Introductory Remarks: Culture Peace As Possible

God, through the Apostle Paul, urges his people to, “as much as lieth” in them (that is, insofar as doing so lies within their control), “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). For a while now, I’ve found it difficult to square this divine directive with efforts to use the government to win the so-called “culture war.” I’ve also been troubled by how some include abortion in the list of “social issues” making up the culture war when it is, in fact, an extreme violation of the right to life and indisputably criminal regardless of what federal, state, or local laws say. There is clearly something wrong with treating legalized murder of a whole class of human individuals (abortion) as a social issue on par with legally permitting consenting adults of sound mind to make contractual arrangements that victimize no one (homosexual “marriage”), even though the arrangements are contrary to biblical morals — and are based on thinking that, while produced by soundly functioning minds, lacks both wisdom and knowledge (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10).

Overview of Contents

Before we proceed, here is a preview of the contents, with links for anyone who wants to jump ahead:

Christendom’s Benevolent Central Planning ^

Whereas legalized abortion exposes an entire class of human beings to fatal victimization, permitting people who cannot be truly married to enter into contracts mimicking marriage only runs afoul of Christendom’s desire to use the power of central planning to direct societal development in a direction that nurtures nuclear families and creates an orderly social realm where Christian faith and morals thrive. While I, like every Christian who longs for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10), cannot fault the end that Christendom’s central planners would pursue, I also cannot unlearn Hayek’s insight: believing that you can execute any form of central planning in a way that ensures the outcomes you desire, and avoids countless unexpected and undesirable consequences, is a fatal conceit for anyone but God.

While Hayek was not a believer and would likely have objected to my “anyone but God” wording, the correctness of his basic insight has been proved again and again. Using government to direct social development will surely have effects on society, but those effects will almost certainly be something other than what well-meaning central planners intend. Whether those central planners are motivated by the high values of Christendom or the low values of nihilistic postmodernism makes no difference. Good intentions cannot make the impossible possible. Desirable social development cannot be made to happen through central planning. All central planning does is prevent private individuals from working things out for themselves in their local environments. One reason governments should limit themselves to protecting the rights of individuals, such as by justly punishing those who violate the rights of others, is because that’s about all they can do with a degree of competence.

Alas, I Cannot Take Up Arms in the Culture War ^

So, though it seems to put me at odds with most of my fellow Bible believers, I continue desiring to find a peaceful resolution to the culture war. I’d also like for people to stop calling it a “war,” but I’ll leave that issue for another time. For now, a couple quotations to get us situated:

First, the Reformed Baptist Bible commentator, John Gill, on Matthew 5:9:

“Blessed are the peace makers,” Not between God and man, for no man can make his own peace with God; nor can any mere creature, angels, or men, make it for him; Christ, in this sense, is the only peace maker: but between men and men; and such are they, who are of peaceable dispositions themselves; live peaceably with all men, and with one another, as their relation obliges to, and their mutual comfort requires; and with the men of the world; and who are ready, willing, and very serviceable, in composing differences, and making peace between their fellow creatures and fellow Christians. The Jews speak very highly, and much, in the commendation of peace making; they reckon this among the things which shall be of use to a man, both in this, and the other world. [1]

Next, Baptist defender of freedom of conscience, Roger Williams: Those who would use the power of government to persecute people whose consciences (or, in today’s terminology, values) differ from their own

fling away the spiritual sword and spiritual artillery, in spiritual and religious causes, and rather trust, for the suppressing of each other’s gods, conscience, and religion, as they suppose, to an arm of flesh and sword of steel. [2]

Now that we’re situated, my

Main Remarks: Government Neutrality As Viable ^

The primary prompt for these remarks is Tipping Point – 12 Republican Senators Support Bill Codifying Gay Marriage, a video posted to Rumble on 21 November 2022:

A lot of my correspondence over the last year has focused on this issue. I once took the standard view of religious people on the Right, which simply tries to make government continue to define marriage in the way Scripture does, a way that accords with nature and cross-cultural moral tradition. If government is going to enforce one set of values over others, I, as a Bible-believing Christian, must support enforcing the true values given to humanity by God — obviously.

Need Government Always Take a Side? ^

But what has occurred to me since then is that, on at least some issues where fundamental values differ, it would be possible to maintain peace with unbelievers if we and they could simply agree to make government take a neutral stance on these issues. One thing that concerns me about the ongoing struggle to have the federal government define “marriage” — either in its natural and traditional sense or in the new sense the Left supports — is that this is an issue upon which the federal government (as well as state and local governments) could have been made to act as neutral. Though legal neutrality is not possible on all matters where individuals hold divergent values, it would have been possible here.

Freedom of contract and freedom of association provide a basis for allowing people who reject biblical values to enter into “contracts of union” mimicking real marriage. Since Christians, as well as adherents of other Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam) and of traditional values in general, can never recognize these unions as “marriages,” using government force to declare them “marriages” is itself a violation of religious freedom, even absent any government act of further discrimination against religious believers. So the “solution” offered by Democrats and these Left-leaning Republicans, “The Respect for [Faux] Marriage Act,” is no solution at all. However, denying the freedom of contract and freedom of association of same-sex couples who reject traditional values, realism, and the correspondence theory of truth — who, in other words, draw the subjectivist and nihilistic conclusions most in keeping with self-consistent unbelief [3] — is also not a solution. Either option just means one side or the other of the “culture war” has temporarily taken the reigns of federal power and imposed its will on the other.

Characteristics of a Workable Solution ^

A solution would have to let people with either of the sets of values in contention live out those values peaceably without government taking sides for or against them. Christians would have to be free to pay taxes without having their money go to promote the idea that same-sex contracts of union are “marriages.” And godless Americans would have to be free to enter into contracts of union with other consenting adults as they saw fit. No one who desires to enforce a single value system on everyone using the power of government would be happy with this, but I see no way for people with such divergent values to live at peace with one another without such a to-each-his-own compromise. (This means “to each his own” in terms of law, not in terms of moral teaching or interpersonal efforts at persuasion. I do not propose a “keep your opinions to yourself” amoral public square or any such nonsense. I am only proposing that all sides abstain from using force.)

So long as government abstains from defining perverse unions as “marriages,” there needn’t be any political (government) conflict over this. While the federal government’s long years of trying to guide social development through the tax code and other laws have written the term “marriage” into many statues, most notably the tax code, it remains theoretically possible for government to instead always reference “contracts of union” in these places and refrain entirely from defining “marriage” for us. Government neutrality is possible on this issue. This is not a case where one or another viewpoint must be enforced by law. Government can enforce duly executed contracts of union without deciding whether or not those contracts qualify as “marriages.”

End the War but Defend Rights ^

In a pluralistic society, disagreements about social and cultural matters are inevitable. If one desires to maintain a free and open society in spite of this, meaning that one abandons the fantasy that America will return to the greater homogeneity of some prior age, one‘s desire should be to keep government out of the “culture war” as much as possible. Giving up the use of government to win the culture war does not mean giving up use of government to defend the rights of all human individuals from conception to natural death, however. While some issues where individual rights are violated, such as abortion, have been wrongly classified as merely “social” or “cultural” issues, there is a fundamental difference between saying “individuals who reject Scripture should be free to live in accord with their ungodly values so long as they do not violate the rights of others” and saying “pregnant mothers should be free to murder their unborn children even though that means violating unborn children’s right to life.”

In truth, if various sides in cultural conflicts were not trying to take hold of the power of government to enforce their cultural agendas, it is unlikely we would even have gotten into the habit of calling these disagreement a “war.” Individuals have discussions, arguments, and disagreements, and sometimes fights. Only governments wage wars.

Backstory: Some Prompted Correspondence From August 2022 ^

These select comments from a few months ago are very far from being the whole backstory about my thinking on this issue, but they give you some of it. If there was ever an epiphany that made me decide I could sometimes support government neutrality rather than government godliness, it is contained in my July 2022 letter urging my U.S. Senators to vote against the Act they just voted for, which the first item below reproduces for reference. It was while preparing my replacement for the American Family Association’s model letter that I reached this new conviction. Did I say “conviction?” Perhaps that’s the wrong word. Maybe I should instead call it a “pragmatic working assumption,” a practical solution for a time when biblical values are so far from dominant. I think government neutrality offers a viable way for Bible believers and Bible rejecters to live at peace with one another. This peace would allow the two sides to continuing discussing the “What is marriage?” question, neither side fearing that the other will force its will upon everyone if the next election goes its way.

Item 1: Comments on a Founder’s Video ^

Comment on: An episode of The Sword & The Trowel entitled Theological Evaluation of Some Big Eva Judgements — Sex Abuse, Todd Benkert & TGC Gone Wrong
Comment date: 10 August 2022>
Comment direct link

[“Big Eva” is short for “Big Evangelicalism.” Think of it as the dominant evangelical establishment. Founders is a ministry seeking to return the Southern Baptist Convention to the Reformed Baptist roots of that association’s founders. Though Reformed thinking has become more prevalent, it remains a minority viewpoint among evangelicals. The majority of professing evangelicals believe that the free choices of humans determine who does and doesn’t get saved; assert that Jesus died for all human individuals without exception, including those who will never believe in Jesus and be saved; and endorse various other non-Reformed ideas.]

I hope I can be forgiven for posting some lengthy comments. Since you’ve touched upon an issue I’ve been working through for a while, I might find your response to these comments helpful. [Sadly, I never received such a response.]

While I’d have to agree that the Gospel Coalition’s response to the homosexual “marriage” issue doesn’t quite work (Christians should at least desire for all who defy God to live in fear of the divine wrath they will inevitably face for their actions, meaning wanting them to “live without fear” is unbiblical), I think aspects of it you consider unsound might not be entirely incorrect. Scripture does include the following directive, for instance: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Though this does not hold up pluralism as a desirable end to be sought after, it does suggest that Christians who find themselves in a society that is already pluralistic should seek ways to live peaceably in that environment without compromising their values. The question is, do biblical Christian values require that we insist on imposing biblical sexual ethics by force of law?

How Much of God’s Law Must Modern Governments Enforce? ^

When bringing up these kinds of issues, you both always emphasize that you do not embrace theonomy (that is, the theonomy of Bahnsen and Rushdoony, not Barth, often erroneously called “theocracy” [4]). But if one rejects fully applying God’s law in the style of theonomy, as you do, one must apply some principle to determine which of God’s laws to enforce today and which to leave unenforced and matters of individual choice. The principle that seems to inform much American thinking (and, for now, my own) on the topic is an essentially libertarian one: only enforce those laws that involve one person violating the rights of another — or, put more biblically, that involve one person violating the sphere of personal sovereignty granted another person as God’s steward, faithful or unfaithful. Hence, homosexual activities between consenting adults are not subjected to legal prohibition, whereas acts of murder and theft are. The latter are crimes with unwilling victims, which human legal authorities must forbid and punish; the former are sins willfully shared by individuals acting freely, for which God will hold them responsible, but which human legal authorities may not be required (if even authorized) to address.

Since even theonomy is still a live option for me, should I become convinced it is the most biblically sound position, you should consider these comments tentative and exploratory rather than dogmatic. That said, my current working assumption, and the basis for any political activism I engage in, is libertarian (as I’ve already noted parenthetically). Until I am persuaded that God has mandated that a specific principle of his law be enforced by all governments (not just by the government of ancient Israel), I assume that no mandate exists and individuals must be legally free to conform to God’s law or defy it without being acted against by human legal authorities.

This doesn’t mean I think the current requirement that states recognize homosexual unions as “marriage” is legitimate. This new rule does not put government in a neutral stance. To clarify what I mean, here is a copy of

A Letter I Sent to My Elected Representatives in Response to an AFA Action Alert ^

Sent via: An AFA action alert
Sent on: 29 July 2022.
Subject line: Vote NO on The Respect for Marriage Act [This Act codifies the existing rule imposed by the Supreme Court]

Please vote NO on “The Respect for Marriage Act.”

This bill illegitimately uses the coercive power of government to impose an anti-Christian, unbiblical definition of “marriage” on all Americans. This is a violation of the freedom of conscience and religious liberty of countless Americans of faith, including, but not limited to, Bible-believing Christians like myself.

As a libertarian, I recognize that the rights to freedom of association and freedom of contract do allow same-sex partners to enter into contracts of union mimicking marriage if they wish to do so. I do not propose to deny anyone who rejects biblical values the legal freedom to exercise this right. All that I object to is having government use the force of law to declare these ungodly and perverse unions “marriage.” They are not marriages, and no Christian may say they are without violating his faith and offending his God.

If passed, this bill could be used by the IRS to target Christian schools, universities, and nonprofit organizations. The “cause of action” in the bill will unleash a wave of lawsuits and DOJ investigations against Christians and others who embrace the historic, natural, and biblical definition of marriage. [Note that this paragraph was written, or mostly written, by the AFA. It was the only paragraph of the model letter I found I could retain. I believe I modified the last sentence.]

“The Respect for Marriage Act” is an immoral and unconstitutional piece of legislation that you are duty-bound by your oath of office to oppose. Please do oppose it.

While you’re at it, please work to expunge all references to “marriage” in federal law. [Example: tax laws.] Federal government references should be to “contracts of union” or something similarly neutral in nature. The federal government needs to get out of the business of defining terms and rewarding or punishing people for how they use words.

Thank you for your time.

Usage Note ^

My pronouns are those required by logic and proper English given that I have a Y chromosome[*] and am singular, not plural. If you wish to claim pronouns that do not match your chromosomal makeup or that violate the singular-plural distinction, I apologize for my inability to play along. Logic, science, and my Christian faith make it impossible for me to do so. [I copied this note over from my standard email signature because it seemed appropriate to the context.][* Viewers of the House television series may recall an episode profiling a rare disorder where an XY person, because insensitive to androgens, most importantly testosterone, appears entirely female from the outside. Though an M.D. recently interviewed by the Ruth Institute chooses to say these individuals are women, I agree with House that they are “boys.” They are males with a terrible, tragic congenital defect, not females with male chromosomes.]

Conclusion ^

To my way of thinking, which I grant may err, this libertarian take has the potential to maintain a peaceful civil order in spite of increasingly divergent personal values among Americans. When Christian values were in the majority, the “culture war” could never be won decisively. [Some young leaders of today’s Religious Right have tried to portray the current conflict as something started by the other side that they are just responding to. Since these youngsters were not around to witness the 1980s, much less anything earlier, they can probably be forgiven for the error. Ultimately, of course, it was the forces who oppose God who started cultural conflict (Genesis 3:1), and they have renewed the conflict repeatedly. The question is whether Christian are wise to keep entering into warfare every time the other side tries to stir one up.] Now that anti-Christian forces have the upper hand in this unproductive “war,” the prospects for legal enforcement of Christian values seem even more remote.

Granted, pragmatic considerations should rarely (if ever) determine the positions Bible believers adopt. Still, as long as both Christians and anti-Christians in America insist on having their values enforced by law when they can get the votes, I see only disintegration of the nation in our future. If a legal order compatible with pluralism cannot be made to work, America is likely near its end, since return of America to a shared system of Bible-based values does not seem to be what God has planned [in the near term]. That’s how I read the cultural evidence, at any rate.

Thank you for your time.

My Response to Another Commenter on the Same Founders’ Video ^

Response to: a comment by user hokieham
Response date: 10 August 2022
Response topic: User hokieham, who agreed with the video, suggested another user’s question challenging it made the challenging user a troll
Response direct link

While it’s clear from the public “Atheism” playlist on James Lindon’s channel [Lindon is the challenging user whom hokieham identified as a troll] that he is an atheist or someone friendly to atheism, I wish people posting to online forums would get over the habit of calling all who disagree or asks questions “trolls.” As you can see from my own very long comment on this video, not even every Christian agrees that “same-sex marriage people should be treated like crooks and murderers.” [Hokieham responded to James Lindon’s question whether “same-sex marriage people should be treated like crooks and murderers” by saying that they should and that trolls should be, too.] While treating them as crooks and murderers is a viable Christian position, at least when supported on the self-consistent basis of theonomy, not every Christian who holds to biblical authority has yet been persuaded that consensual (“victimless”) sins and sins with involuntary victims should be treated as equivalent. The “troll” name-calling is no more helpful in online discussions than “talk to the hand” is in face-to-face dialogs. [This shutting down of online discussions with “troll” name-calling is a pet peeve of mine.]

Concerning the “as a Libertarian” in the Letter to My Elected Reps Reproduced With My Founders’ Video Comments Above ^

As anyone who has read the personal political platform I wrote in 2020 as a commentary on the then-current version of the Libertarian Party platform will know, I’ve dubbed myself a Christian Nationalist Libertarian. Since these terms don’t fit together in the opinion of many, I should comment on them.

I call myself a “nationalist” because, in addition to believing we should have some kind of border integrity as a nation (by which I do not mean centrally planned “immigration controls”), I don’t want to see the nation break up as secessionists hope. I believe that states [probably*] have a right to secede, and I fear our federal government may have so thoroughly broken free of the Constitution that restoring the republic may be impossible, but I’ve not yet given up hope entirely. [*It has more recently occurred to me that the forming of our union through formal ratification of the Constitution suggests that our union is a contractual arrangement entered into by the several states, each state entering into a contract of union with all the others. Since one isn’t normally permitted to simply opt out of a signed contract without the permission of other parties to the contract, I’m having second thoughts about the “right” to secession. Even so, I’m still going to say states “probably” have a right to succeed if the federal government continues engaging in unconstitutional activities.]

I call myself a “Christian nationalist” because, though I oppose using force of law to make America Christian, and though I detest the compromises of some prominent politically engaged evangelical organizations, I do desire for Christian beliefs and values to become more prevalent, and eventually dominant, in the nation. I also doubt that true liberty can be maintained if this doesn’t happen. Though even atheists and agnostics can profess belief in inalienable natural rights that neither government nor majorities of the people can rightly infringe, the motivation to always hold to your convictions whatever the cost is just stronger for people who believe in a higher moral authority who sits in judgment over humankind, a God who gives rights, determines right and wrong, and guarantees eternal justice. I suspect that a nation can only remain free if a strong plurality, if not a majority, of its people are committed Christians with a worldview well grounded in Scripture. Compromises to serve “the greater good,” or just to allow satisfaction of carnal appetites, are just too easy if one doesn’t have God looking over one and promising retribution for bad behavior.

Item 2: Unposted Comments on a New Discourses Video ^

Comments on: New Discourses video entitled The Normalization Scale
Video viewed and comments written: 18 August 2022
Comments posted to YouTube: not applicable (opted not to post)
Comments reviewed and modified for inclusion in this post: 21 November 2022

I address what follows to the video creator directly, this being my customary practice when commenting on videos. Though I write these sorts of comments primarily for my own benefit, that is, to clarify my own thinking and to elicit feedback that will amplify this effect, I hope it is also of some use to readers.

Main comments on “The Normalization Scale” ^

I’d like to propose that you add an extra step to your scale. This is the first of your videos I’ve viewed, so please accept my apologies if my comments fail to take into account something you’ve covered previously.

Because I am a Bible-believing Christian, I am obligated to bring my morals into compliance with God’s morals as revealed in Scripture, including where Scripture most harshly condemns the consensual sexual practices of adults. That probably means I am in the “more conservative viewers” camp that wants to stigmatize activities you believe should not be stigmatized. Possibly unlike those viewers, however, I do not take for granted that every activity deserving moral stigma should be criminalized [made or kept illegal]. I take an essentially libertarian viewpoint that sees the magistrate’s legitimate authority as extending only to those immoral acts that have victims, meaning that, however depraved, the consensual immoral activities of sound-minded adults are outside the purview of human legal authorities. For detail on what I mean, see my 10 August 2022 comments on a Founders Ministries video, reproduced above.

What I would like to propose, specifically, is that you add an additional, earlier step to your scale. Rather than make “destigmatization” the first step, make it the second after “decriminalization.” This would allow for some activities that deserve to be stigmatized as wholly unacceptable and immoral to, nevertheless, be recognized as not properly subjected to legal prohibition, at least not in the sort of liberty-centered republican order I think is the only order with any hope of success in our pluralistic age.

Thank you for considering this. I look forward to learning why you do or not not think this is a good idea.

Some Supplementary Comments on a Topic Mentioned in the Video ^

By the way, concerning the efforts of some to start referring to pedophiles as “minor-attracted,” the new terminology doesn’t just err morally but factually. As noted by the 6th edition of Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing & Health, for example, pedophilia is attraction to prepubescents, aka children. Despite the tendency in popular usage (and, I believe, some laws) to refer to all minors as “children” and to all sexual activity between legal adults and legal minors as “pedophilia,” genuine pedophiles are not just “minor-attracted”; they are attracted to those who have not yet reached, or even begun the process of entering, bodily maturity. Though we should certainly condemn full adults who sexually exploit bodily mature youths who have yet to reach mental and emotional maturity, aka adolescents, we should not confuse matters by calling them “pedophiles.” Pedophilia is a more extreme form of perversion than attraction to legal minors who are no longer children, that is, who are no longer prepubescents. To identify a pedophile does not require knowing the date of birth of that person’s victims or the legal age of consent in the jurisdiction where the crimes occurred; whether or not victims are prepubescent is obvious from their physical characteristics.

Since youths entering puberty may closely resemble their prepubescent peers, continuing to call them “children” during that period and thinking of those who victimize them as “pedophiles” seems unobjectionable. Pedophiles don’t perform tests to determine the biological status of their victims, after all. But applying the term “pedophiles” to full adults who victimize minors who are scarcely distinguishable from 18–20+ year old makes no sense. Do we want to brand Dietrich Boenhoeffer a pedophile for getting engaged to a 17-year-old, at least according to Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace? A full adult attracted to legal minors who have all the secondary sexual characteristics of twenty-somethings is quite a different sort of creature from a full adult attracted to prepubescent children.

If it were up to me, I would also limit application of terms like “homosexual” and “pedophile” to people who act out their disordered and sinful attractions (inclinations, “orientations”). Today’s tendency to treat any twisted inclination anyone has as an essentially fixed aspect of personal identity is misguided and unhelpful. Perverse inclinations should be treated as problems some individuals have (a person suffers from homosexuality or pedophilia), not as essential facets of what these people are (a person is a homosexual or pedophile). [The prior sentence may be misleading. Perverse inclinations are not just “problems” humans suffer from. They are, in fact, sins. It is a sin to have a sinful inclination, but having a sinful inclination is still much less sinful than both having a sinful inclination and indulging it. This all highlights why grace alone can save any of us.] It’s possible that some of the inclination to adopt destigmatizing terminology when stigmas should be maintained owes to today’s conflation of stray impulses one never acts upon with impulses that have become ingrained preferences through active indulgence. [Because some stray impulses may originate outside ourselves — demons are real — some stray impulses may not be sins if one refuses to attend to them. I’m not sure it’s helpful to know this, but some Orthodox teachers think it noteworthy.] Of course, another aspect of contemporary thought is a widespread assumption that people will and must indulge their impulses, that anyone who has an inclination (“orientation”) cannot possibly choose not to indulge it, so the conflation of impulses and actions was probably inevitable.

Closing remarks ^

If you’ve made it to this point, thank you for your patience in reading to the end. For now, it seems, I remain a libertarian, though possibly one whose views ill suit him for membership in any libertarian faction currently extant. The main stream of present-day libertarianism seems strongly anti-nationalist, secessionist, and anarchistic. I still like the idea of an American nation, a place where federal protections like the 14th Amendment, which obligates all states in the union to protect God-given (natural) rights and not violate them, provide individuals with a second line of defense against state and local tyranny. I don’t find the drive to break everything up into small pieces, even to the point of replacing a legal system build up over many generations with private security (a “private law society”), at all appealing.

No existing faction in America seems an appropriate political home for a Christian nationalist libertarian abortion abolitionist. This leaves me politically homeless and without a tribe. If I had any of the tribal instincts evolutionary theorists think humans necessarily have, I’m sure this would make me very sad.

Notes ^

[1] The New John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, modernized and adapted for computer by Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, who holds the copyright. Sword module Gill v. 1.4. Interested readers may order the full text in printed from from The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855.

[2] The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussion: And Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: J. Haddon, 1848), Chapter II.

[3] The opening line of Love and Rockets “No New Tale to Tell” (1987) offers a concise and memorable statement of a perspective just as consistent and supportable on unbelieving grounds as any call to enforce “natural” limits on human activities. While unbelieving moralists resist admitting this, there is no sound basis within unbelieving thought to jump from “this is against nature” to “this should be illegal.” The assumption that what defies nature is morally wrong depends on a prior belief that a morally good God created nature. Within the unbelieving framework, even forbidding victimization and making adult sound-mindedness central to law can only be sustained on pragmatic grounds: we can only have peaceful coexistence and social order if we disallow victimization and require consent. While Christians and other monotheists can make natural rights an absolute and hold to them without compromise as the “self-evident” basis for just laws, unbelievers who want to be libertarians can only (coherently) do so on a pragmatic basis.

If you prefer something more highbrow than a reference to 1980s pop (alternative) culture, perhaps you’d prefer a 1990s quotation from Richard Dawkins’ River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Now, build a moral system and political philosophy on that basis.

[4] At some point after writing these comments, I viewed a video podcast by advocates of Rousas Rushdoony’s teachings. Based on what I learned from that podcast, I added the following remarks as a comment on my prior comments on 10 September 2022.

Re “the theonomy of Bahnsen and Rushdoony, not Barth, often erroneously called ’theocracy’”: I should note that at least some theonomists embrace the term “theocracy” but redefine it. Using terms in ways at odds with dominant usage seldom gets anywhere and encourages confusion, but those who do it often have good reasons. Students of Austrian economics who avoid using “inflation” to refer to rising prices and use it only to refer to inflating the “money” (currency) supply come to mind. [The Austrians have the added advantage that the usage they prefer was once dominant and makes sense when you analyze it. Nevertheless, resisting dominant usage, even when dominant usage is irrational, seldom does much good.] So do those of us who like to point out that the U.S. War of Independence was not really a “revolution” (except in its ideas) because no government was overthrown but a national order seceded from, all properly executed through elected colonial leadership. For the theonomists’ good reasons, see [Fascism, Socialism and Theocracy – The Chalcedon Podcast – Ep. 18].