Should the magistrate enforce *Natural Law?*

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I am assuming theonomy is not an option (for whatever reasons exegetical, theological, politically correct, etc) and that natural law (however it is defined in its many forms. I will just say natural law = decalogue) is the correct paradigm.

Should the magistrate enforce natural law on the populace?
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
As a knee-jerk response, yes, for sheerly logical reasons.

The common law is based around God's law. To deny one part of the law while enforcing the other is terribly schitzophrenic and illogical. The law accepts, as a presupposition, that God's morality is true.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
My point is that if we are enforcing the decalogue, isn't this really a backdoor way to re-introduce theocracy?* Sounds cool with me...
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
My point is that if we are enforcing the decalogue, isn't this really a backdoor way to re-introduce theocracy?* Sounds cool with me...


I doubt many modern (non-reformed) natural law theorists wouldn't be arguing for the big 10 to be the baseline. Why couldn't they argue for statistical studies to see what is indeed natural to man? If X% of people behave a way, then it would be considered natural. In fact waiting until marriage in order to have sex is very unnatural nowadays...So in a sense, young chaste couples are unnatural and breaking natural law!
 

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Natural Law, Code of Hammurabi whatever. The magistrates should enforce according to the light given them. In this case it is utter sin and rebellion for a magistrate to see the fully compiled law of God in His word, and discard it for Natural Law. Either the magistrate enforces God's law or recuse himself from the case.
 

HaigLaw

Puritan Board Sophomore
Most law schools do not directly teach the basis of our laws, the English common law, being based on natural law or the decalogue.

We also have a substantial body of law developed in the past 50 years or so, saying that laws passed to impose religious rituals on people will be thrown out as an impermissible establishment of religion.

:detective:
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
My point, as somewhat indirectly hinted at by Chris, is that Reformed understandings of natural law cannot be used as a "common ground" with unbelievers in the civic public square. Many unbelievers think natural law to be theocratic and a remnant of Christendom (it is). Not for a moment will they accept the ten commandments written on the heart as the basis of law (in fact, they prosecuted Judge Roy Moore for that very point!)
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
My point, as somewhat indirectly hinted at by Chris, is that Reformed understandings of natural law cannot be used as a "common ground" with unbelievers in the civic public square. Many unbelievers think natural law to be theocratic and a remnant of Christendom (it is). Not for a moment will they accept the ten commandments written on the heart as the basis of law (in fact, they prosecuted Judge Roy Moore for that very point!)

Unbelievers as well as Christians do a lot of things (David having Uriah murdered). That does not imply that in general they cannot be shown the error of their ways or that they have an excuse for acting the way that they act.

CT
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
Out of all the things that are morally wrong, how do you know which things should be prohibited by the government and which things should not be prohibited by the government?
 
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SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Out of all the things that are morally wrong, how do you know which things should be prohibited by the government and which things should not be prohibited by the government?

That's an interesting question. Even if we can agree on what is right and wrong, how do we know what to punish as a crime?
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Out of all the things that are morally wrong, how do you know which things should be prohibited by the government and which things should not be prohibited by the government?

That's the question that theonomy answers. We either accept God's answer on that or construct our own fallible/sinful/foolish answers.
 

MOSES

Puritan Board Freshman
The first part of the decalogue gives authority to the second part.

If the first part is not upheld, then neither will the second part...Why should man perform his duty to his fellow man, as shown in the second part of the decalogue, if God did not say what he said in the first part?

in my opinion, you cannot uphold the second part without the first.
If there is no God who says "thall shall have no other gods before me"...then neither is there a God who say's "thou shalt not murder."

If an athiest was consistent with his world view...he would have no problems killing his neighbor. This is also evidenced in athiestic communism which resulted in the murder of millions.

Murder is only evil because God said so.
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
“Natural Law” is taken by many to mean those laws known to man by general revelation. At best, they include the second table of the law protecting life, property, marriage, family and justice, those prohibiting crimes against men.

Can “Natural Law” be construed to include the first table of the law, prohibiting heresy, idolatry, blasphemy, and the profaning of the Lord’s Day?

Reformed Theology insisted, at least until late into the 17th century, the civil magistrate was obligated to enforce the first table of the law.

Calvin’s comment on Exodus 32:29 is instructive:

[INDENT]"Let us also learn that nothing is less consistent than to punish heavily the crimes whereby mortals are injured, whilst we connive at the impious errors or sacrilegious modes of worship whereby the majesty of God is violated."[/INDENT]
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
Also, please appreciate that the Westminster standards support the theonomic thesis properly understood. Even in its chapter on Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience it does:

And because the powers which God has ordained, and the liberty which Christ has purchased are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ has established in the Church, <b>they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against, by the censures of the Church. <i>and by the power of the civil magistrate</i>.</b>

Westminster standards proof-text:
DEU 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you. ROM 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 2JO 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. EZR 7:23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. 26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. 27 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem: 28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellers, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me. REV 17:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. NEH 13:15 In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. 17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? 21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath. 22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. 25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. 30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business. 2KI 23:5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. 6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. 9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. 20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem. 21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. 2CH 34:33 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God. And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 2CH 15:12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 16 And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel. DAN 3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. 1TI 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. ISA 49:23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. ZEC 13:2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land. 3 And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
Out of all the things that are morally wrong, how do you know which things should be prohibited by the government and which things should not be prohibited by the government?

That's an interesting question. Even if we can agree on what is right and wrong, how do we know what to punish as a crime?

Precisely. It's an epistemological issue.

Ron
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
Out of all the things that are morally wrong, how do you know which things should be prohibited by the government and which things should not be prohibited by the government?

That's an interesting question. Even if we can agree on what is right and wrong, how do we know what to punish as a crime?

Precisely. It's an epistemological issue.

Ron

How do dispensationalists know what should be punished as a crime? Do they claim that they New Testament teaches what should be punished as a crime? Romans 13:4 says that the government should punish evildoers, but it does not say who should be considered an evildoer in the eyes of the government.

Some people think that the civil aspect or the penal sanctions of the Law of Moses has been abrogated. If so, how would you know what should be punished as a crime?
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Out of all the things that are morally wrong, how do you know which things should be prohibited by the government and which things should not be prohibited by the government?

A couple questions would need to be answered in order to determine such:

1)What is the job of government (whatever level)
2)Is there a single answer to the "what should or should not be prohibited by government"
3)Are you asking a moral question or a pragmatic question?

CT
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
1)What is the job of government (whatever level)

Rule over society and maintain order. Defend and encourage those who do good and punish evildoers. Administer just and good laws.

2)Is there a single answer to the "what should or should not be prohibited by government"

No, there is no single answer. It could be a list of things.

3)Are you asking a moral question or a pragmatic question?

A moral question.
 
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