Error, Legitimacy, Repentance, Oh My
July 13, 2005 § Leave a comment
I’ve seen many Americanists claim that rejecting or invalidating something in the US constitution would make America illegitimate, by which they seem to mean that America would no longer be a country and we would no longer be subject to Her laws. That is a bunch of hooey. Being wrong about something doesn’t make America illegitimate any more than being sinful makes someone no longer human, or being sinful makes the Pope no longer the Pope. The truth is a much more uncomfortable truth, the sort of truth the modern post-protestant mind doesn’t want to face. A sinful person doesn’t become a non-person: he acquires an obligation to repent. A polity that has set its positive law against the natural law doesn’t become a non-polity: it acquires an obligation to repent. And an obligation on the part of a sovereign to repent does not remove your obligation to obey him, inasmuch as his specific commands do not violate the natural law.
Why does this matter? Because even if none of the US constitution (properly construed) is in violation of the natural law at present the day may come when it will be. A constitutional amendment explicitly asserting a positive right to abortion, contraception, euthenasia, homosexual “marriage”, etc is not an impossibility. And in fact it is arguable – I should really say quite clear – that some state constitutions are in violation of the natural law right now.
But that doesn’t give you a license to violate the traffic laws of that state*.
* (Though it may limit your ability in good conscience to take a job working for the state, since many state jobs require an explicit oath to uphold the constitution of that state; and at some point it may make it, if it hasn’t already made it, impossible for an immigrant to take an oath of citizenship in good conscience).