Monthly Archives: January 2014

Assimilation: The State and the Ninth Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Exodus 20: 16 says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

This is a commandment that is generally misunderstood. The pietistic understanding of this commandment is that God is saying that it is always wrong to make a verbal statement that you know is not true. A lie is properly defined as any statement that contains untrue or misleading information. A lie is improperly understood as always being a case of bearing false witness and, therefore, a sin.

It comes as a surprise to many pietists that God has often approved of the telling of a lie. The story of Rahab recorded in Joshua 2 is one of the better examples of a lie not being a sin. Rahab had taken in the Israelite spies and given them shelter from the local authorities. When Rahab was ordered to disclose their location to the authorities she told a bold and flagrant lie. The reward for her lie telling was life for her and her family when the Israeli army attacked and destroyed Jericho. Clearly, giving false information does not always constitute an act of bearing false witness.

The whole concept of bearing false witness is steeped in legal nuances. It assumes that a person is being called to give testimony as a witness to something. That only occurs in a courtroom environment. Furthermore, it assumes that the person doing the interrogation has a right to the information that the witness is aware of. That was the problem with the Jericho police; they had no right to information that would have thwarted the revealed will of God to destroy Jericho. Rahab realized that fact and refused to divulge her information. Her lie did not make her a traitor. Her lie made her a member of the covenant people of God. The Ninth Commandment, therefore, does not prohibit all inaccurate information. It does prohibit the giving of false and misleading information to anyone who has a right to that information.

Who generally as a right to accurate information? Covenant heads have a right to accurate information. The father, elder, and magistrate have the right to know accurate information. In addition, voluntarily entered contractual agreements presuppose the sharing of accurate, although not necessarily exhaustive, information. Each party to the transaction has a right to know what they are entering into agreement about. Violations in these settings are what generally constitute a violation of the prohibition to bear false witness.

The entire system of criminal jurisprudence in this country is based upon the concept of not divulging truth to those who have a right to it. Our system is defined as being an adversarial system. An adversarial system means that both plaintiff and defendant will adopt an adversarial position towards each other, regardless of the truth of the situation. A good defense attorney labors to obtain a “not guilty” verdict for his client, even if he is fully convinced he is guilty. A good defense attorney will use any legal loophole he can crawl through in order to accomplish his goal of freedom for his client. According to our system of jurisprudence the perpetrator of a crime has no responsibility to confess to his sin. If the state is unable to make its case, he is free to walk.

Nothing could be further from the biblical system. Not bearing false witness has the positive counterpart of requiring that true witness be declared. The simple fact that declaring the truth will cause one to be found guilty is not biblical cause to invoke the right to remain silent or to give false information. In fact, the primary reason for swearing an oath to tell the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” is to compel full, honest testimony. Pleading the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution (the “right” to not engage in self-incrimination) is as contrary to the system of biblical law as it can possibly be. Anyone convicted of a crime is compelled to testify, and to tell the truth.

The example of Achan in Joshua 7 is particularly enlightening. God had commanded that when the Israelites entered the land of Canaan they were to utterly destroy everything. Canaan was “under the ban” and the Israelites were to take no spoils of war. Achan decided to disobey the direct commandment of God and “took some of the things under the ban”. As a result, 36 Israelites were killed. Joshua conducted an investigation that pointed to Achan. Rather than telling Achan that he had the right to remain silent, Joshua issued him this exhortation, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” Achan confessed to his crime and he and his family were immediately executed for their sin. When a person sins it is his moral duty to confess to what he has done. To refuse to do so under the provisions of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution is a sin against God.

Even when the alleged criminal decides to testify, it is far from certain that the truth will ever be heard. The impeachment hearings of former president Bill Clinton are a great example of legal obfuscation. Lawyers and pundits around the country praised Mr. Clinton on his magnificent ability to deliver testimony that said absolutely nothing. Everyone knew he was guilty and he was not removed from office.

The US legal system is entirely rotten. Everyday the Ninth Commandment is broken in the courtrooms of this nation. Everyday Christians are involved in the violations of the commandment. Evangelicals argue that we just need more Christian judges and lawyers. Joining an immoral system is not the way to bring about change. Declaring God’s revealed will that accurate testimony from all parties to a conflict is a biblical requirement is the responsibility of the Church. But, the Church is far too assimilated to the law of the land to ever even consider such an action. Our patriotism and blind love for an immoral legal system guarantee that we continue to be irrelevant as declarers of truth to the nation.

Assimilation: The State and the Eighth Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Exodus 20: 15 says, “You shall not steal.”

The Constitution of the United States grants the right to “coin money” to the government. God has an opinion about how the right to coin money should be exercised. Leviticus 19: 35-36 says, “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity. You shall have just balances, just weights,…” This terminology, despite being found in the Bible and in the Constitution, is foreign to most people.

“Coining money” simply means the right to declare that some entity is going to be established as the legal entity for financial transactions. Laws related to the coining of money are known as legal tender laws. The United States has legal tender laws that specifically state that only Federal Reserve Notes (dollars) are permitted to be used in financial transactions. Any attempt to use private money in personal financial transactions is illegal and punishable by law. The legal tender laws of the US are the logical extension of the Constitution’s right to coin money and they grant a monopoly power over money to the government.

God commands that we are to have “just weights”. This is a reference to the weight of a coin that is used as money in a society. Ancient governments also frequently asserted monopoly privilege over the issuance of money. Those societies generally utilized a metal, typically gold or silver, as the form for the money. Paper money was unheard of. The money that the government produced was in the form of a coin, usually with the current potentate inscribed on the face of it. Since the value of a coin was directly related to the weight of the metal in it, God commanded that the weight of the coin stamped on the face had to correspond to the actual weight of the coin.

The temptation always existed for the government that was in power to “shave” coins. By doing this they could remove small parts from each individual coin and combine the numerous small parts into a new coin. When done carefully it was difficult to determine that the coin had been shaved and was not actually worth what it was stated to be worth. The new coin was essentially a counterfeit, in that it was created from the shavings of the other genuine coins. The temptation for the government to do this is obvious. By creating counterfeit coins that circulate as genuine coins they are able to create money “out of thin air” and by being the first to use the new coins they are able to purchase goods and services for free.

Eventually the marketplace realizes that somebody has been shaving coins. They come to realize that there are more coins in circulation than there had been before. As a result, businesses raise the prices of their goods and services to correspond to the increase in the number of coins. The net effect is that prices rise and the value of the original coins declines. Those who were able to use the counterfeit money first were able to profit because the market had not yet figured out that prices needed to rise. Those who did not have access to the counterfeit coins experienced losses because the value of the coins that they held in savings declined. In economics, the creation of new money out of thin air is known as inflation. By commanding that the weights and measures used by a society must be just, God prohibits the practice of inflation.

What does all this have to do with the Eighth Commandment? Precisely this, counterfeiting is a form of theft. The civil government recognizes this and prosecutes any private citizen who attempts to engage in the practice of counterfeiting money. That is a good thing. Unfortunately, the government itself is by far the biggest practitioner of counterfeiting in the country. It is therefore necessarily the case that the government is the biggest thief in the country. Since most Christians are unaware of the practice of monetary policy utilized by the government it is worth a quick explanation.

Early in the history of the United States it was not uncommon for private banks to circulate notes that served as legal tender. The fact that the Constitution granted the right to coin money to the government did not prohibit private banks from doing the same. During the Great Depression there were a great number of “bank runs”. A bank run would occur when people who had money deposited in a particular bank came to realize that the bank did not have the reserves to cover their deposits. A panic would ensue and it was not unusual for the government to declare a “bank holiday”. A bank holiday was little more than a way to prevent people from withdrawing their money from the banks. It was hoped that the time spent during the bank closure would be enough to convince people to leave their money in the bank.

The reason that banks experienced devastating runs in the first place was directly related to the practice of fractional reserve banking. Under fractional reserve banking a bank is permitted to only keep a percentage of its demand deposits in reserve. What is not kept on deposit is free to be loaned out. Without the accountability of having to have one hundred percent reserves on demand deposits the banks quickly succumbed to the temptation to loan out far more money than they actually had received in deposits. As long as the economy was humming along smoothly nobody cared. However, when economic difficulties arose people would want their money back and when they went to the bank to retrieve it they were informed that it was no longer there (think of that classic scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life where George is trying to explain why the depositors money is not in the bank).

Rather than dealing with the problems associated with fractional reserve banking (a form of counterfeiting) by requiring full reserve banking the federal government decided to do something else. The result of their efforts was the Federal Reserve Board (Fed). The Fed was created to be the bank of “last resort” in order to prevent any future bank runs and install confidence on the part of savers in their local banks. This, of course, did little more than push the problem of counterfeiting one step deeper into the recesses of the federal government.

The federal government soon realized that having a personal banker was a good thing when the government needed money. Raising taxes was a good way to lose the next election. Promising new government programs was a good way to win the next election. But, how can a politician promise to cut taxes and raise spending for new programs at the same time? No problem. The solution is the Fed. The Fed promises to provide “liquidity” to the government anytime it wants it. Liquidity is nothing more than the promise to create new dollars out of thin air. If any individual were to engage in the practices of the Fed they would be arrested for counterfeiting. When the federal government engages in counterfeiting they call it “monetary policy” and argue that it is crucial for the survival of the nation.

Most people, Christians included, believe that inflation is an increase in the price of something. That is an incorrect view. The price of something increases because of a prior inflation. Inflation, as Milton Freidman has said, “is purely a monetary phenomenon.” In other words, creating new money out of thin air (called “fiat money” by economists) is the practice of inflation. Once that money hits the streets it is only a matter of time before the counterfeit money causes the prices of things to rise. Hence, price inflation is the result of a prior monetary inflation.

Since granting the Fed the right to counterfeit at will, the Fed has never ceased to use that power. As a result, the supply of money in this country has been continually rising and the value of the dollar has been continually dropping. It is shocking for most people to realize just how much the purchasing power of the dollar has declined. What cost one-dollar in 1990 today costs 1.36 dollars. What cost one-dollar in 1980 today costs 2.18 dollars. What cost one-dollar in 1970 today costs 4.63 dollars. What cost one-dollar in 1960 today costs 6.08 dollars. To put this another way, the value of the dollar has eroded as follows: it cost 72 cents in 1990 to purchase what one dollar buys in 2002, it cost 46 cents in 1980 to purchase what one dollar buys in 2002, it costs 22 cents in 1970 to purchase what one dollar buys in 2002, and it cost 16 cents in 1960 to purchase what one dollar buys in 2002. That is a massive erosion of the value of the dollar in just a little over forty years.

That loss of value in the dollar is theft. It is no different than if a thief had broken into your home and forcibly taken a percentage of your cash. However, in this case, it is the federal government that is taking your cash. Everyday, around the clock, without ever stopping, the Fed continues to inflate the money supply and destroy the value of the dollar. Every dollar that you hold is worth less everyday because of Fed inflation. That is money that all holders of dollars have lost and will never retrieve. Inflation is a direct violation of the principle of the State maintaining a just system of weights and measures.

There is not one in a thousand believers who is even aware of the process of monetary policy in this country. Of those who are aware, not one in a thousand understands that the policies of the Fed constitute theft. Of those who are aware and who understand that monetary policy constitutes theft, not one in a thousand of those folks think anything needs to be done about the problem. No doubt there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Christians who work in the Federal Reserve System. There no doubt are Christian bankers who practice fractional reserve banking everyday. Certainly there are Christians in the Fed itself who go to work everyday and create new money. The belief of evangelicals that all we need to do is get more Christians into positions with the government as a means of bringing about change is once again proven to be false. What we need is for Christians to stand up and declare theft to be theft and demand that it stop immediately. We do not need Christians joining the system, even if it is a good way to make a living and have a nice retirement pension.

The Church has been assimilated to the culture of the United States by not even recognizing a gross violation of the Eighth Commandment that is taking place in the federal government on a daily basis. The sin is flagrant, public, and continual. Where is the outcry? Where are the demands for repentance? Where is the leadership of the Church? Who is asking the question, how can a believer be a part of this system and not be guilty of theft? The Church, and individual believers, have been blinded by our patriotism to the gross immorality that is going on right under our noses.

Assimilation: The State and the Seventh Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Exodus 20: 14 says, “You shall not commit adultery.”

Although the State does not actively promote adultery among the citizens of the country, it is still the case that the refusal of the State to administer the God ordained sanctions against adultery has cultivated an environment in which the practice of adultery is winked at and deemed to be an amoral activity that takes place between consenting adults.

God’s opinion on the matter is simple. The adulterer is subject to the death penalty for his actions and it is the duty of the State to enforce the punishment, at the behest of the injured party. The State’s opinion on the matter is simple. Cases of adultery are matters for divorce attorneys in civil court. The idea that there would be any criminal sanction, especially the death penalty, for the act of adultery is deemed incomprehensible.

It is not any surprise that adultery is at epidemic levels in American society. With little or no negative consequences for the act, why should we expect people to exercise self-control and remain true to their marriage vows? Even in the Church, the widespread belief that adultery is the by-product of a person suffering from a “sexual addiction” and that there should be nothing but “no-fault” divorces, has created a climate in which the rate of adultery matches that of the world.

The Church has adopted the State’s position on divorce as being “no-fault”. No-fault divorce was initiated in the State in order to streamline the huge number of cases in divorce court. The secular State determined that it would be more expedient to process cases of divorce if there were no need to prove fault. It takes time and energy to prove fault and the civil courts wanted to speed things along. The problem with this view is that the determination of fault is what determines the rest of the divorce settlement. Without a determination of fault it is impossible to make an award to an injured, innocent party to the divorce. Without a determination of fault, it is impossible to award child custody. Sadly, the church courts also rarely attempt to determine fault, they rarely even put a case of divorce on the docket.

The positive counterpart to this commandment is that both the Church and the State should promote fidelity in marriage. A divorce should not be easy to obtain. A divorce should not be granted under no-fault terms. A divorce should assign moral culpability for the divorce to at least one, and perhaps both, of the parties involved. The State refuses to do this and, for the most part, so does the Church.

Except in high profile cases where it is politically expedient for the elders of the church to bring discipline against the parties to a divorce, it is rarely the case that divorces between Christians are prosecuted in the church courts. This is very strange indeed. Christians seek to be married in the church. Christians realize that marriage initiates the covenantal unit of the family. Christians realize that the family is a God ordained institution and that it should be done in the church. But, because of assimilation, Christians believe that when it comes time to declare the marriage covenant to be void by means of a decree of divorce, that is the duty of the civil courts. The no-fault provisions of the State no doubt make it easier for the divorcing parties to obtain their divorce. However, no Christian should ever prosecute a divorce in the civil courts prior to prosecuting the divorce in the church court. It is the sworn duty of a Christian who is seeking a divorce to make the case for the divorce in the church court. It is the sworn duty of an elder in the church court to render a judicial decision, based upon God’s law, with respect to the innocence or guilt of each party. In fact, it is the duty of the church court to tend to all matters in the divorce, from the property settlement to custody of children.

It is probably a bit of a reach to argue that this commandment is broken on a regular basis by the State because the State is a conceptual entity that, by definition, is unable to commit adultery. However, the fact that former President Bill Clinton was able to be a self-confessed adulterer with absolutely no legal or political ramifications certainly does support the conclusion that the State at least is in collusion with adulterers. The long list of politicians who have been discovered to be adulterers with no negative consequences is the best testimony that the State really does not care about this commandment. Since the commandment does have the positive counterpoint of requiring the protection of the sanctity of marriage and the protection of the injured party in adultery, it is not a reach to assert that the State violates this commandment on a regular basis.

Even worse is the fact that the Church has had little to say about this issue. Christians are up in arms about school prayer and symbols of the Ten Commandments in the public square, but have little to say about the support engendered by the State for adulterous behavior that is endemic in our legal system. Ignorance, blindness, laziness and an unwillingness to examine the State critically have all brought about this state of assimilation.

It is not a reach to assert that the responsibility of the State to enforce the positive side of this commandment is an example of a regular, public violation of the prohibition against adultery. The State is to protect the sanctity of marriage. One of the means by which this is done is by prohibiting perversions of the marital relationship. Hence, the State should have sanctions against sexual perversions like incest, bestiality, and homosexuality (Leviticus 18). What we have witnessed instead, is more and more individual states in the United States are adopting laws that establish the state constitutional validity of homosexual “marital” unions. This is a direct violation of the commandment.

Christians are correctly outraged by this behavior by the State. Unfortunately, Christians do not know how to respond to this immorality. The usual response is to call for the State to assert that the covenantal unit of the family consists only of a male and a female who promise life long fidelity. While it is true that the family is defined in this way, it is not true that the State is able to declare the legal conditions of the family by legislative fiat. It is God who has defined the family covenantal unit. The State is to recognize what God has done, not step in and create a unit of its own.

Christians become confused over this issue because they do not realize that homosexuality is not primarily a sin that will lead to punishment but, rather, it is the punishment for a previously committed sin. This is made clear in Romans 1: 18-32 which says, in part:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened…. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…for this reason God gave them over to degrading passions…. the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another.

This passage makes it clear that, although homosexual behavior is a sin that deserves the punishment of death, homosexuality is the punishment for the failure to acknowledge the living and true God. Because men suppress their innate knowledge of the living God, God has seen fit to punish them for that act of suppression by endowing them with the curse of homosexuality.

This all has great significance with respect of the strategy to be used in confronting the State as it breaks the Seventh Commandment. It is a misdirection of action to tell the State to initiate a constitutional amendment that defines the parties of the family covenantal unit. The fact that the State has endorsed homosexual unions is clear biblical proof that the State is under the judgment of God. What the Church needs to do at this point is not enact new legislation but command the State to repent of the sin of not honoring the true and living God.

Assimilation: The State and the Sixth Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Exodus 20: 13 says, “You shall not murder.”

It is the duty of both individuals and the State to protect the lives of the citizens of the United States. The Declaration of Independence states that the “right to life” is one of the unalienable rights given to men by God. Notwithstanding this reality, the United States has murdered more of its citizens than many of the most ruthless dictatorships throughout human history. With the exception of China (under Mao and with its current policy of “one child per family”), and perhaps the old Soviet Union (under Lenin and Stalin), the United States has now murdered more of its own people than any other dictator. This includes such notable dictators as Adolph Hitler (everybody’s favorite when it comes time to come up with a “bad guy”), Pol Pot (in Cambodia), Idi Amin, and the current dictator du jour, Sadaam Hussein.

With over 30 million murders, and counting, abortion is the scourge of the United States. There is no point in debating the issue of abortion. The fact of the matter is that abortion is murder and everybody knows it. Those who try to justify it are “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness”. The problem with the issue of abortion is not an intellectual one (determining when life starts, when the soul is implanted, when it is just tissue, etc), but a moral one. As long as a person is in his sin, he will continue to believe that the murder of a baby is not immoral.

The Supreme Court of the United States has determined that the right of a woman to murder her baby is found in the Constitution. It is therefore necessarily the case that the United States has sanctioned the murder of over 30 million people in the last 30+ years. It is not difficult to see that the State has broken the Sixth Commandment.

What is difficult to understand is how professing Christians can be so willing to swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States when it sanctions the breaking of the Sixth Commandment on such a grand scale. It is even more difficult to understand how professing Christians can invoke the blessing of God by chanting the popular secular chant, “God Bless America”. How can any Christian possibly believe that God would bless this country when it sanctions the murder of a huge percentage of its own citizens? Nobody ever believes that God was blessing Hitler, and we have far surpassed him in terms of butchery. Nevertheless, evangelicals generally continue to believe that God is blessing us. This is little more than another example of how patriotic evangelicals have become completely assimilated to the world.

An Alternative To Adoption

I wrote an article earlier this week in the literary genre known as “Tongue & Cheek.” If you read it, I hope you caught the sarcasm. I was offering a brief critique of Jason Johnson’s doctrine of adoption. His position is that God adopted his people and that his people should, therefore, adopt orphans. Using the same flawed logic, I proposed that we marry all sorts of sordid women and try to make them beautiful because Christ marries the Church and purifies her and that we dig up old bones and put new cloths on them because God will raise us from the dead and clothe us in glory. Of course, my two propositions are ridiculous; but they are no more ridiculous than Johnson’s doctrine of adoption, which was my entire point.

Today, I would like to offer something more than just a critique. I would like to offer an alternative position to the one held by Johnson. Johnson’s claim is that God’s people should be adopting orphans because the very act of adopting an orphan is a demonstration of the gospel. This means that, in Johnson’s view, adopting orphans is not ultimately about adopting orphans. Adopting orphans is ultimately about demonstrating the gospel. So, his doctrine of adoption is not so much a doctrine of adoption as it is a doctrine of gospel demonstration that happens to include adoption. Therefore, the alternative I will provide is not an alternative doctrine of adoption but rather an alternative doctrine of gospel demonstration or presentation or proclamation.

Suppose we live in a world in which everyone treats everyone else unlawfully and has broken some law that requires they be executed by the king. Since everyone awaits the death penalty, they all spend their entire lives trying to escape the coming judgment. One day, the king has you brought to the castle. To your surprise, your head remains attached to your body; and you hear this from the king, “Son, I have derived an alternative means of justice. You will not be executed, and neither will the others in your village.” He lets you go free, and you are left with the decision of what to do with this information.

Assuming you want to tell the others in your village the good news, which of the two following options do you think would most clearly and effectively communicate the good news?

1) From this day forward, you decide that you will forgive all of your neighbors when they treat you unjustly. When the little boy across the way kicks down your fence, you invite him in for milk and cookies. When your neighbor steals your wheat, you bake him a loaf of bread. You hold nothing against anyone. This will be a physical demonstration of the good news that no one in the village will be executed by the king.

2) You decide to tell everyone in your village that the king has derived an alternative means of justice and that none of them will be executed.

Now, which of these two options do you think communicates the good news most clearly and effectively?

Suppose a man has spent the past 20 years building a beautiful home in the woods for his wife. If he wants to show her everything he has done for her, do you think it would be more effective to draw her a picture or to take her to the house?

The same thing is true with the gospel. If God has done something truly amazing on behalf of his people, why would we want to merely draw them a picture of what he has done? Adoption can be used as a picture of the gospel, but why would we want the picture when we have the real thing? Romans 1:16 tells us that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The good news that God has secured the salvation of his people through the demonstration of both his perfect justice and grace on the cross is God’s power to cause a person to be born again and to put his faith in Jesus Christ and to repent from his sins. The message of the gospel contains the power to bring about conversion.

Faith does not come about by seeing inadequate physical demonstrations of some of the spiritual truths contained in the gospel. Faith comes by hearing (Rom 10:17), hearing the verbal proclamation of what Christ has done on behalf of his people. No one has been converted to Christ because some Christian family somewhere adopted an orphan. All conversions to Christ happen, without exception, because of the verbal proclamation of the gospel.

So, my alternative to Johnson’s position is this: In God’s adoption of the saints, they are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into God’s kingdom, into his family. They are raised from spiritual death and given eternal life. They escape judgment and are given the all-satisfying joy of beholding their creator in all of his glory and of obeying his commandments. Therefore, the mission of the Church is to declare, with words, that in God’s adoption of the saints, they are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into God’s kingdom, into his family. They are raised from spiritual death and given eternal life. They escape judgment and are given the all-satisfying joy of beholding their creator in all of his glory and of obeying his commandments.

The mission of the church is not to encourage Christians to adopt orphans into their families. God is in the business of redeeming his people and delivering them into his kingdom. We should make God’s business our business, but it does not follow that we should be in the business of finding orphans and delivering them into our families. Rather, the Church should be in the business of proclaiming the redemption of God’s people and their deliverance into his family.

God has been kind enough to give us everything we need for life and godliness in the pages of the Bible. Everything needed to bring salvation and maturity is contained in the pages of a book that we too often ignore. I propose that instead of coercing God’s people into using their lives to draw pictures of the gospel by adopting orphans, the leaders in the Church teach God’s word and demand that people obey God’s commandments.

Assimilation: The State and the Fifth Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

(For reasons that I am not going to elaborate on here, I believe the Fourth Commandment to be ceremonial in nature rather than moral. As a ceremonial law it has no impact upon what we are discussing in this essay. I will therefore ignore it.)

Exodus 20: 12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

On first consideration it seems difficult to see how the State is purposefully breaking this commandment. The Fifth Commandment deals with the honor that a child is to have for his parents. The State is not even involved in the practice of obedience to this commandment. How is it possible that my contention that the State is breaking all of the commandments be true?

There are two primary ways that the State is actively breaking the commandment for a child to honor his parents. The first has to do with the common practice in the government school system to indoctrinate children in the view that the State is superior to the family, in particular, to the parents. Government schoolteachers begin with the assumption that they are better qualified to raise the children under their care than the children’s parents. This is seen in the fact that most school systems have counseling programs established for the purpose of teaching the lessons of “parenting skills” to the parents of the children! Teachers routinely intervene in family situations under the guise of providing a public service. In reality, the teachers believe that they are better qualified to be the primary influence in the lives of the children.

This situation is especially true when the children have “religious” parents. Religious parents are seen as a real hindrance to the intellectual and emotional development of the child. Much of the intellectual side of the government school indoctrination is designed to undermine the truths of biblical Christianity. Evolution is taught as a scientific fact. Creationism is denigrated as an anti-scientific belief system worthy only of consideration by sub-standard, superstitious pseudo-intellectuals. I do not have to go into detail on the war that the government schools have declared on Christianity, and Christian parents. Others have written many excellent books that prove my point. What is important for my purposes is that the State has asserted that children are to honor the State, not their parents.

The situation has become so bad in some government school districts that the children are now being asked to turn their parents into the police (usually on charges related to whatever happens to be popular with the teachers at the time, often related to drug laws) as the ultimate act of allegiance to the all powerful State. It is difficult to see how the content of the government school teachings have not seriously undermined the ability of children to honor their parents. In that sense, the State is actively breaking the commandment.

The second way that the State is breaking the Fifth Commandment is in its refusal to enforce the negative sanctions related to the breaking of this commandment. When a child refuses to honor his parents, the parents have a monopoly over the use of the rod to correct the child. As the child grows older it becomes less and less effective to utilize the rod as a means of discipline. Should the child continue to be disobedient it is only a matter of time before his sinful rebellion is manifested in sins that require greater sanctions than a spanking.

Jesus addressed exactly this problem in Matthew 15: 3-4 where He says, “And He answered and said to them, ‘And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honor your father and mother” and, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.” This verse always comes as a tremendous shock to evangelicals who believe that Jesus never said anything other than “I love you” to the people that He addressed. In this debate with the Pharisees Jesus takes the theological position that children who break the Fifth Commandment are to be put to death. This was, and still is, the law of God on the matter.

Immediately pietistic Christians conjure up images of toddlers being stoned and five year olds being burned at the stake. That is not the correct understanding of the law. The father was responsible to use the rod during the early development of the child. As the child develops it eventually becomes the case that the rod is of no more value. A child (I believe that is any child above age 13 and before age 20) that continues to rebel against the God ordained authority of his parents in his older childhood gives his parents the right to have him executed by the State.

Obviously the parents may not have the child executed for sins/crimes that are not biblical. If Dad is mad because Junior just executed his third consecutive “California stop” at a “Stop” sign, that is not biblical grounds for execution. Clearly, the child must be in continual, public rebellion against the law of God. Most, if not all, members of juvenile gangs would be fine candidates for the death penalty.

The State refuses to even consider the idea of enforcing the death penalty upon juvenile delinquents. This is a direct act of rebellion against the revealed will of God for the magistrate. The magistrate does not have the option of ignoring God’s opinion about what to do with juvenile delinquents. The fact that the State ignores God’s law is a prime example of breaking the Fifth Commandment. By taking away the right of the parents to present their children to the State for execution the State is flagrantly arrogating to itself the right to determine the future of the juvenile delinquent. God assigns that responsibility to the parents in the Fifth Commandment and the State is actively breaking that commandment by its behavior. When Christians side with the State on this issue they have become assimilated to the world.

Doing the Gospel

I came across an interesting blog the other day, which you can find here. Jason Johnson is Chief Church Engagement Officer for The Arrow Foundation – an organization committed to equipping, resourcing and mobilizing the Church towards foster care and adoption around the country. His blog revolves around the central theme of adoption/foster care and their demonstration of the gospel. Most of his articles reach the same conclusion from a slightly different starting point. That conclusion is that adopting orphans is one of the ways the Church ought to demonstrate the gospel.

While telling the story of how he stood in a court room and testified that a little girl should be taken from the dangerous home of her parents (kingdom of darkness) and transferred to his home of love and safety (kingdom of light), he says the following, “The Gospel compels, albeit demands, that we be willing to stand for what Jesus stood for by standing where Jesus would stand. This is the only explanation for me being in that courtroom that day.” He draws an analogy between the adoption of God’s people and the adoption of orphans. While we were yet sinners and dead in our transgressions, Christ testified on our behalf and claimed us as his own. We were taken from the kingdom of darkness and brought into God’s kingdom, into his family. This is the heart of the gospel; and, according to Johnson, the Church should demonstrate the gospel by doing for orphans what God has done for us.

I was blown away when read this. I had one of those “ah hah” moments. I finally saw something that had been staring me in the face for years. While reading through Johnson’s articles, it dawned on me that adoption is not the only way to demonstrate the truths of the gospel. If Johnson’s method of interpretation is sound, then it should apply universally. In other words, if we should be adopting orphans because God adopted us, then we should also do for those around us all the other things that God does for us. Obviously I am not talking about dying for people’s sins. Only Christ can do that. However, I believe there are two things we can do that, when combined with adoption, will fully demonstrate the whole of the gospel.

Johnson is right to start things off with adoption. This is the first phase in the process. Before time began, before we could testify for ourselves, Christ stood in the gap on our behalf and chose to die for our sins and transfer us to his kingdom through adoption. However, there is more to the gospel. Scripture tells us that Christ loves and cherishes those whom he has adopted. While we are children of God, we are also cherished by Christ as his beloved bride. According to Ephesians 5:25­–27, Christ gave himself up for his bride, the Church, in order to cleanse her and sanctify her and to ultimately present to himself the people of his Church as a pure and spotless bride. He does not just adopt us. He also marries us and sanctifies us and makes us beautiful. Therefore, the gospel compels, albeit demands, that we be willing to stand for what Jesus stood for by doing what Jesus would do. The men of the Church ought to marry all sorts of sordid women and cherish them as their own. As a physical demonstration of spiritual truths, the men of the Church should ensure that their women have designer cloths and professional makeup. Wives should be made to look stunningly beautiful. I won’t go so far as to say that all men must get married; but those who do get married must have as their primary goal the physical beautification of their wives, and those men who do not marry must support those who do. The Church is not called to simply state doctrinal truths. We must live them out in our lives. We must demonstrate these truths with our actions. Men must marry sordid women and make them beautiful.

The other action that I believe the Church should take might be a bit more controversial, but I think it is necessary in order to tell the whole gospel with our actions. God has adopted us, so we should adopt orphans. Christ has taken us as his bride in order to purify and sanctify us, so we should take sordid women as wives and make them beautiful. One promise for which we still wait is our resurrection from the dead. God will raise us to everlasting life and clothe us with the righteousness of Christ. As a demonstration of this aspect of the gospel, we should do something for dead people. I am just thinking out loud here, but maybe we should dig up some old bones and put new cloths on them. This would signify both the resurrection and God’s people being clothed in Christ’s righteousness. The gospel compels, albeit demands, that we be willing to stand for what Jesus stood for by doing what Jesus will do. For the sake of the gospel, we must do something for dead people. We, the people of the Church, should empty graves and ensure that the dead are brought forth and given new cloths.

The gospel is not something we can merely proclaim. We have to do the gospel. My ideas, based upon Johnson’s method of biblical interpretation, will demonstrate the whole gospel to the world so that they can see it. The Church is called to adopt orphans, marry lots of sordid women, and dig up graves. This is the only way that the world will come to see the glory of the gospel.

If you take issue with any one of these propositions, then I urge you to reconsider the biblical and logical basis for all three of them, including the first one.

Assimilation: The State and the Third Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Exodus 20: 7 says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

The President of the United States swears an oath of office in which he affirms to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.”

Congressional office holders swear an oath in which they affirm to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States…so help me God.”

The oath of citizenship in the United States is an oath to “support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States…so help me God.”

Contrary to popular opinion, the Third Commandment does not primarily apply to people who use one of the names of God when they curse. Although that would rate as a violation of the commandment, it is a lesser offense and it is not the primary intention of the prohibition. To take the name of God in vain is to use His name in an official function or capacity, while having no intention of giving Him the honor that is due His name. The invocation of the name of God is something that should be done only in times of great gravity. Swearing an oath to uphold a position in one of the God ordained institutions of society is an example of one of those times. Swearing an oath to uphold a position in the State is included in the prohibition to use the name of God in vain.

Most of the official positions in the government of the United States require swearing an oath that invokes the name of God. As such, those oaths fall under the jurisdiction of the Third Commandment are are subject to the moral terms and conditions of those offices. God does not grant His monopoly authority to His “ministers” in the State without giving them specific, written instructions on how to apply His authority to the people. Those written instructions are found in the Bible. When an elected official swears the oath of office and does so with the expressed desire for the “help of God” he is asserting that he wants the will of God to be evidenced in his activities. However, when the oath simultaneously asserts that he is going to protect, uphold, and defend the Constitution of the United States (a document that I have proven to be 180 degrees contrary to the will of God recorded in the Bible) while at the same time invoking the presence of God to do so, a case of taking the name of God in vain has taken place.

It is not possible to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and uphold, protect and defend the name of God at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. The Constitution is a competing idol trying to rob God of His supreme authority. To invoke the name of God while swearing to uphold a system that is contrary to His revealed will is little more than mocking God. God will not be mocked. He will not leave anyone unpunished who takes His name in vain.

Christians have assimilated to the US culture by ignoring the fact that all of the oaths that they take (to serve in public office, to serve on a jury, to be an attorney, to be in the military, etc) to uphold the Constitution constitute a transgression of the Third Commandment. Furthermore, evangelicals have been assimilated because they have utterly lost sight of the fact that God still expects the first table of His Law to be enforced. The secular notion that a pluralistic society forbids the enforcement of civil sanctions against violators of the first three commandments has come to dominate evangelical thinking. God is no less interested in seeing the first table of His Law enforced now than He was two thousand years ago. The fact that Christians gave up the biblical position to the secular humanists without any fight whatsoever is a testimony to how much the heretical influence of Marcion (Marcion was the ancient heretic who argued that there were two gods: the nasty god of the Old Testament and the loving god of the New Testament. In his opinion, the Old Testament god had either died or was no longer of any influence in the world) has infected the minds of modern believers. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament and that God demands that His commandments be obeyed, in all times and in all places. Assimilation to the misplaced value of patriotism has led Christians to be ashamed of the law of God.

Assimilation: The State and the Second Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Exodus 20: 4-5 says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol,… you shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…”

Although it is generally true that most citizens of the United States do not physically engage in the practice of idol worship, it does not follow that we are not guilty of breaking the Second Commandment. It is certainly true that the primary intention of this commandment was to prevent the ancient practice of bowing down to idols of wood and stone. In our modern era, with few exceptions, people no longer bow down before idols of wood and stone. But the sin of idolatry goes further than the mere worship of inanimate objects. The key to the concept of idolatry is the concept of worship.

The prohibition against crafting idols also contains the prohibition against worshipping the idols. God goes on to give a reason why He prohibits the worship of idols; He is a jealous God. As a jealous God, He demands that all of His creation worship Him and Him alone. The essence of jealousy is exclusivity. Any worship that takes place that does not have the God of the Bible as the object of that worship is a transgression of this commandment. So we can get a perspective on whether modern men break this commandment by answering two questions: 1) Does man worship the God of the Bible as He requires, and 2) Does man worship anything other than the God of the Bible?

The positive side of this commandment is that man is required to worship the God who created him. No man is exempt from the requirement that he worship the true and living God. To not worship the God of the Bible is to break this commandment. With respect to the role of the State, as the Westminster Confession of Faith says so well, “the civil magistrate has authority to…see that unity and peace be preserved in the Church…that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, (and) all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline be prevented or reformed….” In short, it is the duty of the civil magistrate to establish the worship of the God of the Bible. To not do so is to break the Second Commandment. The Constitution of the United States specifically repudiates this responsibility and declares that the duty of government shall be to not “establish” any religion.

Although very few men worship physical idols in this day, it is nevertheless true that other, non-physical idols exist, and many of them are worshiped. I would argue that the State itself has become an idol and is the object of worship by many Christians and non-Christians alike. The State declares itself to be the sovereign authority of the land. The State asserts that it, and it alone, is able to take care of its citizens from the cradle to the grave. The State regulates all of life, down to the minutest details, with rules and regulations (commandments) that all are expected to follow under punishment of law. The State declares its sovereign authority over all of life by taxing every transaction, every activity, every piece of property, and every transfer of property that the citizens engage in.

Those who do not engage in the State sacrament of voting are deemed to be apostates from the system of worship that has evolved. Voting is spoken of in high and loft terms and it is deemed to be our means of access to the sacred. Political conventions are resplendent with the pomp and circumstance befitting the most elaborate religious service, complete with choirs, chants, praises, prayers, and adoration of the saviors of civil service. Often the sympathetic tear does flow when one’s desired individual is appointed by the party to attain to the lofty goal of “public servant”.

Claims that “happy days are here again” are followed by threats to leave the country if so and so is elected. The fate of the entire civilized world is said to be resting upon the sovereign choice of the People in the next election. We are told that there is nothing so important or so empowering as the right to vote and elect those who will lead the free world into certain and unlimited prosperity. There is no limit to the claims of power ascribed to the elected representatives. They can stop unemployment, create jobs, create wealth, cause the stock market to rise, put a chicken in every pot, prevent war, bring peace and democracy to undeveloped countries in the world, establish justice in the land, enforce righteousness in land, and make sure that life will forever be defined as risk less. All of these items are claims of deity.

As Bob Dylan once said, “You gotta serve somebody.” The universe does not allow for a vacuum. If the true and living God is not the object of worship in the State, then something else will be. In our case, we have made the State itself the object of worship. In doing so we have assimilated to the world by brazenly breaking the Second Commandment.