Conservative political philosophies always have appealed to me. Faithfulness requires an evaluation of all political philosophies by Biblical standards. This practice has delivered me into a constant disagreement with conservatives and liberals and has dramatically altered my view of the military and national defense. Career Regular Army officers generally have an "establishment" attitude toward these subjects: A large military is always an advantage. International defense alliances are always appropriate. Military intervention in the affairs of other nations is just as long as the Commander in Chief can reasonably justify it, treaties notwithstanding. The citizen militia is an archaic concept from horse and buggy days with no utility on the modern battlefield. The National Guard of each State is de jure and de facto the militia described in the Constitution.

This essay is about the militia. The militia movement has gained considerable notoriety in the past few months. It deserves an objective look from both a Biblical and Constitutional perspective. A brief narrative of some of this nation's earlier wars will aid an understanding of the militia.

The righteousness of the War for Independence is rarely questioned. The patriots of the period routinely referred to the war as the Revolutionary War. This is the term used consistently throughout The Federalist Papers and the literature of the time. Webster's dictionary defines a revolution as "an unconstitutional overthrow of an established government."[1] However, this characterization can be refuted. The concept of the duties of the "lesser magistrate" in protecting the rights of citizens was fairly well accepted in the era.[2] Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579) was considered by John Adams as one of the most influential publications during the era on the eve of the War for Independence. Four tenets were established. First, a ruler who commands anything contrary God's law forfeits his realm. Second, rebellion is refusal to obey God. To obey the ruler who commands contrary to God's law is the real rebellion. Third, since God's law is the fundamental law and only true source of law, neither king nor subject is exempt from it; war is sometimes required in order to defend God's law against the ruler. A fourth tenet emphasized the duties of the "lesser magistrate" to provide the leadership which opposes, in the name of the law, the usurpation of the "greater magistrate".[3]

The Colonists had sent remonstrances to the British government for a decade requesting cessation of tyrannical acts.[4] When the Crown stubbornly refused to correct its egregious errors, the lesser magistrate protected the rights of the citizens. Eventually a government was formed and independence was declared. The nature of the war was largely defensive. The legitimate government in America took up arms to defend against an invading foreign force intent on overthrowing it. The rest of the epic is, of course, history.

Various commentators have reported that as much as one third of the population supported the War for Independence. The War of 1812 offers a contrast. Solidarity did not exist in the War of 1812, America's most unpopular war; a war even more unpopular than the Vietnam War.[5] The Federalist Party offered the main opposition to the War viewing it as a war of partisan Republican politics in which they had no voice. There were significant concerns over an alliance with France along with beliefs that territorial expansion into Canada was an underlying motive. They self consciously supported a defensive war against Britain.[6] With the exception of minor excursions into Canada for spoiling actions to secure advantageous facilities and terrain[7] the war was defensive in nature.

The Mexican War of 1846-1848 was distinctively defensive. Relations had been strained between these United States and Mexico since she won independence from Spain in 1821. The first two decades of Mexico's status as a nation were characterized by instability, disorder and dominance by dictators. Substantial property damage had been inflicted against U.S., French and British nationals for which an arbitration commission adjudged claims totaling $2 million. Mexico defaulted. Sentiment was great among Americans for collection by force.[8] This was not to be the case. On 1 March 1845 Congress resolved to admit Texas into the Union and Mexico, still aggrieved over the status of Texas, broke off diplomatic relations.[9] President James K. Polk determined to defend Texas against invasion and ordered forces to a point near the Rio Grande River. The war began in April 1846 when Mexicans crossed the Rio Grande and attacked a reconnoitering detachment of dragoons.[10]

The nature of the conflict of 1861-1865 is still in dispute. Southerners often call it the War Between the States. Northerners and contemporary historians call it the Civil War and label the Confederates as rebels. Was the conflict a civil war or rebellion? Perhaps the details will show a similarity to the War for Independence. The burning issue was the Constitution.[11] The Southern States had remonstrated against the federal government for more than three decades over the issues of restriction, internal improvement, the Bank-Charter Act, the formation of new States, the acquisition of new territories and abolition.[12] Finally, at least in the case of Georgia, a Declaration of Causes was published. "The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation."[13] At least four other states published similar documents.[14] The "lesser magistrates" protected the rights of the people and the powers of the State from usurpation by the "greater magistrate" , which they considered tyrannical and joined together with the other seceding states to form a legitimate government. This principle was espoused by Madison when he spoke of " the right of seceding from intolerable oppression "[15] Lincoln during earlier days had agreed.[16] The first shots of the war were actually fired on 9 January 1861 when a chartered steamer attempted to reinforce Ft. Sumter.[17] The United States government was the aggressor intent on forcing the overthrow of a sovereign government.[18]

The War for Southern Independence marked three significant changes in the manner in which this nation waged war. Nationally administered conscription became one of the expediencies of war as did the prosecution of total war against noncombatants. Two commentators have drawn direct connections between Sherman's march to the sea and the 1968 My Lai massacre.[19] The most profound result of the War was the beginning of the demise of Federalism. The shift in thinking was from a confederation to that of a consolidated government.[20] Along with this shift came the tendency to wage offensive war on foreign soil - a tendency prevalent in every subsequent war.

The eighteenth century European soldier had been a veritable slave pressed into service to fight foreign wars. Most often he was the liveried servant of the king. He wore the livery of the reigning monarch indicating that he had succumbed to "want or hardship", was a turncoat, a mercenary serving under foreign colors or accepted military service in lieu of prison. In most situations the soldier had surrendered his rights. There were few volunteers.[21]

The notion of universal conscription originated with the French Revolution. This concept was not without ulterior motives which were twofold. The state could control the people more easily and indoctrinate them[22]"As to liberty we are to have none- democracy will kindle its own hell and consume in it." Mr. Clinton recently stated in a speech "Democracies, after all, are more likely to be stable, less likely to wage war. They strengthen civil society." Quite an irony. and it served to break up the military power of the state.[23]

The nature of military service in England during this era had a different character because of the Magna Carta.[24] The rebellion of the barons and their adherents stemmed from the king's demand for overseas service that they felt was not owed. [25] The later day British armies employed for cross-border imperial forays were composed of soldiers of the line. The soldier of the line was a volunteer or in the parlance of the era, a mercenary. This contrasts with the British militiaman who was deployed only for home defense. [26]

Thus our English heritage resulted in a cultural aversion to universal conscription to fight foreign wars. This was eventually codified in the Constitution. Article I Section 8 allows the Congress to "raise and support Armies." Perhaps this could lead to a Constitutional construct that would support deploying the military on foreign soil at the will of the President and Congress. Such a metaphysical construct could be seriously challenged with historical and ethical arguments. Hamilton was specific in Federalist 23 that "The principal purposes to be answered by union are these - the common defense of the members; the preservation of the public peace, as well against internal convulsions as external attacks...The authorities essential to the common defense are these: to raise and support armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for the government of both; to direct their operations; to provide for their support."[27] The "necessary and proper" clause of the same article might be used to support a defense of deploying forces for the "common defense" outside of the country, say to Iraq, Vietnam, Korea or Bosnia. However, Hamilton quelled this argument by the qualification that the Congress only has unlimited powers pertaining "any matter essential to the formation, direction and support of the NATIONAL FORCES" (emphasis from original).[28]

From Scribner's Dictionary of American History: "Settlers brought to America the militia idea, that all men 'joined in some measure,' as Adam Smith said, 'the trade of a soldier to whatever trade or profession they happened to carry on.'"[29]

When asked what the militia was, George Mason said, "...They consist now of the whole people, except for a few public officers."[30] The unorganized militia is described by Public Law 85-861 as all able-bodies males between the ages of 17 and 45.[31] Historically and practically a large portion of the population are the militia. The concept of the militia derives from two God given rights, the right to assemble and the right to self protection.

That the militia concept transcends the formation of this Republic merits discussion. This concept actually has its origins in Biblical law. Dr. James Jordan, former U. S. Air Force historian asserts that the Book of Numbers would be more appropriately called the "Book of Mustering of God's Army." Jordan reveals that the Israelite militia was not totally voluntary as all except the Levitical priests were required to show up. Men brought their own weapons and provisions from home. He establishes two principles from the Bible: Godly people always sought to be armed and trained in weaponry, and, a central goal of any tyrannical or oppressive state is to disarm the population,and an attempt to disarm the people is fundamentally Satanic. [32]

Our Founding Fathers embraced Biblical law as the basis for establishing this Republic's laws. Biblical citations accounted for thirty-four percent of all works cited during the period.[33] It would not be surprising that the Founders also held a Biblical view of the military.

Various commentators cite 1 Samuel 10-22 as the most quoted passages during the Revolution.[34] In these passages Samuel promised that Israel's much longed for king would form a professional army and draft her sons into it. Perhaps the grievance against large standing armies was not just a reaction to England's armies but obedience to God. England's armies merely provided a contemporary example of tyranny that resulted from God's judgment for disobedience.

Robert Yates (pseudonym "Brutus"), an anti-federalist who wrote for The New York Journal , argued that, "I have always been and, always shall be against a standing army of any kind; to me it is a terrible thing...[T]he nations around us, sir, are already enslaved...by means of their large standing armies they have lost every one of their liberties[35] ...It is admitted then, that a standing army in time of peace, is an evil."[36]

Patrick Henry, one of the staunchest of the Anti- Federalists, heartily echoed these sentiments, "Did you ever read of any revolution in any nation brought about by punishment of those in power, inflicted by those by those who had no power at all? You read of a riot act in a country which is called one of the freest in the world, where a few neighbours cannot assemble without the risk of being shot by a hired soldiery, the engines of despotism. We may see such an act in America. A standing army we shall have also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny.[37]

The Anti- Federalists were fearful of federal government usurpation of state sovereignty by a standing army. Madison authored several essays in the Federalist to allay these fears. In Federalist 46 he wrote of "ambitious encroachments of the federal government on the authority of the state governments..." and of "apprehension of the federal yoke as was produced by the dread of a foreign yoke..."[38]

Madison described the threat, "Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government...[A] standing army...one hundredth part of the whole number of souls...[A]n army of more than twenty five or thirty thousand men"; and the counterbalance to this threat, "To these would be opposed a militia amounting to nearly half a million of citizens with arms in their hands...and united and conducted by [state] governments..."

Madison respected the idea of armed citizens, "Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every nation...[T]he [European] governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." [39]

The militia had performed well during the War for Independence. Madison wrote of this performance, "Those who are best acquainted with the late successful resistance of this country against the British arms will be most inclined to to deny the possibility of it."[40] The Founding Fathers were confident in the ability of the citizen militias to defend the new nation. The remoteness of the Republic from Europe, its vastness and its natural terrain defenses bolstered this confidence. The concept of a defensive military is consistent with Biblical teaching. From my perspective, the Kingdom of God has two aspects - defensive and offensive. The offensive aspect is spiritual. Christ revealed this in Matt. 10:34, "Do not think I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" and again in Matt. 16:18, "...and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."[41] The corollary follows that God's other minister, the civil magistrate, is the defender of the nations's families and Christian moral order.[42]

That our Constitutional militia and, by law, small standing army is defensive is indisputable. In Anti-Federalist essay number VII Yates argued, "A defensive war is the only one I think justifiable."[43] To which Hamilton responded in Federalist 34, "Admitting that we ought to try the novel and absurd experiment in politics of tying up the hands of government from offensive war founded on reasons of state..."[44]

The defensive military concept as codified in the Constitution worked well for the next two wars. The War for Southern Independence, as previously discussed, saw the Union as the aggressor. In the Spanish-American War, a controversy developed over deploying the militia outside the nation. Beginning in the late 1880's the national consensus began to progress towards imperialism on grounds of strategic, economic, religious and emotional reasons.[45] Perhaps this was a result of the growing influence of liberal Reform Darwinism and the social gospel. The exact cause is moot. The reaction of Constitutional purists is not. Existing law prohibited the militia, now termed the National Guard[46] , from serving overseas. So, the civil magistrate resorted to expedient means to achieve unconstitutional ends. Guard units were integrated into the existing force.

In 1903 the Dick Act was passed to facilitate raising a larger army for foreign wars. This act provided federal money to train and arm the Guard, essentially removing the Guard from State to national sovereignty and thoroughly revised the Militia Act of 1792.[47] The Constitutional purists in subsequent years remained undaunted. In 1912, on the eve of WWI, the U.S. Attorney General ruled that the Guard could be used only for its Constitutional purpose to "execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection and repel invasions" with the exception of hot pursuit and spoiling actions. The "Constitutional expediters" again subverted the law of the land by giving President Wilson authority to draft militiamen into the regular army and eventually to dissolve the National Guard.

After WWI a significant structural change was made to the Army. The National Defense Act of June 4, 1920 established a three component "Army of the United States." The AUS' components were the Regular Army, the civilian National Guard and the civilian Reserve Officer Training Corps.

These two laws made the Guard de facto a part of the national army. All the establishment needed was for it to be de jure. In 1933 the National Guard Act fit the Guard technically into the "army clause" of the Constitution. This occurrence was confirmed by the Congressional Record of 7 August 1940 and a report from the Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1982. This report said in part, "Congress has organized the National Guard under its power to 'raise and support armies' and not its power to 'Provide for organizing...the militia'."[48]

Madison's discussion of citizen resistance of "ambitious encroachments" should not be taken lightly. It is a sanction for another "check and balance" against tyranny. The states' National Guards are no longer part of this "check" procedure. The citizens of these States, United, have been lulled into beliefs to the contrary. A cursory look at the Constitutional militia clause while passing the local State National Guard armory gives us a sense of security. A cursory examination of individual State constitutions should raise a warning flag. The Tennessee Constitution, Article VIII Section 1, calls for election of all militia officers by those subject to military duty from company through division.[49] One should call the local Guard commander and ask to monitor the next election as an interested citizen. See how much humor you produce.

The main line media has done weighty damage to the militia image. Time Magazine labeled militias as "paranoids".[50] Silly liberals should read Federalist 29. Hamilton wrote, "Where in the name of common sense are our fears to end if we may not trust our sons, our brothers, our neighbors, our fellow citizens?[51] Representative Nadler (D. NY) introduced HR 1544 to ban private militias in May, 1995. But, at least in Tennessee, even private militias are authorized.52

One Biblical principle that can never be compromised is the subordination of the militia to the civil magistrate. This is generally codified in State constitutions. Military action by militias without this sanction are surely rebellion and vigilantism and contrary to God's Law in Romans 13:2.

Besides frightening anti-gun liberals, militias can serve a valuable civic function. As a youth, I recall instances of citizens' arrest in Tennessee under the authority of common law. Tocqueville wrote of this function as being frequent in early America.[53]

Civil defense is a valid function. Ad hoc militias provided emergency assistance after Hurricane Andrew when civil authorities were over- taxed and during the 1992 Los Angeles riots when the civil authorities apparently didn't care to maintain order. The recent exposure of the "Good Ol' Boys Roundup", a gathering of State and federal off-duty law enforcement officers where many racist activities were alleged to have occurred is another example of militia civic action. The patriot magazine Media Bypass reported that this was investigated and exposed by militia units.[54] This assertion of militia involvement in this exposure has received scant media coverage.

The civic actions to be performed by militias is only restricted by the imagination. Men working in their community generally serve to improve it. However, the militia function discussed in The Federalist is most critical to republican government. Even the monarchist Hamilton promoted citizen militias when he wrote of , "a large body of citizens...who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens" against a large standing army[55] . Therein is the problem in contemporary America. By Madison's definition we have a large standing army. Remember, "Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government...[A] standing army...one hundredth part of the whole number of souls...[A]n army of more than twenty five or thirty thousand men". The regular forces, National Guard and Reserves number around 2.5 million.[56] Add 600,000 police to this number and you have a formidable force for oppression.

Is this essay the rambling of a paranoid anarchist? Perhaps. Or perhaps it is a reasoned approach by a "Madison moderate". After all the fallen nature of man is changed by God alone and not by a Republican landslide in November 1994. Millions in America idolize government as savior, provider and even god. They believe all the civil magistrate press releases and all that establishment pundits write, without question or challenge. I consider the French Revolution a godless movement fostered by Satan but, I am not averse to following the rallying cry of the "Marsellaise": "Forme vos battalions..." Before it's too late. God commands it.

[1] The New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language. Danbury , CT, 1993

[2] . Rossiter, C. (1961). The Federalist Papers, Number 28. p 181. New York: Penguin Books U.S.A..

[3] Rushdoony, R. J. (1978), This Independent Republic, p 25,Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press.

[4] Pratt, L.. (1995) Safeguarding Liberty, p xi, Franklin, TN: Legacy Communications. .

[5] Hickey, D. R.. (1989) The War of 1812, A Forgotten Conflict p 255. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

[6] Ibid p 256

[7] American Military History, p 131

[8] The Reader's Companion to American History, p 722. Eds. Foner and Garraty. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991.

[9] American Military History, p 163

[10] Ibid, p 164

[11] Acton. (1968), Essays on Church and State. p 297,p 338. New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell Company.

[12] Ibid p 338

[13] Georgia Declaration of Causes. CompuServe Information Service, Military + Forum, Civil War Section File name GA-CAU.TXT. Contributor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 1994.

[14] Ibid, see document extract.

[15] Acton. Essays on Church and State. p 320.

[16] Pollard, E.A, (1994.), The Lost Cause, p 85-86, New York: Gramercy Books, (Facsimile of 1886 Edition)

[17] Ibid, p 98.

[18] Covenantors may assert that a covenant is inviolable. However, even a marriage covenant is voidable because of adultery and desertion. Perhaps some of the Southern Calvinists perceived the federal government as one who had voided the covenant by consorting with Unitarians.

[19] Grimsley, M. (Sept./Oct 1995)."Burning Down the South", Civil War Times, XXXIV, p 48.

[20] Whitehead, J. (1982), The Second American Revolution, p 206. Wheaton, ILL: Crossway Books.

[21] Keegan, J. (1989) The Second World War, p 19, New York: The Penguin Group.

[22] Of some interest to me is a printed comment on my last active duty Army pay voucher, "DEMOCRACY COUNTS...ON YOUR VOTE". I didn't notice it then but now it rings of indoctrination. Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution guarantees a Republican form of government. The Founding Fathers were paranoid of the excesses of democracy. Fisher Ames wrote in an 1806 letter to Timothy Pickering

[23] Rushdoony, R.J. This Independent Republic, p 141.

[24] Ibid 14.

[25] Grolier's Academic American Encyclopedia (CompuServe Information Service AAE-72938) Grolier Electronic Publishers, 1994.

[26] Keegan, J.(1987) The Mask of Command. p 127, New York: Elisabeth Sifton Books.

[27] The Federalist Papers, No 23, p 153.

[28] Ibid, p 154.

[29] Dictionary of American History (1940.) Vol III, p 403. Ed. Coleman, R.V. New York: Charles Scribner and Son's,

[30] The Patriot, (995) p 2, Minutes from April 1995 meeting. Johnson City, TN: Americans For Constitutional Integrity.

[31] See 10 USC 311, Statutes at Large, 1956

[32] Jordan, J. , "The Israelite Militia in the Old Testament", Safeguarding Liberty, The Constitution & Citizen Militias, pp 244-246, Ed. Larry Pratt. Franklin, TN: Legacy Communications,. 1995.

[33] Eidsmoe, J. (1987) Christianity and the Constitution, p 51. Grand Rapid, MI: Baker Book House.

[34] This assertion is based on the wide circulation of Paine's pamphlet.

[35] Storing, H. (1985) The Anti-Federalist Papers, p 152. . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

[36] Ibid, p 155.

37] Ibid, p 303.

[38] The Federalist Papers, p 298

[39] Ibid, p 299

[40] Ibid, p 299

[41] NASB, Nashville, TN. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994.

[42] Morecraft, J.. (1990) The Persian Gulf War in Prophecy, (audio tape). Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation.

[43] The Anti-Federalist Papers, p 146.

[44] The Federalist Papers, p 208.

[45] Matloff, M., & Ulanoff, M. (Eds.) . (1989) America's Wars and Heroes, p 302. Adapted from American Military History, Office of the Chief of Military History, United States Army. New York: Bramhall House.

[46] American Military History, (1989). p 287.Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army.

[47] American Military History, pp 351-352.

[48] Jasper, W.. (1995, February 6) . "The Rise of the Civilian Militia," The New American, p. 26.

[49] Ironically, I queried my state representative and one from another district and neither was able to discuss this article with the authority that I would expect. I just wonder what authority they refer to when considering legislation.

[50] Gorman, C.(May 8, 1995). "Pssst! Calling All Paranoids", Time, p 69.

[51] The Federalist, p 186.

[52] Article VIII Section 3: "The Legislature shall pass laws exempting citizens belonging to any sect or denomination of religion, the tenets of which are known to be opposed to the bearing of arms, from attending private and public musters."

[53] Tocqueville, A., Democracy In America, pp 70-71. Cited in Pratt, L. , Armed People Victorious, pp 19-20. Springfield, VA: Gun Owners Foundation, 1990.

[54] Myers, L. (1995, September) "Operation Achilles Heel". Media Bypass, pp. 18-27.

[55] The Federalist, p 185.

[56] Pratt, L.. End note 43, "Bearing Arms: Our Rights, Our Duties and Our Freedoms", President's Council White Papers. Fort Lauderdale, FLA: Coral Ridge Ministries, 1993.