Role of Magistrate in Upholding Moral Law (split from civil union thread)

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OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
IDK what two kingdom is I guess and IDK what R2K or Es2K is....

In any case, I'm a lil confused. He said he's not for homosexual marriage, but then says "Although a contractual relationship denies God’s will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people’s legal and economic security." I'm not sure why ppl think homosexuals, or anyone else for that matter, need domestic partnerships to protect their legal and economic security. All of this can be protected by wills. For example, if there is a homosexual couple and they want to make decisions for each concerning healthcare in case one cannot make their own decisions, all they have to do is draft a living will/power of attorney and that other person has control once the POA/living will is activated. In instances of financial matters, they only have to write up a financial will leaving each other full benefits to their estate. No one has to have a domestic/civil/marriage relationship in order to have these rights. So for Michael to say that he is concerned about protecting their legal and economic security and thus affirm domestic partnership, is based at the very least in ignorance as to what the law provides. The only thing that civil unions do is to come against God's holy law. It doesn't provide them with any more than what can be provided to them with the drawing up of wills (health and financial ones). These wills can be so detailed as to exclude others (perhaps family members who are against the homosexual relationships they are having) from having any say. If they do contest it in a court of law, our courts are so liberal that they would uphold the requests stated in the wills. We don't have let go of the truths to which we hold dearly in order to give rights to others. NOW, I do agree with him that we should take all other forms of sexual deviance (fornication and adultery) seriously and treat them as we would homosexuality. There shouldn't be any partiality just because a heterosexual is committing the deviant sin. I firmly believe laws don't create believers only the Gospel does, but I also don't believe in throwing out God's law just bc it doesn't save (ppl here have misunderstood me on this point in the past).
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Andrew
Sure, if we lived, or had hope of living, in a Christian society, then yes. However, this is not, nor can be, the case any longer. The dream of transforming culture is just that, a dream. We live in a sinful world. Christ came to seek and save the lost, not culture.

You're just positing false dichotomies in a very unreformed way: Preaching law versus Gospel; preaching the gospel versus addressing culture and civil laws. What if the Lord wants "both/and" ? It's not a very good gospel witness - apart from anything else - to be on the side of history that opposes good civil reform or that supports bad civil reform.

Richard,

So now you're name calling? Saying that I support bad civil reform? In other words you're saying I support e.g., gay marriage. It's not a false dichotomy. You just don't understand what I'm saying (or you don't like it). God didn't give the Law to the other nations. He gave it specifically to His covenant people.

I'm also glad to hear you're an expert in all things reformed.

Sorry if you think I'm indulging in ad hominems. No offence meant, brother.

I know that the law as contained in special revelation comes to God's people, the OT and NT Church first. But it also has a broader application to the societies in which they dwell, and the revelation of the law in Scripture chimes with the law that is written in the bottom of the hearts of even unbelievers.

The Reformers recognised the importance of this second use of the law, for the good of the unconverted and for society:

Calvin's Institutes - 2.It acts "by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice."

The fact that the USA isn't formally - or informally (?) - a Christian nation doesn't mean that if more of her laws were shaped by biblical standards of morality, it wouldn't be a good and God-glorifying thing for society and the church, and that that should be a desideratum for the church in America.

No-one, not even the theonomists, are talking about putting the whole of God's law/natural law on the statute book, which is impossible and unbiblical.

So there is room for debate - in the light of God's Word - on what should be legislated, and how it should be punished in America in her current condition.

People should still have ideals as to what they would like to see in the light of God's Word, while recognising that politics is the art of the possible, and that those ideals will not be met in the current situation. Having Christian ideals for your nation isn't holding to vain dreams, but faithfully holding forth the way things should be.

None of us meet the standard of God's law in our personal lives, but that doesn't mean that the standard is to be abandoned or neglected in teaching.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:10)
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not a theonomist... so.. yes I don't believe that divine revelation is to be used to norm civil law. It was given to the covenant people of God. Not the heathen nations.
So are you questioning the existence of a second use of the Law. Believing that the moral law is binding on all is not merely a position of Theonomy but all of reformed theology. The boogie man of theonomy does not work in this discussion because we are talking about morality not civil law. The magistrate is tasked to up hold God's justice. The fact that our constitution does not have a clause in it that states we are a christian nation (whatever that would mean) does not get the magistrate off the hook to uphold justice in the land.

In a less theoretical sense i do understand the sympathy towards civil unions because I wish that the intuition of marriage was not tied up in the legal system so much as to force someone to marry in order to be able to have that person inherit with out ridiculous taxation or allow someone to easily designate someone a caregiver in case of medical emergency.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Andrew
Sure, if we lived, or had hope of living, in a Christian society, then yes. However, this is not, nor can be, the case any longer. The dream of transforming culture is just that, a dream. We live in a sinful world. Christ came to seek and save the lost, not culture.

You're just positing false dichotomies in a very unreformed way: Preaching law versus Gospel; preaching the gospel versus addressing culture and civil laws. What if the Lord wants "both/and" ? It's not a very good gospel witness - apart from anything else - to be on the side of history that opposes good civil reform or that supports bad civil reform.

Richard,

So now you're name calling? Saying that I support bad civil reform? In other words you're saying I support e.g., gay marriage. It's not a false dichotomy. You just don't understand what I'm saying (or you don't like it). God didn't give the Law to the other nations. He gave it specifically to His covenant people.

I'm also glad to hear you're an expert in all things reformed.

Sorry if you think I'm indulging in ad hominems. No offence meant, brother.

I know that the law as contained in special revelation comes to God's people, the OT and NT Church first. But it also has a broader application to the societies in which they dwell, and the revelation of the law in Scripture chimes with the law that is written in the bottom of the hearts of even unbelievers.

The Reformers recognised the importance of this second use of the law, for the good of the unconverted and for society:

Calvin's Institutes - 2.It acts "by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice."

The fact that the USA isn't formally - or informally (?) - a Christian nation doesn't mean that if more of her laws were shaped by biblical standards of morality, it wouldn't be a good and God-glorifying thing for society and the church, and that that should be a desideratum for the church in America.

No-one, not even the theonomists, are talking about putting the whole of God's law/natural law on the statute book, which is impossible and unbiblical.

So there is room for debate - in the light of God's Word - on what should be legislated, and how it should be punished in America in her current condition.

People should still have ideals as to what they would like to see in the light of God's Word, while recognising that politics is the art of the possible, and that those ideals will not be met in the current situation. Having Christian ideals for your nation isn't holding to vain dreams, but faithfully holding forth the way things should be.

None of us meet the standard of God's law in our personal lives, but that doesn't mean that the standard is to be abandoned or neglected in teaching.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:10)

Richard,

Now this, (to an extent) I can agree with. I'll leave it at this: I would never advocate homosexual unions whether it had to do with protecting certain peoples rights or not. Homosexuality is sinful. I would vote against it in a heart beat (including all other forms of evil).

Here is what I'm seeing (and correct me if I'm wrong, please): certain people are criticizing DVD for his position, however, they go to the other extreme and blur the line between the first and third use of the Law. "The law is a rule of life for believers" not for unbelievers. And it seems that some on this board are promoting such things. The first use is specifically for promoting righteousness and restraining evil (because of the conscience, not duty).
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
The magistrate is tasked to up hold God's justice.

Actually, according to your confession (which is upheld by your denomination, by the way) states exactly what this entails:

CHAP. XXIII. - Of the Civil Magistrate.

1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers.

2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the new testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.

3. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in the matter so faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the Church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his Church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretence of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

4. It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honour their persons, to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience' sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrates' just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted, much less hath the Pope any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretence whatsoever.
 

kevin.carroll

Puritan Board Junior
I understand that it's not, but shouldn't the ideal be that the government enforce the 6th commandment because of a conviction that Exodus 20 is true? And shouldn't the same be true of the rest of the 10 commandments?

Sure, but the ideal does not describe the world as it exists.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
Mr Cunningham, I am well aware of how my church confesses that section of the WCF. The parts that you bolded do not contradict anything I said however. I simply argued that it is the right and duty of the magistrate to take up the sword to punish evil and conversely not to promote evil. I also stated that part of the purpose of the moral law is to restrain evil, I am curious as to how the magistrate is to define evil apart from the moral law. I am going to assume that you are going to say natural law but even to that I have to ask by what standard are you going to judge whether or not their use of natural law is correct. NL does not solve the problem of defining evil, it only points out that there are somethings that are so evil that all men should acknowledge it apart from revelation.
The second section you highlighted seems to be a rejection of the magistrate having to uphold to first table of the law. That is irrelevant to this issue because we are not talking about dragging people off to jail for missing church but people willfully breaking the 7th commandment.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Here is what I'm seeing (and correct me if I'm wrong, please): certain people are criticizing DVD for his position, however, they go to the other extreme and blur the line between the first and third use of the Law. "The law is a rule of life for believers" not for unbelievers. And it seems that some on this board are promoting such things. The first use is specifically for promoting righteousness and restraining evil (because of the conscience, not duty).

There's sometimes a degree of confusion because the three uses of the law are listed differently in Lutheran and Reformed formulations:

The Lutheran Scheme

Book of Concord

The Formula of Concord distinguished three uses, or purposes, in the Law in Article VI. It states: "The Law was given to men for three reasons. . .

that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars

that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins

that after they are regenerate. . .they might. . .have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life.

The primary concern was to maintain that the Law should continue to be used by Christians after they had been regenerated by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel to counter the doctrine of Johannes Agricola, who taught that the Law was no longer needed by regenerate Christians.

Briefly summarized they are:

curb
mirror
guide

The Reformed Scheme
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Reformer John Calvin likewise distinguished three uses in the Law. Calvin wrote: "That the whole matter may be made clearer, let us take a succinct view of the office and use of the Moral Law. Now this office and use seems to me to consist of three parts."

By "exhibiting the righteousness of God, — in other words, the righteousness which alone is acceptable to God, — it admonishes every one of his own unrighteousness, certiorates, convicts, and finally condemns him."

It acts "by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice."

"The third use of the Law. . .has respect to believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already flourishes and reigns. ... For it is the best instrument for enabling them daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge..."

This scheme is the same as the Formula of Concord, with the exception that the first and second uses are transposed.

The non-theonomist Reformed just want to see the curbing function of societal and civil norms to be ideally based on intelligent reflection on God's Word applied to different societies at different stages of spiritual development.

Part of the curbing function of God's law is not at the level of civil government anyway, but also at the individual level, the familial level, the ecclesiastical level, the scholastic level, the commercial level, the societal level, etc, etc.

Regarding the civil government law, it's use to curb is not to be applied to "small sins" e.g. one kid steals a pencil and paper or a sweetie from another.

De minimis non regat lex - the law does not and should not regard small matters.
 
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