Thought for the Day

There is a significant difference between breaking the rules and breaking the law. One is a key factor in progress and innovation; the other is a breach of morality and trust.

Thoughts? Bear in mind, this only just occurred to me, so I haven’t even had time to unpack the idea myself yet.

4 thoughts on “Thought for the Day”

  1. I think what you’re getting at is that there’s a difference between agreed upon conventions and moral principles.

    The former, which you call “rules” are more like the rules of a board game. They don’t arise from any moral principle other than the fact that without them there would be chaos and you would never know who won. There’s not really any authority who enforces them. They’re “enforced” by the players who have agreed to abide by the rules on the basis of the fact that they want to play the game in a way that everyone can enjoy. They’re not derived from any absolute standard, and in fact can be changed by “house rules,” so long as everyone agrees to them. Of course there are limits to this defined by a certain amount of variance within which it you can still reasonably be said to be playing the same game. Only a crazy person would play UNO and call it a house ruled version of Scrabble. If there is a dispute or accusation of foul play, it is worked out through arbitration over what the agreed upon terms of the rules are and what was actually done.

    Whereas laws have their basis in an absolute moral standard in the nature of “Thou Shalt Not ___” and enforced by a magistrate who has the legitimate authority to enforce laws within his particular domain. They derive from absolute moral principles and ultimately from the character of God and his Word. They govern human behavior because it would be a moral offense against God and against another man to commit these crimes, and thus they deserve a just recompense because something is wrong that must be put right. If there is an accusation of wrong done, it is handled as a criminal charge and, if necessary, penalty.

    I have some thoughts on the nature of the civil magistrate and the Biblical boundaries on his legitimate authority: http://seismicmike.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/theology-of-human-authority-and-civil-government-part-1/

    1. For the purposes of your statement, I think you considered laws to be somewhat more idealistic than they actually are; it is increasingly known to today’s people that many laws touch upon moral principles tangentially, if at all.

      1. If there are no morally binding principles to constrain laws, then there really is no basis for calling anything tyranny. If the true definition of law is whatever the government says it is, then the government can truly do what it wants. In reality, there are limits on what ought to be law. Whether you look to Natural Law as Locke did or to the Bible as I do, you find the principle that man has the right to life, liberty and property and to be free from coercive aggression against them. And no civil magistrate is above adherence to this principle, no matter what it declares legal for him to do by mere fiat.

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