by Rod D. Martin
March 30, 1998

If you’re looking for comfort, don’t read this column.

In fact, if you’re looking for standard political commentary of any sort, you won’t find it here. This essay goes beyond that. Some readers will be offended. You have been warned.

First, the reason why. The shock and horror we all feel is perfectly normal — as Governor Huckabee rightly said, may the day never come when we are not shocked by such as this — but in reality, it is foolishness. As the killings in Pine Bluff the very same week and the ceaseless murders in our cities insistently prove, there is a certain percentage of the population who simply have no qualms about — even enjoy — killing. And therein lies the problem.

Post-Christian America revolves around precisely one of the unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence: the pursuit of happiness. Some might attribute this to John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, or even to Enlightenment Humanism, but in fact it is a far older phenomenon. It’s roots are in the Garden, at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There, Eve made a choice: a choice not merely to rebel against the true and only God, but a choice also to set herself up as her own god.

It has been thus ever since: man is forever in rebellion, forever seeking his own self-interest. Self-interest, of course, is not always bad, and in fact when disciplined and constrained by God’s law can be excellent. But the evolutionists do not lie when they say that man apart from God is an animal. By his nature he seeks only what gratifies himself all the day long. And what usually gratifies him most is that which will deviate most from any authority placed over him.

When the deviation becomes too great, the humanist claims that the deviant is insane: this is the legacy of Freud, and necessary if the humanist is to confine dangerous people while still pretending there is no absolute right or wrong. But the depraved man is not insane; he is merely normal. He does whatever he wants, exactly like a peace-loving flower child. He, like every rebel, recognizes no legitimate authority above himself, so who may say what he should want?

The Founders of the nation understood this all too well, and wrote about it ceaselessly. John Adams wrote: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” His generation agreed.

About the same time, the Duke of Wellington wrote what Jonesboro proved: “Educate men without religion, and you make them but clever devils.” Our age worships ceaselessly at the idol of humanist, “values-neutral” education in the false and unrealizable hope that “if people just know more,” somehow, some way they will become “more enlightened.” Liberalism has made the schools its state religion, and their new faith continues to fail them for precisely the reason they worship it: they seek license to repudiate God — to forever do each and every one what is right in their own eyes — and then marvel when some wish to do things the group disapproves.

The Founders understood what public policy could do to restrain evil. Though they rebelled against tyranny, they also believed in the necessity of the state. Their line: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” They saw perfectly well that the swift, sure execution of fair and impartial justice would restrain evil, and they were right: until our system began to fly apart in the 1960s, Jonesboros were simply inconceivable.

But the Founders also understood that the greatest bastion of public order was not law, but rather the ongoing maintenance of certain behaviors as “socially unacceptable.” Decades of degradation of the family and the individual through easy divorce, easy drugs, easy sex, and above all easy abortion produced Jonesboro. Why should anyone respect post-born life when 37 million preborn lives have been sluffed off as so much medical waste? Where will children learn the values we call “decency” if not in a functioning home? A civilization has all but dissolved in the last thirty years. As a result, we have met the barbarians, and they are us.

When America returns to Rudyard Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook Headings” — and more to the point, when America submits to the standards of Jesus Christ — there will be peace. But apart from the Prince of Peace, there is no peace. As the prophets of Baal discovered on Carmel, there is only destruction for the rebel. If thirty years of constantly eroding schools and continually escalating violence haven’t shown us that, there is little more hope for the Republic.