In an earlier article and podcast, I responded to a Facebook Post related to the application of God’s law in the NT, including laws found in what is described as the “law of Moses,” actually God’s law. The Mosaic Law is God’s Law that was revealed to Moses.
The FB poster went on to write the following:
[Gary DeMar] also believes [God’s laws] should be legislated in secular government.
There is no neutrality. If God’s laws should not be legislated, whose laws should? Someone’s laws are going to be legislated. It seems that this guy prefers any law order except laws from the Bible. The Bible has prohibitions against murder, theft, unjust weights and measures, and perjury to name just some laws that come directly from the Bible and have been written into our nation’s laws. Here’s an example dealing with property rights found in Georgia law:
Iron pins are a common and useful means of identifying property corners and they and other similar monuments serve a useful purpose. The installation and maintenance of permanent monuments identifying land corners even preserves the good order of society itself. From earliest times the law not only authorized but protected landmarks. Interference with landmarks of another was a violation of the Mosaic law. See Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Job 24:2; Proverbs 22:28; 23:10. (256 Ga. 54, International Paper Realty Company v. Bethune. No. 43092. Supreme Court of Georgia, June 10, 1986).
In a list of those who do evil, the book of Job includes those who “remove the landmarks” and thereby “seize and devour flocks” (24:2). In 1 Kings 21, Elijah reproved Ahab and Jezebel for the murder of Naboth and the theft of his vineyard. Every homeowner in the United States is protected by these property laws. The New Testaments codifies the Eighth Commandment of “You shall not steal” (Rom. 13:9). This doesn’t only apply to individuals; it also applies to civil government. If the civil magistrate is a “minister of God,” as Paul wrote, how does the magistrate determine what is “good” or “evil” (v. 4)?
Theonomy: An Informed Response
Covenants are inescapable concepts. It is never a question of covenant vs. no covenant; it is always a question of whose covenant. If a Christian says that there is no legitimate Christian civil covenant in New Testament times, he is necessarily saying that Christendom is not a biblically valid goal in history.Buy Now
Additionally, there has been legislation against polygamy (two Supreme Court cases in the 19th century), homosexuality (until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003), incest, and abortion (first in approval in 1973, then in disapproval in the Dobbs opinion 2022). Now that our nation is officially atheistic, we have laws protecting every type of evil. Should Christians sit back and let the atheists legislate away? Dr. Gary North asks a fundamental question that applies to the claim that biblical law has no business being applied to civil law:
There is a school of Biblical interpretation that says that unless an Old Testament law is repeated in the New Testament as legally binding, it is no longer legally binding. Such a doctrine is not explicitly taught in the New Testament; it is a generally unstated presupposition that commentators bring with them when they begin to study the Bible. They assume what they ought first to prove. There is no mention in the New Testament of bestiality. This raises a significant problem of interpretation for those who argue that the Old Testament law system was annulled by Christ. On what basis is the civil government to prosecute bestiality? Natural law? But nature is hardly a guide in sexual matters….Animals do all sorts of things sexually that the Old Testament regards as an abomination. The Marquis de Sade, from whom we get the term sadism, was a great defender of natural law theory that is based self-consciously on nature, for nature is filled with murder and destruction. But if natural law theory is an unreliable foundation, then the question remains: What is the civil government to do about bestiality (or any other crime)? On what moral or legal basis?
That’s the question. All laws are the legislation of someone’s view of morality. I cover this topic in the chapter “You Cannot Legislate Morality” in my book Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths.
Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths
Our nation is in a crisis. The world is crying out for answers in the face of bewildering and seemingly unsolvable problems. Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths shows that the Bible has real answers to these problems—answers the church is currently ignoring.Buy Now
In addressing the Texas legislature, Chuck Colson told them that “the only answer to the crime problem is to take nonviolent criminals out of our prisons and make them pay back their victims with restitution. This is how we can solve the prison crowding problem.” Several legislators came up to Colson “one after another and said things like, ‘That’s a tremendous idea. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that?’ I had the privilege of saying to them, ‘Read Exodus 22. It is only what God said to Moses on Mount Sinai thousands of years ago.’” These laws apply to what people do that are wrong. But how does the civil magistrate know?
The goal of Christian involvement is to restrain the authority and power of civil government so that it stays within its jurisdictional boundaries. Ignoring the civil sphere only empowers it and those who Mafia-like have used it for their gain against the citizenry. “The Saturday Evening Post once ran a cartoon showing Moses on the mount, holding the tablet of the Ten Commandments in his hands. He looks up to heaven and says, ‘Maybe there’s only ten of them now, but just wait till the bureaucrats get to work.’” With no objective standard, the State manufacturers laws and regulations and empowers itself.
Most people who have only seen the 1956 film Ten Commandments on television have never seen Cecil B. DeMille’s opening monologue. DeMille had something more in mind than just making a film about a religious figure from the Bible. He considered his production to be so important that he came out on stage to deliver a short but powerful statement on the nature of freedom under the law of God.
The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today.
You can watch it here.
The elaborate film Souvenir Book that was made available in theaters includes a preface with the title “The Law by Which Men Live”:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS are not laws. They are THE LAW. Man has made 32,000,000 laws since they were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God’s law.
The FB poster goes on to comment:
I think he [Gary DeMar] needs to revisit the Sermon on the Mount, especially the part where Christ warned the Jews not to cast their pearls before swine. In the modern vernacular, we refer to “turn and tears to pieces” as “blowback” which I believe we are today experiencing from the Christian Fundamentalists practices in government in the 20th century.
I dealt with the “blowback” argument in the previous article showing that there is always blowback from preaching and applying God’s Word. Consider the following from Mark’s Gospel:
[Jesus] entered a synagogue again; and a man was there whose hand was withered. And they were watching Him closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might put Him to death.
“Blowback” for healing a man “with a withered hand”! There was “blowback” from nearly everything Jesus said or did. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the multitudes, and He was still hunted down, persecuted, defamed, prosecuted, and put to death. Maybe Jesus did it all wrong. Too much “blowback.” But we know better:
“It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matt. 10:25).
The book of Acts is filled with examples of the disciples being attacked because of God’s Word message. Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned (Acts 16:22-40). They were driven out of Thessalonica when “some wicked men from the marketplace formed a mob and set the city in an uproar” looking for Paul and Silas. When the mob could not find them, their friend Jason was dragged out of his home and taken to the civil magistrate where Paul and Silas were accused of an insurrection against Rome: “they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there that there is another king, Jesus” (17:1-8).
If the opposition is made up of “swine” who can “tear us to pieces,” then it seems to me that there needs to be some legal restraints on these destroyers. The FB poster adds the following:
The law has not only failed to maintain civility among people, but it has also failed to produce anyone righteous. On the contrary, significant evils are often committed under the guise of the law, even the law of God, as demonstrated by the Pharisees.
The law was never designed to make people righteous. It was designed to point out when a person was being unrighteous (1 Tim. 1:9). God’s law is a restrainer. The law curtails the manifestation of unrighteousness in external acts. This is why Paul states that the civil magistrate “does not bear the sword for nothing” (Rom. 13:4). We’re seeing the breakdown of “civility among people” because we live in a secularized society where many people believe they can do what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6) because they do not believe in God’s law because they do not believe in God.
What does this FB poster thinks will happen if our nation continues down this path? What’s his solution? He’ll say it’s “God’s law written on our hearts and mind.” We’re back to law again. It can’t be escaped. Does he want the “swine” to legislate in terms of Animal Farm? What made the United States attractive to the world? Equality under the law. I suggest he read the chapter “Morality” in Vishal Mangalwadi’s book The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization. “In 1738, two centuries after the Reformation, Bishop [George] Berkeley declared that religion and morality in Britain had collapsed ‘to a degree that was never before known in any country.’” There were several factors that contributed to the precipitous decline, but the Gospel linked to fixed moral standards contributed to a new moral revolution. What’s particularly instructive is the impact that John Wesley and others had on transforming England that led to John Witherspoon’s work on abolishing the slave trade without creating a bloody civil war. Also see the chapter “The Bible and the Law” in What if the Bible Had Never Been Written?
The FB poster ends with the following:
What involvement did Christ and the early Christians have with law and government? Weren’t they opposed for nearly 200 some-odd years until the compromise with Constantine?
These early Christians were under the boot of Rome. Paul was an exception being a Roman citizen. The Bible, “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), laid the foundation for the transformation of law and government that had nothing to do with Constantine (c. 272-337). Compromise did not start with Constantine. It can be found throughout the Bible. In the period of the Judges, the people worshipped “Baal-berith” (Judges 9:4), “God of the Covenant.”
If you can actually show me a true Christian human government in history that operated under the law, I will show you a government whose fruits are worldly and devilish.
Of course, governments have rotten elements just like individuals because civil government are made up of people, but if Christians let the “swine” take over the farm, everything will be eaten. The goal is to restrain the swine. To claim that all nations are morally equal is a drastic misreading of history. Mangalwadi writes the following: “The [Global Corruption Perceptions Index] confirms what I saw in Holland—that the Bible is only force known in history that has freed entire nations from corruptions while simultaneously giving them political freedom. The most secular nations—that is, ex-communist, atheistic nations, which teach that no man or machine is watching you, then no one is watching you—are among the most corrupt nations, not too different from Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim nations.”
Gary North, 75 Bible Questions Your Instructors Pray You Won’t Ask (Ft. Worth, Texas: Dominion Press,1987), Part II.
Editor’s Introduction to Ray Sutton’s book Second Chance: Biblical Blueprints for Divorce and Remarriage (Ft. Worth, TX” Dominion Press, 1988), ix.
Charles Colson, “The Kingdom of God and Human Kingdoms,” Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, ed. James M. Boice (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1988), 154-155.
D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What If the Bible Had Never Been Written (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), 43.
The Ten Commandments Souvenir Book*,* Paramount Pictures Corporation (1956, 1957), was published by The Greenstone Company, New York, N.Y.
Mangalwadi, The Book that Made Your World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 259.
See Peter J. Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom (Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2010).
Mangalwadi, The Book that Made Your World, 255.