More God, Not More Laws
By Dr. Ray Rooney, Jr.
There is really nothing to be done about those who use tragedies to push an ideological and political agenda. All the facts and data about how gun control laws have failed miserably mean nothing to those for whom truth is relative and irrelevant. When House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (and others) was shot by a gunman who wanted to make sure those were Republicans on the field before firing, liberals came out of the woodwork tweeting how they got what they deserved. And by now most people have read/heard about the CBS company executive who was fired for her callous remarks following the Las Vegas massacre. To these people, it’s all about a narrative and the agenda. These are the same people who lecture Christians when it comes to drugs, prostitution, and gambling that “you can’t legislate morality!” Yet whenever there is gun violence, that’s exactly what they claim needs to be done. Blatant hypocrisy and shameless exploitation.
This blog is written for those who sincerely wonder why the passage of more laws won’t stop the violence. Why wouldn’t more and stricter laws about guns be a fitting and proper solution to gun violence?
Simply put: laws restrain evil like wedding vows prevent adultery. They’re only as meaningful and impactful (laws and vows) as your belief and embrace in what undergirds them.
If your marriage isn’t based on Genesis 2:23-24 and Ephesians 5:22-28 then the wedding vows aren’t going to hold up against a tantalizing enticement. The words “forsaking all others” in the marriage ceremony can only be sustained if one believes marriage is instituted and overseen by God. If you don’t really believe that, then of course you will go where you deem the grass to be greener with little or no regret.
Similarly, if laws aren’t believed to be the outflow of transcendent righteousness there is no reason to abide by them when it is not convenient to do so. More laws do not produce lawfulness. For goodness sake, google “weapons in prison” and you will see just how full of weapons and drugs our nation’s prisons are even though all weapons are banned completely! Look in your Bible if you want to understand the function and purpose of law.
Most people are familiar with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21). Those who are a bit studious also know they are essentially arranged into two categories. The first four have to do with mankind’s relationship with God while the last six are about how people are supposed to treat each other. The horizontal commandments (5-10) stem from the vertical commandments (1-4). In other words, there is no real reason to embrace the last six if you reject the first four.
If God is neither acknowledged nor honored, what is the incentive to obey Him as it pertains to how we interact with each other? It doesn’t matter how many different kinds of weapons you ban, if God is not honored and murder provides some kind of outlet or satisfaction to someone (frustration, revenge, etc.) they’ll resort to something else even if means making bombs out of diesel fuel and fertilizer (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995).
A biblical demonstration of what I mean is found in the exchange between Jesus and the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:18-23). A wealthy young mover and shaker strutted up to Jesus and asked Him what he had to do “to have eternal life.” Essentially, Jesus told him to obey God’s commandments and rattled off those that pertained to the second category (what we’re not supposed to do to each other). Interestingly, Jesus purposefully left off any mention of the first four and our obligation to God. The young man enthusiastically said he had successfully kept all those commandments his entire life (apparently he wasn’t in the crowd when Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount saying what He did about murder and adultery and how the intent of the heart overrules the activity of the flesh). Then Jesus told him to sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Him.
Staggering when you consider the admonition to “come, follow me” is the same one Jesus proffered to the apostles. You know the story. The young mover and shaker turned down the invitation to become an apostle because he didn’t want to obey Jesus. And since the rich young ruler framed the whole thing around “eternal life” he was willing to walk away from Heaven rather than yield to the will of God!
How can we expect anyone to adhere to additional laws governing human interaction if they are willing to walk away from eternal life? Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with a story about two men who built their houses on different foundations (Matthew 7:24-27). The wise man who built his house on the rock of Jesus’ words and the foolish man who built on the sands of his own intelligence and wisdom. If you don’t know already, see how it ends.
A scribe (lawyer) came to Jesus and asked Him which commandment was the most important . Rather, than give him a number between one and ten Jesus summarized both categories: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). The second can only be fulfilled by keeping the first. You cannot refrain from harming others if you don’t yield yourself entirely to God.
Jeremiah wrote that one day God’s laws would move from ritualistic adherence to internalized expression; from stone tablet to heart; from obligation to preference: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). According to Hebrews 10:12-17, this promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Laws are good only insofar as they reflect on the holiness of God. The Golden Rule is the law of God (Matthew 7:12). If you reject God you reject the foundation of treating others as you wish to be treated. Consequently, laws become relative to culture rather than grounded in righteousness and cannot possibly achieve what only God can produce.
More laws springing from anger and tragedy won’t save people in America. Only God’s law imprinted on the heart can do that.