“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” – Deuteronomy 4:5-8
Truth Tribune (TT) has responded to my article, in which I responded to some of the content on his blog regarding Kinism. As I read his response it occurred to me that our primary difference of opinion is one of applied Christian ethics. Both the questions of interracial marriage and kin rule are answered by our understanding of the epistemology of Christian morality: what is right and wrong, and how we know it. Kinism, in applying the concept of theonomy, views all morality as being founded upon God’s revealed law. Kinism accommodates the standard of ‘general equity’1 to precepts in the laws that were given to Israel in a particular historical context that have general principles that are applicable in all times and places. Many of the laws of the Bible in general, and of the Mosaic Law in particular, were stated in terms specific to a particular time and place, but that should not prevent us from seeing general (or natural law) principles at work in these laws.
Two examples bear this principle out. The Israelites were required to build barriers around the roofs of their houses in order to prevent unnecessary injury or even death (Deut. 22:8). The reason for this is that the rooftop of a house was often used as a gathering place for people to congregate. In that instance there was a foreseeable risk that someone could fall off the roof and become injured or die. Today this is not the case in most homes, since rooftops are not used as gathering places any longer. Does this mean that this particular law has no application for our modern context? No. We can apply the underlying principle of this law and other laws to our present circumstances. In this case we can infer from this law that buildings should be safe for ordinary human occupancy. This approach is the same as the apostles who apply the precepts of the Mosaic Law in the same manner. The Apostle Paul uses the language of Deut. 22:9-11 (cf. Lev. 19:19) to denounce unequal yoking with Christians and unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14). Likewise Paul cites Deut. 25:4 as teaching the principle of just recompense for labor (1 Cor. 9:9, 1 Tim. 5:18).
This is why Kinists believe that we ought to apply the principles of ethnonationalism from the laws of Israel’s civil code to nations today. Nations exist because God created them and have a purpose in God’s plan of redemption. Kinists see no reason to believe that the protection of Israel’s national and tribal identity was unique to Israel. All nations have a right and duty to protect their own national identity by applying the principles that God revealed through the Mosaic Law. The underlying principle of these laws is not merely to protect Israel’s religious identity; rather these laws also demonstrate the value of distinct tribal and ethnic identity itself.
This can be demonstrated by observing the laws of inheritance and of marriage for females heirs, given concerning the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27 and Numbers 36. These delineate and preserve the collective property inheritance of the tribes of Israel. There are some instances of some men of specific tribes apostatizing while others remained faithful, but all of the tribes were equally under the covenant that they had inherited from Abraham, so a provision to keep tribal inheritance separate cannot be considered as a religious concern. This reveals that the distinction of tribes is a good unto itself that ought to be preserved. Tribes and nations should erect laws to ensure that tribal inheritance is preserved across the passage of time and generations. This is but one example of how the Bible reveals to us the importance of ethnonationalism. Let’s look at the two questions of interracial marriage and kin rule, and utilize this principle of applied ethics in light of TT’s criticisms.
TT claims that I attempted to “shift the goal posts” in my earlier response to him concerning Rahab when I stated that the Kinist case against interracial marriage does not hinge upon the identity of Rahab. That certainly was not my intention, and I believe that my original response is adequate to answer most of TT’s objections. The reason that I stated this is because I wanted to refocus the discussion on the broader topic of the morality of miscegenation (or interracial marriage) in general. I cited my articles that argued that we ought to view interracial marriage as being similar in nature to polygamy.
TT believes that Kinists are wrong to consider miscegenation to be sinful or at least generally sinful in all but extraordinary circumstances. He rejects the idea that “if Deuteronomy 7:1-6 is not a race-motivated passage, that automatically concludes that interracial marriage is ‘normatively acceptable.’” Later he writes, “Again, the issue is not whether or not one or two mixed marriages in scripture make interracial marriage universally okay. The issue is whether or not scripture teaches that interracial marriage is a sin.”
Most Christians today believe precisely that interracial marriage is not only normatively acceptable, but also something that ought to be celebrated. I’m not quite sure of TT’s own opinion on the question of interracial marriage, because he doesn’t state it. I would ask him if he believes interracial marriage to be generally unwise but not inherently sinful, or if he, like most Christians today, considers interracial marriage to be neutral or even positive. Kinists like myself argue that interracial marriage is wrong precisely because it is not normatively acceptable. There are several arguments given on Faith and Heritage against interracial marriage, and in favor of the normativity of intraracial and intraethnic marriage. I don’t believe that our overall case is weakened even if certain statements made about Rahab could be conceded as an overstatement.
One argument can be extrapolated from what has already been said regarding Israel’s identity in light of Ezra and Nehemiah. I cited Ezra 2:59-62 as evidence that Ezra considered physical ancestry to be essential to Israelite identity. TT responds,
As this passage was concerned with the lineage of the priesthood, this shouldn’t surprise us, as the priesthoods was based entirely around lineage. Priests were to be descendants of Levi and Aaron (Num 18:1; Heb 7:5). If a person could not prove they were not of Levitical blood, they could not carry out the task of being a priest. This is something no non-Kinist denies, and is a major point made by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews and his connecting Christ with another, greater priesthood (Heb 7:11). However, this understanding, and the full context of the passage cited, in no way demands a pure genetic lineage; rather, it simply demands proof of identity with the tribe of Levi. Note that Ezra records that the groups in question were not proven to have Gentile blood, but rather, they could not provide any information on whether or not their line went back to the priesthood, and therefore could not serve as priests. Mr. Carlton’s citation of this passage is therefore erroneous.
The issue is that Levitical priests and their families were required to take wives from among the nation of Israel (Lev. 21:13-15, Ez. 44:22). Whatever other exceptions there were that could be made for other Israelites, this did not apply to the priests. This means that that their lineages would be quite pure. It could be argued that a priest may have had non-Israelite ancestry if one of their ancestors had married someone of another tribe who had ancestors that had married a war captive, as provided by the accommodation in Deut. 21:10-14. However this would be so remote that no one would recognize this ancestry as being “mixed” in any meaningful sense.
It could be argued that the greater rigor applied to priests and their families was for the purpose of teaching Israel that other accommodations were not to be considered normative or ideal. The same could be true of the rule that clergy are to be husbands of one wife (1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1). Those who argue for marriage as between one husband and one wife often point to this passage as extolling monogamy, even though there are examples of righteous polygamists in the Bible and there is no express biblical commandment against polygamy. I believe that the question of interracial marriage is extremely important in light of how the Left has promoted race-mixing as part of the postmodern cultural zeitgeist.
The Law of Kin Rule
TT’s objections against the law of kin rule are also rooted in his belief that these laws were specific to the nation of Israel and have been fulfilled and thus abrogated by Christ. TT seems incredulous that Kinists believe that the requirements for kings listed in Deut. 17 should be applied to all rulers. TT asks,
If Kinists believe that national leaders are bound by all of these requirements, then do Kinists teach a “law of not multiplying horses”? Do they teach a “law of no trade with Egypt”? Why is the “kin rule” part the only one that seems to be stressed against nations?
In my original response I argued the other requirements of Deut. 17 would have been unnecessary if these laws were exclusively applicable to Israel, since only Israel’s kings were directly chosen by God. No other requirements would be necessary since all Israel would have had to do would be to wait for God’s revelation, which eventually came through Samuel. TT counters this claim by arguing,
These laws would seem nonsensical when applied today, but as I pointed out in my original blog post, they were all relevant to the history of the old testament church. If you were to try to apply these laws to Japan or France or Namibia or any other nation, you would have to jump through major intellectual hurdles to do so; by contrast, they make perfect sense when seen in light of the narrative of God’s redemptive history.
However, I think that these laws make perfect sense when applying the principle of general equity. The other requirements of Deut. 17 can easily be applied to other nations throughout history. Horses were also a source and symbol of military strength in the ancient world, as TT points out. To ancient Israel this meant horses, and silver and gold as a medium of exchange. The prohibition against the king “multiplying horses to himself” and “greatly increasing to himself silver and gold” can easily be understood of the king being prohibited to monopolize precious resources or expropriate wealth to himself through confiscatory taxation. We can see this principle violated constantly by our modern governments in the West and throughout the world.
Does this conclusion require us to clear “major intellectual hurdles,” as TT suggests? I hardly think so. This is certainly no less clear than the principle of just recompense for work that Paul deduces from Deut. 25:4. TT expresses incredulity that I responded to his citation of John Calvin’s commentary on Deut. 17:15 with a citation of Calvin on Acts 17:26. TT calls this “very shocking” and that my argument could be summarized as, “Truth Tribune cites John Calvin talking about this verse in a specific context, but he’s wrong because of this quote where John Calvin interprets an entirely different verse with an entirely different context.”
Of course this isn’t the case. I merely point out the reason that Calvin’s beliefs about national identity preclude any idea that he was ambivalent on the question of kin rule. We have every reason to doubt that Calvin would have approved of the nations of Europe being ruled by ethnic foreigners, and virtually all of Calvin’s contemporaries would have considered the suggestion to be absurd. None of them would have interpreted the presence of ethnic, racial, and religious foreigners in the governments of Europe to be anything other than judgment, and I see no compelling reason to disagree. Other Reformed thinkers like Samuel Rutherford certainly deduced the principle of kin rule from verses like Deut. 17:15, so this is hardly the product of an overactive Kinist imagination.
TT quibbles with my appeal to Deut. 1:13-16 by noting that this simply repeats what Moses’s father-in-law tells him in regard to governing the tribes. These standards were originally given to Moses by his father-in-law, but there is no reason to believe that these standards constitute mere advice. Would anyone wish to contend that leaders in civil government are no longer required to be wise, understanding, experienced, and righteous judges to both strangers and resident foreigners? Of course not! We all recognize these requirements as permanent, so why should the requirement that civil leaders be descended from the tribes they govern be considered any different?
TT demurs from my contention that all rulers are bound to uphold God’s Law as the objective moral standard. TT notes that Deut. 17:18-20 required the king of Israel to write a copy of the law on scrolls in the presence of the Levitical priests, and dictated that the law would be read before the king all the days of his life. TT argues that this would be both irrelevant and anachronistic to ancient governments outside Israel. TT notes, “However, under what form of government were the Roman Christians when the apostle Paul penned those words? It was not a monotheistic theocracy like ancient Israel, but rather a pagan empire.”
Rome was indeed a pagan empire, but TT’s conclusion is unwarranted. Like some of the other requirements for rulers in Deut. 17, the requirement to personally write the law on scrolls in the presence of Levitical priests is obviously specific to ancient Israel, but the requirement to keep the Law and uphold the justice that is revealed in the Law can easily be generalized to all nations. Paul discusses this earlier in Romans 2:14-16, in which he states that even the Gentiles who did not have the Law did those things that the Law required. By this their conscience would accuse them when they did something immoral, or excuse them if their conduct fell within acceptable parameters. Any natural understanding of the divine law derived from reason and experience can never contradict or differ from what has been revealed. Many nations throughout history have indeed followed the principle of kin rule taught in Deut. 17:15 and elsewhere. When this law was violated, it has almost always been because of the imperialistic pretensions of someone who believed that he was a god.
If we follow TT’s assertions to their logical conclusions, we would be forced to determine that there is actually very little that is required of civil magistrates for any nation today. Virtually everything that is written about civil government in the Bible could be written off as entirely pertaining to ancient Israel without any possible application to the present. Far from being liberating, we discover that civil governments have virtually no standard by which they can be judged and called into account. This is but one more example that demonstrates that rejection of Kinist principles undermines the very essence of Christian ethics.