Is That Legal?

Some laws are illegal.  Sounds oxymoronic I know, but we are talking about politics and the unholy fruit of legislators here.

Some laws don’t pass judicial muster as “legal” legislation when a court or a judge determines that they are not sufficiently specific.  Laws have to be clear enough that a reasonable person knows what is prohibited or required, and what the consequences for the “illegal” activity being legislated might be.

“in general, a statute might be called void for vagueness reasons when an average citizen cannot generally determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed.”      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Void_for_vagueness

That makes sense: if the government is going to hold us responsible for our actions and UnitedStatesCodetheir consequences, the legislation that speaks to each area of life being regulated should be specific enough that we know when we are in, or out, of bounds and what the repercussions of our out-of-boundness might be.

Theologians, ministers, priests, and all those who claim to speak for God should take note of that common sense rule because, if it applies to things in this life, it should apply all the more when talking about things that transcend time and space.  

I was in a Church service recently and was struck by how “illegal” the commentary offered would be deemed by a common sense standard of “legality.”  The officiant intoned repeatedly that in order to save our own souls we had to become loving people.  Wow!  Great! I consider myself a loving person— my soul must be saved and already on holy ground.  What a relief.  Or, not…

What slowly dawns on anyone hearing that moral legislator’s “law” is that the standard is hopelessly ambiguous and vague:

How loving is loving enough for my salvation?

Whose standard of loving counts?  

Is a radical Muslim’s desire to kill me for my Christian faith, out of love for Allah, adequate for salvation?  

Are the varieties of “love” encouraged by various religious groups equally loving and adequate for salvation?  

If I’m less than loving sometimes does that cross out my times of being loving?

You see the problem— if that minister is right about the standard for salvation, God is indeed a lousy legislator because the standard is so vague.  

Thankfully, God is a better legislator, and Law-giver than that.  He communicates clearly that we have all broken His Law and what the penalty of our law breaking is, and then with equal clarity defines the method by which we can avoid our just penalty.   

God’s Law is clear: read Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 for the Ten Commandments, and 10-Words-Moses-v1-230x230read Jesus’ application of the Law in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. By any straightforward reading, any and all of us are guilty of transgressing one or more of God’s Laws.  And that’s the conclusion of the Apostle Paul:

Romans 3:10 as it is written:

None is righteous, no, not one;

11 no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one…

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Further, God spells out clearly the penalty for lawbreakers like us:

Romans 6:23  The wages of sin is death (that’s eternal separation from God)

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Thankfully, there’s a clear means of arbitration available in God’s Court of Law:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned

Romans 3:24 …(we) are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

God doesn’t speak in legalese, but clearly and straightforwardly so that even a child can understand it.  God also tells us in unmistakable clarity that though the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ.  In order to see our own death sentence commuted, we accept the death of Jesus in our place by simple faith, like allowing someone else to pay our fine.

God save us from the ministers and moralists, the priests and pastors who take God’s clear Law and word and turn it into confusing legalese.   

God’s law is clear and His provision for lawbreakers and sinners like you and me is spectacularly clear:

… believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.  Acts 16:31

 

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About Mike Halpin

Mike Halpin is an elder at Lion and Lamb Church in Topeka, KS (www.lionandlambchurch.com). He is spoiled by his delightful wife Cathie and blessed by his children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren.
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