What Makes Laws Lawful?

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Published on: February 1, 2015

In a recent article, we looked at Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s call for a stand against the tyranny of the federal government.  In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley, The Chief Justice said that he would continue to uphold the Alabama constitution over a federal judge’s ruling.  In that article, I pointed out that we have lost the ability to ask the right questions.  One of those questions is, what makes a law lawful.

There are many ways to answer this, and I do not think that it is within my ability to explain this in such a limited venue as an article.  I wish only to make us think more clearly about this topic.  If we can begin to ask questions of how laws come into being and what makes a law a law, then we will, I think, be better equipped to face and bring low the tyranny of our day.  So, to the question at hand.

What makes a law a law?

Many would answer the question the way Merriam-Webster.com does.

 (1) :  a binding custom or practice of a community :  a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority; (2) the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules  (3)

Using this definition, we come to an issue that is at the heart of what we originally asked.  Is there any way in which we can see that these rules of conduct can be deemed unlawful?  What I mean is simply this: Has there ever been a time in which laws, properly passed into practice, were contrary to what we would say is just?

We should quickly affirm that there has been such times.  We should think of the holocaust and chattel slavery.  We should think of the mass starvation of the Ukrainian farmers in the 1920’s by Stalin.  There have been times when, under the guise of law, injustice has been perpetrated by legislation.

Now, since we can clearly see that there has been times of unjust laws, we have to ask the harder question.  What has made these laws unjust or to use consistent verbiage, unlawful?  This is harder to answer because of the current social situation in which we live.  There is no satisfactory answer to this question within the framework of popular law theory.

What I mean is the fact that there is no basis from which to draw this clear conclusion.  We know that these conclusions are the right conclusions, but we cannot logically reach these conclusions from today’s starting point: There is no true right or wrong.  With no real right or wrong, we are left with only preference.

If preference is our standard, then Hitler and his Nazi government did no wrong.  With no right or wrong, who can decry Stalin’s murdering of 20 million?  If we only have preference as a judge of our actions, then we can have no real hope for law or its protection.  What is preferred by the populous today may be the hate of the populous tomorrow.

Even the Christian suffers from this flawed mind-set.  Christians today have their pet issues, but have no logical ground to stand on here.  If they do not support all of God’s law in society, then they can have none of that law.  If it is unlawful to kill the unborn because God says it’s murder, then it is just as wicked for the government to steal a citizen’s land through emanate domain.

So then, to answer our question, laws are only lawful when based on an authority.  We have to have some place to appeal to so that we can define justice. 

Joseph C. Morecraft III said:

“According to the Bible a tyrant is somebody, some civil magistrate that seeks to impose upon its people another law than the law of God; that derives its policies and its laws from another source of law, than the source of the law of God contained in Holy Scripture.”

Amen!  Only God can call something just or unjust, and He has done so in the Bible.  My God, return us to this understanding of the law.

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