The Fear of God and the Law

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The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is prudence.

Proverbs 9:10


Traditionally in English criminal indictments this formula was used “not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil”.  This of course contained a great truth that used to be embodied in Western jurisprudence, that human laws could do only so much to prevent evil and that the eternal battle waged in every human heart and mind between good and evil was the true determinant of whether men would commit terrible acts against, not merely the momentary statutes of Man, but the eternal Law of God, as partially represented in the Ten Commandments given to humanity by God on Mount Sinai.

In the wake of the appalling evil of the murder of the innocents at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday, there are cries for legislation, usually from advocates of gun control, to purportedly aid in preventing this type of tragedy from happening again.  There is also, inevitably, endless commentary.  One piece of commentary I found striking was that by John Podhoretz at Commentary:


The connection between the protection of children and the practice of monotheism dates back to the beginning. After Abraham becomes the first Jew, the first monotheist, he is tasked by God to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, the miracle child of his and his wife Sarah’s old age, and he takes up the task without complaint until God stays his hand. The story of Isaac’s binding, the akedah, is one of the most challenging of the Bible and is often taken to mean God was testing Abraham’s faith with the ultimate demand. But one might also say that at the very dawn of the worship of the One God, the Bible was placing the sacrifice of children outside the realm of the thinkable for the first time.

The idea that civilization is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the weak and the innocent, and not about fulfilling evil impulses to defile and destroy innocence, is the root and core of the West. One cannot conceive of anything more monstrous than a person or persons who could look small children in the eye and systematically shoot them dead. Which is why this crime, among the worst crimes in American history, is not just an assault on the children, or their families, or the town of Newtown—though it is all those things.

What the killer(s) did today was nothing less than a contemporary sacrifice to Moloch, in whatever form Moloch manifests himself today—the appeasement of a voice in the head, most likely. Evil, even if it is loosed due to mental illness, is an effort to destroy the common good by making good appear powerless, ineffectual, weak. Today saw a horrifically effective effort to give evil a victory. It has opened a portal and brought Hell to earth.

Gehenna is real again.

Go here to read the rest.  I certainly agree with the sentiments this commentary contains but it does not truly reflect our contemporary society.  It simply isn’t true anymore that:  The idea that civilization is dedicated to the protection and preservation the weak and the innocent, and not about fulfilling evil impulses to defile and destroy innocence, is the root and core of the West.  For the past three centuries the West has gone through a process of secularization, with brief periods in which the secularization process has been partially reversed or retarded for a time, and we live in a period where this process is almost complete.  A society that truly wishes to protect the weak and innocent would not tolerate abortion on demand, let alone celebrate it as a constitutional right.  As we have ceased to look to God for Law we have looked to ourselves and, unsurprisingly, those laws tend to reflect the desires of the strong against the weak.  The weakest among us tend to be kids, and the hand of Man’s law has been raised against them harshly in the past few decades.  We see this in abortion, in easy divorce where the need for kids to be raised in stable families is not even given lip service, in schools where incompetent teachers, members of politically powerful unions, are given endless protections for their jobs, in sex education where the innocence of the young is trampled into the dust, in the sewer that goes by the name of popular entertainment, etc.  Without God as the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, Man will determine what is “appropriate” and “inappropriate” and, mirabile dictu, what is “appropriate “is what pleases the powerful in our societies.

None of this would have come as any surprise to the Fathers of the Church or to the Founding Fathers.  As John Adams said:

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness 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.

Human law is of little utility when what ails us is a fundamental inability to recognize good and evil and to act in accord with our knowledge.  As appalling and heart-rending as the elementary school slayings were yesterday, that is the true mortal threat to our children and to all of us.





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  1. A society that truly wishes to protect the weak and the innocent would not tolerate abortion on demand….

    You have it! The banners flew high in our very liberal downtown this past August…Stop Child Abuse. Try to explain the worse cases of child abuse, abortion, and I’m laughed at.

    Donald. What’s left for us to do to counter this attack on “goodness?” Pray?! With God All things are possible.

  2. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    Money quote!

    I think we may blame 50 years of execrable elites (citing diversity and tolerance, seizing unlimited power) pitting Americans against God and against each other.

    For years they have constantly pushed on us: vice is virtue and blessings are curses.

    The OT says “Woe unto him who calls evil good and good evil.”

    We are reaping the whirlwind.

    “As ye sew, so shall ye reap.”

  3. Phillip: If may answer your query to Donald Mc Clarey: “What’s left for us to do to counter this attack on “goodness?” Remember, reiterate and remind people of the self-evident truth and founding principle that all men are created equal by “their Creator” and that all men belong to God, first, and to the community/family second, that the church, community and family belong to God, first. Caesar belongs to God and ought to be rendered unto God, that any person who repudiates God, “their Creator”, and our founding principles, repudiates his sovereign personhood, his unalienable rights endowed by God and his citizenship granted by the state, by the state who belongs to God, that the newly begotten sovereign persons belong to God, their bodies and their souls, belong to God, first, to their church and community, second, and to themselves, lastly, that any person who may believe that the soul and body of the newly begotten belongs to another person has forfeit his soul and unalienable rights to the devil. The devil has no soul and covets each and every soul of man, but when the devil got the soul of the Son Man, Jesus Christ, the coward ran to the pit of hell to hide, where, if I may say, the personification of evil belongs.

  4. Attempts to parallel Rome and America are often misguided. However, I see a parallelbetween Western Culture and Roman Culture.

    This has happened before: ancient religions that kept passions in check undermined and replaced by half-baked, hedonistic and falsely rationalist ideas that amount to little more than replacing concepts of the divine with an inflated sense of Man’s importance.

    Satan knows that Man is doomed when unchecked by a moral code. He uses the human intellect to undermine our acceptance that we are curiously God’s beloved creation. We convince ourselves that that which doesn’t make perfect sense to us, even though our knowledge is far from perfect, must not be true. Thus we become rebels against the natural order and, thus, God.

    Remember though that we are responsible for only that which is under our control. A heavy price is to be paid for not fulfilling our duties, to be sure, but we are not accountable for what was not ours. If we concentrate on using His gifts well and fulfilling our duties, if we work hard and honestly, raise our families well and are faithful to our spouses and parents, seek to heal the injuries of this world, we will have done what was right and, so, will have done the Good.

    Keep the faith, my friends… It is all that you can do and all you are responsible for.

  5. Mary De Voe.

    Thank you. Remind them with actions and as a last resort with words.
    It is our responsibility to lead and teach by our lives. I must remind myself that we can’t be concerned with immediate results, rather leaving the results and timing in Gods hands.
    Thanks Mary.

  6. “They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind” (Jeremiah 19:5)

    The holy Fathers teach, “Which I commanded not”- this refers to the sacrifice of the son of Mesha, the king of Moab (2 Kings 3:27); “nor spake it”; this refers to the daughter of Jephthah (Judges 11:31); “neither came it into My mind”; this refers to the sacrifice of Isaac, the son of Abraham.

  7. There is this second part, Phillip, to my response:
    The challenge of atheism must be met head on sometimes, because of the contempt the militant atheist has for God-fearing people. Remember, if the atheist believes himself to be God-like, and Catholics are God-fearing people, the atheist is emboldened and too easily assumes that Catholics are to be victimized, thereby disrupting the peace and security of the community. The atheist will respect my doctrine and dogma and my religion or I will not respect his atheism, his free will to repudiate our founding principles and our Creator and I will find that he has repudiated his sovereign personhood endowed by the Person of our Creator and all unalienable civil rights and I will find that he ought to be exiled and deported as he has disenfranchised himself, with no one to blame but himself, his arrogance, his lack of humility and his contempt for his neighbor…while at the same time I may be praying and staying close to God…
    Thank you for your kind words.

  8. Mary-
    Your welcome.
    In [ Heretics ] by G.K.Chesterton; “We have to love our neighbor because he is there. He is the sample of humanity that is actually given us. Precisely because he may be anybody, he is everybody.”

    Some may say that no one can love his neighbor on an empty stomach, yet many Saints have found it very possible, as long as the heart is full. Example St. Maximilian Kolbe.

    Your second part, the contempt that some atheist may have agonist God-fearing people is correct. Standing in peaceful protest in Madison Wisconsin in 2002 was my first experience with your theory. Interestingly once in awhile, a conversion take place.
    So our public witness for Truth is vital.

    May Gods grace be forever with us in this ongoing 2,000 plus years of Good News broadcasting knowing full well that defending the faith is not for the faint of heart.
    Peace to you and your family Mary.

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