PAPER NO. 27
THE LIMITS OF THE STATE
The Purpose and Function of Human Government Applied to Current Debates
- The State (Human Government) with laws and courts (for law enforcement) assumes that:
Human beings are rational beings who may act contrary to their rational nature.
Human society is a society of rational beings.
Participation in human society depends on the exercise of that rationality.
Laws and courts are meant for human beings who are rational; they are not meant for animals that are non-rational. Law enforcement is meant for lawbreakers who have engaged in a form of moral evil, which in essence is an act contrary to human nature that is the same in all human beings. Law enforcement involves the use of force to remove someone from human society (by jail or fine or death) because they resorted to non-rational means (force or falsehood) to get their way. The very existence of the State therefore assumes both human rationality and violation of that rationality in oneself and in others.
- The State is an institution which, by use of force, is to protect human life from harm by force.
The State is authorized to use force (“the sword”); no other institution may use force to enforce its laws. The State uses force against lawbreakers who harm others through the wrongful use of force, as in murder or theft or other violations of one’s person. Speech is not the use of force, even when it is deemed offensive. Man is first a rational being, capable of self-governance by thought, and whose feelings arise in the context of one’s set of beliefs.
- The State may not make and enforce laws that are contrary to man’s life as a rational being.
Since the State necessarily assumes man is rational, and is to be protected because he is rational, in contrast to animals which may be used for food and brute labor or kept as pets, the State may not violate the very reason for its existence, which is to protect human dignity from harm by force, but must support what promotes man’s dignity as a rational being.
- The State is one institution among others, including the Family and the Church. No institution is total (over other institutions); each institution is, according to its form and function, under the Moral Law given in human nature as rational.
Each institution may exclude members from participation in its function to varying degrees, but does so in different ways. On an individual level, degrees of self-disclosure in friendships are regulated naturally by the perceived reasonableness of the other, that is, by their “commitment to the good.”
- The Family as an institution is to protect and promote the origin and nurture of human life.
The Church as an institution is, by teaching (not by force as used by the State), to restore man from moral evil—what is contrary to human nature as rational.
- Human beings may neglect, avoid, resist and deny their nature as rational beings, and seek to express that denial individually and institutionally.
The sanctions in each institution are to protect and promote human dignity rooted in rationality.
The denial of human nature as rational tends to diminish rational discourse and public life.
(Points 5 and 6 are evident enough. Further comment can be given if need arises.)
- The institution of the Family protects and promotes the origin and nurture of human life:
Human life originates from the physical union of one man and one woman.
Parents have a natural right and obligation to nurture their child.
The State must recognize that right and uphold that obligation.
Human beings, in denying their nature, have denied rights and obligations that are institutionally protected.
The State may not allow institutional sanctions of rights and obligations to be denied.
The moral and legal aspects of the institution of the Family originate in the ontology of our being, in how we originate (that is, come into existence), which is by the union of one man and one woman, and from the needs of our existence as dependent infants. There are natural rights and obligations accompanying the manner of our coming into existence. The Family as an institution, with recognized rights and obligations, originates in the manner of our coming into being. Persons are not produced as artifacts or traded as such. Marriage is a moral and legal bond that protects and promotes both the origin and the nurture of our being.
- No human law (at any level) may set aside the sanctions of human institutions by denying human nature.
Where human nature is disputed, the State must protect and promote public discourse, not deny or decide the dispute.
Neither federal nor state law, nor decree of a ruler nor the will of a majority can set aside our rationality as human beings, nor the manner in which we come into existence—from the union of one man and one woman. Therefore, no human law can set aside the institution of marriage with its sanctions that protect and promote natural rights and obligations.
Since human beings are finite, temporal and changeable, they may act against their nature as rational and dispute their nature as rational. However, disputes themselves reflect our rationality, even when thinking proceeds from uncritically examined assumptions which may be erroneous. So, disputes at a deeper level are an affirmation of human rationality that makes disputes possible. Furthermore, the very existence of the State with laws and courts assumes human rationality, so the State cannot decide against or abandon rationality. But it can protect and promote public discourse by which disputes may be rationally resolved or mediated.
- There has been a long history of human beings denying human nature and infringing on human rights and obligations in principle and in practice, personally and institutionally through the State.
In the past two centuries the courts in the United States have:
Decided who is (or is not) a person and thus permitted slavery.
Not recognized the obligations of the Family in the welfare state.
Supported taxation for education as belonging in the public realm rather than in the private realm.
Disregarded obligations in marriage in no-fault divorce.
Decided the right to privacy outweighed the right to life and thus permitted abortion.
The humanity of others cannot be denied without first denying our own human essence as rational beings, since the essence is one and the same in all. The degradation of slavery for both slaveholder and slave consists of this denial of human dignity common to both. The law may not allow the dignity of a person to be denied by forced servitude.
Welfare that fails to hold both parents responsible for their obligation to nurture their child undermines the institution of the Family.
Education, as an integral part of nurture in families, belongs in the private realm, not in the public realm.
Obligations within marriage bonds, which were upheld by sanctions, were denied by no-fault divorce.
When human life begins (and by implication when it ends) and a person’s right to life were disregarded by the Court in favor of another person’s right to privacy.
- Currently, the State is being asked to decide what constitutes the institution of the Family.
The State may not, through its courts, go beyond its jurisdiction to decide on what constitutes the Family or to deny natural rights and obligations protected and promoted by the institution of the Family.
The State may not, contrary to assumptions inherent in its own existence—that human society is a society of rational beings—deny the assumptions underlying the existence of other institutions such as Family and Church.
The State may not, by its laws, ask its citizens to go against their reason and their conscience.
No institution is total.
Each institution, according to its form and function, is under the Moral Law given in human nature.
May 16, 2015
© 2015 Logos Papers Press