15 Aug The Coming Chaos
August 15, 2013
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg:
United Families International deeply appreciates Tom Christensen’s role as our expert of Marriage and Family issues. He has written numerous articles defining the principles on which strong marriages and families are built and pointed consistently to the necessity of these institutions in maintaining strong societies.
While this week’s alert deals with the recent United States Supreme Court decision regarding marriage, it is filled with principles and truth that can be applied in every nation and generation! It is imperative that EVERY person fighting for the family understands this perspective. We invited you to share it generously with your family and friends.
President, United Families International
“Ask for and get Chaos”
by Tom Christensen
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ” (John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade, 11 October 1798)
In June’s landmark case, United States v Windsor (570 US ___2013), the US Supreme Court knocked a huge hole in the Constitution and the nation’s moral heritage when it struck down “DOMA,” the Defense of Marriage Act. A 5-4 Supreme Court majority rejected Congress’ view that DOMA was needed to preserve the nation’s families, concluding that Congress and the President were motivated instead by “a bare…desire to harm” couples in same-sex marriages. In 1996, DOMA passed by a 4 to 1 vote advantage in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Windsor is unique because it involved a review of a Congressional Act with no active case or controversy. Such judicial policymaking is not authorized by Supreme Court precedent or the Constitution. Rather, policymaking is reserved under the Constitution to Congress, the states or the people. Article I of the Constitution states that “all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” The Tenth Amendment states that “powers not delegated to the United States…are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Contrary to the sentiments of the Declaration of Independence, the Congress, the American citizenry, 38 states, and virtually every American leader from George Washington to George W. Bush, the Court in Windsor took it upon itself to adopt for the nation a new standard on marriage. Aside from the obvious constitutional problems of doing so, the laws of God (according to the Declaration) are “unalienable,” meaning they cannot be denied.
When the Court undertakes to nullify the duly enacted laws of Congress, ignore the basic beliefs of the people, and rewrite the sacred laws of God, bad things happen.
I: Connecting Freedom and Religion in America
Part of what it means to be an American, as stated by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, is to belong to a nation that strives to act “with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.” Since the outset, the source of America’s strength and freedom is its public recognition and private acceptance of the principles of self-governance and primitive Christianity.
Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, statesman, historian, and social philosopher, traveled to America in the 1830s to discover the secret to the new republic’s incredible success. He published the following observations in his classic two-volume work, Democracy in America:
Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.
In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.
Religion in America…must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it…
I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.
In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people…
Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent…
I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.
Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.
America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.
The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.
Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts — the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.
The American founders understood that just as invisible natural laws, such as chemistry, gravity, and physics, control the physical universe; fixed moral laws grounded on the Christian tradition, such as equal justice, mercy, integrity, and marriage, yield positive and predictable results in society. The Americans successfully merged moral law/religious freedom with human law/family, creating the most unified and generous, longest-lasting, and most productive society in the history of the world.
The alternative to reliance upon fixed natural laws is anarchy or divisive, arbitrary, totalitarian government. Absent a firm reliance on natural law, leaders govern by passion, whim, external force, and terror. Examples of the latter can be found in every (atheistic) communist, socialist, or fascist movement.
President Calvin Coolidge, warned:
When the righteous authority of the law is no longer in harmony with the righteous authority of the Almighty…the foundations of our institutions fail, society reverts to a system of class and caste, and the government instead of being imposed by reason from within is imposed by force from without. Freedom and democracy give way to despotism and slavery.
Because God’s law is considered perfect by those who trust in God and, in fact, produces superior results when observed privately and by society; it is not for the government to alter it. To do so is like a violin repairman seeking to improve upon a Stradivarius. In the film Amadeus, Composer Antonio Salieri, speaking of the inspired works of Mozart, observed “Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.” Such is the danger to the rule of law and society when government rejects or redefines God’s law.
II. Origins of American Exceptionalism
The concept of “virtuous citizenship”–liberty and self-government anchored upon individual and public acceptance of higher, immutable laws–did not originate in America with Adams, Locke, and Jefferson. In 51 BC, Roman philosopher Cicero wrote:
True law is right reason in agreement with nature. It is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting… It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and…one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. (The Republic (III, 33)
The reformer John Calvin was among the first to implement the concept of virtuous citizenship in a political setting. Fleeing French authorities, Calvin first arrived in Geneva in 1536. At that time, Geneva was ravaged by rampant gambling, street brawls, drunkenness, adultery, prostitution, public indecency, etc. Calvin helped city officials to rewrite and enforce their laws, clean up and revitalize the city.
Calvin understood that a government could not last for long without a virtuous citizenry so he printed the first English Bible (the “Geneva Bible”) and put it in the hands of the people. He established a system of public parochial schools and taught that the church and state were jurisdictionally separate but joined under the same laws of God who reigns over all people, governments, and institutions. Calvin taught that marriage was a “covenant of grace” requiring “the coercive power of the state to preserve its integrity.”
Geneva prospered, became the cradle of the reformation and a refuge for religious reformers escaping the reign of terror of Mary Tudor, Queen of England (“Bloody Mary”) and other tyrants. According to German historian, Leopold von Ranke, Calvin was the “virtual founder” of America. “Let not Geneva be forgotten or despised,” wrote John Adams. “Religious liberty owes it most respect.”
The Second Continental Congress implemented on a national scale Calvin’s dream of a community devoted to virtue, liberty, and justice for all. The United States of America, like Geneva, became a refuge and a melting pot for those yearning for freedom and economic opportunity. The rights the immigrants sought “come not from the generosity of the state but” according to John F. Kennedy, “from the hand of God.”
The nation’s official motto, depicted in its currency, national anthem, public art, ceremonies and oaths, pledge of allegiance and laws and institutions, is “In God We Trust.” Contrary to the opinion of the Supreme Court, the words of the pledge are not merely “ceremonial” and devoid of “any significant religious content “(Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 US 668, 1984). To most Americans, the phrase “one nation under God” means something. Deist Thomas Jefferson, the presumed author of the doctrine of separation of church and state, was sincere in his reverence for God’s law:
Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII)
Willliam Blackstone, the influential English jurist most revered by the American framers, clarified that natural law is “revealed or divine law found in the Holy Scriptures.” The framers deliberately folded the Ten Commandments into the Bill of Rights, “thou shalt not kill… steal…lie…” etc. and the “Golden Rule,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
According to President James Madison, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government… [but] upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
While some organic laws based upon human need and reason evolve at the hand of the government, the essential elements of God’s natural law, such as the law of marriage, predate government, do not evolve, and are not subject to judicial revision.
III: God’s Law of Marriage and the Windsor Holding
Of all society’s laws and institutions, no law is more important than marriage and no institution more vital than the family. According to the US Supreme Court in Murphy v. Ramsey (1888), “the family springing forth from the union for life of a man and woman in the holy estate of matrimony is the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.”
Strong marriages between men and women facilitate strong families; human happiness; stable population and economic growth; and the nurture, development, and education of children. This is why traditional marriage has been featured prominently in the Magna Carta, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the constitutions of many nations, in DOMA and in the statutes or constitutions of 38 American states.
Despite the historical and religious precedent in support of traditional marriage, the Supreme Court in Windsor shoved it all aside concluding that traditional marriage is not good for America. The only practical basis the Court could find for excluding same sex couples from marriage was the intent of those who favor such laws to “stigmatize… harm… [and] deprive…a politically unpopular group of their dignity… integrity… freedom…[and] constitutional rights.”
Five legal experts on the Court thus sacrificed the moral heritage of Christian centuries and the centerpiece of the enduring, child-rich family on the altar of moral relativism and political correctness. Contrary to its earlier ruling in Zorach v. Clauson (343 US 306, 1952), the Court in Windsor rejected the presupposition of a supreme being and read into the 5th Amendment an open hostility to a central religious practice cherished by generations of Americans.
It thus catered to the narrow demands of a small segment of the population who, in truth, are also blessed by God’s law of marriage. Every human being–gay or straight, atheist or devout– is conceived by a man and a woman and is benefitted when parents honor marital covenants. Because gay couples do not produce children, they are dissimilar to family forms that do. Also, as the Windsor majority demonstrated, it is hard to name a single significant societal benefit associated with gay marriage.
If married homosexual couples who cannot bear children are entitled to federal benefits previously denied under DOMA, what possible reason under the Windsor analysis can the government deny benefits to currently illegal (i.e. polygamous, adult/child) or unmarried families who are also stigmatized by society but can produce children?
The damage in Windsor will eventually spread to marriage laws in all states because the holding classifies any legislator who opposes gay marriage as homophobic, bigoted, and a hatemonger. More importantly, it extends to gay couples the equal protection clause and the liberty clause of the Fifth Amendment which are applicable to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment. When states are also forced to accept same-sex marriage, the country will have severed its strongest cord leading to peace, longevity, prosperity, and greatness.
The anti-marriage movement is nothing new and is always related to the emasculation of power in the central government and a generalized disdain for religion. For example, the Communist Manifesto (1848) calls for “abolition of the bourgeois family…religion and all morality…marriage…[and] traditional property relations.” It favors “an openly legalized system…of wives in common.” Similarly, the humanist model, embraced by media mogul and UN financier Ted Turner, opposes “traditional religion…family ritual…puritanical sexual practices…population growth…moral codes…and traditional male and female roles.”
Humanist Manifesto II (1973)
As is the case in all nations that turn away from God, freedom, and family; marriage, fertility, and economic growth rates plummet; and divorce, cohabitation, prostitution, abortion, and crime rates skyrocket. Without private virtue and marriage laws, generations of young men and women “grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority and never acquiring any rational expectations of the future.”
“The unmistakable lesson of American history,” according to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, is that such nations “ask for and get chaos.”
Tom Christensen, former CEO of United Families, is a successful father, attorney, and politician. He has written extensively on the natural family and has addressed UN delegations in behalf of UFI in Istanbul, New York, Nairobi, the Hague, Lisbon and Geneva.