Christian Ethics - Lesson 6

The Christian and the State

This lesson is about social ethics and understanding the Christian approach to the state. The speaker emphasizes the importance of drawing a distinction between society and the state. Society is defined as a voluntary group of people organized in some way, such as clubs, churches, and families. On the other hand, the state is defined as the group of people within any geographic boundary who claims a monopoly on the use of coercive force. The speaker insists that there should be a clear difference between society and the state to prevent the government from interfering with people's voluntary associations.

Ronald Nash
Christian Ethics
Lesson 6
Watching Now
The Christian and the State

Social Ethics

Part 1

I. The Christian and the State

A. Distinction between Society and the State

1. Definition of a society

2. Definition of the state

3. Why is all this important?

a. Two faces of Christian social concern

i. Evangelical political liberals

ii. Sound social and economic theory

b. The confusion between society and the state

i. Confusion from the political left

ii. Confusion from the political right

B. Welfare

1. Mediating structures

2. The church as a mediating structure

3. Richard John Neuhaus

C. Liberalism and Conservatism

1. Nineteenth century liberalism

a. Strength

b. Weakness

2. Nineteenth century conservatism

3. American conservatism today

a. Fusion of 19th century liberalism and conservatism

b. Frank Meyer

c. Non-fusionists

i. Russell Kirk

ii. Barry Goldwater

D. Statism and Anti-statism in Liberalism and Conservatism

1. Inconsistency among liberals

2. Apparent statism among conservatives

3. Principled conservative approach

a. Protect citizens from harm

b. Five liberty limiting principles

i. Principle of private harm

ii. Principle of public harm

iii. Principle of offense

iv. Legal paternalism

v. Legal moralism

c. Argument based on the harm done to the soul

d. Governments must protect their citizens from offense and harm.

  • Gain insights into philosophical ethics and Christian responses, and the Christian role in society regarding the state, justice, economics, and education.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Nash introduces you to the concept of hedonism, which is an example of a consequentialist ethic. He reviews non-hedonistic consequentialist philosophies, psychological hedonism, and ethical hedonism.
  • This lesson introduces you to the theory of deontological ethics and Emmanuel Conte. You will learn that the deontological ethic judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved.
  • In this lesson you will learn about the system of ethics that focuses on virtue and introduces the Four Cardinal Virtues, which are temperance, wisdom, justice, and courage, and emphasizes the importance of being the right kind of person who possesses the traits of character, and C.S. Lewis's book "Christianity" provides an informative treatment of the Four Cardinal Virtues and the Three Theological Virtues.
  • You will gain insight into C.S. Lewis's views on Christian ethics and the morality analogy he presents, where morality is like a fleet of ships that must fulfill three conditions to succeed: every ship must run properly, the relations between ships must be proper and orderly, and the fleet must head to the right destination.
  • You will learn about the importance of distinguishing between society and the state. Society is a voluntary organization of people, while the state is the group of people who claim a monopoly on the use of coercive force within a geographic boundary. By understanding this difference, you can prevent the government from interfering with your voluntary associations.
  • You will gain an understanding of how the professor's theory of the state in Social Justice in the Christian Church aligns with the New Testament. He explains that the state is a God-ordained institution to check against sin, and he is a moderate anti-statist who recognizes the need for government but also the inherent evil in any concentration of human power. The New Testament recognizes constraints upon governmental power, and Revelation 13 is an example of how the state can symbolize anti-Christian government. The lesson also discusses the concept of justice and how it is often invoked without a clear understanding, suggesting that Christians should study ancient Greece for a better comprehension of the term.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insight into the evangelical civil war that happened 20 years ago, learn about its early stages recorded by Clark Penick, understand the harmful effects of left-wing evangelicalism, and see how many evangelicals on the left became enamored with their own self-virtue in what they thought was a crusade to help the poor.
  • By studying this lesson, you will gain insight into the major differences between capitalism, socialism, and interventionism. You will learn that interventionism is often responsible for economic crises that are attributed to capitalism. You will also learn about the overlapping and continuum nature of economic systems and the gray area where an economic system may be viewed as socialism or interventionism.
  • This lesson discusses the decline of old liberation theology and how some of its proponents are now advocating for capitalism and democracy as being what the poor of the third world need, and presents shocking quotations from individuals characterized as evangelical, such as Jose Marquez Bonino, who promotes Marxism and praises tyrants like Castro and Mao Tse tung, as well as material about the three major kinds of Marxism that have existed in the world.
  • This lesson will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of interventionism and its role in the Great Depression, including the fact that blaming capitalism for the depression is based on four myths, and that interventionism actually deepens recessions by disguising the information produced by a market economy.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the crisis facing American education, as highlighted by Alan Blum's book The Closing of the American Heart and the author's complementary book. The focus is on the importance of values, standards, and morality in education, and the need to reopen the American heart to reopen the American mind. The lesson introduces the three kinds of illiteracy currently affecting Americans at every level of the educational process, with a particular emphasis on functional illiteracy, which refers to the inability to read, write, or use numbers well enough to get along in society.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about the incompetency of public school teachers in America, caused by academically weak students being attracted to the profession, lack of content courses in their college curriculum, unimpressive and radical left-winged professional educationists, and the National Education Association being an enemy of America's young people, with four essential steps to improve education, including getting a clear focus on the educational role of the family, increasing local control of education, changing the curriculum to prepare students for life after school, and changing teacher education programs.
  • Gain knowledge of the difference between the biblical ethic and other philosophical systems. Though it may seem simple, it is an underlying system that can lead to complex issues. The divinely revealed scriptures are the starting point for moral reflection, but not a ready-made answer. Some New Testament commandments are archaic or obsolete, and many modern moral problems are not discussed in the Bible.
  • You will gain insight into the pro-life stance and be equipped to inform others. Christians need not be timid about talking about these issues.
  • This lesson explores the arguments and counterarguments surrounding abortion, arguing for caution and conservatism in ending any life, emphasizing the need to balance the right of the mother with the rights of the infant, and briefly touching on the issue of rape and how it complicates the matter.
  • As you go through the lesson, you will learn about infanticide and euthanasia, and how the disrespect for unborn human life has led to an increase in cases of infanticide, along with some suggestions for what Christians should do in the case of children born with life-threatening handicaps.
  • In this lesson, you will explore the five major passages of Scripture related to homosexuality, including different interpretations of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and concludes that the Bible clearly condemns homosexual activity.
  • This lesson explores the topic of capital punishment in the context of Christian beliefs, arguing for consistency and emphasizing the need to view Old Testament laws in the context of specific situations that are no longer applicable.
  • This lesson discusses the three approaches to war and peace and distinguishes between principled pacifists and hypocritical, unprincipled pacifists, who are members of the political left and denounce American military actions but support violent revolutionary organizations.
  • You will gain an understanding of the growing issue of divorce and remarriage within the church, the responsibilities of Christian leaders in addressing it, and the need for Christians to think through what the Scripture teaches on these matters and formulate principles that will guide their thinking and conduct.
  • This lesson provides insight into how responsible Christians can make ethical decisions about birth control, considering the importance of intention, distinguishing between ethically acceptable and unacceptable forms of birth control, and emphasizing the importance of wise and careful means in achieving family planning goals.

Theoretical and theological basis for Christians  living an ethical life.

Dr. Ronald Nash

Christian Ethics


The Christian and the State

Lesson Transcript


Now what I want to do is turn your attention to social ethics. And the material that I'm going to start presenting is material that appears in chapter two of the book Social Justice and the Christian Church. The first thing we're going to talk about in our approach to social ethics is the proper Christian understanding of the state. The most important thing I believe that any Christian can do when he begins his efforts to understand government, the state is to draw a distinction. A distinction between two quite different groups of people called the society or societies in the plural and the state. Let me give you a definition of a society. This is very important. A society is a collection of people, a group of people organized in some way on voluntary grounds. And I want to underline the word voluntary. Now, let me warn you, when you read writings from what I call the evangelical left, when you read any writings by even members of the evangelical left, you will often find them using a different word. I don't know why they have such trouble with this word. It's been around for a long time, but they often use the word community, right? That's right. Blessings on you, brother, sister, if you use the word community. But what you're really talking about is a society. The catch is that when so many of these people on the left start talking about community, they also want the ever present government to stick its nose into the business of that community and start pushing people around so that they behave in certain prescribed ways. I want to insist that there be a bigger gap, a bigger difference between society and the state. The key idea to understanding a community is that it is a voluntary organization of people. Let me give you some examples of communities. All right. Clubs are communities. Bridge clubs. Golf club. Tennis club. Churches are church is a community. It is a voluntary organization. If you don't like some club, you can leave it. You can join another club. Or you can decide not to join any club at all. If you don't like a church, you can leave it and join another one or not join any at all. It's a society. It's voluntary. A family is also a society. All right. The families a little different. But nonetheless, the societal dimension to families becomes apparent once we reach once we reach maturity. All right. Once you reach the age, the appropriate age, if you no longer want to be part of that society, that's your privilege. You can kiss your parents goodbye. You can leave your. You can leave your family. So it has a little there are some qualifications here about your initiation into that society and your early years in that society. But eventually the voluntary nature of it becomes apparent. Now, what is the state? Well, the important point is this. The key difference between a society and of which there are many, we all belong to many society, and the state is the unavoidable presence of careerism with regard to government. You see one of the big mistakes that many people make when they think about the government, about government in the state is that they equate the government with us, the people. That's a big mistake. They want us to believe that the state is simply another name for us. But it isn't. Within any geographical boundary or territory. Let's let these lines, this box, represent the territorial borders of some nation. The United States, Costa Rica, any nation. Now, within that, within those territorial boundaries is a smaller or larger group of people. It can be small in some instances, it can be very large in others. But that smaller group of people are are the people who make the laws and enforce the rest of us to obey those laws. And that smaller group of people is what we should mean when we use the word state. The state is the smaller group of people within any territorial boundary. In fact, let's put a definition on the board. The state is the group of people within any geographic boundary. I'm not going to add that here who claims a monopoly on the use of coercive force. In other words, within any nation, there will be a smaller group of people or a larger group of people in the case of the old Soviet Union, of course. The state included millions of people. Near the end, over a hundred million people worked for the Soviet government, over a hundred million people. That would be almost 40% of the working. I guess it would be higher than that. They were part of the state. And what that meant was they were part of the system that dictated to everybody else what they had to do and decreed punishments that would be follows other people if they didn't do that. Now, notice I'm saying here the state claims a monopoly on the use of coercive power. There are lots of governments that face competition on the use of coercive power. Any of you ever watch the old TV show The Untouchables? Al Capone, the Mafia? Now the Colombian drug lords, they all know how to use coercion and they all use coercion in opposition to that and operated by the state. Now what? What's no state and I don't care which government it is, can tolerate competition to its monopoly on the use of coercive power. If it does, you have lawlessness. This is why this is why governments wage war against forces that compete with its claim to a monopoly on the use of coercive power. I'm not saying all governments are evil. I'm simply saying that all governments must use coercion and force. In fact, the government, which has this monopoly on the use of coercive force, can force people to do things that would otherwise be immoral, taking another person's money away from them. If you or I tried to do that, that would be theft. But when the state does it, it's called the Internal Revenue Service. But is the principle any different? But you see, we are led to believe that it is moral and legal in the one case because the state is doing it, but it is immoral and illegal in the other case because a private citizen is doing it. But isn't it theft? Well, maybe we'll talk about that. If you pulled out a gun and shot somebody, killed them. That would be murder. But the state has the power to force you to pick up a gun and kill other human beings. We call that war. Now, I do believe there is a difference here. All right? But I'm simply trying to get you to recognize what happens once the state enters the picture. Some philosophers have said perhaps actions that are properly perhaps actions that are immoral on an individual basis are not immoral when they are done by the state or when we do them as representatives of the state. Why is all of this important? Why, in a seminary context, is it necessary to look at social and political philosophy? Why is it necessary even as we will start doing later today and next week? Why is it even important to give some thought to important issues in economics? The point is that we Christians, whatever may have been the conditions in the past, are now living in a day when we ourselves recognize that we have many missions to fulfill. Evangelism, of course. Is one of them. Sound teaching is another. But we also have a a biblical or biblically imposed obligation to care about the physical needs of the poor and the oppressed peoples in the world. But then that raises another question, which I address at the beginning of your social justice book under the heading The Two Faces of Christian Social Concern. In fact, that's the first chapter in the Social Justice and Christian Church book. Here's what I mean when I talk about the two phases of Christian social concern. Evangelical political liberals have argued now for a good 20 years or more that Christians have an obligation to care about the plight of the poor and the needy, and to become active on behalf of the poor and the needy. We have heard that claim now for 20 years from people like Ronald Fighter and many others. But you see, as I argue in chapter one of the social justice book, caring about the Poor is not enough. There is a second side to Christian social activism, and that second side is becoming grounded in social theory and sound economics. It is not enough to care. We must also become informed. We must begin to think soundly about social issues and economics. Why someone might ask. And the answer is simple Unless our Christian compassion is wedded linked to sound social theory and economics, we risk making the plight of the poor worse when compassion for the poor proceeds in ignorance of the best tools of social and economic analysis. We risk making the plight of the poor worse. And it is one of the burden of the social justice book and the poverty and wealth book. It is one of the burdens of those books, that liberal social program since the Lyndon Johnson presidency that started in 1964 have done enormous harm, enormous evil to everyone that they have touched. One of the great iniquities of political liberalism is its ability to be long on promises. It says to the poor, Give us your votes and we will give you access to the money of other people. Presuming that that access to the money of other people, which incidentally, is taken from other people without their permission, it's taken by coercion and force, as is the custom of the state. You you support us with your votes. We will continue to support you with the money of other people. And the implication is, in that way we will make your life progressively better. But the message, the lesson of 25 years of Great Society programs is that we only make the lives of these people worse. Since the start of the Great Society programs in the mid 1960s, this government has spent over $1 trillion dollars, coerced, forcibly taken from other people, and under the guise of eliminating poverty in this country. Well, I don't want to get carried away on this message because I have some stuff on the poverty and wealth book that tells you this sad story. But to just give you the the bottom line here, the fact is that after 25 years and over $1,000,000,000,000, we have more poor people who are worse off. And the reason their lives are worse than they were 25 years before is because of the iniquitous incentives that we have given poor people during these 25 years. And so now we have created, in effect, a permanent underclass of one parent. Families are female dominated families without a legitimate husband anywhere to be seen. We've created a society in which well over 60% of all births in the inner cities of America are now illegitimate births. Again, not a husband to be found anywhere. Fathers, yes, but husbands no. We have boomed the poor of this country to a life of servitude, to a new slave master, which is the which is the liberal welfare state, also says. So say your textbooks. All right. Okay. You don't have to buy that. You don't have to believe that. All right. But I do urge you to read the evidence, especially the more up to date evidence in the Poverty and wealth book. So why is this discussion important? Because you, as a Christian minister or worker of some kind, will be called upon at some stage or other to provide some kind of assistance to the poor and needy. I'll give you just one other example here. I'm presently involved with an organization called the Villa Committee. If you want to read about this, you can take a look at several books that are published in what is called the Turning Point series, published by Crossway Books. This organization has two goals. Number one, to assist Christians in the Third World and Christian missionaries in the Third World to provide education about economic growth and development that really will move the poor of the Third World on a permanent path towards poor, towards development. And that means friends. That means delivering, delivering missionaries and third world Christians or any myth that somehow socialism or statism is going to cure poverty in the Third World. The only thing that's going to cure poverty in the Third World is the kind of message that you'll find in the last couple of chapters in the Poverty and Wealth book. But the second task the Villar committee has, and it's the reason it's called Vila Committee, is it's named after a city in Switzerland where we had our first meeting. The second task of the dealer committee is to try and how shall I put this delicately, put the pressure on Christian relief and development organizations that are not speaking the truth to their donors. I will not identify any any specific Christian relief and development organizations, but I if you've given any money in the last five years to any organization that says we will take care of orphan children in the Third World or we will take care of poor starving people in the Third World, you will find that often that relief and development is not tied to two to educational steps that really will help those people fend for themselves in the future. And you will often find and this is what is really the most unfortunate feature of this, you will often find that Christian relief and development organizations have abandoned the whole business of evangelism. They go into and I'm talking about the big one. You give money because you think Christian relief and development organizations are helping the poor and also sharing the gospel with them. Well, they may be giving the poor food stuffs, but they are not sharing the gospel because in many cases they don't want to offend the anti Christian political leaders in whatever country they're ministering. And so they simply go undercover. The Bibles disappear, the gospel disappears. And those people have no idea that that food and that money is coming from Christians who want them to know more about Jesus Christ. There's something highly unethical about that process, and there will be a meeting. Some of us are in the business of blowing the whistle on these guys. There will be a meeting at the National Association of Evangelicals National Convention this week that will make public a survey about how embarrassing the truth is on this entire matter. One more business by way of introduction to this. I want to give you two examples of this confusion that pervades Christian thought over the distinction between society and the state. We told you that the state is that small group of people within any national territory that claims a monopoly on the use of coercive power. The state is that small. A group of people within any national within any national boundary that makes the rules and forces other people to obey those rules. And when people don't obey the rules imposed by the state, they get punished. The essence of the state is coercion. We distinguish the state from societies which are characterized by voluntary compliance. Now, let me give you two little two examples from recent Christian literature of how this distinction can be confused. On the one hand, a former student of mine, a friend of mine named Richard Moll, who is now probably stood for the seminary, wrote a book several years ago called Politics and the Biblical Drama. It's a very small book, was published by Erdman. And I don't know, it's awfully hard to put one's finger on precisely what Mile's message is in this book, but what comes across is his total inability to recognize the difference between states and societies. And so when he reads Revelation, he has states entering the Kingdom of God. He has states entering heaven when what he should be talking about is God's admission of communities, people who are tied together in this case by a common allegiance to Jesus Christ. He has national groups, Spain, I suppose, Iraq. You see, oftentimes people like my buddy Richard here don't like the United States. So he may talk about other nations that he likes a little better than the United States. They're entering heaven en masse, right? There would be no state in heaven. There will be communities in heaven, communities of people linked by their relationship to Jesus Christ. But no states. Terrible confusion if you want. If you have nothing better to do, get out. Take Richard's book out of the library and you try to find any clear cut distinction in that book between governments and states. The essence of which is coercion and voluntary societies, you won't find it. That's an example from the political left. Okay. And Richard Meier won't be offended by anybody who calls him a representative of the left. Now, I'll give you an example from the political right. Russell Kirk is one of the most beloved and highly regarded conservative political thinkers in the United States. In the early 1950s, he wrote a book called The Conservative Mind. That's gone through seven or eight different editions. It's a book that is often credited with the resurgence of certain elements of conservatism in American life after World War Two. I was at a conference with Richard, with Russell Crowe. In fact, the three participants in that conference were myself, Richard Moll and Russell Kirk. That was an interesting, interesting week. But I listened to Russell Crowe talk and I said to myself, this this man. Well, he wrote to the right also has no clear recognition of the difference between states and societies. He confuses them and because he confuses them, what comes out of his writings on unimportant issues related to this is often very muddled and often confused. So you've got a major advantage today over Richard Mouw and Russell Kirk and millions of other Americans who sometimes think about political issues. You should know the difference between societies and the state. Let's talk about welfare. I know some conservatives, and usually they're at the far end of the anti state as part of our picture. I know some conservatives who are opposed to all welfare entirely. I'm not you. When you get to reading the last few chapters of the Poverty and Wealth book, you will find several suggestions about major ways in which we ought to modify welfare in America. And I'll just mention one of them now. Instead of using an omnipotent government as the means by which aid is ministered to the poor, especially a central government which is far away, unknowing and often uncaring about the particular plight of this particular poor family. Let us have that governmental aid mediated through what we call mediating structures now a mediating structure. I'll write that on the board and you'll see you'll get more information about this in chapter 16 of the Property and Wealth book. A mediating structure is a society that is a voluntary organization that has close access to this particular needy person or family that has specific knowledge about the needs of this particular person or family, and thus is in a much better position to provide the counsel and aid and help that that person needs. All right, Now let's see who's thinking here. Somebody give me an example of a mediating structure that can do enormous good to poor people and the church. Amen. Hallelujah. You want to know what the liberal welfare state has done? It has taken the church out of the game. It has removed the church as a player in the game. The liberal welfare state has said, in effect, to the church. Get out of here. We don't want you having any role in this. And so we hire expensive social workers. Now, you may not pay 25 grand as a social worker is a lot of money. When you have enough of those people pulling down 25, 30 grand a year. That plate down on that not only diverts money away from the welfare process, but it places the dispensing of welfare in the hands of people who can't begin. They are they are they become impersonal agents of an impersonal and coercive government. Why not get the church back into this business? Well, that would be one example of what Richard, John Newhouse and Peter Burger are are to a former liberal. Incidentally, Richard, John Newhouse is now regarded as a leading American neo conservative. The 20 years ago, Newhouse was a Lutheran pastor in New York City. He was marching with Martin Luther King Jr. He spent time in jail when he ran for Congress on the Democratic ticket. I think in the city, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York. And what turn began to turn Newhouse away from his former liberalism and his statism to his present position. There's a recognition of the role the mediating structures can play here. Beginning of chapter two, I make one and one other attempt to define liberalism and conservatism, and I think this can be helpful. If I go back to the early 19th century and I, I try to help people understand what the words liberal and conservative meant 200 years ago, 180 years ago, early 19th century. So let's onboard let's write 19th century liberalism and 19th century conservatism. This is helpful because 200 years ago, 180 years ago, these words meant something different than they mean. Today. A liberal in America 180 years ago would no longer be a liberal today or conservative from 180 years ago, 18, 20, 1830, they're about would not be a conservative today. All right. You might be a Republican, but you wouldn't be a conservative. What was what did the word liberal mean 180 years ago in the United States? It meant a person who favored individual personal liberties so much, but he was opposed to any governmental constraints upon that liberty. Now, let's identify then the major strength of 19th century liberals. Incidentally, there's another name we sometimes use here. We sometimes call this classical liberalism. I might also add here that this is the meaning that the word liberal has in European contexts. When you if you visit Czechoslovakia, you will find people today in shackles of Czechoslovakia calling themselves liberals, but they are liberals in this classical sense. They are friends of freedom and democracy, they are enemies of statism, Marxism and totalitarianism. A true liberal today in the old Soviet Union would be a classical liberal, a friend of democracy, liberty, an enemy of statism, and so on. So the great strength of classical liberalism was its support for freedom, individual freedom. And we should praise these people for that. Now, the great weakness of classical liberalism was its ethical. Relativism, its denial of transcendent moral principles. The classical liberals were friends of freedom, all right, but they were enemies of any objective state. Our transcendent moral laws. The true descendants of classical liberals today are what we call what I called last week the Libertarians. This position in our day and age is now called libertarianism. At least certain versions of libertarianism. Freedom is important, but morality isn't. And so do anything you want in your own private life. There are no objective moral laws. There's nothing that's universally and objectively right and wrong. That's the the great negative to classical liberalism. Now, the great strength of 19th century conservatism was its respect for an objective moral order. If you pay any attention to the great political conservatives of the early 19th century, these were people who were motivated primarily by respect for order, moral order. So what I want you to see is that 180 years ago, we had a real battle between two worldviews, two political worldviews, and the disagreement centered around the proper role of an objective, transcendent moral order and the importance of the individual moral, more freedom. Now, what's interesting today is that the vast majority of informed conservatives in America represent a marriage of these 2/19 century positions. Modern American conservatives, best represented by Bill Buckley in the National Review and other informed conservatives represent what we call a fusion of the best elements of classical liberalism and classical conservatism. In chapter two, I tell you the story of how that fusion ism came about. And in chapter two, I relate. I identify the major figure in American political philosophy over the last 40 years who, in effect, gave birth to a new vision of American conservatism. His name was Frank Meyer. This is a name that very few people have heard. In fact, last weekend in California, I had dinner one evening with Benjamin Hart, the son of Jeffrey Hart, who is a nationally syndicated columnist living in New Hampshire, teaching at Dartmouth University. And I asked Ben Hart if when he was growing up he'd ever met Frank Meyer, and he remembered meeting him when he was a young lad, because both his father and Frank Meyer were editors at National Review. Let me tell you about Frank Meyer. This is an interesting story. In the 1930s, Frank Meyer was a disaffected American Jew, a non-practicing American Jew who, like so many other Jewish atheists at that time, became a communist. For some reason, disaffected American Jews who were attracted to communism in the 1920s, in the 1930s. I guess they thought that would give them the Kingdom of God on earth without God. During the 1930s, Frank Meyer was the leading recruiter for the Communist Party in the United States of America. That's how far left he was. There were lots of other communists in the 1930s who gradually became disillusioned with Stalinism, who gradually became disillusioned with Marxism, and they finally left the Communist Party and they left Marxism. And like Frank Meyer, they wandered in kind of an ideological wasteland for a decade or more after Frank Meyer turned his back on the Communist Party. He he left the public's view until he emerged after World War Two. And as a as an editor of National Review magazine and as a man who was now beginning to hammer out the elements of a new kind of conservatism. Well, as Chapter two explains, Frank Meyer was the guy who caught the vision of a political theory that could merge the best elements of classical liberalism respect for individual rights and liberties with the best elements of classical conservatism, respect for a transcendent and objective moral order. And that line of thinking today represents the both the mainstream of American conservatism. Now, of course, there are conservatives in America who are not what we call fusion lists. I happen to be a fusion ist. I think that's a that's a word you could use. I don't think anybody would misunderstand there. But let me give you examples of at least a couple of people who are who call themselves conservatives who are not fusion ists. Remember the hardcore 19th century conservative type? That view is still around in America today, and it is best represented by Russell Kirk. Probably no American thinker of the last 40 years. Best illustrates that old kind of 19th century conservatism than Russell Kirk. A commitment to tradition, a commitment to order, and not a whole lot of interest in individual freedom. A willingness to sacrifice individual freedom on occasion in in order to secure the benefits of order. On the other hand, the old kind of classical liberalism would be illustrated by people like Barry Goldwater, who now is just a name from history for some of you. But of course, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, Goldwater was not a fusion of conservative. He was not a conservative in the Russell Kirk sense. He was really just a classical liberal with not a whole lot of respect. Not a. A whole lot to say about a transcendent moral order. When you draw the chart that indicates the continuum between radical statism and radical anti statism, and you begin to figure out where American conservatism is, the fusion ists are right in here. They are moderate anti statists. Now, I'll say one other thing. Last week I told you that the American Founding fathers were right in here. Read the Federalist Papers, read the quotations in chapter two. John Adams. James Monroe. James Madison, those guys. And this is what's what I find exciting. Those guys were fusion ists also, and they were developing their fusion ism 150 years before Frank Meyers started to talk about his. What else is the system of government defended by the Federalist Papers, then a desire to fuze together a concern for individual human liberty with a transcendent moral order? And can you not see how those concerns will lead to a concern to protect citizens against a state government that is too powerful as a state that is too powerful, unchecked, on unrestrained? I mean, what's the typical liberal claim when it when we start talking about abortion, get the government's hands off of women's bodies? All right. Women should be free to do whatever they want with their own body. That sounds like a libertarian argument, doesn't it? It sounds like a very anti status government. Get the government off the hands of artists. Let them blaspheme and produce whatever profane, blasphemous art they want. The government has no business. Business telling artists what to draw or what to write. That sounds very anti statist, doesn't it? And we can think of other other examples. Now, does that point to a problem in my analysis? Well, I'm going to offer you an answer to that. All right. And the basic answer I'm going to provide is this. It is not incumbent upon me to defend liberals against the charge of inconsistency, because all I have to do is show you that my analysis is consistent. If liberals are inconsistent, that's their problem. Now, here's how I want to proceed. If one were a little bit shallow and a little bit superficial, he could make it appear as though conservatives suddenly get very statist when it comes to issues of morality and pornography and certain kinds of sexual behavior. And I suppose one can even treat the conservative defense of the pro-life movement as a kind of incipient statism. I want to suggest to you that that is shallow and superficial and not very reflective. Here's why. We conservatives are not anarchists. We recognize that there are legitimate functions of government. Now, let me show you a principled no, that's not an ad hoc, but a principled conservative approach to these kinds of examples that we've just mentioned. One indisputable function of the state is to protect its citizens. If a state doesn't protect its citizens, what good is it? That's certainly one of its legitimate, proper roles. Now, what are states supposed to protect citizens from? And the answer is from harm. Now let's take the business of abortion. All right. I mean, there's no question but that true conservatives are interested in limiting people's access to abortion. But, you know, the reason why we're trying to present prevent harm to the most innocent human beings that exist, the unborn. Now, any thinking conservative will recognize that there are there arise occasions and we're going to talk about abortion later on. There are lies occasions that can be very vexing, morally, ethically. There are there are times when you do run into a conflict between the health of the mother, the well-being of the mother and the fetus that she is carrying. Those can be very difficult situations to sort out. But the fact is those situations affect less than 2% of all pregnancies. 90% or more of abortions, truthfully, are performed for no other reason than the convenience of the parents. And often and even Ron Sider agrees with this. Often the parent for whom the abortion is performed, who who gets the most convenience out of this is the father of that fetus. The father doesn't want to be. We're talking here about perhaps a pregnancy out of marriage. I'll give Ron credit, Ron sider credit for this. A vast number of abortions are done to make life simpler for profligate men. And many women fall into that trap by saying, oh, I don't want to lose this guy or I don't want to make this guy mad or I don't want to make life difficult for this man, man. So they kill their baby and the man walks away from an instance of fornication scot free. The woman is never scot free. She'll always bear the scars of that pregnancy. Anyway, abortion can be viewed as an attempt to defend people from harm. The people in this case being the fetus, a human being, but also also also the mother. The mother. All right. And many women will testify the scars they born after abortion. Now, what about this business of certain forms of sexual behavior among between consenting adults? Certain expression of human values in art and literature and so on. Well, I'm going to suggest something you can read, but then I'm going to give you a quick summary of what I say in this. I talk about this whole set of issues in a book called Freedom, Justice and the State Chapter four. In that chapter I talk about four are Let me count them. One, two, three, four, five. Liberty. Limiting liberty. I'll get it yet. Five Liberty Limiting principles. These are principles that every social philosopher, every moral philosopher knows about. Let me identify these four. These are five principles that various thinkers through history have said justify state constraints upon individual liberty. By identifying these five, I'm not suggesting that I agree with all five of them. I'm simply saying these are the five that people through history have identified. The first one is called the principle of private Harm. This principle says the government, the state is entitled to act in ways that limit people's freedom. When those people are engaged in activities that produce harm to other people. Now it's the principle of private harm that underlies most of our legal code in this country. When we throw people in jail for stealing other people's money or from robbing banks, it's because morally they have violated the principle of private harm. If somebody assaults you, physically beat you up and then that person is prosecuted. They have violated the principle of private harm. The old way of saying it goes like this Your freedom to swing your closed fist ends at the point of. I know. All right. Nobody has the right to exercise his or her freedom in ways that produce harm for other human beings. Now, surely none of you are going to dispute the principle of private harm. I've never I've never, never yet met anybody other than Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler and their minions who disagreed with the principle of private harm. The second principle is the principle of public harm. Now, this is a little more controversial. It's also a little bit more it's also a little harder to give a proper shape to this. The principle of public harm is violated whenever people misuse their freedom and threaten public institutions. Threatened public order, for example. Any threat to societies like the family or like the church where the harm would not be to individual person so much as it would be more public organizations or institutions that would be affected by the principle of public harm. The Third liberty limiting principle is called the principle of offense. Now, this is a little bit controversial in the literature. What's required in order for this principle to work is for there to be a difference between harming someone and offending someone in ways that falls short of harm. Notice sometimes you can be offended in ways that don't actually constitute harm to you. Suppose you're walking down a street in New York City. Where else could it happen? But in downtown Manhattan and some sort of most shops, an express, a piece of paper, a pamphlet in your hands with explicit pictures of people engaged in sodomy and fornication. And it says, support gay liberation or something like that. People ought to be protected against that kind of behavior. Now, I think we're all mature enough that none of us are going to be none of us are going to be harmed by that kind of literature. But I think anyone with any good taste would be dreadfully offended, offended so much that there can be legitimate governmental behavior to prevent that kind of literature from being thrust into your place. It's the same kind of principle that makes that that justify state action that prohibits people from doing in public the sorts of things that dogs do. All right. And I will not get more graphic than that. No one has the right to go outside his window and defecate or urinate or do something. Now, none of us would be harmed by that, but I would hope that you would all be offended at the principle of offense also operates in the case of people playing loud music in the next apartment at 3:00 in the morning. Do any of you have neighbors like that or do some of you do that? All right. I'm giving you my own opinion. You can disagree with me if you like, but I believe these three principles are legitimate instances for the state to restrain people's individual behavior. Where things get tricky is when we come to the last two principles. Principle number four is the principle of legal paternalism. Now, this is where libertarians get very upset. In fact, the only one of these principles that hard core libertarians will accept is the first one. Libertarians will fight about all of the others and they will go to war over this fourth one. Now, the principle of legal paternalism says the state is justified to act in ways that prevent people from hurting themselves. Aha. You see, in these first three cases, people are hurting others. They're either hurting other individuals or they're hurting other institutions, public institutions, or they're hurting. They're causing offense. But what's wrong if you hurt yourself? I have a friend who's a libertarian. He's also a Catholic priest. And every once, about once a year, he and I will get to arguing over motorcycle helmets. All right. He says Google's mesh with his motorcycle helmet shtick again. See? Well, why does the state force people in certain instances to wear motorcycle helmets? Well, first of all, to protect those dummies from hurting themselves. All right. But. Here's where the Libertarians are so shortsighted, and I'm going to give you an expression. It came to me last night in a dream. There was a bright light in my room and I heard these words, and I'm going to share them with you. And I want you to get them laminated in plastic. All right. I heard the words. No man is an island. I heard those words last night. In fact, as I was walking this morning, I wrote them on a wooden fence near me and sign that Ron Nash. No man is an island sign. Ron Nash. But that's true. That dumb motorcyclist, when he gets in an accident, ends up with a cracked skull, you see, isn't just going to hurt himself. He's going to hurt lots of other people. His loved ones are going to suffer pain. And somebody is going to have to pay the bill. If people could just go to hell by themselves, I suppose none of us would have to be legal paternalism. But unfortunately, most people who choose to go to hell do it in ways that make life miserable for everybody else. So it seems to me that the principle of legal paternalism applies, at least in some cases. Actually, there's kind of a continuum here. There are easy cases and there are hard cases. If people it seems to me if people want to go mountain climbing, then you know, and the weather's fine and everything else, we can, we can. There's no need for legal paternalism there. But certainly if people want to commit suicide, somebody wants to jump off a building. What does everybody else try to do? They try to restrain him. If somebody wants to use the suicide machine, we try to restrain them. Suicide is certainly one case where legal paternalism seems justified. Take cigaret advertising. All right. Smoking this using this product may be harmful. We forced the tobacco companies to do that. We have forced the tobacco companies to do that on the grounds of legal paternalism. But the truth is, maybe we don't need legal paternalism to put those labels on cigaret packs. Maybe it's simply an extended private harm principle. But now we come to the one that affects all clergy people. Say amen to that. Clergy people. I don't know what that means. This is the principle of legal moralism. Now, this rule, if followed, would say the government has a right to constrain people from doing things that are immoral. And here is where most religious people find their justification for constraints on pornography and immoral acts among consenting adults. Now, I'm going to say something here because I. I believe it. But more than that, I think it can be helpful to you in your future ministry. I do not recommend that we Christians act legally against any kind of behavior on the ground of legal moralism. I don't think we have to. I don't think we have to argue that. Strip joints and pornography shops and prostitution and so on. I don't think we have to petition against that kind of behavior on the grounds of legal moralism, for one thing, even though it might be justified. All right. But one thing, we're not going to win many votes by appealing to legal moralism. It looks as though, you see we're trying to get the state to interfere with personal liberty because these are simply actions that are that we don't like. That's the relativistic way to put it. The truth is that if you do your homework, you can justify state, coerce, coercion with regard to these same kinds of acts without appealing to legal moralists. And I'll give you an example of how to do that in a moment. But there's another reason to beware of legal moralism. The fact is that in most cases where Christians become excited about using the principle of legal moralism, they end up supporting state action that might be worse in the long run, might be more damaging in the long run than than the then the thing we're trying to prohibit or prevent. What many Christians don't do is stop and ask, How can this law against sin be? What's the word I want be observed? Let's take laws against sodomy. Very few Saddamists perform that act in public. I don't mean to be funny here, but I'm simply stating a truism. While there may be laws against sodomy in certain states, to get the state to enforce, that act would seem to require policemen or listening devices or video cameras in every bedroom in the land. All right. We do need to recognize the importance of other values to enforce certain laws against morality. Would create conditions that could well be worse than the condition we're trying to fight against. So I'm arguing here for an elimination of legal moralism from the Christian's list of liberty limiting principles. It seems to me that we can argue against pornography on the grounds of the harm it does. Listen, liberals talk only about physical harm. We Christians can recognize that sometimes the harm you do in corrupting a human being's soul can be worse than the harm you do to a human being's body. Plato and Socrates recognized that. Plato said, If somebody injures your body, the injury is temporal. But if somebody corrupts your soul, the injury is eternal. So we ought to be paying more attention to the harm that pornography does to human beings, to the harm that abortion does. No question about that. For the harm the harm that sodomy does to human beings. Now, my final point. This is what this whole discussion has been about. I believe a case can be made that when conservatives argue for state constraints in cases of immoral art or immoral behavior or something else, that they have legitimate liberty limiting principles to appeal to here that are not inconsistent with their anti statist approach to government. And I premised all of that on the assumption that if government doesn't protect its citizens from offense and harm, what good is it? Are not decent people offended when they see a statue of Christ in mist immersed in some artist's urine, for example? Who else but Christians? Who? What else but Christian beliefs could be profaned like that in the society anymore. All right. And get away with it. What kind of decent people would take the precious values of other people and make a mockery of them in that way and have their behavior supported by open minded, freethinking, decent minded people. Vile, profane, blasphemous behavior. And it is supposedly protected by the First Amendment. Well, we need to approach these issues in in a in a way that does not make some kind of appeal to legal moralism, I suggest.