Law and legal issues are of course a vital component of life. And for good parts of human history the laws of God stood over, and greatly influenced, the laws of men. But in the secular West today this is becoming more and more rare, and increasingly we find the rise of ungodly, if not anti-God, law.
This comes in many forms, including so-called anti-discrimination, equal opportunity, and anti-vilification laws. These are being used to stifle Christians from sharing the gospel, forcing them to violate their own consciences, and keeping them from speaking out publicly about important social and moral issues. We see examples of this happening all the time.
Today law in the West is largely in the hands of those who adhere to the worldview of secular humanism. This is reflected on a daily basis in a whole host of areas: laws and legislation passed, court and judicial decisions, sentencing for crime, activist agendas promoted through law, and so on.
Let me focus on that last area I just mentioned: judicial activism. This is where judges who are pushing radical agendas effectively take the law into their own hands, and promote militant social engineering causes. The most recent example of this was when the High Court ruled on a NSW case, actually claiming that there are no longer two genders, but people can now have a “non-specific” third gender! I discuss that bizarre case in detail here: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/04/02/high-court-rules-against-biology-and-redefines-reality-to-boot/
The sad truth is, all over the Western world we are witnessing the rise of judicial activism. We find the active political involvement of judges in contentious social issues. The problem is, judges – often unelected and unaccountable -instead of legislators, are making and repealing laws, and internationalising law as well.
Judges have overstepped their bounds, and their agendas are often at odds with the majority of those they claim to serve. In fact, far too often the rule of law has been replaced by the rule of judges. This usurpation of the democratic process should be of concern to all of us.
The rule of law is of utmost importance, and judges are to be neutral in its application, and not seek to push their own political and social agendas. Judges are meant to serve the people and the laws the people helped to make, and not rewrite the law books and promote Political Correctness and social radicalism. But that sadly has been exactly the case for a number of decades now.
Judicial activism can take many forms: it may simply mean that judges are speaking out on controversial ethical and political issues when such pronouncements are not really proper to the role of a judge. Or worse, it can mean using one’s position as a judge to not just apply the law but to radically reinterpret and rewrite the law, to suit trendy political changes or to enforce a stifling Political Correctness.
This has certainly been the case in the US, where in the past half century a whole raft of radical judicial decisions have been made on such controversial issues as abortion, euthanasia and homosexual rights. As Robert Bork has commented, we are beginning to understand “what it means to be ruled by an oligarchy. The most important moral, political, and cultural decisions affecting our lives are steadily being removed from democratic control” and put into the hands of a few radical judges.
Phyllis Schlafly minces no words when she laments “the judicial supremacists who have been systematically dismantling the architecture of our unique, three-branch constitutional republic, and replacing it with an Imperial Judiciary”.
And with judicial decisions attacking the very nature of the moral order – as in its pro-death and anti-family decisions – one has to ask if the courts are still to be regarded as instruments of justice. As Robert George notes, the “worst abuses of human rights have come from the least democratic branch of government – the judiciary”.
And of course our radicalised law schools are fuelling all this. Today we have feminist legal theory, queer legal theory, Marxist legal theory, deconstructionist legal theory, and so on. Every kind of radicalism around seems to gravitate towards our law schools. And with good reason. Activists know that if they can take over our legal faculties, our courts and our judiciaries, they can impose their radical agenda on the rest of society.
In addition to the law schools, there are a host of legal reform bodies, often government supported (and tax-payer funded). They too tend to have a radical and secular agenda they are promoting, be it drug decriminalisation, the legalisation of prostitution, the decriminalisation of abortion, or the promotion of homosexual rights.
So how did all this arise? Antinomianism has always been with us, ever since the Garden of Eden of course. But the anti-God agenda of recent times – including judicial activism and the radicalisation of law – has come about, not by accident, but quite deliberately. The field of law, like so many other areas, has been strategically targeted by those who want to overthrow the West and its Judeo-Christian foundations.
Let me mention just one important component of this. In the 1930s Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci said that there is more than one way to take over a nation. There is the obvious method of external use of force – armed rebellion and revolution and the like. But a nation can also be subverted from within – without firing a shot.
He made the case that radicals should take over the institutions of power and influence, such as the media, politics, the universities, and the courts. He spoke of the “long march through the institutions”. He knew that by so doing an internal revolution could easily take place. Sadly, we have seen his strategy almost fully realised now.
Indeed, no one could have foreseen how quickly and easily the institutions did crumble before the radical activists. The moral, cultural and social blitzkrieg has been as thorough as it has been all-consuming. And the success of this revolution, as Roger Kimball reminds, “can be measured not in toppled governments but in shattered values”.
How do we turn things around?
As to the radical law activists, much can be done: Their activities need to be exposed, and their public funding needs to be curtailed. In addition, alternative legal bodies need to be set up to reflect mainstream values, and to challenge the judicial activists. All these strategies are long term goals, and require time, effort and commitment from those concerned about the way things are now headed.
Indeed, reversing the decline of the West and its ungodly direction is no small task. And redeeming law in the West is just one part of this process. Much would need to be done in many areas. But let me speak to just one facet of this. A large part of our problem is that we Christians have allowed secular humanists and others to take over the field of law while we have simply pulled out.
Thus we are no longer being salt and light in this vital area as we are meant to be. By abandoning law – and most other spheres of power and influence – we have basically lost so many of these battles by default. We have handed these important areas over to our enemies, and we wonder why we keep losing here.
We need Christians to reclaim every area of life. That is because Christ should be Lord over every area of life. After all, he is the one who created politics, and law, and the arts, etc. These are parts of his original cultural mandate (see Genesis 1:28).
But we have sat back and allowed God’s enemies to take over all these areas. It is time for us to wake from our slumber, and get back into all these realms. So we need Christian lawyers and judges and law professors. And of course they need to be guided soundly by the Christian worldview.
Simply being a Christian in law, but soaking up the secular mindset and worldview, will not be all that helpful. We need to think Christianly here, and seek to promote Biblical values and ideas in the legal realm. So Christian participation in all areas of society, strongly informed by a biblical worldview, is imperative if we want to see some of these areas turned around for the glory of God.
For too long Christians have pulled out of the surrounding culture, and allowed the other side to take control. It is time we once again take seriously the idea of the Lordship of Christ, and take on board our responsibilities to be salt and light in every part of life – law included.