During every election cycle here in the U.S. there are always evangelists and Christian leaders pounding the pulpit and declaring the need for America to return to obedience to God and His Righteous Law.
Great! But what would that look like? Well, dinner would have to change…
- No more bacon – or ham sandwiches, Easter ham, stuffed pork chops.
- No more lobsta’ as we Mainers call it – or jumbo shrimp, Alaskan King Crab, Cajun craw-dad boils, or New England clam bakes.
- No more “Surf -n- Turf” because meat and fish can’t be served together on the same plate. Also, no Philly steak sandwiches because the same goes for cooking meat and dairy together.
- There are also Laws against eating camels, rock badger, hares, swarming bugs, and vultures, but I’m not as concerned on that account.
Getting dressed gets interesting…
- Women can’t wear men’s clothes – including pants, boy shorts, or t-shirts – or anything that shows ankles.
- Men can’t wear women’s clothes – Scotsmen beware! But make sure you have your tassels, men.
- No mixed cloth – especially wool and linen. I’m not sure if a polyester blend is an issue, but why chance it!
For the ladies –
- Welcome back to the days of chattel ownership of wives and daughters by the man of the house. You no longer will have to worry about decisions on who you will marry, where you may go and who you may be seen with – your husband or father (or brother, or uncle, or grandpa – whatever guy steps up, really) will be making those decisions.
For the guys – Work on your throwing arm! You will be in charge of Law enforcement in the form of stoning.
- Stone anyone who worships a different god than you.
- Stone anyone caught in adultery.
- Stone anyone having sex before marriage.
- Stone all the gays.
- Stone any kid who swears at or hits a parent – or just insists on disobeying Mom or Dad.
- Stone them for contempt of court or lying in a capital case.
- Stone them for murder – even if it is due to negligence (unless they have the money to buy their way out of it)
Okay, so it sounds like I am being a little extreme, right? But, if you read Jesus’s teachings on the Law, he is even more extreme, calling those who pride themselves in their obedience to the Law to a higher, or, more correctly, a biblical obedience to the Law:
“Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. (John 7:19)”
He says, “Oh, you don’t commit adultery? Well, God’s standard is that you don’t even think about wanting that other lady!”, “You don’t commit murder? Good, but God’s standard is that you don’t even think a hateful thought about your neighbor!”
It is easy to read Jesus’s words as calling all of us to try to meet a higher standard of Law-keeping, but it is important to understand what Jesus is doing here. He is not saying to try, you must do, and do it perfectly, every single time.
That’s a pretty high standard, right? Yes, it’s too high. But, if it were possible to perfectly keep that Law, even for a few, special people, there would be no reason for Jesus’s coming in the first place. Never the less, there He was, preaching the perfect keeping of the Law. So, since He is here, ( or was there, in the flesh ) His purpose couldn’t have been to re-establish the Law as a standard to keep.
Paul understood Jesus’s purpose in setting that bar back up to where it was meant to be:
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20) (emphasis mine)
Compromised Law, watered-down Law, Law that has been altered to make it seem achievable, is a threat to the true purpose of the Law – to make it absolutely clear that there is no possible way that we can gain salvation or God’s acceptance through the keeping of the Law. The Pharasees had so diluted the Law that they saw it as a do-able thing – at least something they could get others to do. Once the bar is set back to correct level, however, it is not possible for anyone to get over it that bar.
Accept one, Jesus.
I agree with Paul that the the Law is good. But like Paul, I understand it is because it is a sign post to those bound by sin, pointing toward salvation. A sign post pointing directly at grace. Law doesn’t save, it doesn’t make people righteous, it doesn’t restore our broken relationship with God. Only grace does that. Only grace saves us, only grace keeps us, and once we gain the revelation that there is nothing we can do in ourselves to save ourselves, grace points us directly to Jesus.
Would compulsory Law make America a better place? Well, I have read the history of the Jews as they sat under compulsory Law and don’t see a big difference between their behavior and ours: murder, adultery, fornication, idol worship, thievery, bigotry, greed, drunkenness, laziness, gluttony… and the list goes on.
Maybe what the folks on the big stages should be pounding their pulpits for is a fresh revelation of grace. Grace that washes away hate and distrust, transforms lives, plants in us a desire to love God as much as He loves us – as well as the desire and power to love those He loves. But preaching grace doesn’t fill the seats and the offering plates so I’m not planning to wait on them. I think I’ll just try to rest in His grace and love and, as a result, walk in Jesus’s footsteps and be a conduit of His grace.