“While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising [sic] iniquity and extravagance, and … rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because 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, Oct. 11, 1798
The WND headline reads: “Glenn Beck: ‘I’ve lost faith,’ time to ‘surrender’.” Seeing it, one is tempted to give WND’s editors kudos for composing an archetypal “man bites dog” headline. After all, given his media reputation for feistiness, Glenn Beck’s name is not supposed to be associated with surrender. I admit, however, that I could never take his media reputation at face value, even before he joined the elitist faction’s media jackals on the hunt against people like me who insist that questions about Obama’s constitutional eligibility for the U.S. presidency have to be taken seriously. When he did, I publicly consigned Beck to the racks of “the commentators and politicians of our era” who “remind me of the barbarians who first made and then squatted upon the ruins of ancient Rome. In like fashion they contrive to ruin the American institutions of freedom.”
I am therefore inclined to see Beck’s posturing about surrender as “wolf sheds sheepdog’s clothing.” It goes hand in hand with his denial of the damage the push for homosexual marriage aims to do to the foundations of constitutional self-government in the United States. The doctrine of unalienable rights is the basis for America’s constitutional republic. But the assertion of unalienable rights in the American Declaration of Independence makes no sense unless we acknowledge God’s authority as our Creator. Beck “says that he believes that we must return to God.” Yet (as I pointed out some time ago in “A Meditation on Glenn Beck’s Divine Mission”), “he casually blows off the issues that involve imposing on our nation laws and practices that deny the natural law derived from God’s authority. …”
It’s not surprising that Beck tells us that “we’re powerless over anything that happens in Washington.” In harness with the forces promoting specious homosexual marriage and abortion “rights,” he insidiously works to destroy our reverence for God’s authority over human institutions of government. By doing so, he contributes to the demoralization of the American people. He disingenuously proposes an educational remedy based on the concept that “the individual is greater than the collective,” which similarly abandons the principle of God’s superintendence of the whole of things. For God’s will transcends the distinction between the individual and the collective. He creates every particular in light of the whole, and in creating the whole he takes account of every particular. Thus when we respect the determinations He makes for our nature (“the laws of nature and of nature’s God”), we both preserve ourselves as individuals and preserve the whole of individuals, trusting in the provisions God has made for the one and the other.
Beck fails to understand this symmetry because he rejects or refuses to think through the provisions God has made for our good. As I’ve often pointed out, the God-endowed family represents the paradigm of God’s natural law for human community. Parents who accept their obligation to care for the child of their bodily union pay due respect to their own unity as individuals; but at the same time they acknowledge the collective (man, woman, child) through which their unity is specifically expressed and perpetuated. As an individual, the authority of the helpless child subdues the parents’ will. Though they are greater than the child as individuals, the parents accept to be the servants of the concept of the collective engendered by their consensual act of procreation. The whole which together they all constitute (the family) arises from the obligation to do what is right for each individual human being, as determined by the goodwill of the Creator; but also what is right also for the whole species, apart from which the self-conception of humanity cannot take place.
Reverence for God’s goodwill is thus the essential premise of the concept of human community based on respect for God-endowed right. Can we abandon that premise and still retain the institutions that depend upon it? Things like the push for homosexual marriage and the Supreme Court’s assertion of a specious right to murder nascent human beings correspond exactly to what John Adams called “insidious and impious policy.” In the name of individual freedom, people like Beck pretend to decry those who insist on imposing such policies by law. Does he therefore reject the Declaration’s observation that governments are instituted to secure our unalienable rights? Does he illogically contend that such security can be achieved without laws that recognize and punish those who violate our unalienable rights? But if such laws are necessary to serve the fundamental aim of government, what must happen if we accept the notion that rights can be define by human laws without regard for the substance of right endowed by the Creator?
What must happen is this: Rights defined by government fiat will be enforced by government fiat. Once reverence for the Creator’s transcendent will is effectively banished from the precincts of politics, law and government, to what authority can we appeal when government vitiates our unalienable rights? On what basis shall those who resist and fight against unrighteous abuses of government power defend the morality of their actions? And without a strong sense of moral justification, how will they maintain their morale in the battle to defend their rights? How will they justify the sacrifices required to persevere in it? Beck’s call for surrender makes sense in this respect; for Americans who refuse to insist that government be constrained by reverence for God’s authority have already surrendered the core principle of liberty. But by restoring that reverence, liberty, though it be dead as Lazarus, may yet be resurrected. For “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).