Bob Tamasy: What Are Laws Good For, Anyway?

Monday, June 17, 2019 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

We’re a nation of laws. There are laws for almost everything. Consider, for instance, laws just for travel: from speed limits on our streets and highways to jaywalking; to the use of smartphones to talk and text while driving; to operating a vehicle while impaired, to where we can park and for how long. We have laws for traveling by air, water, even by bicycle, scooter and skateboard.

We also have laws concerning the food we eat; things we drink; medicines we take; stuff to smoke if we wish to do so. There are laws about buying, selling and trading. Copyright and trademark laws for what we can copy or replicate. We’ve got laws to regulate hiring, firing, employment and compensation, vacations and leaves of absence. Laws tell us how to enforce contractual agreements.

Then we have the basic laws for common sense things, like not killing or injuring people, stealing things that aren’t ours, telling the truth (or not), borrowing, renting and leasing. When people are accused of breaking one or more laws, we even have laws directing how we’re to prosecute alleged lawbreakers. And laws for what to do with them if convicted. When someone says, “There ought to be a law,” lawmakers eagerly respond, “Okay!”

But what good are laws anyway? Speed limits, clearly visible on most roadways, don’t stop people from speeding. Every state has laws against driving under the influence, but some folks do it anyway. We have laws against shoplifting, but it still happens. Laws against murder, robbery, kidnapping, spousal abuse and every other wrong thing we can imagine have been enacted; yet those heinous crimes continue.

So again – what good are laws? We find an answer in the book of Romans. Speaking of the Ten Commandments as well as all other laws, the apostle Paul writes, “for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account where there is no law” (Romans 5:13). He’s saying even before formal laws were established, people were doing wrong – and they knew they were doing wrong.

Consider this analogy: A heavily traveled road in our part of town has a legal, posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour. Signs are visible at various intervals, and if a law enforcement officer catches you driving above that limit, you risk receiving a citation (or worse, depending on how fast you’re traveling).

One might say that if signs weren’t present and a speed limit hadn’t been set, we could drive the road 100 miles an hour or faster. But that’s not true. With the high density of traffic, along with the concentration of businesses and homes, it doesn’t take genius to realize driving 100 mph there is neither safe nor wise.

In this case the law serves as a reminder that driving well in excess of 40 mph puts ourselves and everyone around us at risk. Yes, had the laws not been created and signs posted, we couldn’t be prosecuted for breaking them. But common sense would still tell us, “Hey, stupid, it’s really not safe driving this fast.”

When God handed the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai – in the process originating the phrase, “Take two tablets and call Me in the morning” – the Lord was putting into writing what deep down mankind already knew: We shouldn’t murder. We shouldn’t steal. We shouldn’t be dishonest. We shouldn’t have sexual relations with someone we’re not married to. We shouldn’t covet or be envious of other people’s stuff.

Paul stated it this way: “…when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness…” (Romans 2:14-15). Somehow it seems, from the moment of birth or even before, the understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong has already been impressed indelibly on our hearts.

The other benefit of God’s laws, from a spiritual perspective, is they point us to Him. The first four Commandments presented in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, for example, speak directly of our relationship with the Lord: We’re not to worship other gods; not to create and worship idols of false gods; not to use God’s name in a disrespectful or blasphemous way; and we’re to set apart a Sabbath day for worship and refraining from our usual work.

Knowing God’s laws also enables us to arrive at a profound realization. Being born with what we might term the “sin gene,” a natural inclination toward rebellion against the Lord, we discover it’s impossible to “clean up our own act” and make ourselves right with Him. No matter how hard we try, we always fall short – missing the mark of God’s perfect standard.

I can identify with Paul when he wrote, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within [me]. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:21-24).

Almost immediately, however, Paul tells us “who” can rescue him – and us: “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). Elsewhere he writes that we have a choice; we don’t have to break the law, just as we don’t have to break the speed limit. “…count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus…. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:11-14).

No matter how many laws are written and enforced, amended and reinforced, they can’t force us to abide by the law if we choose not to do so. But through God’s provision, we not only recognize Him as the ultimate Lawgiver, but He also provides us the capacity for willingly and joyfully keeping His laws.

- - - -

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Kordin Hatch Completes 2-Year Mission

2nd Missionary Baptist Church Celebrates 74th Women’s Day

Get It Back To You Is Topic At Metro Tab Church Sunday


Elder Kordin Hatch of Ringgold completed a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in the Colorado Fort Collins Mission including the neighboring cities ... (click for more)

The community is invited to Second Missionary Baptist Church, 2305 E. Third Street, for the 74th annual Women’s Day Celebration, on Sunday, Sept. 22. The 8 a.m. guest speaker is Pastor Terryl ... (click for more)

The message at Metro Tab Church on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. will be "Get it Back to You" brought by Dr. Steve Ball, founder and senior pastor. The public is invited to come and enjoy a cup coffee ... (click for more)


Church

Kordin Hatch Completes 2-Year Mission

Elder Kordin Hatch of Ringgold completed a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in the Colorado Fort Collins Mission including the neighboring cities of Cheyenne, Wy.; Loveland and Greeley, Co.; Scottsbluff, Nv.; and Laramie, Wy. Mr. Hatch is the son of Sam and Shauna Hatch, and is the oldest brother to Chayson, Abby, Jadyn, Savannah, ... (click for more)

2nd Missionary Baptist Church Celebrates 74th Women’s Day

The community is invited to Second Missionary Baptist Church, 2305 E. Third Street, for the 74th annual Women’s Day Celebration, on Sunday, Sept. 22. The 8 a.m. guest speaker is Pastor Terryl James, Washington Hills United Methodist Church (UMC), Chattanooga. Pastor James is a native Chattanoogan who serves in several church and civic roles, including the Design Team for Strengthening ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Dr. William Jackson Named Erlanger’s New CEO; Spiegel Gets Year's Salary, Continuing Insurance

During a specially-called meeting of the Erlanger Health System Board of Trustees, Chairman Mike Griffin announced that Chief Medical Officer Dr. William L. Jackson Jr., has been appointed as the health system’s new president and chief executive officer. Also a settlement was reached with former president Kevin Spiegel, who resigned last week under pressure from the board. ... (click for more)

Car Accident On Lee Highway Causes Vehicle To Crash Into Hotel

A car accident on Lee Highway caused a gold van to leave the road, crash into an SUV in a hotel parking lot and then into two hotel rooms, structurally damaging the building. The incident happened just after 3 p.m. Wednesday at the In Town Suites on Lee Highway. Both hotel rooms were empty at the time of the incident. A total of 12 surrounding rooms were evacuated as a precaution. ... (click for more)

Opinion

Let The Water Company Pay The Bill - And Response

Tennessee American breaks a line and 35,000 people lose water for three days. Well they don’t exactly admit they broke it, they were working on it a few feet away and it just broke….so they say. One half of TAWC service area is out of water three days and nights, hospitals canceling surgery, schools closed and opened and then sending the children home, businesses shut down, government ... (click for more)

Gregg Gentry Says He Was Not At Meeting On Nurse Pay

Regarding Mr. Exum's claim in his Sept. 12 column that Erlanger Chief Administrative Officer Gregg Gentry attended his Sept. 4 meeting with Kevin Spiegel is not accurate. Mr. Gentry said he was not at this meeting. (click for more)