In a recent conversation with a close friend I said something I’ve said many times over the past couple of years. Not thinking too much of it, I just continued talking. My dear friend stopped me and said, “Wait a minute. What did you just say? Say it again slowly, because that’s really something.” I repeated what I’d said, pausing to allow its meaning to really sink in.
Rules are only rules if everyone is held equally accountable to them; otherwise they’re just strongly-worded suggestions for some with consequences for a few.
(Yup, I’m tapping into my inner Kat Controversy for this article.) As you probably know, I do pray and meditate before I write. Can I help it if God seems to be inspiring me to “go there” on a lot of touchy subjects lately? I’ve got to be obedient to His leadings, even when it makes me uncomfortable or the topics may be unpopular. My best advice is for you to buckle up because this ride might get bumpy.
As a sidebar, last year I created a video on my Rumble.com channel Kat Controversy titled: You May Want to Rethink: Justice. https://rumble.com/vlyf3d-you-may-want-to-rethink-justice.html The video is a good companion piece to what follows, so I encourage you to check it out as well. It’s always free and combines my usual mix of: humor, heart and hope. But I digress.
Is a rule or a law legitimate if not everyone has to follow it?
Spoiler alert: It is not according to our system of Rule of Law. You may be asking, “What is the rule of law?” The uscourts.gov site https://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/overview-rule-law defines it as: a principle under which all persons, institutions and entities are accountable to laws that are:
- Publicly promulgated (made known to the public)
- Equally enforced (no one is above them)
- Independently adjudicated (a decision is made in a legal case)
- Consistent with international human rights principles.
The key aspect that I’m focusing on for this article is #2 equally enforced. Arguably one of the most brilliant minds of our time, Thomas Sowell, gave a speech promoting one of his famous books The Quest For Cosmic Justice http://www.tsowell.com/spquestc.html where he stated this:
Traditional concepts of justice or fairness, at least within the American tradition, boil down to applying the same rules and standards to everyone.
This quote then begs the question:
What happens when justice is no longer blind but favors one person or group over another?
You’ll have instability. You’ll have mistrust in institutions. You’ll breed resentment. You’ll have confusion. You’ll definitely sow discord. And those are all the least awful outcomes.
Without getting too deep in the weeds of our current political climate, suffice it to say that most of us see things have changed, not particularly for the better. These are troubling times.
As people of faith, we’re encouraged to submit to the leaders and authorities over us. I won’t quote chapter and verse here. I’ll leave it to you to fact check me. I will, however, point out that there are also many instances in the Bible where men and women defied the laws of the land and their leaders. They did this when their rulers put forth edicts or laws that were diametrically opposed to God and His ways; they had no choice.
But of course they had a choice. They could have just obeyed the law, go-along-to-get-along and all that. They should have just submitted to the authorities because God put those people in charge. Certainly God would have had mercy and forgiven them.
The problem was their convictions would not permit it. Here’s something important to keep in mind. Because they refused to comply and stood strong, risking everything, the lives and destinies of many were forever changed. You doubt me? Great. Keep reading.
Let’s take Daniel as an example. I highly encourage you to read about him in the appropriately titled book of Daniel in the Old Testament. His story is one of frequently going against the laws of the day, facing penalty of death, yet being blessed as the result of his obedience to God and not men. Time after time he was in violation of the king’s rules (not eating the king’s diet, praying openly to God and not the king, etc). At one point he was even punished by being served up alive as a snack for a hungry den of lions!
When they check on him some time later, they expect to see blood and carnage, but instead they find him safe and sound surrounded by the now docile, sleeping lions. Not a scratch or mark was on him. As the king saw the miracles of Daniel’s God, he felt conviction. He was persuaded to behave differently. Daniel’s defiance led to greater freedoms for all people under the king’s rule. They all benefited from Daniel’s actions.
Now let’s talk about Daniel’s three friends: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Their stories are also in the book of Daniel, chapter 3 specifically. These young men stood firm and refused to worship a golden statue of the king. (Yes, this is the same king as Daniel’s: King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.) Nebuchadnezzar was so furious that he ordered them burned alive in a fiery furnace. He even had his soldiers turn up the heat multiple times its normal temperature. The boys, awaiting certain death, state that their God is able to deliver them, but even if He chooses not to, they will never worship another. The boys are bound and tossed into the furnace. The soldiers who threw them in are immediately consumed by the backlash of flames. It was that hot! The king peers into the window of the furnace and notices that there are now four men inside it. All four are freely walking around and the new guy looks like a god. Nebuchadnezzar has the young men removed and they have no marks or remnant of smoke or fire on them. (Any guesses who the fourth man was in the fire?)
Once again, an act of seeming rebellion and defiance results in victory and the heart of a king being greatly influenced for good.
Now let’s take it to the New Testament. Jesus was often in trouble with the religious leaders of the day for not following their rules. He frequently healed and performed miracles on the Sabbath which was considered unlawful. One day in a fit of righteous anger, He flipped over the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple. His Father’s house was to be a house of prayer yet they were treating it disrespectfully, as a den of thieves. Some might even argue that Jesus’s stance against the rules of the day was a driving force behind the plot to have Him captured, imprisoned, tortured and, ultimately, crucified.
Were it not for Jesus’s crucifixion, we would not have His glorious resurrection and the opportunity for redemption for the whole world. One might say this is the ultimate act of defiance against man’s rules leading to the greatest victory of all: over hell, death and the grave.
I’ve made the case that if a law is not equally enforced it is in violation of one of the 5 key requirements to truly be considered a law. Without getting overtly political, we can see that justice does not seem to have her blinders on in all circumstances lately. I’ve also shown that though the Bible encourages obedience and submission to governing bodies and authorities, there are plenty of examples of people who knowingly disobeyed a law or edict because it violated their first commitment and devotion to God. This brings us back to the title of this piece:
Do The Rules Apply?
It’s time to take out the receipts. (Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible verses are from biblegateway.com NIV version.)
Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right. (Psalm 106:3)
I suppose my first suggestion would be to see if the rule or law is right. Does it help or harm? In certain cases, it may be a bit of both. It is then essential to determine the measure of each. If its harm or negative consequences outweigh its benefits, it’s probably not the right option. Pray. Seek God’s Wisdom on the matter before submitting or complying.
Do not pervert justice, do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus 19:15)
This almost seems like a rephrasing of the equal enforcement tenet of the Rule of Law. This makes sense as most of the framework for this country is rooted in a Judeo-Christian ethic and Biblical principles. Apply the law equally or you’re perverting justice. Ouch.
And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? (Luke 18:7)
Our God is a God of Justice. This world is fallen, but His righteousness stands.
I’ll close with this quote from Thomas Jefferson that can be found on Panel 3 of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC:
God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that those liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.
God is just. Apart from Him, we are not. Pray. Seek His Wisdom. Follow the rules accordingly.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you,