“If it promises equality of condition, it promises injustice, because one law for the ox and the lion is tyranny.” ~ Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, p. 44
Modern society, though more than a step removed from the moralism of the Victorian era, has nonetheless taken up the baton of sentimental duties based upon a sort of secular propriety. Undergirded by nothing, it is capricious and arbitrary, but it is nonetheless now consistently cited by everyone ranging from the secular atheist, through the nominally spiritual, all the way up to claimants of the Reformed Christian faith. The moralist maxim that one ought to fulfill his duty “for duty’s sake” has been attributed to Mark Twain, William James, Immanuel Kant, Socrates, and the author of the Bhagavad Gita, just to name a few. These neo-Christians can no more account for these recurrences, than the uniformity of this perspective presently held in common among people of such widely ranging isms; but they agree in the main, that favoritism is a grievous social sin.
However, while secularists and those flying under the “spiritual” banner will argue the case from a hodgepodge of socialism, fiat legal theories, and humanist metaphysics, the claimants of Christianity amongst them imagine something very similar to be taught in Scripture. If the secular moralist insists that favoritism, nepotism, and partiality simply aren’t cricket, the neo-Christian is inclined only to reinforce the unbeliever’s worldview with citations of prooftexts – many of which are completely ungermane to the issue. In their desperation to be accepted by the humanist coalition of the aggrieved, they cite the law of partiality (James 2:9) as grounds for not only the “colorblind society,” but the abolition of nations, cultures, classes, clans, and families:
But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
Neo-churchmen make a good deal of hay with this injunction, insisting that this passage establishes the “colorblind society,” by prohibiting and banishing every human distinction from the minds of men. It means that any affinity or connection, any acknowledgment of or decision based upon age, gender, class, or national, ethnic, or racial identity, is forbidden by God. So they say.
We certainly accept that the law forbids favoritism to interfere with the administration of justice. But this is quite different from saying that affinity and acknowledgement of distinctions are categorically unjust. Of course, this principle of impartiality did not originate with James, nor does he much elaborate on it. In order to understand James’s reference here, we must return to Moses, whom James cites on the matter:
You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you (Deut. 16:19-20).
Here we see that the law of partiality is itself inherently discriminatory. It sets counterfactual options before Israel – that they shall inherit the land which God gave them only if they abstain from inequitable administration of the law. Which is to say that keeping the law of impartiality assured that Israelites would successfully uproot, displace, or eradicate the nations of Canaan; the inverse recompense for judging with partiality was that the Israelites would fail to overcome those nations. The whole of it is a conditional promise of national blessing set against the threat of national curses. The Alienist interpretation of this principle, which disavows any actions based upon national distinctions, is therefore irreconcilable with the brass tacks of the text itself.
The preceding verse (Deut. 16:18) – which, by coincidence, Alienists never cite – precludes, even more strictly, the conclusion which the Alienists insist we draw:
You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
We see that the law takes the Kinist position for granted in the fact that judges are to be appointed strictly “according to your tribes” to judge “the people” (lit. “the race”); so this candid ethnic nepotism in no way is conceived as discordant with the definition of impartiality in the sense which the text intends it. It could not be otherwise, as this text itself stipulates that race and tribe make up the very framework through which the law of impartiality is to be administered: it describes civil jurisdiction as inherently tribal and national.
Conversely, the Alienist understanding of this principle actually views the law as a violation of itself. Confronted with the context and content of the actual law, they often even stumble into dispensationalist-antinomian language by suggesting that “the letter may conflict with the spirit.”
Another pertinent reiteration of the law of partiality is made by Jesus:
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement (John 7:24).
This is perhaps the passage most oft invoked by contemporary Alienists on the matter. They imagine it for a rebuke of “racism,” but this passage has nothing at all to do with race. Rather, as we read in the preceding verses (7:1-23), it has to do with the responsibility men have to accept truth, no matter the messenger’s seeming incongruity with the prevailing trends, attitudes, legal fictions, arbitrary authority, or groupthink. All of this, in the immediate context, was a direct indictment of Talmudism; and all of this now falls under the secular penumbra of “political correctness.” In context, then, Jesus is commanding that we are to judge according to God’s law, regardless of the law’s or the truth-teller’s lack of conformity to the zeitgeist.
As Matthew Henry states it:
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” This may be applied, either, First, In particular, to this work which they quarrelled with as a violation of the law. Be not partial in your judgment; judge not, kat opsin—”with respect of persons”; knowing faces, as the Hebrew phrase is, Deu. 1:17. It is contrary to the law of justice, as well as charity, to censure those who differ in opinion from us as transgressors, in taking that liberty which yet in those of our own party, and way, and opinion, we allow of; as it is also to commend that in some as necessary strictness and severity which in others we condemn as imposition and persecution. Or, Secondly, In general, to Christ’s person and preaching, which they were offended at and prejudiced against. Those things that are false, and designed to impose upon men, commonly appear best when they are judged of “according to the outward appearance,” they appear most plausible prima facie—at the first glance. It was this that gained the Pharisees such an interest and reputation, that they “appeared right” unto men (Mt. 23:27, Mt. 23:28), and men judged of them by that appearance, and so were sadly mistaken in them.1
In modern parlance, Henry tells us that Jesus’s point here was against knee-jerk reactions, or emotive opinions. The Alienist who invokes this passage as if it condemned the Kinist is in fact doing the very thing against which the passage warns: he is judging not according to the law or the merits of the Kinist’s words, but according to the day’s visceral moralism: political correctness. This passage then indicts not the Kinist, but the Alienist.
From the very first institution of this procedural law (Deut. 1:13-17), it is structured in distinctly tribal, patriarchal, aristocratic, and hierarchic terms, inseparable from the law of kin-rule:
“Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.” And you answered me and said, “The thing which you have told us to do is good.” So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men, and made them heads over you, leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, leaders of tens, and officers for your tribes.
Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, “Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.”
The plain reading of the text describes the administration of that law as inseparable from the oversight by elder patriarchs appointed only from the pool of their own people to rule over their own respective tribes for the benefit of their own, to ensure their inheritance of the land, and to make equitable arbitration between their people and the stranger. None of this discrimination can then be said to conflict with the principle of impartiality as the Scripture intends it.
Even when it says “judge righteously between a man and his brother, or the stranger who is with him,” this provision cannot be mistaken for an endorsement of egalitarianism, for the stranger is referenced as being with an Israelite. The stranger had the benefit of representation only under the patronage of an Israelite. This provision, then, assures legal standing to foreign slaves, indentured servants, ambassadors, and contracted merchants. And the equity of such a policy is apparent, as a slave’s master rightly bears liability for the actions of his slave; for that matter, so too does the sponsor of a foreign worker. His guest-worker status is contingent upon the risk assessment and voluntarism of the native. The notion of “equal opportunity employment regardless of immigration status” is unknown to biblical law.
Though the reservations of Alienists toward such a policy would invariably fixate disproportionately on the stranger, they would conversely overlook the liability assumed by the Israelite patron. Insisting upon libertarian license for the alien, they hold any suggestion of ethnonationalist paternalism to be a “nativistic” and “racist” crime. But the law of partiality says just the opposite: it is basic justice. And the Decalogue affirms the same:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates (Exodus 20:8-10).
Strangers in the land were subject to paternalistic legal oversight by their respective hosts, and these benefactors reciprocally bore a greater accountability for the strangers within their gates, even greater than for their fellow freeholding Israelites. For the Scripture knows nothing of limited liability corporations. Inasmuch as a father bears culpability for his own children, he likewise bears culpability for the stranger under bond to him, because the biblical society is attended by unlimited liability.2 The foreign merchant under contract was the charge of the Israelite with whom he did business, and the liability that such a bond brought required attention to indemnity for all parties. This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself – responsible indemnity. We fence our rooftops (Deut. 22:8), and we pen or slaughter oxen prone to gore (Ex. 21:29). We are liable for the injuries incurred of our neighbors by things under our stewardship, be they oxen, children, or guest-workers.
Albeit, there is most certainly an equality before the law, because all nations, tribes, and families are equally accountable before God, and therefore equally subject to His law. But His law is not applied the same for all men in all places and circumstances. A father’s responsibility over his own children is greater than his responsibilities toward his neighbor’s children. This principle of “one law for the native-born and the stranger” in Scripture (Ex. 12:49; Lev. 24:22; Num. 15:29; etc.) is not a call to open-borders egalitarianism, but rather a proclamation of jurisdiction. It ensures that special-interest groups and class lobbies (poor, rich, disabled, etc.) have no exemptions before the law, and that foreigners have no claim of “diplomatic immunity,” nor any possibility of legal superiority over the native. Thus Herbert Titus can rightly say:
God has allocated jurisdiction between Himself and man, and has distributed man’s jurisdiction among several governing authorities. By His law God has provided for both liberty and order and has safe-guarded man against both anarchy and totalitarian rule.3
Or as H.B. Clark explains:
But even the doctrine of equality is not applicable in every situation. So, though the general rule that the homeborn (native) and the stranger (foreigner) should be governed by “one law,” yet it was expressly provided that a stranger should not “eat of the passover” or “enter into the congregation.”4
Though the law claimed equality of jurisdiction over the foreigner as over the native, there were yet numerous protectionist exclusions in the law which single out the stranger/foreigner: namely, prohibitions against the acquisition of allodial titles on land (the year of Jubilee required all rented properties to return to the tribal owners: Lev. 25, 27); restrictions on foreign ascendance to leadership in any public capacity (Deut. 1:13-15; 17:15); prohibitions, exclusions, and provisos on intermarriage (Gen. 28:6; Ex. 34:15-16; Num. 25:6-11; Deut. 7:1-3; Josh. 23:12-13; Judges 3:5-8; 1 Kings 11:1-2; Ezra 9:1-2,12; 10:2-3, 10-11; Neh. 10:30; 13:25-27); and others.
Up until recent times, our Christian jurists maintained righteous equity without the egalitarian pretensions of the modern “colorblind” society. Clearly, it is possible to observe justice on behalf of the stranger without the theatrics of Marxist make-believe:
True, the deceased was a Chinaman, a foreigner and a heathen . . . but still he was a human being, and in the estimation of the law his life was as precious, and as much entitled to protection, as that of the most exalted and most beloved citizen of our own state.5
Irrespective of the righteous ruling in the above case, today’s Alienist philanthropy looks back on such proceedings with a contemptuous eye because the court dared acknowledge the man’s race, religion, and foreign status. At such candid statements of truth, our neo-theonomists rear up on their collective hind legs to echo the 1998 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in the Zundel case, declaring truth irrelevant: the written opinion in the Ernst Zundel case stated that “truth and reasonable belief in the truth is no defence.” The political correctness, now held in common between the secularist and the neo-Christian, regards truth as besides the point. And while calling for God’s law in society, the neo-theonomist would yet revile Mr. Zundel’s thoroughly Christian response:
This leaves us in a very difficult position. Frankly, what is there to do or say if truth is not relevant – or even “forbidden” to raise it in one’s defense? Truth in history is thus outlawed?
Under the aegis of Christian law, they have implicitly, if not explicitly, adopted the theory of “human rights,” which was expressly drafted by humanists to supplant the foregoing concept of God-given rights under Christian law.
They somehow read into the biblical law of partiality articles 2 and 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, taken together, hold the recognition of “distinctions of any kind” and the disclosure of any factual information which might tarnish the “honor or reputation” of another as illegal. Their nomology is soaked to the floorboards with humanism. So much so that it has become their controlling hermeneutic, allowing the Scripture to speak nothing contrary to egalitarianism: eisegesis at its finest, and the suppression of truth in unrighteousness at its worst.
Wholly insensate, it would seem, to their own presuppositions and to the necessary consequences of their stated view, they cannot conceive of the fact that their theory of equal rights entails the abolition of all rights. After all, if discernment between persons and all particulars of their relations and affiliations are forbidden, then no adjudication is possible for anyone in regard to any situation.
Rightly affirming what Calvin called “the harmony of the law,” they do so only superficially: insofar as it pertains to correspondence between the law of impartiality, the law of love (Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:18), the royal law (James 2:8), the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-40), and the golden rule (Matt. 7:12), they accept their clear interrelation, but fail utterly to recognize their interpretation of each as precluding any possible harmony between them.
If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, neighbors exist. For the text cannot criminalize the acknowledgement of a category which the text simultaneously presupposes and invokes as real. To do so would be viciously self-contradictory and incoherent. If neighbors are truly neighbors, not to be regarded as identical to us, then we cannot own each other’s houses or families without distinction. Mind you, I’m not saying that it’s difficult; I’m saying it’s impossible. Not impossibly hard, impossible logically. The Alienist view of it is a veritable web of zen koans.
Loving your neighbor as yourself, in order to be an intelligible directive, must mean that we are bound to respect the sanctity, integrity, and jurisdiction of his house and his heritage apart from our own, just as we expect him to do toward us. And as in the micro, so too in the macro: we recognize the sanctity, integrity, and jurisdiction of other nations and races in their own territories. This is what a friend has adroitly called “love-thy-neighbor racism.” Because genuine and coherent love of neighbors is, according to everyone – from the black LGBT Wiccan priestess to the white neo-theonomist – the ostensible definition of racism. Even if they are non-committal on a finite and technical definition of racism, they are of one accord when it comes to identifying the only workable description of love for one’s neighbor, and doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves, as racist.
In closing, it is clear that the Alienist understanding of these things not only lacks coherence, but by the same token, and in the same measure, violates the principle itself. When Moses instructs us to prosecute impartial justice only inside of a distinctly patriarchal-tribal and ethnonational framework, the quixotic Alienist takes up that gauntlet in the name of impartial justice, but only whilst condemning the entire apparatus through which Moses said it must be administered. They extol impartiality in the abstract, but only by entirely redefining it according to fashions of the day, the anti-Christian moralism of political correctness. In this way, then, they are themselves judging with partiality, because they are respecters of persons, motivated by the fear of men. In the name of equal justice, they subvert justice for everyone. They do the very thing against which Jesus warned the Talmudists: they judge according to zeitgeist rather than law, and therefore, on appearance (John 7:24).
- Matthew Henry’s commentary on John 7 ↩
- See R.J. Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law, “The Unlimited Liability Universe,” pp. 664-669. ↩
- Herbert W. Titus, Biblical Principles of Law, ch. 2, “Jurisdiction and Authority.” ↩
- H.B. Clark, Biblical Law, p. 31 (§ 51) ↩
- Judge Willson, Juan Duran v. The State, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Texas, vol. 14, pp. 195, 199 ↩