Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Marijuana Legalization and the Time of the Judges: A Bit of Q & A on Facebook

In response to a share of http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/28363 on a friend’s Facebook page, I couldn’t shut up.

Me: Where does the Bible make what you do to your body my business? Where does it make how you raise your kids my business? Do you really want me coming into your house in the middle of the night looking for drugs, or going around with infrared machines X-raying your house to make sure you don't have contraband? Or conducting body cavity searches by the side of the road when you forget to use your turn signal?

This whole line of thinking reminds me of the federal bureaucrat that told a Senator in a hearing that she loved his children as much as he did, to which he replied, "Glad to hear it. What are their names?"

Maybe Mormons live longer than Cheech and Chong. A billion years from now they'll be in the same place.

I'm not African or North Korean, so I don't know how to make the Christian church grow by leaps and bounds, but I suspect if I ever learned, I would find that I'm better off not pointing guns at my prospects and minding my own business than by giving them unwanted advice and backing it up with a badge and a gun.

Him: Anarchy begets tyranny. Would you rather be ruled by some kind of a democratic process flawed as it might be or ruled by the mafia or a drug & sex trafficing cartel?

Me: The one time in the Bible anarchy led to tyranny was when the people of Israel, tired of God judging their apostasy (i.e., they were no longer obeying their true king), asked him to step down from the throne officially and give them a human king. He tells them in 1 Sam 8 that they are trading anarchy for tyranny.

So right away you're off a biblical base.

Actually, this was the second time in Israel's history. The first was when Gideon's son Abimelech declared himself king, but that was short lived.

Nazi Germany was a democracy. Israel under the judges was anarchy, and as long as they were obeying God, it was much better than any time in US history (technology aside).

Him: There are innumerable laws now that prohibit all kinds of things and activities and in my 57 years here no one has ever entered my house to look for contraband, I have been stopped by the police maybe half a dozen times and never once did one conduct an kind of search. Has this happened to you Henry?

Me: No, it hasn't happened to me. Kristallnacht had never happened until it happened. I'm told that when asked how people would react to the concentration camps, Hitler said, "They'll never believe it." Who in Zimbabwe in the 1980s when Mugabe came to power expected that in 2015 Zimbabweans would be asking whites to come back?

Conservatives and liberals believe that coercive relationships make voluntary relationships possible: no police, and the family and church and market go down the drain. Anarchists say that coercive relationships poison voluntary relationships: politics is all about who does what to whom, and life becomes a battle to be a who, not a whom.

Me: The Bible nowhere calls for jailing people for anything. Murderers and some rapists are to be executed. Robbers and some rapists and those who cause, e.g., traffic accidents are to make full compensation to their victims. To call for substance prohibition is to go beyond what the Bible calls for, a violation of the regulative principle of worship. We now don't do what the Bible calls for and do what the Bible nowhere calls for. Ending substance prohibition and making the victim, not the state, the plaintiff for violations of people and their property, would get our society going in the right direction.

Yes, I know, many people don't want to go in the biblical direction. Under a decentralized, bottom-up system of private peacekeeping, those who want to exclude users of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine would be free to do so. ("You want me to pay your bills when you screw up or something bad happens to you? You obey my rules. Otherwise, you find someone else to pay your bills.")

Him: you interpret "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" as divine approval of anarchy, and that God was applauding corporate life in Israel during the time of the Judges?

Me: “You shall seek the Lord at the place which the LORD your God shall choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. ... You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; 9 for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you." (Deut 12:5-9)

Note that Moses does not say that they are doing wrong by doing what is right in their eyes -- if they had been offending God, God would have said something, methinks -- only that things were going to change once God established a single place of worship.

The land had peace for forty years twice and eighty years once during the time of the judges. We certainly have had nothing like that since 1776, and I wonder offhand if such long periods of peace happened even under the monarchy. If the kings "did evil in the sight of the LORD," methinks the land had no peace even if Scripture records no overt conflicts. If David and Jehoshaphat and Josiah were typical of kings "who did right in the sight of the LORD," there were wars a-plenty during their reigns.

So yes, God approved of Israel's spiritual state at times during the time of the judges. That's why the cycle had upturns and times of peace. In general, yes, things went downhill, which is why the people eventually asked for a king "like all the other nations have": they considered even a tyrant preferable to God as king (1 Sam 8:7).

Him: Explain to me how in an anarchic "system" the rise to power of malevolent dictators and violent fascist movements would be prevented.

Me: Quite literally, the only thing that will prevent the rise of malevolent dictators and violent fascist movements is the preaching and reception of the gospel. Democratic systems can fall to fascism, as Germany in the 1930s and the United States since Reagan (Can you say "Hillary" or "Bernie"?) are proof. If those under the covenant will live the way they should, they will be a city on a hill, a light in the darkness, that will draw the lost, or at least earn their respect as they did in Jerusalem in the early days of the church. Common grace works wonders -- men faithful to their wives have happier marriages than unfaithful men, honest hard workers get promoted better than lazy embezzlers, and the list goes on, whether any of them are believers or not -- but over the long haul, I would expect that when hardship comes, it will be those who truly trust God who will resist the temptation to resort to worldly means, whether violent crime of armed revolution or the velvet-gloved iron fist of electoral politics, to keep going.

And, of course, I know of no eschatology that does not include a massive worldwide rebellion against God before the Lord's definitive return. I happen to believe that there will be dozens of thousands of years of worldwide heartfelt submission to God before that day, that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. In those days society will be led by true servants who collect what amount to membership dues, not an elite group of tax guzzlers doing what is right in their own godless eyes. I say we're better off peddling that vision than some variation of "my Pharaoh's not as malevolent as your Pharaoh."

Him: How is a religio-political system of appointed Judges, having authority to tell you how to resolve disputes personal and public, and to wage war, anarchy?

Me: Anarchy is when you can say no to zero-sum situations. It is when your body and property are safe from violation either direct or by deceit. The judges seem to have risen to prominence by their reputation. I don't see any instance in which they were appointed. They just seem to have been influential people. They did not collect taxes (smile emoticon no zero sum game). Even King Saul seems to have begun his reign without taxes, since we first hear about him after his coronation plowing his own fields. So I assume they had no standing army to enforce their edicts. When they did wage war, they had to call for volunteers. When they resolved disputes, it seems that the parties would agree beforehand to abide by the judge's decision; otherwise the trial didn't take place.

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