Why Laws Matter
Many would agree that the year 2020 has been borderline apocalyptic. And for many I suppose it may be the oddest and strangest they have ever seen. It has been both wicked and evil from politics to health to actions by men.
There is now a move by political leaders to “defund” law enforcement. I am not interested in what politicians, celebrities or professional sports players have to say. I am interested in what God’s Word says about current cultural life situations. I want to look at a biblical view of this supposed proposal.
First, we look to Romans 13 for our position on governing authorities. Romans 13:1 instructs us to “be subject” and the Greek word is used for a soldiers absolute obedience to his superior officer. Scripture makes one exception to this command, and that’s when obedience to civil authority would require disobedience to God’s Word.
Law enforcement is required to enforce the laws that are passed by local, state and national governing agencies. We have laws against all kinds of illicit and illegal behavior. Even in a society governed by wicked men, these laws are created by God to restrain evil. We all know men break laws because of their wicked nature. But these laws attempt to restrain evil. Some have not broken laws because of the consequences that could come from doing so. The very laws we have in a civil society are appointed by God, “and the authority that exists are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1). God instituted human government to reward good and to restrain sin in an evil, fallen world.
Those that resist authority (vs. 2) will bring judgement upon themselves, not God’s judgement, but from the authorities. There are consequences for breaking the laws that have been established. Even the most wicked and godless governments act as a determent for evil (vs. 3a). We all recognize that corruption exists in many power driven governments. The point being, laws still have some effect on those who desire to commit crime and wickedness.
Peaceful, law abiding citizens need not fear the authorities (vs. 3b). Few governments will harm those who obey their laws. I understand there are exceptions to this in some countries. Laws are enacted and enforced by men, who are bent towards power, authority and evil. Thus the reality exists that men carry predijuces against ethnicities, religions and genders.
By helping restrain evil and protecting life and property, a Christian is fulfilling the Scriptures (vs. 4a). In doing so, a believer obeys the laws created by human institutions. He may disagree with them or even protest against them as in the case of abortion and gay marriage. I expressed my disagreement with both of these and still do. Yet, I do not destroy, riot or cause harm to other humans on this basis. There is a biblical basis for a government to administer punishment on wrong doers who break laws (vs. 4b).
When a group makes a claim to “defund” or “disband” law enforcement who are enforcing the laws, where does that go from here? If laws are put in place to restrain evil, and you remove those laws, what ensues? Isaiah 5:1 warns us “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!” It’s human wisdom that assumes men will “behave” themselves with no restraints. In fact, it’s the most absurd statement you can fathom.
What you have when laws and law enforcers are disregarded is lawlessness. And it is defined as “a state of disorder due to a disregard of the law.” Looking at some cities in the USA, we see this being played out. Not because of any human justice but because of men’s desire to be lawless with no boundaries.
Christians, of all people, should be ones to obey laws. It is not hard to believe that unredeemed people act out anger, vengeance and bitterness in destructive ways. They protest what is an injustice by looting, destruction of property, burning buildings and what seems to be “overtaking” police departments. And leaders allow this, the ones who are to protect property and life.
Romans 3:10-18 define why people act in this violent and destructive way. It’s what unredeemed people do. Many are looking for a utopian earth. It’s not going to happen. I don’t seek that. Why? I am a pilgrim and a stranger here, my home is not here, my hope is not here. I press on because I know I will be with God eternally at the end of this walk of life here on earth. Yet, as Christians we should seek to live peaceably with all men. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18).
All current leaders in civil government are humans and subject to sin and prejudice. But the answer isn’t doing away with laws or lawmen. None of these actions and unrest should be surprising to believers. The Bible speaks of these times. Brethren, press on for the gospel. Laws won’t change men, God will.