The Duty of Lower Magistrates to Face Down the Tyranny of Same Sex Marriage
Building the Resistance to Same-Sex Marriage…
(eighth in a series of articles)
The Federal Government seems bent on destroying Western Civilization. After a long litany of laws, policies, and court opinions designed to undermine and attack the family and Christianity, the final blow could be decreed in just the next several days.
I speak of the impending ruling on homosexual marriage.
It appears the U.S. Supreme Court is about to trample the constitutions of 31 states – another frontal assault against family. Sociologists like Carle Zimmerman (Family and Civilization, (Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 2nd abridged edt., 2008)) and J.D. Unwin (Sex and Culture, (Oxford University Press; 1st edt., 1934)) have proven conclusively that when nations denigrate God’s created order regarding family, they cannot survive. There has never been an exception in the history of the world.
Every good Statist knows that in order to strengthen the State — you have to weaken the family. The federal government has been imposing law and policy to accomplish that end for decades now. Meanwhile, the lower magistrates — who in a true federalism know they possess lawful authority and a duty to interpose — have decided to hide behind the lie that “A federal court has ruled, so we can do nothing but obey.”
Most Americans no longer understand that the states were never intended to be mere provinces of the federal government. They were never intended to be mere implementation centers for unjust and immoral federal laws, policies, and court opinions.
Herbert Schlossberg speaks to this point in his magnum opus, Idols for Destruction. He says, regarding the lesser magistrates:
“The framers of the American Constitution were conscious of the excesses to which centralized political systems were prone, and their solution was to devise multiple levels of authority. The existence of states, cities, counties, townships, and independent taxing authorities, which, to apologists for the state, has been a messy derogation from beneficent centralized power, has saved us from some of the assaults on freedom that others have suffered.” [Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983) 213.]
Schlossberg points out, however, that in our day these “intermediate institutions, which formerly served to check the central power, have largely atrophied.”
He later reveals how the federal government has pulled this off:
“After three-quarters of a century, the new nationalism has borne bitter fruit. People who have despised the right of localities to govern themselves have delivered them into the hands of federal masters. Local politicians have acquiesced in the mugging of the provinces because in return for giving up political authority they have received monetary benefits.” [Schlossberg, Idols, 214.]
The U.S. Constitution did not bind the states to a suicide pact with a lawless federal government. The idea that the states (and lesser authorities) must obey a lawless federal judiciary is a fiction. The insanity being imposed by the federal government has reached such a fever pitch that people have begun to question, “At what point do we offer resistance to this federal behemoth?” And more importantly, “What form of resistance is legitimate and has a chance for success?”
The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates
A tool that is found in Scripture and proven in history to rein in tyrannical acts by the higher authority is known as “the doctrine of the lesser magistrates.”
The lesser magistrate doctrine states that when a higher-ranking civil authority makes unjust or immoral laws, policies, or court opinions, the lower or lesser-ranking civil authority has the God-given right and duty not to obey the higher authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority.
The foremost treatise ever written on the doctrine was penned by John Knox. His Appellation to the Nobles of Scotland (1558) cited over 70 passages of Scripture (John Knox, Selected Writings of John Knox, edit. Kevin Reed (Dallas, TX: Presbyterian Heritage Publishing, 1558/1995)). Knox insisted that the nobles, as lesser magistrates, were responsible to protect the innocent and oppose those who made unjust or immoral laws or decrees.
An apt summary of the doctrine was actually voiced by a higher magistrate, Roman Emperor Trajan. While giving a subordinate a sword, Trajan stated to him. “Use this sword against my enemies if I give righteous commands, but if I give unrighteous commands, use it against me.”
John of Salisbury, in his work Policraticus (1159), spoke of the duty of lesser magistrates when faced with tyrannical acts by the higher authority. He wrote:
“Loyal shoulders should sustain the power of the ruler so long as it is exercised in subjection to God and follows His ordinances; but if it resists and opposes the divine commandments, and wishes to make me share in its war against God, then with unrestrained voice, I answer back that God must be preferred before any man on earth.” [John of Salisbury, The Statesman’s Book of John of Salisbury – Policraticus, trans. John Dickinson (New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1159/1963) 258.]
And now, here in our day — we are confronted with a tyrant.
The interposition of the lower magistrates is not subjective or lawless. There are only three reasons for open defiance to the higher civil authority. First, they are to oppose and resist any laws or edicts from the higher authority that contravene — violate, oppose, or contradict — the law or Word of God. Second, they are to protect the person and property of those who reside within their jurisdiction from any unjust or immoral laws or actions by the higher authority. Third, they are not to implement any laws or decrees made by the higher authority that violate the U.S. Constitution or their state constitution, and if necessary, resist them.
The interposition of the lower civil authority is not anarchy or chaos. Rather, when the higher authority makes laws, policies, or court opinions which accomplish any of these three reasons, it is they who have acted as anarchists; it is they who have brought chaos. The interposition of the lower magistrates acts to restore order.
Application of the Doctrine in Our Day
When the higher authority puts the force of law behind the behavior of perverse and base men, the interposition of the lesser magistrates is necessary. How would such interposition be applied in our day?
A governor of a state should refuse to implement any federal court opinion that tramples the state’s constitution and imposes homosexual marriage upon the people. Unfortunately, all of the governors who have had their state’s constitutions trampled have hidden behind the common lie of the lower authorities, namely, “A federal court has ruled, we must obey.”
Most point to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution to justify their cowardice, but the Supremacy Clause — Article 6, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution — nowhere declares that the U.S. Supreme Court, nor any federal court, has supremacy over the constitutions or laws of the states or the judges of states. Rather, it states that the U.S. Constitution has supremacy and laws or treaties made in accordance with the Constitution.
That this is fact is not only seen in the plain reading of the Clause, but also by the actions of the only state that thus far has stood in defiance of federal tyranny — Alabama. On January 23, 2015, a federal judge trampled Alabama’s constitution and demanded that homosexuals be allowed to marry.
In a separate mandamus proceeding, the Alabama Supreme Court responded to this federal lawlessness by ordering the probate judges that issue marriage licenses to not issue them to homosexuals. This stopped all such “marriages” cold. No homosexuals have been married in Alabama since this act of interposition by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Governors are not the only state officials in a position to uphold their oath of office and interpose. County clerks and probate judges who issue marriage licenses could refuse to issue them to homosexuals. Some already have. Most in Alabama refused to issue them even before the Writ of Mandamus by the state supreme court ordering them not to issue them.
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