IBL05: Fifth Commandment (Craig Press)

Family and Delinquency

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:01 … -eronomy 21, 18 through 21. Delinquency in the family. Deuteronomy 21, 18 through 21. If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and that when they have chastened him will not hearken unto them. Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and out and unto the gates of his place. And they shall say unto the elders of his city, “This, our son, is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey our voice. He is a glutton and a drunkard.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:57 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones that he die. So shall thou put evil away from among you. And all Israel shall hear and fear.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:15 We have referred to this particular law several times in recent weeks. We shall return to it somewhat later. It is a particularly important law. Before we go into its meaning, it is interesting to note that the Talmud gives a great deal of attention to this particular law. But the gist of the attention which it gives it, and some of the worst passages in the Talmud are connected with this, is to take away the possibility of enforcement.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:58 When it gets through defining what a son is, it’s virtually impossible to convict anyone under their definition. Their interpretation is very much like the Supreme Court decisions of our day, which take away the meaning of the law, in the name of the law. The meaning of this law, however, is central to an understanding of Biblical law.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:31 Certain things appear very clearly in this law. First of all, this law indicates a limitation on the power of the family. The Roman father had the power of life and death over his children. He could expose the children as infants if he did not want them, and he could kill them as youths. This power of life and death over one’s children is a common power in many non-Biblical cultures. The presupposition is this: The parents, as God, give and take life.

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:25 But according to scripture, of course, God is the giver of life, and God establishes the conditions of life, and the only conditions under which life can be taken. Now, in this law, as we saw from the reading, a delinquent child, that is, an incorrigible delinquent, is to be reported by the parents, tried by the city council, the elders at the gates, and to be executed if guilty.

R.J. Rushdoony: 04:12 Now, this brings us to a second point with respect to the meaning of this law. It clearly means that the law requires that the family align itself with law and order, rather than with the criminal son. In other words, their loyalties are to be not in terms of love, but in terms of law. Because this law, by requiring that the parents report an incorrigible delinquent to the city council, and witness at his trial, requires that fundamental alignment in terms of law, not in terms of blood.

R.J. Rushdoony: 05:08 It means, therefore, that if the parents refuse to complain, they were guilty either of condemnation, or participation, in their sons crimes. And of course, you know, that to condone or to participate in a crime is a criminal offense. The parents are not legally, in this case, complaining witnesses in the normal sense. And therefore, not executioners. The men of the city are the executioners. But the parents are, in effect, given a choice: Are they going to become participants in their sons crimes? Or are they going to be participants in law and order?

R.J. Rushdoony: 06:05 And this is an important point. Recently, a young man was arrested for a particularly [inaudible 00:06:16] crime. He was caught in the act. It was an ugly, perverted act. And yet, according to the daily papers, and this happened within the past month, the past month, the father and the mother said they were deeply shocked and grieved. It was more than they could bear, almost, and they were losing sleep, and I believe, the father said he was worried about his wife’s health. “But,” he said, “we will stand by our son.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 06:59 They were guilty of participation or condemnation. They had no right under Biblical law, to stand by their son when he was obviously guilty. We must stand in terms of law and order. Now, a third point is also apparent here. When we began our studies in Biblical law, we saw that Biblical law is case law. That is, the Ten Commandments give us the general principals of law, and then the rest of the law gives us case laws, which establish what has come down in our law as precedent. That is, particular incidents which illustrate the scope of the law.

R.J. Rushdoony: 07:57 Now, in this particular case law, the principal is this: If even a son cannot be defended by parents or by the family when he is guilty of a crime, it is certainly true of any other member or any friend or relative. If it is true here with a son, how much more so elsewhere, of any incorrigible criminal?

R.J. Rushdoony: 08:34 In other words, the family turning over its son to the law will turn over anyone. And of course, the law goes on to specify that friends and relatives, if they are guilty, are to be denounced. Daughters are clearly included. We saw this last week. There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel, and other such law.

R.J. Rushdoony: 09:09 No Hebrew, in other words, could be an incorrigible criminal and remain alive. And it is significant that the very word for prostitute in the Hebrew means a foreign woman. Because there could be no Hebrew girl go astray and remain. If she wanted to stay alive, she got out of the country. So, the only word in Hebrew for prostitute, apart from a word that meant the sacred prostitutes of the Canaanites, was a foreign woman.

R.J. Rushdoony: 09:55 Now, this points very clearly to the fourth principal that appears in this law, namely, that so shalt thou put evil away from among you. And all Israel shall hear and fear. In other words, all incorrigible delinquents, all incorrigible criminals, were to be executed so that Biblical law does not visualize a professional criminal class. No such class could exist if Biblical law were kept. This means, therefore, that when the law deals with theft, it does not deal with a professional criminal, but some employee or some citizen who, in a moment of weakness, has stolen and must make, of course, restitution, as we shall see when we come to the Commandments.

R.J. Rushdoony: 11:04 It does not visualize in any area of crime a professional criminal class. Because the professional criminal had to be eliminated. As soon as a law breaker was established to be an incorrigible criminal, he had to be tried and executed. We have a trace of this law still surviving in American law in most states, although it’s beginning to disappear now. Because this was once a part of our law. In some states if you are a three time or a four time loser, you are sentenced to life imprisonment.

R.J. Rushdoony: 11:58 In other words, you have no standing before the law in terms of any further citizenship, any further freedom, or parole. Unfortunately, one state in which this law is now surviving is in process of having the law challenged in the court by the criminals themselves. But in terms of Biblical law, a professional criminal class, incorrigible delinquents, could not exist.

R.J. Rushdoony: 12:36 Now, when you permit their existence as we are now doing, you are in effect subsidizing them. Because law constitutes a war against somebody. You try by law to eliminate a particular class. Law is a subsidy to the good and a war against the evil. But when you permit the evil to live indefinitely, and when the law becomes easier and easier on them, and finally penalizes the Godly, then the war has been turned around. And the law has become a warfare on the Godly.

R.J. Rushdoony: 13:23 This is exactly our position today. We’ll return to this point much later in our study of Biblical law, but for the present, the site, the significance of this, let me quote from the paper just a few days ago, just the first two paragraphs of a story. I quote: “Use of marijuana is so vast in the Bay area, that it is simply not in the realm of possibility for law enforcement agencies to stop it. Marijuana, on a Saturday night, there may be 2,000 pot parties going on. Can you have an informer of a policeman at each one?”

R.J. Rushdoony: 14:21 In other words, it’s beyond the possibility of enforcement. The same is true in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, and in many, many other communities. It’s beyond enforcement. But is it just marijuana? Not at all. Coming here this morning on the radio, I learned that a problem here in Los Angeles is the increasing amount of purse snatching from older women, to the point where it’s impossible to do anything about it.

R.J. Rushdoony: 15:02 Not enough policemen can be put on the streets downtown to prevent it. Or the fact that young hoodlums have been going into the city parks and burying broken bottles and glass in the sand underneath children’s slides so that when the children come down the slide in their bare feet, they land on that. Now, how can you stop that?

R.J. Rushdoony: 15:29 In other words, these illustrations, and we could go across the field, whether it is sex crimes, theft, whatever crime you want to name, is increasing beyond the possibility of enforcement. And you’re not going to change this by electing a new mayor or a new president. Because the problem is that there are far too many incorrigible delinquents, incorrigible criminals, who have been so long favored by the law that now they are out of control.

R.J. Rushdoony: 16:22 If you really want to scare along these lines, talk to a police officer who will speak frankly on these matters. And he will tell you how far beyond control it is. Now, the whole point of this law that we have been analyzing, Deuteronomy 21, 18 to 21, is precisely this: That the incorrigible delinquents, the incorrigible criminal, must be executed. So shall thou put evil away from among you, and all Israel shall and fear. Law is, as we saw earlier, a warfare. It’s purpose is to eliminate a particular class from society. And to keep evil within bounds. And when it fails to do that, it means that the warfare has been turned around.

R.J. Rushdoony: 17:29 Of course, obviously, this law does not permit pity by parents, for an incorrigible, delinquent child. The Biblical law demands pity for the offended, not for the offender. And in law after law, Biblical law requires that pity be withheld from the criminal. For example, Deuteronomy 7:16, Chapter 13 versus 6 through 9, Chapter 19, 11 through 13, Chapter 19, Verse 21, Chapter 25, 11 to 12, and many, many other laws. Pity, in other words, cannot be used as a subsidy to evil. Because when your heart is full of pity towards the evil, you are then pitiless towards the person who has been assaulted or robbed.

R.J. Rushdoony: 19:01 This, the crime of the delinquent son involved in assault or a war on fundamental authority, the incorrigible is described as stubborn and rebellious, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother. In other words, this is the root cause, the criminality begins with a fundamental rebellion against authority in the home. And in Hebrew, the most fearful expression describing an evil person is precisely, the expression, stubborn and rebellious. The epitome of lawlessness. Striking out from childhood against the authority of the home, and throughout all life, against all law and order. Against all authority.

R.J. Rushdoony: 20:12 Now, [inaudible 00:20:13], this law makes clear that capital punishment is Godly. Life is created by God. It is to be lived only in terms of His law word. We saw earlier that the Roman father had the power of life and death over his children. Purely, according to his whim. And this is true in most non-Christian societies the world over, because ancestor worship, or pure Paganism, does not seek God as the author of life, but the parent. And it begins very, very early. In other words, in those societies, and there is a connection, all the parents have the right to abort the fetus. They also have the right to take the life of the child. The one follows the other, very logically. If they have the right to kill the life in the uterus, they have the right to kill it afterwards, because they are the creator and the governor of life.

R.J. Rushdoony: 21:34 But, according to Scripture, neither the parents nor the state are the creators of life, and therefore, neither one can fix the terms of life. And this fact is our greatest safeguard of freedom. The Godly states can only deal with offenders in terms of God’s law, and take life only in terms of God’s law. And in terms of God’s law, it must protect the Godly.

R.J. Rushdoony: 22:13 Finally, the formal charges against the son, which we have just referred to, stubborn and rebellious, does not indicate a weak-willed person, but a strong-willed person. Strong and evil. He is stubborn and rebellious, a glutton and a drunkard. An incorrigible delinquent, lacking in discipline and self control. He is a person who has denied his inheritance of faith and law. And the inheritance of faith and law is according to scripture, life itself. And a rebellion against this inheritance is a rebellion against life, the very conditions of life. Therefore, the sentence of death brings death to those who refuse life.

R.J. Rushdoony: 23:19 This law, therefore, is a central importance in Scripture. You cannot have a Godly society when you deny the fundamentals of God’s law. And how can you have a Godly society, when incorrigible criminals can trifle with the law and go free, and terrorize the Godly to the point where law and order breaks down? For a confessed rapist to have been turned loose by the Supreme Court, to go out and almost immediately commit another rape? Where there are more offenders than there are police? Where law and order is breaking down, because the criminal now, the incorrigible, the professional criminals, are so great an army that they outnumber all the police in the United States? Where they possibly outnumber our armed forces?

R.J. Rushdoony: 24:55 Some years ago, in a city of about 22,000, I talked with a deputy sheriff. And he said, “I can put my finger on the professional criminals in this community tomorrow.” And he said, “I’ve seen it over a period of years.” He said, “We have about 300 juvenile delinquents in this city.” And he said, “About 150 of those who are going to be weaklings all their life, but they’re not going to be professional criminals. But about 100 to 150 of those are going to be professional criminals, no matter what we or any church or any social agency wants to do.” And he said, “Over the years, I have seen precisely, these delinquents, graduate and become the permanent criminals of the communities. And if they drift on elsewhere, they are the criminals there, because we hear and we get inquiries, and we know their record.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 26:19 Now, this is the obvious, the well-known facts. We are perpetuating. We are subsidizing, we are protecting an army of criminals. We can never cope with it until the Biblical law which requires the execution of professional criminals, incorrigible professional criminals. Until that law is the law of any land, today all over the world, country after country, is in the same crisis. A new prime minister and a new president, or a new governor is not the answer. A return to God’s law order is.

R.J. Rushdoony: 27:17 Let us pray: Our Lord and our God, we give thanks unto thee for this, thy word. We thank thee, our God, for thou hast called us to be the people of thy word. And we pray that by thy grace, we can again reestablish the sovereignty of thy word in this land, so that this may be again, a land of liberty. A land where thy blessings prevail. Bless us to this purpose. Make us strong, bold, and confident in thy service. Unto the end of the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdoms of our Lord in this [inaudible 00:28:15]. Granted, this we beseech thee, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder