Our nation is again in a season of transition. November elections are looming and the pundits are prognosticating as to which party will gain, regain, or keep the majority of seats both in the Senate and in the House. Who will be the lawmakers in the days ahead? Then, there is the President’s nomination for the newly-opened seat on the Supreme Court. Will Judge Kavanaugh survive the confirmation process and be seated on our nation’s highest court? The same question looms before us: who will be the lawmakers? Laws – who makes them and who must keep them is one of the key components that can strengthen or weaken any nation.
Laws are standards of what is allowed and not allowed. All societies throughout all history have, through either written text or verbal tradition, established the rules by which the populace must comply. Law is imperative to the health of a people. Lawlessness is anarchy, which is a system void of established law-givers, law-enforcers, and laws. Anarchy breeds chaos, disorder, and mayhem because every man is a law unto himself until the guy (or group) with the biggest weapon temporarily subdues the contest.
Whether or not law should govern a people is not the question, nor has it ever been in dispute. The disagreement arises over who is empowered to make the law and over who must keep the law. Each system of government defines those with the power to set the standards. In a monarchy, a king, queen, or emperor sovereignly legislates. In an oligarchy, governing power is vested in a few persons or an elite group. Democracy is rule by the majority of the people, while a Republic is representational of the people but constitutionally designed to limit control from the governing elite and also from mob rule by an omnipotent majority.
The United States was founded as a republic but has functioned in the most recent decades as a democracy and may yet be in danger of morphing into a presidential and congressional oligarchy. Setting the laws of a land is the mandate and the responsibility of the rulers. Who is empowered to make the laws – the representatives, the masses, or the elite – is defined by the style of government a nation adopts.
The next important question is “Who must keep the law?” Is the standard of right and wrong only to be applied to those being governed or should it also apply to those decreeing the imperatives? For example, if an ordinary person is forbidden to kill a personal opponent, should the king likewise be forbidden? Apparently, the Bible story about King David taking the life of Uriah indicates that both king and commoner must obey the laws against murder (II Sam. 11).
What about theft? If law forbids a person to steal a neighbor’s goods, can a collective democracy steal private property, thus exempting themselves from the law they created for the individual? Can a few elite congresspersons pass legislation to which the general public must comply while yet excluding themselves from both the tenet and the penalty? Is the directive of ‘do as I say not as I do’ the basic rule of governing? Is such a legal precedent the intent of the law? Is it justice, fairness, or goodness?
The scriptures define the government of God, which is called a Theocracy. God tells all humanity the canon of His laws. Yet, the God who is above and beyond all that He has created does not exempt Himself from His standards. His law is just and He personifies justice. Only an unjust ruler excuses himself from the requirements of rectitude. Who must keep the law? The answer – everyone!
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