In California there’s a law that allows transgender students to choose which restroom they want to use – either the boys room or the girls room.
“The law, which will take effect Jan. 1, gives students the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on the gender they identify with as opposed to their birth gender. Those programs also include sports teams.”1
It’s the law…
Usually, if something is put into law, it’s pretty much accepted that the legislation in question is nothing more than a moral concept being reinforced by a legal dynamic.
But there’s nothing “moral” about someone insisting that they’re a female when, in fact, they are a male. That is neither noble nor healthy. Rather, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed as a perversion and not accommodated as a reasonable decision.
This brings to the surface something that’s worth looking at as far as the purpose of the law. Not just the law that we interact with on a daily basis in terms of speed limit signs or criminal law. I’m talking about the foundational precepts that our moral code is based upon – the Bible.
Obeying the law is not an end in and of itself. Rather, it’s a means to an end – that being to accomplish things in a way that reflects well on God.
So from that standpoint, in order for the law to be valid, it must shape one’s behavior in a way that’s consistent with the Truth as documented in God’s Word – the law must serve the Truth.
Jesus the Rebel
At one point Jesus was accused of being a lawbreaker. Check it out:
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Lk 6:1-5)
Jesus did not make excuses or attempt to edit God’s Word when responding to the Pharisees. What He did instead was highlight the fact that the goal of obedience is not to obey the Law as much as it is to glorify God.
Think about that for a minute. When Jesus referred to Himself as the “Lord of the Sabbath,” He was pointing out that the whole idea behind the Sabbath was to worship God. You didn’t adhere to Sabbath regulations in order to honor the law; you did so to worship God.
That’s why Jesus could say that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath in Matthew 12:12 because by doing good you were honoring Him – which was the whole point (see Rev 4:11).
As you put more distance between the law and its fundamental purpose, you weaken its effectiveness in that you’re exacting a deteriorating effect on the Absolute foundation upon which the law is built. In other words, the law is no longer serving the Truth, rather it’s pacifying a human appetite for validation. That’s not always a bad thing, provided that validation is in line with God’s Truth. It’s when the need for affirmation distracts or even contradicts God’s Word that you run into problems.
It’s Not Just a “Spiritual” Thing
The fact that there’s more to the law than just a legal directive has been noticed by more than just theologians. John MacArthur talked about this topic in a sermon that he preached. He cited a book written by Harvard Law Professor Harold. J. Berman entitled The Interaction of Law and Religion.
His thesis in the book is that Western culture has had a massive loss of confidence in law and a massive loss of confidence in religion. He sees that one of the causes is the radical separation of one from the other, and his conclusion is that you cannot have law, or rules for behavior, without religion, because it is religion that provides the absolute base for morality and law.
The man is not a Christian, but certainly, we would have to agree with his thesis. He fears that Western culture is doomed to relativism in law because of the loss of an absolute. We have broken away from religion, from the concept of God, from absolute truth, and therefore we are stuck with existential relativism when it comes to making laws. He says that law and religion will stand together or law and religion will fall together. Religion-less law could never command authority; there must be a transcendent value, a super-rational absolute.
In his book, he quotes professor Thomas Frank of NYU. Frank says, “Law has become undisguisedly a pragmatic human process. It is made by men, and it lays no claim to divine origin or eternal validity.” This leads professor Frank to the view that a judge in a court reaching a decision is not propounding a truth but is rather experimenting in the solution of a problem. If his decision is reversed by a higher court, or if it is subsequently overruled, that doesn’t mean it was wrong, only that it was, or became in the course of time, unsatisfactory.
“Having broken away from religion,” Frank states, “Law is now characterized by existential relativism. Indeed, it is now generally recognized that no judicial decision is ever final, that the law follows the event, is not eternal or certain, is made by man and is not divine or true.”
Berman goes on to say, “If law is merely an experiment, and if judicial decisions are merely hunches, why should individuals or groups of people observe those legal rules or commands if they do not conform to their own interests?” He’s right. Why am I quoting all of that? To tell you this: we are endeavoring, in our society, to have rules without an absolute. Court after court after court overturns some other ruling. When you abandon God and theology, you abandon truth. Trying to make laws without truth or an ultimate value is impossible. You cannot build a consistent legal system on philosophical humanism, a fluctuating, changing principle of what is right and what is wrong.2
As citizens, we’ve got to be on top of our political game and be diligent in electing officials who understand and apply the fact that the law must always serve the truth. As believers, we’ve got to be on top of our spiritual game and remember that obedience is more than just “doing as you’re told.” Rather, it’s glorifying God. By being obedient we position ourselves in a place where God can work in and through us to accomplish some extraordinary things. Apart from obedience, apart from laboring to make God look good, we settle for an existence that is neither distinguished nor rewarding.
So for the sake of the God we love and serve, the nation we defend and the life we aspire to, remember, the law must serve the Truth!