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Speaking into a black hole

The Christian concept of freedom within form is the idea that God sets certain boundaries, and within those boundaries you can do as you please.  The boundaries must be respected, but the liberty we have within the boundaries is God’s gift to decent men. 

The idea of form is being lost because America no longer has a Christian center that defines the general “template” for civilization.  That template tells us where the fences are.  God made liberty possible only as men acknowledge him and work within the template he made for society.  Reject him, and the template for freedom vanishes.  Without the template, liberties go berserk and wreck themselves, and law morphs into tyranny.  Everything runs to extremes.

The Secular Man rejects God’s template for a civilization.  All his thinking runs to extremes.  He misconstrues liberty as the total absence of restraint.  He sees the imposition of any kind of external form as tantamount to slavery.  For example, the Secular Man thinks of sexual freedom as the right to hump whatever you please — the total absence of restraint.  Likewise, even the mildest expression of moral disapproval toward homosexuality threatens his sexual freedom.  Hence, PeeCee speech codes against using morally loaded terms are ruthlessly enforced.  Whores are now sex workers.  Anyone can be called a bastard except an actual bastard.  Male homosexuals are to be called gay or even MSM (men who have sex with men).  If you call what they do by its semi-biblical name of sodomy, they will ruin you for life as a bigot with roaring homophobia.  It’s all or nothing, and everything’s a war.

This is the problem we have in conversing with our friends on the left these days.  It’s not that we disagree about which pattern is the best template within which people can exercise their liberty.  It’s that for the left, there must be no pattern at all because they think the existence of a pattern — any pattern at all — eradicates liberty.  When the Christian speaks of liberty within a framework of eternal principle, he speaks into a mental vacuum on the left.  Their worldview does not permit form and liberty to coexist, never mind a liberty which is rooted in form and order and grows out of them.  So they alternate between complete totalitarianism and complete lawlessness depending on whether the subject is something they want or not. 

If the subject is sex, there must be no rules.  If you speak of economic liberty, they envision only oppression without relief, so their solution is total government domination.  If you oppose the welfare state, this means mass starvation, and the Secular Man says you’d like that.  The lack of universal government-run insurance means corpses bloating in the streets with conservative Huns dancing around them.  Opponents of free abortion crave to see rape victims cringing in back alleys with rusty coat hangers snagging at their entrails.

Their incapacity to get what we’re saying about the interplay between divine law and human liberty prevents communication.  The Gospel itself hinges on the idea that God is holy, that he is Lord over his creation, so his holiness takes the form of law.  Folks whose imaginations cannot grasp the Christian view of law, form, and liberty within form see the Gospel as bizarre and the vicarious offering of Christ as equal parts appalling and enigmatic.

Nowhere is the left’s inability to find a balance between anarchy and tyranny more clear than in their ideas about taxation.  Ask a leftist to state a limit on the government’s right to tax people and he cannot.  For the left, the power to tax implies the power to tax 100 percent.  There can be no middle for them.  Conversely, if citizens can limit taxation, then the left insists they will shirk it entirely. The idea of reasonable duties for the taxed and reasonable limits on the taxers can’t fit into their thinking because there is no form, no template, no guide, no pattern that undergirds and shapes the law, nothing that assigns rightful duties or limits the exercise of power.  They find no reason for any stopping place between taxing nothing and stealing it all.  All their thinking runs to extremes like this.

I confess my misgivings about how to move past this.  God alone is the foundation of a just society.  Every question of morality ultimately comes down to a question of authority — his, or that of the idols of the Secular Man.  The diminishing Christian wedge of America can no longer afford to plead for our principles on pragmatic grounds, for this is to allow theh Secular Man’s idols to assert some authority, and whatever they take, they end up taking wholly.  It was always a mistake to argue about what ought to be done without appealing to the great Source of ought, which is the triune God of the Bible.  That mistake has now grown into a barrier that can’t be passed over unless we retrace our steps back to first principles.  We must tell our religious, social, and political adversaries that our beliefs and morals come from God and that we can offer no higher or clearer justification than this for our principles and beliefs.  They won’t like it any better, but at least they’ll have a chance at knowing what we mean.  That would be a nice change, I think.

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