VOL. 15, NO. 8
September 27, 2013
Back to the Basics:
Straightening Up America, VII:
America’s Marriage Miasma, Part 3
By Virginia Armstrong, Ph.D., National Chairman
“Who might fulfill the role [of petitioner/appellant]” in appealing the recent court decisions such as those recently made by federal judges against state and federal laws defending “marriage” as defined throughout centuries of Anglo-American law? This very pertinent question was raised by Russell Hemati, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in the Perry and Windsor cases. Although directed specifically to the “Proposition 8” decision in Perry, this question in a blog posting on HBU’s School of Humanities raises a fundamental issue in the entire debate over same-sex marriage. What kind of plaintiff would satisfy the requirements to challenge the traditional definition of marriage? The answer is simple: no one. No human being can validly challenge the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman because that definition was set by God Himself in the Beginning when He created marriage. Likewise, no government anywhere at any time has the authority to redefine marriage, deeming it to be any form of relationship other than traditional marriage.
But, because we do face these and similar challenges to the fundamental Judeo-Christian worldview in which our Constitution and culture were embedded, we have been addressing during 2013 the question “How far can you make a man [or a nation] bend over backwards before he [it] breaks?” Humanist/Reconstructionist powers have forced our nation to bend much too far backwards in its spiritual, moral, and constitutional life. Thus, we must “go back to the Basics” to find guidance in how to “straighten up America.”
In this effort, we are utilizing the “presuppositional apologetics” of Francis Schaeffer, examining the presuppositions of both worldviews in America’s Culture War, and engaging in an unprecedented Judeo-Christian “constitutional/jurisprudential apologetics” campaign to help “straighten up America.” At least four core presuppositions undergird our Judeo-Christian/Constitutionalist position, and we have explored three of these:
- The paramount necessity facing every legal system is survival.
- The survival of every legal system requires that it meet, on an ongoing basis, the standard of the “3 Cs.”
- The survival of the American legal system requires that the U.S. Constitution continuously meet the standard of the 3 Cs, especially when judicial decisions about the Constitution are involved.
This brings us to consideration of the issue with which nearly all public debates about the Constitution and the Culture War actually begin:
- The Constitution, and court decisions concerning it, meet the standard of the 3 Cs when – and only when – the Constitution is interpreted and applied in the context of the Judeo-Christian worldview, where it was (and can only be) anchored.
Our challenge now is to define the Judeo-Christian worldview of law and demonstrate its superiority over the Humanistic worldview in the realm of law. For now, we shall focus on the worldviews’ basic philosophies of law (“jurisprudence” and “jurisprudential apologetics”). We shall reserve for another time a consideration of theories concerning the constitution (“constitutional apologetics”), recognizing that the latter is integrally related to the former (“jurisprudential apologetics”). Guided by America’s preeminent modern apologists, including Francis Schaeffer, Norman Geisler, and Edward John Carnell, we shall evaluate the merits of the two worldviews we face by applying a three-dimensional “truth test”:
- Comprehensiveness – the worldview must adequately address all the major jurisprudential/constitutional questions facing the realm of “law”;
- Consistency – the various components of a worldview must be consistent with one another, requiring vital elements of “law” to exist without contradicting one another and without “law” contradicting other realms of that worldview;
- Congruity – constitutional/jurisprudential elements of a worldview must “fit reality” – the “real world” and the “real self” which man is, or the “external world and man himself” (Francis Schaeffer).
Conclusions concerning which worldview prevails when subjected to the “truth test” require a fuller analysis than this one issue of our “Briefings” can accomplish. But we shall begin that effort here. We do so by defining each of the six core components of Judeo-Christian jurisprudence and demonstrating the superiority of each over the corresponding element of the Humanistic worldview of law. We shall show how the courts’ recent pro-same–sex marriage decisions violate each of our core standards. Further, these violations “threaten the very collapse of our entire legal tradition” (Harold Berman), because each component of Judeo-Christian jurisprudence incorporates a necessary characteristic of our healthy, historical Western (or, for us, Anglo-American) legal tradition. Humanistic attacks on a Judeo-Christian jurisprudential component ipso facto constitute an attack on a necessary quality of a robust Anglo-American legal system. Each statement below which articulates a Judeo-Christian jurisprudential tenet includes, in italics, the “Berman quality” associated with that Judeo-Christian standard.
In this study we follow another major Schaefferian theme – the emphasis on finding the tension between the real world and the logic (or “illogic”) of the Humanistic presupposition(s) about jurisprudence. We shall consider in this “Briefing” issue only the first core component of Judeo-Christian jurisprudence. We shall identify the philosophical issue addressed by each component and a brief definition of that issue, followed by a statement of the Judeo-Christian position and illustrations of flaws in the Humanistic position.
- ONTOLOGY: The “nature” of law; the “essence” of law; the qualities a standard must have to be “law.”
The very concept of “law” is, in its essential nature, rooted in the character of the infinite, personal, sovereign, triune God, and is an expression of His nature. The “law” is thus a definitive, coherent, complete body of authoritative norms manifesting justice, reason/logic, order, and power.
A key word in this jurisprudential component is “body,” which denotes all that a healthy “body” involves. Humanistic court decisions such as Perry and Windsor, however, leave us with nothing more than a fragmented mass of rules, often unclear, contradictory, etc. Indeed, Humanism can even deprive a particular “law” of its force/nature so that it ceases to be a genuine “law.”
Law collapses without absolute categories (Humanism denies absolutes and demands relativism). But every genuine law inherently creates categories – divides behavior and statuses into mutually exclusive categories – e.g., murder v. non-murder, marriage v. non-marriage, etc. At the heart of each category must be a set of fixed qualities – absolute characteristics which any behavior or status must meet to fall into that category; and a category must have fixed borders. If “marriage” is defined as covering opposites – male-female unions and same-sex unions – “marriage” ceases to be a true “category.” If a legal category such as “marriage” is expanded that far, the category has no meaning. Any relationship (e.g., polygamy, bestiality, etc.) can then be a “marriage.” Furthermore, there is then no possibility of a true “body of law” existing. Both “marriage” and “law” as fundamental societal institutions are severely weakened, if not destroyed.
Perry and Windsor propel America further backwards into a state of chaos, contradiction, and convolution – in direct violation of Hart’s “three Cs” standard necessary for legal systems to survive and thrive. The same-sex marriage decisions undermine the Judeo-Christian concept of “law as law” and contribute substantially to the threatened collapse of the Anglo-American legal tradition. In this process, and as we shall see in an upcoming “Briefing,” Judeo-Christian morality is contemptuously rejected.
As Nancy Pearcey, Director of HBU’s Francis Schaeffer Center for Worldview and Culture, explains, “Today we are witnessing the rise of judges who seem unable to conceive of [Judeo-Christian] morality as anything beyond personal feelings. . . . Yet every free society rests on [Judeo-Christian] moral ideals such as justice, fairness, and the public good. . . . Consequently, the reduction of morality to private values threatens the very foundation of liberty.” These truths will be the focal point of upcoming “Briefings.”