Christian “Laws” Are An Oxymoron
When talking about politics, you will hear many Christians discussing “righteous laws” and biblical values. To them, a moral nation has Christian laws. Laws that uphold the values of the Christian faith.
Sidestepping the dizzying and murky water of what Christian morals should be legislated, and which interpretation of Christianity should be used, we run into a very real problem.
Mainly, if we truly understand the New Testament, there is no such thing as a “Christian” law.
Jesus did not come to make a new, better Law. He did not come to enhance the Old Covenant. Yet, many Christians want to take the New Testament and turn it into “The Law 2: This Time It’s Personal.”
They want to make more intricate laws by which we should live.
And then they want to codify those laws into legislation in an attempt to make our nation a “godly nation.”
To be fair, they think they are doing what is best for people. They see themselves as parents who impose rules on children. The children may not like or understand the rules, but they are there to protect them.
But these Christians have missed the point. And are acting more like Jihadists than parents (For more on this, see my post on Christian Jihadism in America here).
The Law 2:
This Time Its Personal
Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). When you look at the Greek, this means He did not come to dissolve the law, but to meet it’s demands. Which He did. On the Cross, He said, “It is finished.”
Hebrews says that the Law and Old Covenant are obsolete and fading away (Heb. 8:13).
And Paul beats it over our heads that the law was fulfilled in Christ. He even says that all things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial (1 Cor. 6:12).
When talking the Corinthians about their crazy behavior, He says (my modern paraphrase), “Yes, you can do whatever you want, but why would you want to? There is no life in sin, so why would you want to return to it? There is only life in Christ. So even though you can do all things, and God will still see you as righteous, it does not help you.”
This is a very vast and complex subject. And not the purpose of this post. To learn more about how the law was fulfilled, and why we live under complete grace, I will direct you to my good friend Phil Drysdale.
What I am trying to say is that the Church doesn’t have any laws. We don’t have rules by which we need to live in order to make God happy. We don’t have to live a certain way in order to be righteous before God.
That doesn’t mean we should be willy-nilly and do whatever we want, because that doesn’t produce life; It doesn’t help us. But it does mean that we are in good legal standing with God no matter what we do.
This really makes the idea of “Christian Law” an oxymoron. Those two words are actually mutually exclusive. You cannot have a “Christian” law. To do so would undo the work of the Cross, or illustrate a gross misunderstanding of the gospel.
“The words ‘Christian’ and ‘Law’ are by nature mutually exclusive.”
Which really makes the idea of Christian laws in government even more interesting. If they shouldn’t exist in the Church, how can they exist in the government??
From a practical standpoint, this poses a VERY real problem. Since we live under grace, how do we deal with people who choose to abuse that grace?
It is one thing to forgive someone for lying or gossiping. We don’t need laws for that. We just need to be Christ-like.
But if society doesn’t have any laws at all, people could do whatever they wanted. They could rape, pillage, and abuse people with abandon.
God still loves them, and God forgives them for their sins. But that doesn’t help us keep order on the streets.
So, if Christian Laws don’t actually exist, how to we govern?
Well, fortunately some very smart people have already figured that. We call it Classic Liberalism. And our nation was built upon these ideas… not the 10 commandments.
What Does True Christian Government Look Like?
Basically, these philosophers divorced the idea of eternal judgment with earthly judgment. Your standing before God is your businesses, not the state’s. The state does not execute eternal judgment. The state does, however, execute earthly justice.
Earthly justice is based on equality. Since God created all people, we are equal to each other. I did not create you, so I cannot control you. I have no claim to your life, or the fruits of your life. Only you and God have a right to those things.
So, even though your standing before God is your business, how you conduct yourself on earth directly affects me.
If someone chooses to violate that equality, the state has the right to intervene.
Since we are all equal to each other, there are certain rights that we have in relationship to each other. And the only person that can violate them is God Himself.
Those rights include:
- The Right to Life. God is the one who gave us life, and only God can take it away.
- The Right to Freedom. God created all people, and only God has the authority to dictate our lives.
- The Right to the Fruits of our Labor. Since we expend a portion of life (our time, energy, and resources) laboring for something, only we have a right to the fruits of that labor.
This means that in relationship to each other, we cannot kill, assault, or steal from another human being. These are rights inherent to all people by the nature of equality. These principles transcend religion and man made morals. They are eternal and exist by merely existing.
This is the standard by which a moral government operates. Its goal is to protect these rights.
And if the government tries to do more than protect these rights, it will become the assailant. It is just the nature of inherent rights.
Once we understand this, it is obvious that “Christian Laws” are not only oxymoronic, they are immoral.
Only God has the right to tell people how to live. We do not.
We cannot ethically force our morality onto those around us. As long as someone does not harm another, we cannot force them to do anything.
I know for many, this will be very challenging. But I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
About Sean Edwards
Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.