart and should not be externally coerced.” What does the Bible rhetorically ask its readers in Romans 10:14? “How shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they have faith unless they first hear?” What does the Bible tell us is the divine purpose of all human governments in Acts 17:26-27? We are plainly told that God established all nations so that “…men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” In this respect, the point made by the scriptures is very clear; government cannot save the human soul, but it sure can confuse one trying to determine the difference between right and wrong. For this reason, alone, it should be obvious that civil government must be maintained by righteous men who define “good” and “evil” the same way as their Creator, or else no true liberty will exist.
The civil government will either protect the sanctity of marriage and the lives it creates or it will eventually be destroyed by institutionalized theft and the lives it cavalierly discards.