Should We Follow the Law?
I was reading the book of Titus today, and it brought up some interesting questions about obedience. It says that we are to be subject to rulers and authorities to do whatever is good, and to be obedient (Titus 3:1). The problem is, none of us seems to do that with perfection, and it doesn’t bother most of us when we break certain laws.
There are several examples that can be made, such as speeding, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone if they are going a few miles over the speed limit, or jaywalking, which doesn’t seem to bother our conscious when we disobey it. There are other examples, such as weird laws no longer enforced, laws like it is illegal to wear sagging pants (an actual law in Collinsville IL), or other silly laws that are still on the books. There are even those laws that some people are divided on whether to follow or not, such as laws about downloading music, movies, and other copy-written media.
Do we follow all these laws? Well, when it comes to the odd ones, we say those are old and do not matter/are no longer enforced. With the newer ones like speeding we say things like, “well, 30MPH is more of a guideline than a strict limit,” or we we say, “it doesn’t hurt anyone when I go 33 in a 30.” When it comes to downloading music it is a bit more controversial, with some people saying they aren’t selling it or sharing it, and are just downloading for their own use, and they aren’t removing the music from another, they are simply making a copy, so they aren’t REALLY stealing. Others however, acknowledge that most forms of downloading music are still illegal and should not be done.
The question remains, isn’t it wrong to break the law? Some people think we should follow all laws, while others think there are reasons for not following certain laws, but what if we applied these kinds of thinking to other things?
What if we were to say that smoking weed doesn’t hurt anyone else, and it doesn’t hurt us if done in moderation, so what is wrong with smoking weed in the privacy of our own homes? Many would say that this is legitimate thinking, and therefore we shouldn’t worry if we smoke weed.
What about the 18 year old who justifies underage drinking by the same logic? “I’m not hurting anyone, I am not going to drive, so what’s the harm?
What about the kid who justifies looking at pornography at age 15 by the same logic?
What about the person who justifies cheating a little on their taxes?
Are any of these things wrong?
At the end of the day, we all seem to interpret man’s law on our own terms, and in our own way (and really we do the same thing with God’s law). Some things we think are absolutes, that is, we believe we should always obey those laws, and there are other laws we think it is okay to break once in a while, if not all the time.
How does one determine when they should or should not follow the law of their country? Why do we seem to put some laws in a harmless, or rather, victimless crimes category, justifying breaking these laws, yet at the same time, being very legalistic about others? Why do we feel guilt about committing certain victimless crimes, but not others? Isn’t it breaking the law when we choose to ignore/disobey any of these laws? What do you think? Shouldn’t we strive to obey all of the law, and if not, why should we strive to obey any of it? What makes some laws the ones we think we should obey, and other laws ones we feel okay about/justified to disobey?
What are your thoughts?