Pagan Moralization, COVID Lockdowns, and Murder

The Moralization of COVID Lockdowns

From Tom Wood’s latest:

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A study conducted at New Zealand’s University of Otago and published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology looked at people’s readiness to overlook negative consequences of lockdown.

It’s called “Moralization of COVID-19 Health Response: Asymmetry in Tolerance for Human Costs.” The “asymmetry” in the title refers to people’s extreme unwillingness to tolerate COVID-related suffering on the one hand, and their much-reduced concern for lockdown-related suffering on the other.

Participants were presented with two research proposal descriptions. Both proposals involved the same research and gave the same information about the methods used. Yet people described the anti-lockdown research as having less rigorous methods and relying on less accurate information, and they trusted the research team less.

Pure irrationality, in other words, from the very people who urge us to “follow the science.”

The New Zealand Doctor website had this to say about the study:

“Both failing to properly contain Covid-19 and implementing restrictions to contain Covid-19 carry collateral costs. Collateral human costs that may result from failing to combat Covid-19 include increased cases, overwhelmed healthcare systems, health complications, and deaths. Prioritizing control or elimination of Covid-19 also carries collateral human costs, such as unemployment, extreme financial stress, social isolation, substance abuse, and delayed cancer diagnoses. Left unaddressed, these forces may generate ‘deaths of despair,’ whereby individuals perish from behaviors or worsened illnesses as a result of perceived bleak prospects. Other costs include public shaming of those who violate or question health-based policies, abuse of law-enforcement and government power, and deterioration of human rights.

“Lead author Dr. Maja Graso, a Senior Lecturer in Business Ethics at the University of Otago’s Department of Management, says results supported the hypothesis, suggesting COVID-19 elimination efforts became moralized to an almost sacred level.

“Although moralization may be a natural response to such an imposing health threat, this process may also blind people to potential human costs resulting from a Covid-19 elimination strategy (e.g., extreme financial strain, undiagnosed illnesses). Importantly, moralization of Covid-19 may also mean that merely questioning elimination strategies is not acceptable. Indeed, this is exactly what their findings revealed.

“‘As a research team, we don’t take a stance on whether moralizing elimination is good or bad, nor on how Covid-19 should be handled. Instead, we examine how people assess human costs, and we invite people to consider the possibility that the moralization of Covid-19 elimination may lead us to overlook other, less visible forms of suffering, such as loss of livelihoods or deaths of despair. It may also lead us to discount peer-reviewed scientific evidence that documents human costs resulting from elimination-based strategies,’ Dr Graso says.”

At the very time when we could most use a bit of nuance and common sense, then, we’ve instead been overwhelmed by hysterical monomania.

I do know a group of intelligent folks you can talk to who indeed are capable of these things.

It’s my reality-based community, the Tom Woods Show Elite.

See you inside: Tom Woods

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It’s grimly amusing, how the enemies of God yell at the top of their lungs “you can’t cram your morality on me!”, but eagerly do so themselves five seconds they have the power to do so.

Even socialists — famous for their hatred of life, liberty, property, equality under the Law, and the Divine — pound their chests about their moral superiority.

Oh, the joys of the controlling bureaucrat, stomping on his political enemies while shouting about his pure and kind heart.

“I get all of the benefits.
You pay all of the costs.
Just as it should be.”

But never mind about their sins: we should focus on our own claims of moral superiority. Do we really meet the standards God has set? Do we see the entire set of consequences for our actions, or just the part that makes us feel superior?

I tend to be distrustful regarding moralization: it’s too emotionally driven and self-centered, and if our “moral superiority” is focused on, we will grow blind to our empirical faults and other’s empirical strengths.

We need an objective legal standard, to govern us and to shape our hearts, to purify and ground our moral beliefs and feelings.

It’s not that moral outrage is wrong per se, but that it must be attached to the real world, and not just about protecting ourselves, our rights, and our social authority.

The Moralization of Murder

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.

Genesis 4:8-15, English Standard Version

Note the moral posing – “virtue signalling” – of Cain:

Why am I supposed to know where Abel is? Am I his keeper? Is he an animal that I should manage and control? Are not men born free?


Oh, my punishment is so hard! How can I ever be free and happy ever again? And all the people will hate me and kill me! I will be cast off from human society, and will never enjoy peace and safety ever again!

Note what Cain did not say to God:

Your favourite was Abel? And you don’t know where he is? Oh, well.

Actions speak louder than words. And the spirit of the wicked remains the same, then and now.

And as usual, the wicked man joyfully strikes down the righteous when he has power: but when he doesn’t have power, suddenly all he can do is moan and weep in self-pity.

Cain did fear God, so Cain avoided insulting God to His face. Poses of superior self-righteousness, yes, but not open contempt and unfiltered malice against God directly: just to His subordinates and representatives.

So: there is fear, but not with any respect. Cain merely feared the possibility of punishment and suffering for himself.

Now, we turn to Rushdoony, for a coherent (and, I believe, correct) explanation for why God did not strike down Cain immediately, nor permit others to enforce the death penalty.

Quoted from Rushdoony’s recording on the Seventh Commandment: Family Law

Our concern this morning is with Genesis 4:13-15 in particular. Our question with regard to these verses is to understand, what is the law framework? Obviously whenever God acts and speaks, He has reference to His total law framework. Of whom was Cain afraid here? Who was he afraid would kill him? And why did God protect a murderer? Was God acting contrary to His law? The question itself is absurd. Then what law did God have in mind when for the first and last time in scripture he protected a murderer? Or was he protecting the murderer?

It is important for us to understand the significance of this passage so that we may understand more clearly Gods law.

Seventh Commandment: Family Law by R. J. Rushdoony

The God-fearing man should be all ears at this point.

Cain’s fear was obviously not merely a psychological fear. Because, we are told, God set a mark upon Cain lest any finding him should kill him; obviously then, Cain needed protection. Let us examine this text then, very closely; the 14th verse in particular. Leopold a Lutherans commentator translates it very literally: “Behold Thou hast this day driven me off the ground. And I must stay hidden from thee; and I must be shifting and straying about on the earth. And it will happen that whoever finds me will slay me.”

Now, these words of Cain very obviously presuppose the fact that the death penalty for murder had from the beginning been made known to Adam and Eve and their family. That this death penalty for murder was God’s purpose and was man’s duty.

As a result, Cain’s words very obviously indicate he is in fear and in terror of both God and man, lest one or the other slay him. Lest they execute upon him the death penalty for murder. So, already a part of the oral revelation of God to mankind was the death penalty for murder.

Of course, earlier, in verses 9-12, God Himself indicts Cain for murder. So obviously the penalty was known. And Cain saw a need to escape from both God and man.

Seventh Commandment: Family Law by R. J. Rushdoony

So there is a legal standard that Cain knew he was violating. A good step… but this is not the end of the journey.

Then the first part of verse, or the second part of verse 15, reads, according to Leopold: “And the Lord gave Cain a sign that whoever found him would not murder him.” Now, this is important to understand because we tend too often to think because of our present day meaning of mark, that it was a physical mark placed upon Cain. We can better translate it into modern English as a sign of guarantee. In other words, Cain was given by God an assurance, a statement that made it clear to Cain that he would not be killed. Why did God do it?

OK, we are now asking the right question.

Cain, as we have seen, feared God and he feared man because God’s law required death for murder. Cain was at this time a mature and married man, as the 17th verse makes clear. Adam had many sons and daughters during his 930 years according to Genesis 5:3-5. As a result, by the time of this murder of Able by Cain, there was a sizeable family. There were a fair number of men, of varying ages already on earth. Thus there were many men capable of enforcing the death penalty against Cain. Adam was the head obviously of a large household, and it was a family clearly geared to discipline and to a law order, ready to enforce its la. Both Cain and Able were obviously hard-working men. Why then did God protect Cain?

The first thing we must say is that protection for crime was obviously not Gods purpose. Because from one end of scripture to the other including this passage, Gods hatred of sin is very clearly stated. God had no intention of protecting crime. God is always the enemy of sin. And sin is so fearful in the sight of God and His justice so unwavering, that it required the death penalty, the cross of Christ, to make atonement for our sins.

The question we need to ask therefore is this: “What kind of law order was God protecting when he let Cain go free?”

Obviously God was not violating law, His own nature, His own righteousness. He was maintaining it. Then what law order, what principle of law was God maintaining when He allowed Cain to go free?

So God was not interested in shielding murderers, or insuring that they get off scot-free, even in this life. Good.

This is the key question. To understand the answer, let us look again briefly at a law we considered some time ago. Deuteronomy 21:18-21, wherein every juvenile delinquent had to be executed; every incorrigible delinquent, and every incorrigible criminal. Deuteronomy 21:18-21. This law very clearly states that the death penalty is mandatory for all incorrigible delinquents, and therefore for all incorrigible criminals. In such a trial, the parents must be the complaining witnesses, or among the complaining witnesses. The loyalty of the parents must be to the law order, Gods law order, not to their child. Or else they are accessories to the crime.

The parents either stand with God’s law order and become complaining witnesses against their son, or they themselves are accessories after the fact. This is why earlier in American law, it is breaking down, this principle was applied to a great degree, so that if the parents of a delinquent were not complaining witnesses, they were held accountable for the offenses of a delinquent child.

But, we see further in this passage, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, that contrary to the usual custom or law rather, in this case the parents do not assist in the execution. We shall come, later on, when we deal with the commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness” to the significance of the requirement that in the execution the witnesses assist. This is a fundamental part of Biblical law. But in this case, the only exception, the parents are not to assist in the execution of the delinquent member. The family was thus excluded from the death penalty in any and every form.

So the family is not to execute family members, but instead to turn them over to the State/Authorities/the Courts/the King (but not the church!) for physical execution.

(The church may spiritually execute a man, via excommunication.)

Now Cain was obviously reared in a family which was a disciplined law order, as we have seen. Both he and his brother were disciplined, productive workers. Cain new the death penalty and feared it as we have seen. What the protection of Cain meant therefore, was that the family was barred from the death penalty. This was the assurance that was given to Cain. A sign, a mark, a word of guarantee was given to Cain that no one would kill him. And what this obviously was, was simply this, that God declared: “Mankind still being one family, Adam and your brothers are forbidden, and I shall declare this word to them, they are forbidden to execute you.”

Because the death penalty is not a power, or a jurisdiction of the family.

Okay. This decision seems reasonable.

One may point out that God did not execute Cain Himself. But God rarely acts in such a direct fashion. After all, most Socialist/Collectivist mass-murdering dictators die in their beds. And so it is for innumerable dictators, power-seekers, and mass-murderers: from intellectuals justifying the evil, to doctors looking for more people to euthanize or abort, to the more run-of-the-mill murderous soldiers and policemen, down to the Mafia assassins and other criminals who kill without a coveted license from the State.

So: the question Rushdoony is addressing is not “Why didn’t God kill Cain?” but “Why didn’t God allow any man to kill Cain, as the law demands?”

We know that this word was given to Adam, because Genesis 1:1 through 5:1 is the book of the generations of Adam, or we can also translate it, the book of family records as kept by Adam. So everything in the first four chapters to the first verse of the 5th chapter is Adams own record.

Adam therefore, had from God the declaration to Cain, and the declaration that they were not to touch him. The protection of Cain therefore meant that the family was barred from the death penalty. It is ironic that later on we are told in verse 17 that Cain built the first city. And the word for city is a walled habitation of men. A village was not walled. A city was walled, to protect the inhabitants from others.

Now this point is significant. From whom was Cain protecting himself at this late date? Cain had departed from Adam and his brothers, and moved far out. Cain was protecting himself, not from the law abiding household of Adam and his brothers, who lived in terms of God’s word, but from his own progeny. His own children and grandsons. Lamech’s taunts as given later on in this chapter makes it clear that Lamech said that: “If anyone insults me, I will avenge myself upon them seventy and seven fold.”

So that Cain who God protected by virtue of His law, that the family did not have the death penalty, had to protect himself ultimately from his own sons and grandsons, because they were lawless.

One thing about murderous dictators: they love their walls, and their legions of bodyguards, and their secret police, and the 99.98% votes that re-elect them, and the censorship bureaus to stomp out Incorrect Ideas.

Lots and lots of walls. With lots and lots of armed guards. And lots and lots of informers and secret police. And endless oceans of public lies and limitless censorship.

The enemies of God live in fear.

The point therefore of this passage, and the question that comes to the minds of so many when they read this, “Why did God protect Cain?” was simply this: God was really protecting, not the murderer, but his own law order. The family can discipline. It can punish, it can cast out its members; it can disinherit them. But it cannot kill any member. At that point the state as the ministry of justice must alone prevail. The family has real powers. As we have seen, it can do much to separate its ungodly member from itself, but coercion is not the essence of the family. Coercion is basic to the state and its power to kill. But in family law there is another factor; the husband cleaves to his wife in love. The children obey their parents as a religious duty. Basic to the family law is this inner bond of blood and faith, and the duty of gratitude towards one another.

The Family is not the State, with the power of the sword.

Nor is the Church.

The word gratitude incidentally does not appear in the Bible, the Biblical term is thankfulness. The scripture closely links Gods authority and the parent’s authority, and speaks of the duty of children to be thankful to their parents, and of all men to be thankful to God.

I have a suspicion.

I suspect that if most American Christians were actually thankful to God, if they respected God’s authority (even when it was painful), then their families would be a good deal stronger, Christian children would remain Christian as they became adults and leave home, and their position in society would be a good deal stronger, regardless of what the Secularists said or did.

When we repent before God, then God will hear us. Private repentance leads to private restoration: public repentance, to public restoration.

This appears not only in the law as in Leviticus 19:3 but in Isaiah 45:9-10, which read:

“9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?”

The same thought is expressed in Isaiah 10:15. The idea of anyone being ungrateful to God or his parents is presented by Isaiah as the epitome of what is revolting and disgusting. The parents may not be lovable. There is no duty of love. But, the duty of thankfulness and of honor or respect remains.

The lack of gratitude by children who receive not only life but very generous and even wealthy provisions is very common place in this day and age, and is as repulsive in our age as it was in Isaiah’s.

Such children may lack other moral blemishes, but this is a very fearful one. The family tie is a deeply religious tie. According to (?) the psychic structure of the family is and I quote: “The feeling of authority on the part of the parents, and on the other hand the feeling of respect on the part of the children.”

God-fearingness begins at home. And the parents are the ones God has chosen to represent Him to the future.

And the parent’s respect (or lack thereof) to their parents is also placed on the balance.

Authority on the one hand, respect which involves thankfulness on the other. The absence of either authority or respect results in a serious breakdown of the family and of society. The family is not only a biological entity, but a religious one, and its inner ties are God ordained and God governed. The love may be absent, it may be undeserved, but the religious authority and the respect must remain.

The significance of barring the death penalty from the family is very great. Had the death penalty been executed in this case, a precedent would have been set. The result for the world would have been anarchy. No state could have developed, because every family would be its own law, executing its members and anyone who offended it from any other family. And you would have then the anarchistic kind of world that the anarchists dream of, except the anarchists are especially insane. They deny both the state and the family, and theirs becomes an atomistic world.

I do like liberty. God made a number of limited commandments, and the rest of creation (and our choices) are free.

But lawless anarchy is not God’s way, and therefore it is not to be the way of those who fear and love Him.

The yoke God has placed on our shoulders is light, and is easy to keep. If we kick off God’s law, rest assured that far harsher, heaver, and coldly uncaring and unjust laws will be placed on our backs instead.

What you say? “We are already labouring under unjust laws?”

Well, it looks like there are some unacknowledged sins we need to repent of then!

The development of the state as the ministry of justice was made possible when God set a mark of guarantee upon Cain, protecting him from the death penalty until a non-family law could take over. Until men had grown enough in population and numbers, so it would not be the family executing the criminal. God therefore, in setting a mark upon Cain, in giving him a guarantee that he would not be killed, was protecting His own law order. Protecting His righteousness.

It is important therefore for us to understand the sign or guarantee given to Cain. It set a limit on the powers of the family, and made it clear that the death penalty is always the jurisdiction of the state. Let us pray.

Our moralism does not justify us, or our desire to place uncalled for penalties on other people (COVID righteousness), or to go beyond merely oppressing others but to flat-out kill others so we can feel righteous, pure, and justified (Cainite righteousness).

We are not even permitted to execute murderers if the murderer is of our own family. Only in direct self-defense (or if a man is breaking into the home at night) is lethal force permitted for the layman, so far as God is concerned.

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