Bad Arguments about Good Laws
The Bible has a better vision of what it takes to make a good society
Emotion is showing up late for me with the Nashville shooting.
Our family— with hundreds of others— are survivors of a church shooting in 2007. My wife was hiding under a desk in the church office with our two little girls, aged 2.5 and 1 at the time!
So, yes, I’m heavy-hearted. I’m mournful as I think about the grieving parents and family members and friends of the six precious image-bearers who were gunned down in Nashville this week. I’m broken-hearted by the pictures and the stories.
But my grief mingles with anger at the same old hand-wringing and tired cliches from Christians. I’m angry at the nonsensical arguments and conclusions about the role of law. Can I “set them straight”? Doubtful. But I’m going to try to speak the truth in love. Here goes…
“Bad people break laws” is not a good argument against making laws. The Bible is full of admonishments to mitigate the effects of evil and to restrain the damage evil people can do by means of laws and the just ordering of society. Laws deter.
We don’t expect laws to eradicate evil. We don’t expect laws to redeem. But the limitations of laws do not eliminate the necessity of their existence. Laws do the necessary work of fencing in the spread and impact of sin in a fallen world.
The Bible operates on that presupposition. Some think the only reason for the various laws in the Old Testament was to show us we’re all sinners in need of a savior. That’s a poor reading of the Bible. The law reveals the character of God and outlines the calling of the people of God. Israel in the Old Testament was meant to model to the world what a society founded on righteousness and justice looks like. Their failure is the subject of the prophets. Both the Law and the Prophets show us how laws, shaped by God’s vision of righteousness and justice, function in a fallen world to restrain the effects of sin and restore the sinner to society.
As someone who is neither a gun owner nor a political analyst, it’s not my place to offer specific solutions or policy ideas. But as a pastor committed to peace-making and helping us love our neighbors, I am troubled by the conclusion of many Christians that there is nothing we can do.
You can disagree on what laws and which guns, but please don’t serve up the nonsensical argument that because laws don’t eradicate evil there’s no use making laws. We do not apply that logic to abortion or racial discrimination or any other arena of concern.
Good laws lead to a good society. We don’t need bad arguments to stand in the way.
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