Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – November 19, 1863. Those listening to President Lincoln, heard him say that, for government in America, it was intended that “... this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” “Of the people, by the people, for the people,” what a powerful concept! Consider the Gay marriage debate. Dallas, Texas – October 1, 2009. Those listening in her courtroom, heard District Judge Tena Callahan rule that the state prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection. That same-sex marriage prohibition was placed there by the people of Texas. This was government by the judge, against the people and instead of the people. Whatever you think of the merits of the case, it was one of the first of many examples of departure from the way American government was set up.
Some argue that it was an implementation of the checks and balances in the constitution. Their problem is that the constitution never commented on every possible future life situation. The constitution expected that the people (not just the judges) would be wise and moral enough to render verdicts on unfolding societal trends.
The irony in court that day was that the case was one seeking divorce between two men, who deemed their relationship to be a marriage. Callahan granted them a legal divorce. The Fifth Court of Appeals in Texas reversed that and returned the case to the lower court with an order to dismiss it. Dismiss it? Sure, because Texas law didn't deem there to have been a marriage in the first place. This isn't an old law trying to decide a modern case. Under the terms of proposition # 2 in the 2005 ballot the voters of Texas passed a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The people had spoken.
Do you understand the bed-rock issue here? Its whether or not government should be of the people, by the people, for the people. Once a judge, or a mayor, or you for that matter, rejects the idea that the people, as a whole, should be allowed to decide on moral issues, you have inveighed against the American tradition of the people's voice within a republic. Those keen on change have long understood this. They worked to take over our school system so as to inculcate the minds of the next generation of voters with their new morality. Beware when your precious child comes home telling you that a whole day of silence has been set aside at school to further the objectives of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community. They pretend the issue is bullying, but we see through their flimsy ploy. There already exist rules to counter bullying.
Speaking of our schools, there's a way that new teachers are orientated so as to oppose aggressive behavior in little boys. I remember bringing cap-firing, toy pistols to school for games during break. Let your boys do that today and get ready for the letter from the school. There's more happening here than an aversion to the bang from those toys. There's an agenda opposed to the people's rights to bear arms. I think the idea is to so train the mind of a generation of boys that it'll be easy to get gun-banning legislation passed. Don't say it can't happen here. It’s been found to work in many other Western countries. I say it clearly: guns don't kill people – immoral people do that.
There are plenty of other issues, but allow me to return to the ideas in the first paragraph. “This nation, under God...” That's so much more than a way the old-timers spoke. Despite all the rewriting of history books, there was a time when people in this country saw themselves as under God's laws. Very few people contested that the place to find those laws was in the Bible. Not as though their ideal was to return to an austere, Old Testament style of Theocracy. The writings of the founding fathers show an insight into the style of life that grace, mercy and peace added by the coming of Jesus Christ. Those were days when the absolutes of wrong and right behavior could be traced to “The Good Book.” There was a foundational idea that all people were created equal, while there was also the notion that not all behaviors were equally acceptable. I put forward the claim that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom” is only possible when there remains an absolute right and wrong. Freedom without moral bounds is both dangerous and delusional. Obviously we can’t have a nation with each person deciding, by preference, where the moral boundaries lie. The song America the Beautiful has this line: “Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.” In our republic the people, not the judges, are supposed to make the laws. Let the people decide, and once they have, let every citizen obey the laws.
Andrew Paton of Clinton Church of the Nazarene, born in Africa, has pastored in Hunterdon County since 1997. Before that he ministered in Durban and Bedfordview, South Africa and prior to that was an officer in The Salvation Army. He has been in full time Christian leadership since 1975. He and his wife Carol have two married sons and five grandchildren.
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