Does God's Law Apply to Us Today? (Part II)

This engraving by Jean de Marco is displayed in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol. Other depictions of Moses and the Ten Commandments can be found throughout Washington, D.C.
This engraving by Jean de Marco is displayed in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol. Other depictions of Moses and the Ten Commandments can be found throughout Washington, D.C.

In an earlier article, I stated that our law is based on the moral law of God as revealed in the Bible. Furthermore, God issues one main commandment with subordinate commandments. In this article I continue that discussion, emphasizing the relationship of the Mosaic Code, or the Law of Moses, as it's called, with the Great Commandment and the Ten Commandments. Finally, I deal with some objections that might be raised to the claim that our national laws are based on the moral law as revealed in the Bible.

The Law of Moses

Moses created a code of laws based on the Great Commandment and the Ten Commandments. Whenever the Bible makes reference to “The Law” or “The Law of Moses” this is what it is referring to. Here, Moses is applying the general commands to fit the unique situation of the Israelites. The Ten Commandments only state prohibitions (“thou shalt not”), but doesn’t state the penalty for crimes like theft, murder, and kidnapping. The Mosaic code more precisely gives that. The children of Israel were nomadic, former slaves, extremely self-willed and (by our standards today), cruel and barbaric. In fact, they were such rebels that God allowed none to leave the desert after being released from captivity, except two men, Joshua and Caleb. Even Moses was not permitted to go into the Promised Land because of his anger and rebellion.

The Law of Moses contained not only moral laws, but also ceremonial laws (like the sacrifices mentioned earlier). All together, there were about 400 regulations that were a part of the Law of Moses. The focus of law makers should be on making sure that God’s standards of righteousness are upheld in our laws today. The Law of Moses can provide a guide to the implementation of the moral law, much in the same way that the Federalist Papers inform interpretations of the Constitution. In a way, our lawmakers today are not supposed to “make law.” The law has already been established. Rather they are to take God’s law and translate it into their society. As Christian philosopher David Noebel has put it

Government exists not so much to create laws as to secure laws, to apply God’s laws to general and specific situations, and to act as an impartial enforcer of such laws.

Much of this information may be new to you., but it was not new to our early Americans as these quotes demonstrate. They knew that law cannot stand on its own, that it needs an objective and transcendent base. They understood that morality was essential to political prosperity and that religion was essential to morality.

A major controversy in America is over the role of the Bible in our national life.
A major controversy in America is over the role of the Bible in our national life.

Do We Apply Biblical Law Today?

Objections

One objection to using the Bible as the basis for a moral code has to do with time: “We can’t use the moral system of a Bedouin people from 3,000 years ago. What are we going to start doing: executing people for picking up sticks on the Sabbath”? The Mosaic Code can give us guidance as to how to apply some of the moral principles, but some of the rules in the code would not apply to us, either because they no longer apply, or because we don’t live in a tribal and nomadic culture. It provides a guide for social regulations, but of course, there would be some things that would be different in our society than in ancient Israel, so the application would also be different.

A second (and I think the most persuasive objection) for most people are the penalties that go with some of the prohibitions. Some of the crimes, like rape, murder, adultery, sodomy, and kidnapping are serious enough to receive the death penalty. Some might object saying “this is too harsh” or “What if a mistake is made”?

We have to keep in mind that the purpose of punishment is part punitive and part preventative. The crimes mentioned above are very destructive and the purpose of the penalty is to penalize wrong doing and discourage others from committing those acts. Crimes like murder, rape, torture, sodomy, and kidnapping are the most brutal acts that can be inflicted upon another person. Acts like adultery undermine the family structure and are likely to encourage divorce and children without an intact family. The goal of any justice system should be to make such acts rare; today, they are frequent.

God has provided a criminal justice system that will provide for the greatest freedom for the most people. If God’s system of criminal justice was approved by the American people and their representatives, crime would plummet and safety and security would be more prevalent.

What I'm suggesting is no utopia. God’s system of justice is perfect, but we are not. As long as men maintain the criminal justice system, it will be carried out, to some degree, inconsistently. It also does not prohibit evil men from controlling it. Consider wicked Jezebel who conspired to kill Naboth and take his vineyard. The system of justice was right but it was a weapon in the hands of a wicked queen to do harm to a righteous man.

Right now, we are at a crossroads. Our nation is struggling with whether we are going to abide by God’s law or not. For the most part we have rejected God’s standard of righteousness and what is the result: rampant murder, kidnapping and rape. Acts such as sodomy, which were criminal only a few years ago, are now becoming legally protected. Many of our streets we dare not walk, even during the day. Our moral resolve is so pitiful that we cannot even protect our national borders. Floods of criminals invade our land and our Border Patrol flees from the invaders.

We pay one way or the other. God’s system of criminal justice is severe, but it’s fair and just. It’s the standard of righteousness. If we use God’s system, some will die, but most will obey the law, and a great reduction in crime will result. If we refuse God’s system, many more will die as they continue to do to this day.

Does this sound simplistic? Perhaps, but it would not be easy. President Ronald Reagan once said,

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

He’s talking to us. We must have the courage to provide for ourselves and future generations a criminal justice system that will be just, fair, and protect the weak and innocent.

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Comments 9 comments

Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 21 months ago Author

Joseph,

The Scriptures determine what is criminal and what is not. And as a rule, I have found the following most helpful: God's standards of righteousness and the laws that accompany them as they are found in the Old Testament still apply today unless (1) Scripture revokes it later or (2) it would no longer apply. As for (1), laws pertaining to circumcision; as for (2) building a banister around the perimeter of your roof. I see nothing in the Scripture that calls for revoking the penalties against murder, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, or adultery. The penalty is death and the state, as God's agent of vengeance against evildoers, is to "surely put them to death."

In response to your second paragraph, we're not talking about compelling people to do good things (like to go to church or to tithe). Clearly my focus has been on what God has ordained to already be criminal and that those actions would still be crimes and that the punishments that the Bible proscribes are just. What I take from the Scripture is that actions such as murder, rape, sodomy, kidnapping are "bad enough" to warrant the death penalty. I will not enter into a debate about which is the "worst"; suffice it to say that each is "bad enough" and warrants the penalty of death.

Also, your post seems to imply that we can extend God's love, except for violent acts (like murder), but as I understand it, we are to always extend Christ's love to others. But that does not mean that I have the authority to absolve him of the penalties for his behavior. He must pay for his crimes, whether they be consensual or not. Furthermore, a person may, by his actions, limit how I can extend the love of Christ to him.So, if he is prison on death row, I might be able to minister to him, but surely I can't work to get him out of prison. He committed a crime. He has to pay for the crime he committed. And I must extend Christ's love to him. And I see none of those things as incompatible with my mission as a Christian.

Thank you for these thoughtful comments.


Joseph 21 months ago

I guess one question I have is this: if the state is supposed to criminalize consensual sexual intercourse between people with same-sex attraction (and I use that wording both to distinguish between forcible acts and because I don't think the terms "homosexual" or "sodomite" are accurate descriptors), what is the appropriate penalty and how is that to be determined? Under the Levitical law such acts were subject to capital punishment. Is that the appropriate penalty today or is it something else?

Also, your Part I post draws attention to Matthew 22:37-39: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” If God's law requires us to love other as we love ourselves and treat them as we would want to be treated, can the state's reliance on coercion (ultimately violent coercion) to enforce its will (even the ones that involve no violent acts, i.e., things other than punishing murder or defending its people in war) override God's commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves? As just one example, it might be good for everyone to attend church on Sunday, but is it in keeping with God's commands to use force or the threat of force to make them go?


Sanxuary 3 years ago

I think this moral code is inside of us and existed long before it was written. One of the greatest arguments is the common interest and simple denial that commonality proves a thesis. The destruction of the moral code has always lead to destruction and is the reason that 99 percent of us are not killing one another each day. Study after study of its violations would easily prove the price we pay by not following the moral code. We heal and time passes but the negative effects did occur and for many it never goes away. If there was no moral code then killing our enemies would definitely improve most of our lives, provided we won. Its all the evil in the World that constantly destroys everyone's life and once again most non-believers would agree. Everyone's evil but there are degrees of evil that allows civilization to go on and others that end it. Even when I talk to believers its hard to explain that most of us support an evil World where they are simply choosing the things that favor them. There was a time we made choices and suffered consequence. Today we make choice the answer to prevent consequence. Problems now become a life style and denying others that they have a problem is a violation of ones civil rights. Apparently getting a job that pays a fair wage and offers enough hours is not a civil rights issue. The ability to find a magical place that offers shelter, food, water and place to wash and not be someone's personal slave for a whores wage does not exist. Next time shake the beggars hand and thank him personally for using the public sidewalk built next to the mega Corporation and bought and paid for by the tax payers. We live in inequity everyday and unbelievers and haters of God everywhere owe there lives to this moral code. When it is no longer being followed bad things happen.


Philip DeVos 3 years ago

Stop asking "Does God's Law apply to us Today?" God's laws ARE, in the same way that HE IS! The church has turned their back on God's laws, and actually teach that the law(s) have been done away with, totally mis-quoting PAUL. What he DID SAY was that when you live in the spirit, you are not under the law. WHY?! Because you are living way ABOVE the law. If the church ignores God's laws, why in the world shouldn't the nation?????


uzma shaheen profile image

uzma shaheen 4 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

I read both the parts of this topic. another excellent topic and perfectly written.GOD's criminal justice system is perfect and only by abiding those laws we can reduce the rate of crimes otherwise its not possible, we are watching the results of leaving GOD's laws that rate of murder, rape, kidnapping is increasing. people argue that giving death penalty on crimes of rape, murder and adultry is a barbaric act, I think by doing this only few criminals have to die and whole society will survive but by not doing so, whole society will die and only criminals will survive.

voting up and sharing.


Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 5 years ago Author

Renegadetory, Glad you liked the hub. Best wishes to you on hubpages...


renegadetory profile image

renegadetory 5 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

If our society followed even just one of God's ten commandments there would be a huge improvement. Can you imagine if everyone followed the commandment, "thou shalt not steal"? Wow.

"As long as men maintain the criminal justice system, it will be carried out, to some degree, inconsistently." This is very true. In fact, as our society drifts further and further from God's laws, justice either no longer exists or becomes greatly perverted.

Very interesting Hub, it was refreshing to read. I agree very much with your perspective.


Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 5 years ago Author

Ruth

I have no problem with sound immigration policy and allowing the maximum number of people in our nation that our leaders can reasonably handle, even if it’s inconvenient to the rest of us. But I have little tolerance for illegal immigrants and no tolerance for our public officials who turn a blind eye to it. Fundamental to the integrity of any nation is the defense of its borders: too many of our leaders have capitulated on that responsibility.

As for aliens and strangers, Israel was never asked to tolerate aliens and strangers who were law breakers. Aliens and strangers were to have the same access to justice as everyone else. They also suffered the same punishments if they were breaking the law. Everyone here illegally is, by definition, a lawbreaker. My sympathies are with those that obey the laws and those that suffer because of law breakers.

Thank you for reading and for your comments.


ruth 5 years ago

I agree with much of this but are concerned that you seem to be trying to keep America's wealth to yourselves, with your concern to protect your borders. Israel was told to treat aliens and strangers well. Poor countries do not close their borders to refugees, why should rich America?

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