Two Millennia Of Western History To The Michigan AG: Yes, Please Enforce The Second Table Of The Decalogue

Until Very Recently We All Expected The Magistrate To Enforce The Second Table Of The Decalogue

…All of the items Plutarch mentions—adultery not least—are scourges that undercut the very fabric of society. It is a sad fact that some dads don’t know this, or don’t care; it is positively shocking that Michigan’s attorney general seems not to, either. On September 21, Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted: “Adultery is a felony in Michigan. The prohibition was passed the same year as MI’s abortion ban. Do those who support the Texas abortion law also support granting standing to private citizens to sue adulterers when they violate the law? What say you Michigan legislators?”

This, of course, ignores the fact that there has been no landmark Supreme Court case recognizing a Constitutional right to adultery, the judicial tyranny and arbitrariness of which it is now incumbent upon states to attempt to counterpoise and overturn. On the broader point, I would have thought that a public official, having glanced at statistics on the state of the family in the United States, might easily conclude—as has virtually every stable society in human history—that, yes, there ought to be a social and legal sanction against adultery, given that it undermines civil society at its most basic level.

But the real tell—the real indication of the moral bankruptcy and scandalous ignorance of the principles of law of many of our public officials—came in the follow-up. Nessel wrote: “Do MI residents want to see me, the top law enforcement official in the state, start to prosecute crimes of adultery? I have used my prosecutorial discretion not to do so, but do the Ten Commandments dictate otherwise? Which legislators would like me to initiate such actions?”

The opening of the tweet has a bit of the “Yo Imma let you finish” vibe to it; but let that pass.

Nessel evidently thinks that this is a triumphant gotcha, an own than which none greater can be conceived. I understand the appeal. Honestly, who could be so stupid and backwards as to care about something as gauche and dated as the Ten Commandments? Why would we wish our enlightened positive law to resemble the law of those barbarians—worse, of those religious barbarians?

I mean, can you even imagine? Think about it: Following the Ten Commandments would mean outlawing crimes like…murder. Or theft. Nessel responded to a commenter who had agreed that adultery laws should be enforced by saying, “Ok. I only have so much money I’m appropriated to prosecute cases, so I have honed in on issues like sexual assaults, cold-case homicides and elder abuse. But If you say so…”—evidently without realizing that all the crimes she names are forbidden, either implicitly or explicitly, in the very Ten Commandments she had hoped to mock.

I trust that the reader can now see who was really being absurd; it was not the attorney general’s interlocutors, whether real or imagined. Read more»

E. J. Hutchinson | “Yes, Bring Back The Decalogue” | The American Conservative | Oct 5, 2021


    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Perhaps Dana Nessel could ask the people whose spouses cheated on them if they think it is no big deal?

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