More freedom or more laws?
Folks are put on sides (whether we like it or not) and the debate rages, caricatured these days by people who want the state to take your money and tell you what to think, say, and do. The other side are lumped as one voice saying we’re all better off without rules and regulations, letting people do with their own thoughts, time, and money as they will.
But things can go wrong on either end, can’t they? If we remember that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9NIV) then it’s straightforward to see how humans can twist even what is good about either side into something pernicious. We know that man-made laws can be good (i.e. making murder and theft crimes) or they can be bad (promoting slavery, outlawing the free press). Where’s the correct balance?
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25NIV)
That’s a bold statement: “the perfect law that gives freedom.” But there’s an important and vital connection there.
For instance, I was musing on the Ten Commandments. The first four have to do with our relationship to God, the remaining six our relationships with each other. Where can there be freedom, except in a society where we have some assurance that others cannot with impunity: murder us, have sex with our spouses, steal what belongs to us, lie about us, covet our belongings and situation, or prevent us from living in honor of parents and the associations of family?
That leads to two observations. The first: freedom is only possible under the rule of law. Freedom is allowed and available only when there are laws that govern and constrain what is good and right. Freedom is present only when we can discern those things that are unhealthy and unholy, when there are bounds placed on bad actors and the exercise of evil, which is present in every human heart. Freedom is part and parcel of submitting to the authority of law at all levels of living, in the family, in the community, and on the international stage.
The second is this. Unless these rules are anchored on God as the Lawgiver (the first four commandments), then they will continue to be warped by whichever person or party are in charge, with their particular whims - and propensities towards evil - at the time.