How Free is the Land of the Free?Proverbs 14:34 • Dr. Andy Woods • July 5, 2015 • Independence Day
How Free is the Land of the Free?
Good morning everybody. Happy Independence Day Weekend. If we could take our Bibles, please, and open them to the book of Hosea, chapter 4 and verse 6, we’ll be referring to that verse in just a little bit. The title of our message this morning is How Free is the Land of the Free? How Free is the Land of the Free? And in prior Independence Day sermons we’ve done a lot in terms of celebrating our freedom, acknowledging what God has done in this country, looking backwards. Today I’m not looking backwards, I’m looking forward and I’m looking at what’s happening today, and I’m asking this question, how free are we in the land of the free? What I hope to describe for you during our sermon time today is what I would call a shadow in the land, a shadow which is ominous, foreboding, and threatening, even threatening the very principles that this country was founded upon.
One of the things to understand about the United States of America is in the annals of history it’s considered a miracle country. James Wilson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and later member of the Supreme Court, said this: “After a period of 6,000 years since creation, the United States exhibits to the world the first instance of a nation, assembling voluntarily and deciding that a system of government, unto which they and their posterity should live.” That is miraculous, that’s never how it occurs. You never have people coming together and setting up their own government. And yet that’s what we had the privilege of at the origin of this country.
And here we are 239 years later since our birthday as a nation and America, to some extent remains free. Why is that? Our founders understood what the Bible teaches about man, Genesis 8:21 says, “…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” And consequently they devised a system of government that takes into account the idea that all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And consequently they were very skilled at dividing power.
James Madison, in Federalist Paper 51 makes this very important statement. He says, “But what is government but the greatest of all reflections of human nature. If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In forming a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable it to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” [Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers, trans. Clinton Rossiter (New York, NY: Penguin, 1961), 322.]
What was the solution to this dilemma? Division of power: division of it horizontally amongst three different branches of government; division of it vertically amongst the national government and the individual state governments.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, in a recent question and answer time, made this statement. “Every ten-horned dictator in the world today, every President for life has a bill of rights. That’s not what makes us free. What has made us free is our Constitution. The genius of the American Constitutional system is the dispersal of power. Once power is centralized in one person or one part of the government, a Bill of Rights is just words on a paper. In the Republic of America the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct groups, federal and state, and then the portion allotted to each is subdivided among distinct and separate departments, legislative, executive and judicial. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. What a difference that makes.”
And consequently, most school children, hopefully, have learned that in the United States system at the federal level we have three different branches, the legislative branch of government, as you know, makes law; the executive branch of government, as you know, enforces the law; the judicial branch of government, as hopefully, you know interprets the law. But if this separation of powers idea is so critical to freedom, as James Wilson and Anthony Scalia and others are saying, what happens when one of the branches of government begins to ride off the rails? The end result would be despotism and tyranny.
And you see, what we find ourselves today in the midst of is branches of government each doing things that they were never focused on or called upon specifically to do. Now there’s much to criticize with every branch of government, isn’t there. Today we’re looking at what I believe is the most dangerous branch of government, the judicial system.
And most Americans were astonished at two Supreme Court rulings that came down a couple of weeks ago where the jurists just basically ignored what the text of the Constitution said and imposed their own vision of America on 320 million people. How did we ever arrive at this place in our history? And the issue that I’m going to bring before you is to show you that this issue is not new; this has been going on for a long time. What we are experiencing today is the ripened fruit of very, very bad philosophy. And we’re going to look at this in four areas: number 1, the way it was; number 2, what went wrong; number 3, the way it is; and I’m hoping this won’t be a curse the darkness talk only, but what can be done.
I would challenge you this weekend to read through the Bill of Rights. I would challenge you to read the Declaration of Independence, read the Gettysburg Address, and you’ll notice the repetition of the phrase, “we the people.” We have a tendency to look at what’s gone wrong in our country and we say what’s wrong with them? And yet America’s founding documents are looking directly back at us and saying what’s wrong with you, you fix it; you have the power to do so.
First of all, the way it was, focusing on the judicial branch of government just for a minute, what was the original vision for that branch? Quite simply put, the judicial branch of government was set up to take the original intent of the Constitution and apply it to whatever issue was being adjudicated before it. It doesn’t take a lot of research to figure this out. All you have to do is start reading some of the works of our Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson said judges must “Carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit in the debates and instead of trying to find what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” [Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Albert Bergh, ed. (Washington D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XV, p. 449, in a letter from Jefferson to Justice. William Johnson on June 12, 1823]
John Marshall was our third Chief Justice to the United States Supreme Court and in this particular case he says this: “To say that the intention of the instrument must prevail; that that this intention must be collected from its words; that words are to be understood in the sense in which they are generally used by those for whom the instrument was intended; that its provisions are neither to be restricted into insignificance nor extended to objects not comprehended in them nor contemplated by its framers, is to repeat what has already been said more at large, and is all that can be necessary.” [Chief Justice John Marshall in Ogden v. Saunders, 6 L. Ed. 606, 647 (1827)]
In other words, he says I’m giving you this little lesson but it’s a no-brainer; you gather the meaning of documents based on the words that are in those documents, as interpreted to the original parties, and you derive that meaning and you apply that to legal controversies.
Joseph Story was a very productive member of our Supreme Court, he wrote numerous opinions and in his Commentaries on the Constitution he says this: “The reader must not expect to find in these pages any novel views and novel constructions of the Constitution. I have not the ambition to be the author of any new plan of interpreting the theory of the constitution or of enlarging or narrowing its powers, by ingenious subtleties and learned doubts…. Upon subjects of government, it has always appeared to me that metaphysical refinements are out of place. A constitution of government is addressed to the common sense of the people, and never was designed for trials of logical skill, or visionary speculation.” [Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 3rd ed. (Boston, 1858), vii]
What is the practice of law all about? It’s sort of like being an exegete of the Bible, you are not a discoverer of new truth, you are its finder. Here’s a scholar commenting on the Marshall era. He says, “The only power that judges had, under Marshall’s view, was their professional power; their technical expertise enabled them to be better ‘finders of the law’ than other persons.” [G. Edward White, “Reflections on the Role of the Supreme Court,” 63 Judicature 162, 163 (1979).
You’re not to read new concepts into the document, you’re simply to discover what the founders intended. Well, what if the document needs to be changed; after all, it is sort of old, isn’t it? We’ve had it for over 200 years, you don’t think that there needs to be changes from time to time to update it, and I’m glad you asked that question. The document itself answers that question. It’s called Article V; Article V places the power to amend the Constitution in what’s called the Amendment Process. It’s a difficult process, it’s only been successfully used about 27 times but it works. We got rid of slavery and the vestiges of the slavery through the amendment process; the 13th, the 14th and the 15th amendments to the United States Constitution.
You see, the amendment process places the power to change the document in the hands of the representatives that are closest to the people. You’ve got to get, I believe, three-quarters of the Congress, House and Senate, to go along with an amendment; you’ve got to get three-quarters of the states to go along with it. So if the Supreme Court or the leaders at bay want to alter the document then I, as a voter, have a say in it.
George Washington said this: “If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be at any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment the way the Constitution designates.” Watch this. “But let there be no change by usurpation; though this may in one instance be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” [George Washington quoted in John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1987), 392-93]
Now you might look at various Supreme Court rulings and you might say I agree with that decision, that’s a good decision. But the fact of the matter is, you put a process in motion whereby the very same method that is used for good can be used for horrific evil, as I’ll explain to you in just a little bit. And so what is the original design for the judicial branch of government? To quote Federalist paper number 78, “The judicial branch of government as set up by the Founding Fathers was designed to be the least dangerous branch.” In fact, the Supreme Court did not even have its own building until 1935; it met in the chambers of the basement of the Senate. The New York Times referred to it as a potato hole. In fact, the United States Supreme Court, most people are shocked to discover, didn’t even meet on a full-time basis until the Eisenhower years. And when you look at what the Constitution itself says about the Supreme Court you can see very clearly that our Founding Fathers had no fear of the United States Supreme Court.
David Barton makes this observation, it says: “As in many documents, the Constitution lists the most important aspects first, progressing to those of lesser consequence; following the preamble, Article I describes the Congress, Article II the Presidency, and Article III the Judiciary. Not only does the order of listing reveal their relative position of importance, and the amount of detail provided by each branch,” but it “also reflects its relative importance. The Legislature (Article I, received 255 lines of print while the Presidency (Article II) required only 114 lines. The Judiciary (Article III) merited a mere 44 lines.” [David Barton, The Myth of Separation, 5th ed. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1992), 221]
The Founding Fathers, if you put your ear to the ground and as various Supreme Court cases come out you can hear them rolling over in their graves because they felt that of all of the branches of government the Judicial Branch of Government is the one that is least likely to cause trouble. And this explains why they had no problem granting Federal Jurists a lifetime appointment. They didn’t give that to the President, they didn’t give that to Congressmen, they didn’t give that to the Senate, but if you are appointed as a judge to the Federal Judiciary you are there for life if you choose to be, which means you’re insulated from the people. And obviously our Founders would not have afforded that privilege if they saw the Supreme Court as any way dangerous.
That’s the original vision and let me take you here to number 2, what happened? What exactly went wrong? Well, remember what the Bible says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will reap.” There is a principle in the Scripture of the law of sowing and reaping whatever you put into the ground, whether it’s a good seed or a bad seed will come back. And I’m here to tell you that a very bad seed was put into the ground long before we were born and the fruit if it is something that we are seeing today all around us.
The change… and I want you to understand this very carefully, the change started in academia. Where the academics are today the people will be a few decades later. That’s where seed is being planted that’s bad. Abraham Lincoln had a quote attributed to him, he said it this way: “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” And if you don’t believe me, think about those campus radicals that were causing all of those problems in the 1960’s, and then look at the current running of the country and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. [Cited in Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence, 1989), 95.]
This change that happened in legal academia specifically goes as far back as 1870; anybody that I have read that traces this traces the beginning of the end in 1870 through three men, Columbus Langdell, another individual named Roscoe Pound, they were both Deans at Harvard Law School, and they had a bright and shining student at that time named Oliver Wendell Holmes, who went on to a three decade career on the United States Supreme Court.
What did these three individuals, what did they promote? They promoted something that we call positive law, or legal positivism where they said the function of a judge is not to study the Founding Fathers, in fact, the Founding Fathers and their beliefs are irrelevant. What you need to do is you need to enmesh yourself in the needs, wants and desires of a changing society. And you need to, as a judge, reinterpret the document to keep up with the trajectory of society.
Now that sounds like a bunch of academic gobblety-gook, but let me tell you something: that changed everything. It changed the function of a judge, not into finding law but inventing it. The Constitution became known as a living breathing document. What does that mean exactly, a living breathing document? It sounds so… so I guess if I’m not in favor with that I’m here with a dead document I guess is what they’re saying. What is a living breathing document? A living breathing document is a document that has no meaning. A living breathing document is a document that has been divested from its original vision which judges can read into it whatever they want.
Now why did this change happen in 1870? There was a very influential book published in 1859. In fact, other than the Bible I know of no book that has had a greater influence on the thinking of people, and that’s Darwin’s book, The Origin of the Species, which is a book about biology. And we all know what Charles Darwin said; Charles Darwin said man went from the goo to the zoo to you, over billions of years. And one of the things to understand about Darwinism is Darwinism puts a worldview under your Christmas tree, whether you want it there or not, because according to Darwin’s thought man is not simply an evolved animal but he’s continuing to evolve upward. And if man is on this upward ascent then you also need a Constitution which evolves with him. See?
Well, who evolves the document up? Not the amendment process but the judges and the jurists. The function of a judge today is to watch the trajectory of society as it moves upward in Darwinian ascent and you keep rewriting or reinterpreting the document to keep up with a changing society. What Langdell, Pound and Holmes did is they constructed a theory of government on top of the assumption of Darwinian evolution. By the way, they are not the first to do this. Henry Morrison, in his book, The Long War Against God, traces every social evil, whether it be communism that killed, I don’t know how many millions of people, Nazism, racism, atheism, New Age, secular humanism, it’s all built on this assumption of Darwin.
The United States Judicial System is no exception. Now you might be thinking, well, surely you’re straining here, and I want to provide a few quotes to show you that I’m not straining. Fred Cahill, Political Science professor says this: “The appearance in the mid-nineteenth century of the concept of evolution was an event of transcending importance to the development of American Jurisprudence… This involved… a shift …from the rationalistic deductive pattern, characteristic of the pre-Darwinian period, to the empirical, evolutionary approach that is … followed … today.” [Fred Cahill, 1952, Yale University Political Science professor; quoted in John Whitehead, The Second American Revolution (IL: Crossway, 1982), 46] Justice Brennan, in an address to the American Bar Association made this statement: “the
evolutionary process is inevitable, and it is … the true interpretive genius of the text.” [Justice Brennan, Teaching Symposium, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., October 12, 1985, p. 51.]
Laurence Tribe, a very well-known but very liberal jurist writes this in his book on Constitutional Law, “The Constitution,” watch this “is an intentionally incomplete, often deliberately indeterminate structure for the participatory evolution of political ideas and governmental practices.” [Laurence Tribe, American Constitutional Law, p.iii.] He says, “The highest mission of the Supreme Court, in my view, is not to conserve judicial credibility,” I think they’ve been successful, “but in the Constitution’s own phrase, ‘to form a more perfect union’ between right and rights within that charter’s necessarily evolutionary design.” [Laurence Tribe, American Constitutional Law, p.iv.]
Let me translate this for us. In the thinking of legal positivists the Constitution was designed to be vague; the Constitution was designed to be ambiguous so the judge could morph the language one direction or the next, depending on the next perceived assent of an “evolutionary” in changing society.
What a far cry that is, and this is why I showed you these quotes in the pre-Darwinian age. What a far cry that is from what Justice Marshall said about the need to get back to the words of the document as they were originally intended.
John Eidsmoe, who we’ve had as a speaker here, summarizes this issue as follows: “Underlying the disagreement over interpretation of the Constitution is a confrontation between the two world views, the creationist, absolutist, Newtonian views of the framers, versus the evolutionist, relativist, Darwinian views of most legal scholars today.” [John Eidsmoe, ‘Creation Evolution and Constitutional Interpretation,” Concerned Women for America, 9 (September 1987):7]
It’s very interesting to me that in the latest Supreme Court case that was handed down regarding same sex marriage, this is what Justice Kennedy writes: “The history of marriage is one both of continuity and change. The institution, even as confined to the opposite sex relations has evolved” there’s our buzz word, “over time.” The translation is just society is changing, never mind the fact that 40 states don’t want same sex marriage, never mind the fact that deep blue California even does not want same sex marriage, I, as a jurist have decided that it’s time for society to move forward and even though same sex marriage is not even hinted at in the Constitution itself it is time for us to read it into the document. That’s where we are, it’s not new; these decisions are not earthshaking if you understand the philosophy that is at work.
So consequently today we have it the way it is; we have accepted the new normal. We have accepted abnormal for normal. And let me describe to you the way that it is. I have four things to briefly bring to your attention, five things, excuse me. The first is a radical and diametric shift in education. What is new? What is in vogue in education? It is the discarding… the discarding, the elimination, the removal of the ideas of the Founding Fathers. No longer are they looked at as geniuses that put together a miracle by God’s power but they are looked at less evolved people chained to a lower level of evolutionary development. Why, then, would we ever want to return, according to the legal positivist, to a primitive 18th century concept. We have evolved so much since then to go back to our Founding Fathers would be like visiting orangutans in the zoo.
John Dewey puts it this way, John Dewey of course, the father of public education, “The belief in political fixity, of the sanctity of some form of state consecrated by the efforts of our fathers and hallowed by tradition, is one of the stumbling blocks in the way of orderly and direct change.” [John Dewey; quoted in Barton, Original Intent, 228.] Translation: the ideas of the Founding Fathers are looked at as hindrances, a straightjacket on progress.
Wayne Grudem in evangelical comments, he says, “…if human beings are continually evolving for the better, then the wisdom of earlier generations…is not likely to be as valuable as modern thought.” [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 287.] That’s why your average person today can look at a picture of the Founding Fathers and identify two, they identify George Washington, they can identify Thomas Jefferson, usually they can identify Benjamin Franklin, but what about everybody else involved? What about the fifty or so signatories to the Declaration of Independence, to The Constitution? What about names like George Machen, John Hancock, names of this nature? The fact of the matter is your average person could not look at a painting and identify any of them because the ideas of those who formed this Republic have been cleansed from the mind and the public square.
There is a man that most people have never heard of, his name is Blackstone, he wrote some very influential commentaries called Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law, here’s a judge in 1799 commenting on the influence of those commentaries. “For nearly thirty years it [Blackstone’s Commentaries] has been the manual of almost every law student in the United States, and its uncommon excellence has also introduced it into the libraries, and often to the favorite reading of private gentlemen.” [Justice Iredell; quoted in Barton, Original Intent, 217.]
Blackstone’s Commentaries were everywhere when this country was established. I went all the way through a Political Science major and a degree in law and I’d never even heard of Blackstone’s Commentaries during that educational process. Why is that? Because Blackstone, a believer, developed what we call “fixed law.” He said God has revealed certain principles in nature and Scripture, they’re fixed; they’re fixed and they can’t be reinvented because man never invented them, therefore the function of law is to cooperate with those fixed principles. Blackstone writes: “Thus, when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, He imposed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be…. If we farther advance, from mere inactive matter to vegetable and animal life, we shall find them still governed by laws, more numerous indeed, but equally fixed and invariable…Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being… no human laws should be suffered to contradict the laws of nature and the law of revelation.” [Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Wendell’s Ed. 1847), p. 38-39, n. 10; p. 42.]
If God has spoken in creation and He has spoken in His Word, then the function of law is to develop
legal principles that are in harmony with the great principles of the Creator. That’s why Blackstone called homosexuality a “crime against nature,” in his commentary. And this is why at the beginning of America you actually see laws, not promoting same sex marriage but making sodomy a crime. Am I saying we should go back to those days? I’m not necessarily advocating that either. What I am saying is there is a basis upon which America started, the concept of fixed law.
But you see, the function of legal positivism is to evolve upward and “out with the old, in with the new,” and so what began to disappear? Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law. Your typical attorney today has never even heard of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law. The fact of the matter is, your typical attorney today has never sat down and read the United States Constitution.
Pat Robertson, I’m not endorsing everything the man has ever said he did but he does have a degree from Yale Law School, his father was a United States Senator, he says, “I spent three years getting my law degree at Yale Law School. From the moment I enrolled, I was assigned huge, leather-bound editions of legal cases to study and discuss. I read what lawyers and judges, professors, and historians said about the Constitution. But never once was I assigned the task of reading the Constitution itself….” [Pat Robertson, America’s Dates With Destiny (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986), 95.] It’s astounding, isn’t it?
This is contributed to, this mentality, through what we call postmodern deconstructionism which is a belief which says that the intents of the author is unknowable. Even if we wanted to get back to the original design of the Constitution we can’t.
Justice Brennan again says, “It is arrogant,” and that word is very important, because if you’re talking the way I talk, in society, particularly in the legal community, they assign this word “arrogant” to you very quickly because what is humble is you have to be open to everything but certain of nothing. Brennan says, he’s a liberal, he says: “It is arrogant to pretend that from our vantage point we can gauge accurately the intent of the framers on application of principle to specific contemporary questions. All too often sources of potential enlightenment such as records of the ratification debates provide sparse or ambiguous evidence of the original intention…. And apart from the problematic nature of the sources, our distance of two centuries cannot but work as a prism refracting” what we believe. [William J. Brennan, Jr.; quoted in Eidesmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, 397-98]
There’s not enough there to comment on contemporary issues, even though we have the Federalist Papers, the anti-Federalist Papers, the ratification debates, all there for us to read in the Library of Congress, he’s saying there’s not enough there to use it as a basis for a modern legal opinion. And besides, even if I wanted to go back 200 years I can’t because this prism upon me prevents me from seeing accurately what they were saying. And beloved, if this is true, we, as Bible believing Christians are the greatest fools in the world because we are not trying to go back Sunday after Sunday 200 years in our own culture. I am here and we are here Sunday after Sunday going back 2,000 years or in the case of Moses, 3,500 years, into a different language and a different culture to derive meaning from the Scripture.
The second major, before I get to that, the unknowable Constitution as reclined MSNBC contributor says, “The issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending upon what they want to get done.” Language is unknowable is what he is saying. Now don’t we in class take Shakespeare courses?
According to staff writer for The Washington Post and MSNBC Contributor Ezra Klein, “The issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending upon what they want to get done.” [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc4qHHIRcJw&feature=related.]
Language is unknowable is what he is saying. Now don’t we in class take Shakespeare courses? Do you think we understand what Shakespeare said? Don’t we have dictionaries that help us to look up words that are difficult, that we don’t understand that Shakespeare used? See, this mindset is cutting us off in the past; consequently most people have very little knowledge of the past.
The second thing that’s happening is what I would call a transfer in authority from the Constitution to the mind of the judge. Felix Frankfurter, who is a traditionalist, says, “The ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution itself and not what we have said about it.” [Felix Frankfurter in Graves v. New York ex rel. O’Keefe, 306 U.S. 466, 491-492 (1939).]
And then Charles Evans Hughes, of the Legal Positive School, writes, “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judge says it is.” [Charles Evans Hughes; quoted by Craig R. Ducat and Harold W. Chase, Constitutional Interpretation (Spiritual gift. Paul” West Publishing Co., 1974, 1983, 3.]
That’s where we are.
Edwin Meese sums up this issue very well. He says, “Under the old system the question was how to read the Constitution; under the new approach the question is whether to read the Constitution.” [Edwin Meese, III, Address to American Bar Association, 1985; adapted in “Toward a Jurisprudence of Original Understanding,” Benchmark Vol. II, no. 1, (January-February 1986): 6.]
Beloved, we can celebrate America but the fact of the matter is we are living in a post-Constitutional republic. The governing authority of the United States of America is not, to a very large extent, the United States Constitution, it is the latest Supreme Court ruling, because if the document is evolutionary we all sit around in June scared to death, wondering which way are they going to evolve the document, one way or the other, which leads us to a third problem, the death of unalienable rights.
What are unalienable rights? Unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence are rights that we have and they can never be taken away because they don’t come from man, they come from who? God! That’s how America started. That’s why God created, Creator, divine providence is alluded to over and over again in the Declaration of Independence. In fact, Justice Thomas, in his dissenting opinion, the same sex marriage case, made a very interesting comment. He says: “Along the way this court has rejected the idea captured in our Declaration of Independence that human dignity is innate and suggest instead that it comes from the government. This distortion of our Constitution not only ignores the text, it inverts the relationship between the individual and the state and our republic. I cannot agree with it.”
What he’s saying is these people are here today to get dignity from the United States Supreme Court based on whether we affirm same sex marriage or not. He’s saying they already have dignity. It doesn’t matter if we go along with their gender or not, they have dignity based on the Declaration of Independence. The Supreme Court ruling one way or another doesn’t give them dignity; it may increase their licentiousness, but not dignity because dignity is a gift from God.
But legal positivists, you’ll discover, have very little room for human dignity. Oliver Wendell Holmes says, “I see no reason for attributing to man a significance different from that which belongs to a baboon or a grain of sand.” [Oliver Wendell Holmes cited in Richard Hertz, Chance and Symbol (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 107.]
Why not? Man is a biological accident, as we’ve been told by evolutionists, and why ascribe to him any worth and dignity as a being made in the image of God. And there is a tremendous mindset at work today that rights come from government. Janet Reno said this: “You are part of a government that has given its people more freedom…than any other government in the history of the world.” [Speech by Attorney General Janet Reno, Newark, New Jersey, May 5, 1995. Quoted in James Bovard, “Waco Must Get a Hearing,” Wall Street Journal, May 15, 1995.]
I cannot tell you in disagreement I am with that statement. Rights do not come from the government; they come from God! The function of government is to recognize rights that come from God but government itself is not the giver or rights. You see, as this mindset creeps in one day the government could grant a right, the next day with the stroke of a pen it can disappear. This mindset that we are in, this paradigm that we are in (called positive law) is a threat to democracy itself. In fact, Anthony Scalia, in the latest same sex Supreme Court ruling said that very thing. This is his opening line: “I join the opinion of the Chief Justice in full dissent. I write separately to call attention to this court’s threat to American democracy.
Essentially what is happening today is we are in a post-constitutional oligarchical form of government. You might recognize the word oligas if you’re a student of Greek, oligas means few, oligarchy, therefore being ruled by a small group of people. Why is that? Because we have, over the decades, subscribed to and submitted to this foolish idea that non-elected jurists, who have no accountability to us at all, by virtue of their position, can amend the Constitution at will in circumvention of Article V. And consequently here’s the type of thinking that you have from legal positives; with five votes we can do anything. That’s where we are. Isn’t it interesting how these decisions, whether you like them or not, are always 5-4, I just need five votes and I can change the world?
Thomas Jefferson, if you read his writings warned about this over and over again. He warned about the potential for the judiciary to get out of control. He said the Constitution could become “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.” [Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 15:213, in a letter from Jefferson to Judge Spencer Roane on September 6, 1819.]
Thomas Jefferson said, “You seem … to consider judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so…and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and responsible, as the other functionaries are to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal….” [Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, ed. (Washington D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XV, p. 277, September 28, 1820.]
Lino A. Graglia, a legal scholar writes this, and he wrote this 30 years ago. “…judicial usurpation of legislative power has become common and so complete that the Supreme Court has become our most powerful and important instrument of government in terms of determining the nature and power of American life. Questions literally of life and death abortion” for example, “of public morality (control of pornography”,” religious involvement, “prayer in the schools,” and the like [and government aid to religious schools, and of the] public safety [criminal procedure and street demonstrations], are all, now, in the hands of judges under the guise of constitutional law. The fact that the Constitution says nothing of…abortion…[let’s say] has made no [real] difference. The result is that the central truth of constitutional law today is that it has nothing to do with the Constitution except that the words ‘due process’ or ‘equal protection’ are almost always used by the judges in stating their [own] conclusions…constitutional law has become a fraud, a cover for a system of government by the majority vote of a nine-person committee of lawyers, unelected and holding office for life.” [Lino A. Graglia, “Judicial Review on the Basis of ‘Regime Principles’: A Prescription for Government by Judges, South Texas Law Journal, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Fall 1985), pp. 435-52, at 441.]
Thirty years ago he said that. Who are these people exactly: I guarantee you they’re not you, they don’t represent you; they don’t think the way you do. Justice Scalia says this: “Not surprisingly then the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross section of America. Take, for example, this court which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers, who studied at Harvard or Yale law school; four of the nine are natives of New York, eight of them grew up in the east and the west coast states, only one hails from the vast expanse in between. Not a single southwesterner or even to tell the truth a genuine westerner” then he has in parenthesis here “(California doesn’t count). Not a single evangelical Christian, a group that comprises about a quarter of Americans, nor Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval (same sex marriage) would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering legal questions, whether the American people had ever ratified a Constitutional provision that was understood to prescribe the traditional definition of marriage.
But of course, the justices of today’s majority are not voting on that basis; in fact, they tell us they’re not. And to allow the policy of same sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate the principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation, i.e. no social transformation without representation.
You say well, do you have any illustrations of this happening in society. I’m so glad you asked. Take, for example, this case, Engle vs. Vitale, 1962, a case that swept in a nanosecond, prayer and Bible reading out of the public school. In fact, the Ten Commandments, as a result, are taken down from public school walls. Is that really the intent of the Founding Fathers? Obviously not because if you go back to when public schools were first started the function of them was to train youth in the Scripture. In Massachusetts there was something called the Old Satan Deluder Law and it reads as follows: “It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former time…. It is therefore ordered,” and it gives the principles by which taxes are to be levied and schools are to be started.
The Northwest Ordinance, passed by the very first Congress that passed our First Amendment says this: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever be encouraged.”
And here’s the prayer they’ve removed: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.” Real jihadist stuff, right? And with the stroke of a pen it’s removed. No law, no executive order by a President or a Governor, no Constitutional amendment, no vote of the people, it’s just gone. And in the process they admitted a year later that we didn’t cite a single precedent when we reached that decision. It’s astounding! And yet what do you hear from the church, during all that time? Crickets. No outrage, no response, except by a few “extremists.” It’s astounding what we have tolerated and what we have put up with. They reached this ruling based on a strict wall of separation between church and state. Well, there’s the First Amendment right there. You’re not going to find the word “strict,” you’re not going to find the word “wall,” you’re not going to find the word “separation,” you’re not going to find the word “church,” you’re not going to find the word “state.” Other than that I guess they’re close… right?
They put that language in through judicial fiat. Astounding! Justice Scalia says this: “What secret knowledge, one must wonder, is breathed into lawyers when they become members of this court, that enables them to discern that a practice which the text of the Constitution does not clearly proscribe, and which our people have regarded as constitutional for 200 years, is in fact unconstitutional? Day by day, case by case, [the Court] is busy designing a Constitution for a country that I do not recognize.” [Justice Anthony Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr, 518 U.S. 668, 711.]
What about Roe vs. Wade? Isn’t that one of the most debated issues that we have of our day—when does life begin? Wasn’t there a robust debate taking place in this country prior to Roe vs. Wade decision? Well, guess what, the Supreme Court stepped in and said it’s time to evolve the document upward and they federalized abortion. When the Supreme Court federalizes an issue debate is over. We, the Court, have spoken and you silly people in fly over country can’t come to the right conclusions anyway, we will decide for you. That was back in 1973.
And then you have this case, Lawrence vs. Texas, where the Supreme Court rendered unconstitutional an anti-sodomy law in the state of Texas, based on what? Based on the Constitution? No, this time around they went and tapped into world opinion; let’s look at what all of these countries all over the world think about these things, anti-sodomy statutes. Countries around the world that have no First Amendment, no Second Amendment, where the people live under the thumb of totalitarian dictatorships, let’s see what world opinion is and then we’ll read it back into our Constitution.
See, beloved, in the Bible we are told that a new world order is on the horizon; it is the United States Supreme Court pulling us, to a very large extent, in that direction. And then of course, the latest case, same sex marriage, and this time it’s different. Usually what they’ve done is they’ve said leave us alone as we have abortions, if you don’t like the Bible being removed from public schools then take your kids out and home school them. This time it’s different because what the after effects of that decision are, and all four jurists that dissented, wrote a dissent on this individually, which never happens, meaning you’ve got a bunch of people ticked off, the decision didn’t go the way they wanted, all four decisions, if you read through them warn of religious oppression. What, then do you do with the pastor that will not marry a same sex couple? What happens to him? What do you do with the florist and the baker that simply will not go along with lending their skills to a same sex wedding on the basis of moral religious biblical convictions? What do you do with that?
The answer basically that you get is lip service but tough tacos. See, it’s no longer a matter of them doing what they want in their privacy of their own bedrooms, it’s them sticking the long arm of the state into the four walls of a church, or a Christian owned business and compelling conformity. That’s what’s happening.
What can be done? I’m very good at describing the problem, I’m less good at this, but I don’t want to leave you depressed. That’s why I had you turn to Hosea 4:6 an hour ago. So now we’re finished with the introduction. But what can be done? Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Most Christians have never even heard a sermon like this in their local church. And this is why we’re ignorant of what is happening all around us; the spiritual leaders that God has commissioned, the watchman on the wall that He has commissioned are more worried about people’s feelings and making their churches bigger, when we ought to be teaching the whole counsel of the Word of God, including, even when it affects public policy issues. And we need to start getting familiar with what’s happening. If your pastor or preacher or teacher won’t tell you about it you go somewhere where they can get it because knowledge is what? Power! The greatest deception of the devil is to keep people in a state of ignorance. If you’re ignorant you don’t even know what’s being taken away from you.
The second one goes without saying and that’s prayer. Paul tells us to pray, as Dan did earlier for those that are in positions of authority over us. 1 Timothy 2:1-1, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Let me ask you a question? Do you know the name of your Senator? Do you know the name of your Representative? Do you know the name of your State Senator? Do you know the name of your State Representative? Do you know the name of your city council members? Do you know the names of the Texas Supreme Court? Do you know the names of the United States Supreme Court, just to name a few? If you don’t even know who they are how can you be praying for them? How can you pray for someone that’s not even on your mind? You know, that was written when Nero was running the show and he made our Supreme Court look very mild, the stuff he did. And Paul says you need to be on your knees praying for that man.
You need to pray for the President. You say I don’t like the President, I didn’t vote for him. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? He never says pray for people if you like them; I wouldn’t pray for anybody. [Laughter] Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” God’s in control of these people.
Number 3, Don’t lose hope, I realize this is depressing but you see, this is Satan’s world, this world is going down and it’s going to be replaced by a better world. Things may go the way you want, they may not go the way you want; that doesn’t destroy hope. Titus 2:13 says, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.’”
Number 4, educate the next generation. You’ve got kids, you’ve got grandkids, you teach a bunch of kids, I praise God every day that this church is filled with kids, I praise God that all week we are going to have 60 plus children here and I’ll tell you something about these kids, they don’t know anything about George Washington, they don’t know anything about the Declaration of Independence, they don’t know anything about the Gettysburg Address, they don’t know anything about the Constitution. Why is that? Because they’re coming through an educational machine that has stripped all of those vestiges away, as we have explained earlier. And what a chance it is to open our mouths and speak about these subjects to the youth because if they won’t hear it from you they probably won’t hear it from anybody. The day is long past, beloved, where you can trust some institution to take care of the job for you. That day left a long time ago and just now we evangelicals are finally figuring it out. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Number 5, greater civic involvement. The number of evangelicals moaning and crying and complaining about Anise Parker… do you know what gave rise to Anise Parker and the things that she did? When Anise Parker was running for office 11%… 11% of evangelical Christians in the city of Houston showed up and voted. I don’t want to hear any complaints about Anise Parker; I don’t want to hear any complaints about our government if you will not fulfill the most primitive and basic and fundamental responsibility you have to vote every election. And don’t waste your time looking for Jesus on the ballot, He’s not there. Don’t waste your time looking for the perfect candidate, you have a brain, you have the Word of God, you can look at the positions of different people and screen them through the grid of Scripture. And every election you show up and you vote, and I guarantee you this country would be a very different place today if we had been doing that for the last several decades, because what did Jesus say? Schools are the light of the world? NO, He didn’t say that, “you are the light of the world, a city set upon a hill cannot be hidden, let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Here’s a man that made a statement, Martin Niemoller, and he said this: “I will protect the German people.” And then to Niemoller a pastor he said, “You take care of the church. You pastors should worry about getting people to heaven and leave this world to me.” Of course you see the picture there, that was Adolf Hitler who made that statement according to Charles Colson’s book, [Kingdoms in Conflict: An Insider’s Challenging View of the Politics, Power, and the Pulpit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 140.]
Do we actually think that if we remove the Judeo Christian value system from the public square that things remain neutral? Beloved, neutrality is a myth; there is no such thing as neutrality. When one value system is vacated another fills its place. If you won’t occupy until He comes someone else will come and occupy.
Number 6, support common sense legislation. There’s a lot of common sense stuff out there, like for example the pastoral protection act that thankfully passed the State of Texas, was signed into law recently, which protects pastors from having to choose between the Bible and same sex marriage. There is a lot of common sense things out there that people are promoting and pushing and we need to become aware of it and we need to get involved in those kind of activities.
A name you ought to know is William Wilberforce, who used his position in Parliament, as an evangelical Christian, to speak out over and over again against the slave trade. And it was a long road for him but guess what? In the end he won. Why? Because a law was passed. I completely understand that we should not be focused completely on laws but on people but how in the world are we to divide God’s creation up that way? God never says here’s people over here and here’s government over here. God says I’m the author of both. And we, as Christians, therefore are stewards of both.
And then finally, the last one, realize that you have more power than you think. Satan wants you to sit there in isolation and feel like you are the only person that cares, and the fact of the matter is that is not true. And Satan wants you to say well, what can you do, you’re just in the minority? Have we read our Bible? Does not God always work through a minority? Didn’t God tell Gideon to send everybody home except for a few, Judges 6, Judges 7? Didn’t Jesus shape the world with eleven disciples? God’s people are always in the minority. And we should not let our minority status somehow intimidate us because guess what, one plus God is what? The majority. You’re in the majority of you look at it that way.
So just some practical things that we could do; after all, the Declaration of Independence says , “when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another,” it goes on and it says, “men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” it goes on and it says, “the right of the people, when there is despotism it is the duty,” who’s duty, the people’s “to overthrow the shackles,” and so forth. I’m not necessarily promoting violent revolution today but I am promoting working within the system, using the freedoms that we have to advance the cause of Christ.
You say well, do you have any biblical examples of this? Yes, I do. You ought to read today Acts 16:35 through the end of the chapter. You’ll see a man using the laws of the land to advance the cause of Christ.
Of course, there could be people here today that are not in political bondage but they are in the worst form of bondage that you could be in, which is spiritual bondage, because they don’t know Christ. And they can remove themselves from that bondage by simply trusting in what Jesus has done. If you find yourself in that condition and the Spirit of God is convicting you, our exhortation to you at Sugar Land Bible Church is to respond to the promises of Jesus and the gospel by way of faith. It’s something you can do right now as I am speaking; it’s a private moment between you and the Lord. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk. A branch of government gone astray; the way it was, what went wrong, the way it is and what can be done. Shall we pray?