Monday, April 7, 2014

Lawless ‘Law’

"It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?" --James Madison, Federalist No. 62, 1788

Kent comments:

This has been the case for a long time, and it presents a problem for those who are of the “law and order” mindset, which includes many Christians.  It seems to me that at the level of the recent book titled, “Don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff” we hardly need laws, except in the sense of making clear what will happen to those who do such things.

But now we live in a time and place where law is generally unknowable due to its complexity and sheer volume.  Almost unending amounts of regulation are declared to be law also, which only makes the problem worse and helps prove the point here.  It is simply impossible to know what the “law” says on most topics, so it is impossible even to attempt to comply with it.

But the problem is much worse than that.  The producers of never-ending and thus unknowable law are in fact themselves lawless.  Not in the official sense, of course.  But practically speaking, they have destroyed the very concept of law.

It is very clear that the modern incarnation of “law” is simply a somewhat inefficient attempt to control everything.  It hints at (at the very least) an attempt to paralyze and diminish the role of individuals to make ever more room for the power of the modern, and actually lawless, state.

In this situation it is inappropriate, it seems to me, to talk about “obeying the law.”  We should instead urge people not to hurt other people or take their stuff.  But hurting people and taking their stuff is exactly what the modern state and its pseudo-law is doing.  This makes avoiding the state, circumventing it, generally “laying low”, and trying to avoid hurting people and taking their stuff an appropriate attitude for the Christian toward the modern state and its “laws of lawlessness.”

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