God's Laws versus Man's Laws
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God’s  Laws  verses  Man’s  Laws

 

 

Paul Wong

 

 

According to the Holy Bible the Law of God is the instruction of God that is an authoritative rule of conduct.  In the Old Testament the Hebrew word “Torah”  hrwt  is used with the meaning of teaching and direction.  In the New Testament the Greek word   Nomos”  nomoz  is also used in reference to the “Torah” (Mt. 5:17-18), but in the most general sense (Rom. 3:27) it refers to a principle that governs one’s actions (Rom. 7:23).  Now let us look at how man defines Law.  In Webster’s dictionary law is 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.

 

Christians have often been confronted with the unbeliever’s argument that God is not just and fair to judge anyone before the law was given. “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Rom. 5:13)  Does this mean that people who did not have the chance to read the Holy Bible about God’s Laws, heard the Gospel of salvation or know anything about the One True God in the Lord Jesus Christ will be exempted from God’s judgment?  No, because every person has an inbuilt conscience to know the difference between right from wrong.  Here is what the Bible says:

 

“For there is no partiality with God.  For as many as have sinned without law will perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are the law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excuse them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” (Rom. 2:11-16)

 

People are condemned not for what they don’t know, but for what they do with what they know.  Those who know God’s written Word and His law will be judged by them.  Those who have never seen a Bible still know right from wrong, and they will be judged because they did not keep even those standards that their own consciences dictated.  Our modern-day sense of fair play and the rights of the individual often balks at God’s judgment.  But keep in mind that people violate the very standards they create for themselves.

 

The Law was part of the covenant that set Israel apart as God’s people.  It governed their worship, their relationship to God, and their social relationships with one another.  The Ten Commandments form a summary of that law.  What set the Ten Commandments apart from other codes of Law is, first of all, its origin.  The Decalogue was written by God Himself (Ex. 24:12; 31:18; 34:1; Dt. 10:4-5).  It issued from His very nature, like Him it was holy, righteous, and good (Rom. 7:12).  Thus, all crimes in Israel were crimes against God (1 Sam. 12:9-10).  God expected all of the people to love and serve him (Amos 5:21-24).  As their final Judge, He disciplined those who violated the Law.(Ex. 22:21-24; Deut. 10:18; 19:17), though He also held the nation responsible for insuring that justice was carried out (Deut. 13:6-10; 17:7; Num 15:32-36).

 

The Law was first given to Israel, but it rests on eternal moral principals that are consistent with God’s character.  Thus it is a summary of fundamental and universal moral standards.  It expresses the essence of what God requires of all people.  That is why the Ten Commandments will be the basis for the Final Judgment of mankind (Ecc. 12:13-14). 

 

If you traveled around the world, you would find evidence in every society and culture of God’s moral law.  For example, all cultures recognize marriage as the union between a man and a woman, prohibit murder, and yet in all societies that law has been broken.  In a civilized country like America man’s laws sometimes overrule God’s laws. 

 

1.  The Ten Commandments and the First Amendment

 

A recent controversy that involves the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama State Supreme Court building in Montgomery, Alabama and also the removal of Chief Justice Roy Moore from office centers on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

Church/state separation in the U.S. Constitution:

 

The framers of the U.S. Constitution were concerned that European history might repeat itself in the new world. They wanted to avoid the continual wars motivated by religious hatred that had decimated many countries within Europe. They decided that a church/state separation was their best assurance that the U.S. would remain relatively free of inter-religious strife.

In 1789, the first of ten amendments were written to the Federal Constitution; they have since been known as the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment reads:

 

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

 

This was ratified by the States in 1791.

 

The first phrase "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." is called the establishment clause. It has been interpreted by the courts as requiring a separation between church and state. That is, the government (and by extension public schools) may not:

 

       promote one religion or faith group over any other

      promote a religiously based life over a secularly based life

       promote a secularly based life over a religiously based life. 

 

Three tests have been developed to decide the constitutionality of laws that have a religious component:

 

The Lemon test: This was defined in a Supreme Court ruling in 1971.  To be constitutional, a law must:

 

       have a secular purpose, and 

      be neutral towards religion - neither hindering nor advancing it, and

      not result in excessive entanglements between the government and religion.

 

The Endorsement Test: Justice O'Connor created this criteria: a law is unconstitutional if it favors one religion over another in a way that makes some people feel like outsiders and others feel like insiders.

 

The Coercion Test: Justice Kennedy proposed this criteria: a law is constitutional even if it recognizes or accommodates a religion, as long as its demonstration of support does not appear to coerce individuals to support or participate in a religion

 

There is some opposition, particularly among Fundamentalist Christians to this interpretation of the First Amendment by the courts. They feel that the Amendment should be interpreted literally to mean that the government may not raise any one denomination or religion to the status of an official or established religion of the country. They feel that the First Amendment contains no wording that prohibits the government from engaging in certain religious activities, like requiring prayer as part of the schedule at public schools, requiring schools, courts and government offices to post the Ten Commandments, allowing public schools to have organized prayers as an integral part of public school sports events, praying before board of education or municipal government meetings, etc.

 

The following phrase "Congress shall make no law...prohibiting the free exercise thereof... is called the free exercise clause; it guarantees freedom of religion. This passage does not promise absolute freedom of religion. The courts have found that parents cannot deny their children badly needed medical attention and rely on prayer; the Amish can be compelled to wear slow vehicle reflectors on the backs of their buggies; a congregation cannot generate annoyingly excessive noise during a service. The limits of this clause are continually being tested in the courts on a case-by-case basis.

 

"Wall of Separation" between Church and State

 

Thomas Jefferson, as president, wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut on 1802-JAN-1. It contains the first known reference to the "wall of separation". The essay states in part:

"...I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State..."

During the 1810's, President James Madison wrote an essay titled "Monopolies" which also refers to the importance of church-state separation. He stated in part:

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."

 

The US Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment as if it requires this "wall of separation" between church and state. It not only prohibits any government from adopting a particular denomination or religion as official, but requires government to avoid any involvement in religion.

Link:  Introduction to the Principle of Separation of Church and State  

 

 

2.   God’s  Laws  and  Man’s  Laws  on  Marriage

 

Marriage is clearly defined by the Lord Jesus Christ when He spoke to the Pharisees.  “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female.’  And said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mt. 19:4-6) 

 

US Federal Government "DOMA" Law

 

A "Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)" was written by Representative Steve Largent (R-OK). It defines the term marriage within Federal law as meaning "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." The act also excuses each state from having to follow the "full faith and credit" clause of the US constitution; this would allow a state to refuse to recognize a marriage made in another state if the spouses were of the same gender. A similar bill, S. 1740, was introduced to the Senate on 1996-MAY-8 by Senator Don Nickles (OK).

 

On Tuesday November 18, 2003 the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled 4-3 that the state's ban on gay marriages is unconstitutional. The court then gave the state Legislature 180 days to respond to their decision.

 

As the nation explores the landmark decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court on the right of same-sex couples to civil marriage, we as Christians should seriously consider its impact on one of the most significant civil and human rights issues of our time.  Marriage is a critical issue because it touches all at once on questions of love and sex, religion and politics, access to legal and economic benefits, and the role of government in our personal lives.

 

Legal efforts have been taken towards legalized same-sex marriage in Hawaii, VermontAlaska, and other states. Court decisions favoring equal rights for gays and lesbians were overturned by state constitutional amendments in Hawaii and Alaska. The Vermont Supreme Court ordered the state legislature to either:

 

      allow gays and lesbians to marry

      create a new form of government-recognized partnership for gays and lesbians which is equivalent to marriage in terms of benefits, obligations, and rights.

 

Article IV, Section 1 of the US Constitution states that "full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the...judicial proceedings of every other state." Thus, if one state legalizes same-sex marriages, and a couple is married in that state, then the remaining 49 states might be required to recognize the marriage. However, if a state passes a law expressly prohibiting same-sex marriages before they become available somewhere, then some legal authorities believe that they would not be compelled to recognize the marriage. These beliefs has not been tested in the courts.

Link:  Legislation prohibiting same sex marriages in U.S. states.

 

 

3.   God’s  Laws  and  Man’s  Laws  on  Murder

 

The first murder in the world occurred within the first family when Cain killed his brother Abel.  The narrative indicated it was premeditated murder and God punished Cain for it (Gen. 4:8-15).  God gave the Law against murder after the Great Flood.

 

“Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man.  From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.  Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.  And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.” (Gen. 9:5-7)

 

Here are some facts concerning capital punishment (death penalty) in America.

 

       In the United States, about 13,000 people have been legally executed since colonial times.

       By the 1930's up to 150 people were executed yearly. 2 Lack of public support for capital punishment and various legal challenges reduced the execution rate to near zero by 1967. The U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice in 1972.

       In 1976, the Supreme Court authorized its resumption. 3 Each state can now decide whether or not to have the death penalty. As of the 2002-OCT, only the District of Columbia and 12 states do not have the death penalty. The states which have abolished executions are: Alaska, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. However, seven jurisdictions have the death penalty but have not performed any executions since 1976: Connecticut, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota and the U.S. military.

       In almost all states, the death penalty is limited to cases involving aggravated murder. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that whenever a sentencing jury has the ability to impose capital punishment, the jury must be informed in advance if the defendant would be eligible for parole. Almost all states have an automatic review of each conviction by their highest appellate court.

       Texas holds the record for the largest number of executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Virginia executes a larger percentage of its population than any other state over 1 million in population. 

       Public approval of the death penalty is currently about 70%.

 

In America where the jury system is used some verdicts are surprising.

 

The Robert Durst Murder Trial   On November 11, 2003 a Galveston County jury acquitted multi-millionaire Robert Durst of first degree murder in the death of his neighbor, Morris Black. He claimed self-defense but admitted dismembering Black and throwing the body parts into Galveston Bay.  On the Today show, four of the Galveston County jurors were asked how they could exonerate a man who's confessed to cutting up the body of his best friend, running from police and disguising himself as a mute woman.

 

"He wasn't charged with all that," explained juror Christopher Lovell, a 47-year-old  League City electrician.

Joanne Gongora, 49, an assistant professor of nursing from Texas City, stressed that Durst was charged only with murder in the death of his 71-year-old neighbor, Morris Black. The only consideration, she said, was whether he tried to kill Black or whether the gun accidentally went off in a struggle. At no point during deliberations did more than three jurors believe Durst was guilty of murder.

 

"It's very difficult for the public to understand why we came to the decision that we did," Gongora acknowledged. "He did admit to the dismemberment. And it sounds terrible. It was a gruesome, bloody mess . . . but we looked at all the evidence at got past that. "

 

"The question that we had to answer was . . . Was it an intentional murder?  Was it self defense, an accident?"

 

In American Law an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.  The burden of proof of guilt lies with the prosecutor.  In a jury trial all twelve jurors must unanimously agree to a decision “beyond reasonable doubt” in order to return a verdict of “guilty as charged”.  In America wealthy clients can hire the best defense attorneys and the best jury selection consultants to work to their advantage and in their favor.  That is what Robert Durst did and that was also what O.J. Simpson did.

 

Robert Durst got away with murder through technicality by man’s laws.  If the prosecutors had charged him with either second degree murder or manslaughter it would have been a different verdict.  According to the Law of God and the law of conscience Robert Durst had already convicted himself by what he did after committing the offense.  It was “beyond reasonable doubt”.  Thank the Lord there is the Final Judgment of God.

 


 

May God bless You

 

A Bible Study based on this article was conducted by Paul Wong
to a congregation in Houston, Texas on November 21, 2003.

 

This article was published on this Website on July 20, 2009

 

For comments please write first to arkpw@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

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