Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God's Law: Who Needs It?

Despite the many discussions I’ve had with Christian brethren concerning theonomy, I never cease to be amazed at the level of antipathy many believers have towards God’s Law as a basis for governing.

As I observed previously,

Oddly enough, there is it seems--in the believer and unbeliever alike--a shared antipathy towards theonomy, a mutual antinomianism and a common desire for autonomy. Consequently, the arguments contra God’s Law as the standard for governing, marshaled by both Christians and non Christians alike, are strikingly similar. They are in fact, essentially identical.
When opposing abortion, gay marriage, Shariah, and all forms of State tyranny; to what can the Christian appeal, if not God’s moral Law? What hope can the Christian have for a righteous nation when he eschews God’s Law and embraces ungodly rulers, with ungodly philosophies, imposing ungodly laws? 
How can we be salt and light for a dark and tasteless world if we insist that God’s moral Law is no basis for governing society?

A very common objection to theonomy goes like this: God can judge the nations according to the moral law, without the moral law being on their books. Theonomy is unnecessary because God already judges according to His moral law.

Certainly, God judges the nations. But how exactly does the fact that God “can judge” factor in here? This in no way negates the need for godly rulers. (“God can do it!” sounds like a major copout. Why bother to legislate morally? For that matter, I've heard some folks similarly argue: “Why preach or pray?”)

Does God judge immorality? Of course He does. And one way God judges immorality is through or by His ordained minister/servant: the magistrate.

Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. . . They are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. (Romans 13:3-4,6b)

Contra the Apostle Paul, the notion that "theonomy is unnecessary because God is the judge" fails to recognize that God judges evil through human government. To insist that government need not judge evil actions, because God will do so, stands Romans 13 on its head. If government will not judge evil behavior (as defined by God), how is it properly acting as God’s minister to execute God’s wrath?

When God judges nations for immorality, is this a judgment on private citizens only? Or, when God judges a nation for immorality is He also judging that nation’s immoral government?

Many Christians believe that it is preferable to have the moral basis for legislation be the biblically untethered, autonomous State (be it secularistic or Islamic)—not God’s Law.

(Hence, if they are going to be consistent in their insistence that God’s moral Law is NOT a sufficient or proper guide to governing, they haven’t a leg to stand on, nowhere to appeal, when it comes to opposing abortion, gay marriage, Shariah, etc.).

I, however, believe the State SHOULD govern according to the moral Law of God as it pertains to or manifests in outward behavior. Thus, we are at an impasse.

But this unavoidable and undeniable fact remains: All laws are moral. There’s just no such thing as an amoral law. (Laws of traffic, zoning, marriage, etc. are morally based.) The question is: Whose morality is to be enforced?
Do we want biblical morality or humanistic morality? (Isn’t this largely what the “culture wars” are about—differing views of morality?)

It seems to me that the Christian who decries the immorality of our (or any) nation and who at the same time eschews biblical morality as the basis for legislating what is “good” and “evil” behavior, is fighting on both sides. He’ll certainly win and he’s sure to lose.

All men and all nations (and all governments) are obligated to obey the moral Law of God. The standard for judging “good” and “evil” behavior of men and nations (and governments) is God’s word.


  1. "Hence, if they are going to be consistent in their insistence that God’s moral Law is NOT a sufficient or proper guide to governing, they haven’t a leg to stand on, nowhere to appeal, when it comes to opposing abortion, gay marriage, Shariah, etc."

    It seems to me that most claiming to be Christians who would insist God's moral law is not a sufficient or proper guide to governing are not showing much evidence of their Christianity. And those would also not be likely to oppose abortions or gay marriage. And probably would hold not much objection to Shariah.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking article. Much to ponder and digest here, as well as to pray about.


    1. Yes, indeed. Thank you for thinking and discussing these things and certainly we should all be in prayer concerning these matters.

      Blessings, brother.