We live in a country with over 300 million people having a variety of different worldviews. There are various issues that divide public opinion. For example, some people think that it should be legal to grow, sell and use marijuana. Others are completely opposed to marijuana and believe that it should be illegal. I am not writing this article to support or oppose either view. Instead, I want to consider who has the right to make the decision about marijuana.
The first thing I want to do is to introduce a new term to go alongside of legal and illegal. The new term is silent. For an example of the concept of silent in law, we will look at the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances."
The phrase "Congress shall make no law" is a way of saying that the government shall be silent on the issue. So the question is not simply should marijuana, for example, be legal or illegal, but we must also ask if it is something that the government should be silent about. Our Constitution already requires the government to be silent on religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and all aspects of the citizen's method, approach and right to petition the government with regard to grievances. There is a very glaring and obvious question that we must ask at this point. If government law makes society better and government acts in our best interest, then why would we prevent government from making laws about these most important and precious rights?
Let us ask that question again. If we call on government to address moral issues and to uphold a high moral standard and bind people to good behavior for their own best interest and in the best interest of society as a whole, then why would we not ask government to pass good laws about religion, speech, the press, free association and the methods whereby we speak to government when we think the government may (Imagine that…) have made an error?
Obviously, we do not trust government to do the right thing with regard to these exceptionally important issues. Why would we trust government with anything else of value?
At this point I want to make a distinction between government and The State. Because the following two issues are related, let’s also consider the distinction between the Institutional church and the Biblical church. The way I would identify an Institutional church is by determining if the attributes and properties that most clearly define the church in question are its institutional attributes.
So here is our comparison:
The Institutional church is to the Biblical church what The State is to government.
In the Institutional church, the people serve the leaders and the leaders have power due to centralization. In the Biblical church, the leaders serve the people and the leaders have limited influence due to decentralization.
The State is characterized by at least the following properties. It is always a monopoly of force organized for legal plunder and serves the purpose of enriching the few at the expense of the many. Government, on the other hand, administers just law, based on natural law, and defends the life, liberty and property of the individual.
According to the Christian worldview there is no place for a theocracy today.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
It should be obvious at this point that we are currently ruled by The State, not by lawful government. So now we have two questions. First, there is the question of whether The State has the moral authority to pass moral law. Second, there is the question of whether government that defends life, liberty and property would pass moral law.
Let’s deal with the second question first. Let’s consider something that no one would think to outlaw, like spinach.
Do I have the right to eat spinach? I think we would all say yes.
Do I have the right to steal from you in order to buy spinach? Do I have a right to steal your spinach? Do I have a right to make you grow spinach for me? Do I have a right to make you eat spinach? Do I have a right to tell you what to do with your spinach?
Do I have the right to eat spinach, even if I am violently allergic to spinach?
We can see from considering spinach that the real issue is not the spinach. The issue is your rights and my rights. Lawful government would defend our right to choose what to do with our property, beginning with our own body, provided we did not infringe on the rights of others.
So if lawful government should and would be silent on religion, speech, the press, voluntary association, the redress of grievances, and would defend our private property rights in all cases except when we infringe on someone else's property rights, then how could The Unlawful State have any basis for passing law that infringes on any of these rights?
Consider a brief history of The State since the US Constitution was ratified.
The State sanctioned cruel slavery, robbed the farmers, merchants and blacksmiths that supported the Revolutionary war, went to war against its own people, is responsible for the Trail of Tears, led in eugenics research, sterilized Americans who were considered to be unfit, was cited by Hitler as an example in handling "undesirable people" because of the way we handled the Indians, robbed the American people by debasing the currency, created the unlawful Federal Reserve System, passed the unlawful income tax, instituted conscription in the form of the draft, stole land, broke treaties, still slaughters babies around the globe through abortion, drove production off of our soil with GATT and NAFTA, has destroyed the family farm through market manipulation, subsidy, income tax, regulation, and inheritance tax, is destroying our right to grow our own food through Senate Bill 510, has destroyed the health care market through regulation, with the latest destructive blow being Obamacare.
Those are just for instance…
So even if it were the role of government to pass a law about spinach or marijuana, and it is not, The State is absolutely and totally devoid of the moral authority required to decide what moral law should be passed or to enforce that law. The State is the most violent and egregious offender of natural law on the continent.
But The State does make law about these moral issues. What is the result?
Some say that moral law restrains immoral behavior. Some say that as the laws have relaxed the problems in society have gotten worse. However, I believe that we have our cause and effect mixed up. In fact, it is the intervention of government in society through education and media which has degraded our culture, degraded the character of our people and degraded our morals. The State gains its power by making the people dependent, simple-minded and docile. The laws that we permit our rulers to make do not cause our morals to degrade. Government intervention in education and the media, government propaganda, subsidizing bad behavior, and penalizing production all combine to degrade our morals. It is our degraded morals that allow them to make perverse and destructive laws, which at the same time control the minutest detail of our behavior, while making perverse and destructive behaviors lawful.
In other words, a moral society would never permit The State to get away with trampling their rights, interfering with their production and stealing their property, all while at the same time making perverse behavior lawful. Only after morals have been undermined will increasingly perverse and destructive laws be incrementally accepted.
In the end, what we have are laws that control producers and protect non-producers in their destructive and perverse behaviors. If government were silent about behaviors and protected private property rights, then producers would be free to help who they wanted to help and those who engaged in destructive and perverse behavior would have to stand on their own two feet. If the moralist is truly correct about what is good and what is bad, those who engage in unfruitful behavior will go down the path of the prodigal son.
When The State begins making moral law, the end result is subsidy of bad behavior and penalties on production, which leads to violence and ultimately the collapse of the society.
If marijuana and spinach were treated the same, then the profit motive would be the same for both. There would be the same number of people slaughtered in gang warfare over marijuana as there are today over spinach. If you want a simple proof, look at the passage of the 18th and 21st amendment and the history of violence between the dates of their passage.
If a person were to steal to support their marijuana consumption, they would have to steal less if the price for marijuana was simply the cost of production plus whatever profit the market would bear. That means there will be less crime as a result of marijuana consumption. Not to mention the fact that a person could freely grow their own spinach and marijuana.
So here is what we have discovered.
Lawful government would defend our life, liberty and property.
The State is a monopoly of force designed to control people and steal our property and production through the guise of legal plunder.
The corruption of our character and morals as a society is the result of government intervention, not the result of bad law. Destructive and perverse law that controls the producer and forces him to subsidize bad behavior is only permitted in a society that is sufficiently corrupt to tolerate the next incrementally bad law.
When The State has the gall to pass moral law, the result is violence, death, chaos, moral decay and destruction of property.
We can easily see why this would be the outcome if we understand the moral depravity and evil nature of The State, whose power comes from force, coercion and theft. There is no way an immoral overlord would have any reason, authority or moral foundation to pass moral laws that are genuinely good for the society. The State always and only does those things which will increase its power and reward its minions.
If we truly want a moral society we must defend private property rights and punish stealing even when The State is the thief. We must permit producers to keep their own production, thereby rewarding production, investment and efficiency. Production leads to abundance which leads to prosperity. Those who are engaged in behaviors that are unfruitful and destructive will no longer be rewarded with the fruits stolen from the producers.
The State is unfit to write or enforce moral law because it owes its entire existence to violations of natural law and all of its power comes from a mixture of force, deception, theft and propaganda. When we understand the nature of The State we no longer have to wonder why moral law harms more people and destroys more property than the behavior that is being outlawed ever could.