Why not just comply?
That’s the question federal bullies keep asking Amos Miller. And, frankly, it’s the question many of his fellow Lancastrians are asking as well.
Why not just do whatever the government says when it comes to providing food for your neighbors, Amos? Just toe the line. Submit. Acquiesce. Give up.
It would certainly be easier.
And if we want an Orwellian future for Lancaster County, where the government provides us with bland, uniform fodder, produced and packed in industrial meat plants for “our good,” then Amos Miller should give up.
But I don’t want that for our county.
Are government officials the ones we want making our food choices? I’d much rather eat Miller’s non-federally approved products than meat from some big corporation with Washington lobbyists manipulating food regulations.
The High Stakes of Being Free to Love Neighbor
This is not simply a case of an obstinate plowman making much ado about nothing. What is at stake here is the very idea that freemen ought to have the liberty to love their neighbors.
The local liberal media is painting this story as a cause célèbre of crazy conservatives. Their expected retorts consist mostly of statist mantras: just follow the government regulations, they are for our “good.”
For many of us, however, Amos Miller’s case is simply another example—albeit a very local one—of something we have been opposing for years: government regulation of our food.
I was born and raised in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but prior to moving back this year, I spent a decade out of state. I lived in a state where raw milk sales were illegal and (at the time) midwifery was so highly regulated by the state that the woman who delivered our children was effectively conducting a criminal enterprise.
All the regulations were, of course, for “my good,” handed down by a Big Brother who obviously has my best interests in mind. (Never mind the fact that the same government that rubberstamps aborting babies wants to tell me they have the best interest of my wife’s and baby’s health in mind.)
Why didn’t the dairy farmer or the midwife comply and toe the line? Why didn’t they listen to the legacy media and just submit to the regulations?
Because they were, whether realizing it or not, practicing the divine duty of loving neighbor. Offering food products for neighbors to freely choose to purchase is a loving thing. Helping a woman deliver a child is a loving thing (in contrast to the hateful and evil act of abortion).
Resistance to Tyranny is Obedience to God
If an act of love is outlawed, or so highly regulated that it becomes burdensome, then people have the right and duty to nullify the manmade law/regulation and obey the higher law of God: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).
Our midwife obeyed the higher law. And we are ever so grateful.
The farmer providing the raw milk obeyed the higher law. And we benefited from his fidelity.
Amos Miller is obeying a higher law. And his customers who freely and knowingly purchased his “unauthorized” food are thankful for his faithfulness.
The fruit of the Spirit is love. And against loving neighbor, there is no law (Galatians 5:23). When the state makes laws against loving neighbor, they are standing in defiance of the One who grants them authority. And liberty-loving, Bible-believing people must obey God, rather than man.
A writer for the local LNP/Lancaster Online calls this principle—namely that men must, at times, choose which manmade laws to follow—a “baseless assertion.” Was it “baseless” for the Ten Booms to hide Jews from the Nazis, violating the government’s mandates? Was it “baseless” for northerners to refuse to return runaway slaves, violating the Fugitive Slave Act? Was it “baseless” for midwives to help mothers give birth, even though the state forbade it?
The contrast between biblical law and humanistic, statist law, could not be more manifest.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). God’s commandments are not burdensome.
For this is the “love” of the state, that we submit to a million regulations: and these regulations are burdensome, and they line the pockets of egotistical pencil pushers in Washington who couldn’t care less if your family has access to high quality food or alternative health care.
Federal bureaucrats have no interest in helping you love your neighbor.
There is certainly a place for respect and submission to the government, but that submission can never come at the expense of adding manmade burdens to the divine edict of loving neighbor.
The Hebrew midwives could have said, “Well, Pharaoh does not want us to help the women give birth to sons, so I guess we should submit.” They didn’t do that.
Daniel could have said, “Well, the king wants me to refrain from praying, so the least I could do is shut my windows and pray in secret.” He didn’t do that.
The apostles could have said, “Well, the authorities want us to stop being so public about our faith, so I guess we should submit, and just do private Bible studies.” They didn’t do that.
In every case, the authorities were seeking to outlaw or limit the ability of believers to love God or love neighbor. In response, these faithful men and women resisted tyranny. Their example is worthy of imitation.
Amos Miller has not broken any godly laws as it relates to selling his agricultural products. He has offered a product to his neighbors with full disclosure of his practices. His example is a paradigm of how liberty should look in a free nation.
But those nursing at the bosom of the government cannot stand the thought that free people can make their own food choices. Since they so desperately need the nanny state to tell them its okay to eat Twinkies and fast-food, but not raw butter, they cannot abide that some people can make their own food choices.
I don’t trust the federal government as far as I could throw a bureaucrat who wants to tell me it’s not safe to drink raw milk. If you want to be a slave to the USDA, suit yourself. But don’t force the rest of us to.
Are There No Men of Courage?
But why not simply follow the regulations? After all, we can still offer some of these products and keep our way of life—if we just bow a little bit, if we just consent to a little tyranny, we can go on with our lives.
As it turns out, it doesn’t work like that. The federal beast is never satiated.
We’ve had far too much acquiescence to evil. And what has it led to? More regulations, more oppression. More outlawing of the good, and more celebration of the perverse.
Someone, somewhere, needs to stand up to the ever-increasing tyranny of our pagan, nanny state.
If our local representatives, our congressmen, our commissioners, our sheriff, will not stand up for the right of Amos Miller to love his neighbor, then what good are they? They are a brood of craven hypocrites, claiming to be about liberty and freedom all the while ignoring the suppression of those very ideals.
If Amos Miller falls, what hope do you and I have that our leaders will do anything to protect us when we become the target of government tyranny? If Amos Miller loses, where will it end?
If our communities (Amish, Mennonite, or otherwise) think that the federal beast will rest once Amos Miller is defeated, they are mistaken. They will not rest, and they will not be satisfied, until they control every aspect of our lives. If you didn’t believe that before COVID-19, surely you cannot doubt it now.
What will we do when federal regulation increases around other agriculture products? Vaccines? Education? Transgender nonsense? Will we find ourselves like Amos Miller, a lone island in a sea of cowards and compromisers?
Yes, the regulations hampering Amos Miller have been in place for decades. This battle is not novel. Many other farmers are currently under the heel of government (federal and state) officials, controlling how they serve neighbor. But (hopefully) it is not too late to stem the tide.
You may not be interested in the nutrient-dense, natural food that Amos Miller provides for his neighbors, but if you care about love and liberty, this is your fight.
A humanistic government will not loosen its death grip unless the people take a stand. Amos Miller, by obeying God, loving his neighbor, and peacefully resisting evil, is making a stand.
But he cannot stand alone.