Both read the Bible day and night
But thou read'st black where I read white
-- William Blake, "The Everlasting Gospel"
There are, as Richard Maybury has pointed out in such books as Whatever Happened to Justice? two simple laws that are the ethical bedrock for all societies: "Don't encroach on people and their property" and "Do all you have agreed to do."
All three are in the Ten Commandments as "Do not murder," "Do not steal" and "Don't tell lies against your neighbor." Any society that does not follow those two laws – which even the most enstupidated can memorize – won't survive.
It would be naive to expect all States to follow those two laws. They never have. In the 20th century, States ignoring those laws led to the murders to what historians estimate are 177 million people. I've seen estimates of up to 200 million dead.
The fact that violation of these two laws always leads to catastrophe means they are Natural Law. They are inherent in our nature, and they cannot be changed. They cannot be violated. As such, no one can violate them for any reason. To me, it's as simple as 2 + 2 = 4.
These laws cannot be violated even if well-known preachers say they can, or twist passages in the Bible, or take them out of context.
A good example? Jerry Falwell recently wrote an article defending the war in Iraq. Here is one thing he wrote: "President Bush declared war in Iraq to defend innocent people. This is a worthy pursuit. In fact, Proverbs 21:15 tells us: 'It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.'"
First off, no war was declared. The United States hasn't declared war since World War II. Korea and Vietnam and every other "war" we have been in were not declared. They were "Presidential actions" that would better fit one of the later, more degraded Roman emperors.
Defend innocent people? Those are some weasel words. If the United States government is interested in defending innocent people, then why did it attack Iraq for ten years and contribute to the deaths of who knows how many innocent men, women, children and infants? How can you defend innocent people by murdering them? The US used that tactic in Vietnam when it killed one million to three million Vietnamese (who knows how many, really?) and 58,000 American soldiers, to "save" the Vietnamese from Communism.
Why no attacks on Zimbabwe and the mass murderer Robert Mugabe? The whole place could be taken with a platoon. Why no comments from Falwell about that? Or what about Burma, a truly gruesome place never mentioned in the news? I doubt Falwell even knows where Burma's located.
A worthy pursuit? Mass murder is a worthy pursuit? As for his quoting Proverbs – "It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity" – he is using this quote to support the State's wars, mass murder, mass theft, and mass lying.
When Falwell speaks about "destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity," he should pay attention to what "iniquity" means: "lack of righteousness or justice; wickedness, sin." In other words, workers of iniquity are those who murder, steal and lie against others. It is to them that destruction shall come, whether it is a person or a government. That law applies not only to other countries, but also to us.
Falwell later wrote this: "One of the primary purposes of the church is to stop the spread of evil, even at the cost of human lives. If we do not stop the spread of evil, many innocent lives will be lost and the kingdom of God suffers."
All I can say: wow. What's he's actually saying, in his hubris, is, "One of the primary purposes of the church is to stop the spread of evil, even if we have to murder people." He believes one of the purposes of the church is to stop evil by doing evil?
The Kingdom of God suffers? There is no Kingdom of God on earth. That's right in the Gospels. Here's a quote for Falwell to meditate upon: "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight...my kingdom [is] not from hence."
Since the world and people are inherently fallen and imperfect, there can be no "Kingdom of God" in this world. Falwell wrote as much in his article, but apparently doesn't understand the implications of what he is saying: "Today, America continues to face the horrible realities of our fallen world. Suicide bombings and terrorist actions are beamed live into our homes daily. This serves as a constant reminder of the frailty of our flesh."
You can't have a fallen world and the Kingdom of God in that fallen world simultaneously. You cannot have an imperfect world and a perfect world at the same time.
Ominously, Falwell apparently believes the United States is the defender of what he considers to be the Kingdom of God. I wonder if he has ever heard of the Commandment about not using God's name for vain purposes?
I have this fantasy that someday Jesus does come back. Then people like Falwell, convinced of their righteousness and salvation, suddenly find a finger pointed at them and this directed at them: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock."
I'd say that people like Falwell can't tell the difference between a foundation of sand and one of rock.