Saturday, September 16, 2023

“We are a nation of laws, not of men.” ~John Adams

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     General Douglas MacArthur famously said, “Rules are made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.”  There are lots of rules in society.  They can be those as important as the laws/rules of how people are governed to rules in fashion and manners.   Organizations, political Parties, governments have rules. If everyone ignored the rules and refused to submit to any authority over them, the result would be anarchy/disorder/chaos.  Three observations:

     First, believers who ignore rules/laws to accomplish their objective reject the sovereignty of God.  They have no confidence the Creator of the Universe possesses the ability to move the heart of the king or change the mind of an elected official.  They believe the only hands, feet, or mouth God has is theirs. In their mind, Yahweh is powerless, unless they act.  The arrogance and pride they exhibit has to be laughable to an omniscient God.  They believe by working harder, jumping higher and running faster, they will change the world.  But these superhumans regularly violate the two great commandments(rules) given by Christ- love God and love your neighbor- in their quest to distinction.  These professors of Christ show little evidence of possession.  They treat those who don’t agree with them with disdain, contempt, and hatred. 

     Second, it can take equal courage and strength of character to follow the rules or break them.  Being a loyal conformist or a rebel can take the same mettle.  It is a misconception that not playing by the rules takes more resolution than not submitting.    Those who thumb their nose at the rules believe they are superior to those who submit.  They fail to see that submitting to authority requires character, humility and meekness- all attributes showing evidence of a regenerate heart.

     Third, there are rules lazy people hide behind.  MacArthur was right that often people lack the courage to challenge the status quo.  Bad rules are often met with apathy or blind compliance.  There are bad rules, but because of passivity they remain in effect.  It’s often because people believe it just isn’t worth the effort to fight.  It’s a lack of involvement, not a lack of courage.  If principled people stayed engaged and involved in their government, those bad rules/laws would fade away like smoke.

     All rules are not equal.  Wearing white after Labor Day is not as great an offense as committing murder.  Both are rules, but one is a subjective guideline- the other a cardinal principle.  But rules are in place for a reason.  They help us maintain a level of fairness, order and justice.  Rules should be based on truth and when they aren’t they create a value system that results in no settled certainty.  Pilate asked Jesus, ‘What is truth?”  Many rule breakers mistakenly today believe there is no truth.

     During the nation’s founding, John Adams said, “we are a nation of laws, not of men.”  Adams was referring to the Rule of Law principle, which was established in ancient Greece.  The principle holds all people are accountable to the same set of laws and equally enforced.  Adams was saying the exact opposite of MacArthur.  Rules/laws are made to be followed.

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