WHEN BREAKING THE LAW BREAKS THE LAW – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN
I see similarities between the end of (legal) segregation and the issue of immigration. They are both more ethical issues than legal ones.
Many Christians look at what Paul said in Romans 13 about “submitting to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” and so on, as God’s absolute law.
If all governing authorities are to be submitted to because they are established by God, what would it mean when King Xerxes commanded that everyone kneel when Haman passed by and Mordecai didn’t. He broke the law. Haman saw this, and wanted the law kept. You remember that this lawbreaking event led to the liberation of the Jews So breaking a law, broke a law.
When Daniel was in Babylon the King passed a law which said when the music sounded everyone must bow toward the ninety-foot golden idol. Three Jews refused, and having broken the law, ended up in the fiery furnace. Daniel himself ended up in the lion’s den because he prayed against a law that banned his kind of praying. Now I realize we could put Daniel and his friends in the “Better to obey God than man” category. (Peter, Acts 419) But Daniel’s “law breaking” caused King Darus to proclaim to all the land that the God of Daniel was “The living God who lives forever.” (6:26)
Are there not laws that if kept would make one disobedient to God? What about loving one’s neighbor as oneself? What about “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down ones life for a friend”?
In Hitler’s Germany it was against the law to aid or hide a Jew. The penalty was imprisonment or death. Few German Christians broke that law. Those like the Ten Boom family, (The Hiding Place) when caught, died in concentration camps except for Corrie. The life and diary of Ann Frank also show the bravery and tragedy of breaking a bad law. By the way, the Germans used America’s Jim Crow laws to fashion the Nuernberg laws against Jews.
The Jim Crow laws were actual, “on-the-books” laws in Jim Crow states. When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery Ala., she broke the law (of God?). She intended to break it after talking to Christian lawyer and Church of Christ minister, Fred Gray, along with others of Martin Luther King Jr.’s associates. She went to jail for doing it, but that, and all the other lawbreakers, like those four who sat at the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, broke the legal (God ordained?) Jim Crow law into pieces.
Like the current immigration law, Jim Crow law was a blanket law. It had nothing to do with education, talent, money or anything other than color. The current immigration law, as I understand it, is “country blind,” meaning all immigrants are treated the same. Perhaps not. Money talks. Regardless, the immigration application costs $725.00. If the Green Card route is taken, the cost is in the thousands.
In Acts 10:27-29, Peter tells Cornelius, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him.” (A kind of early Jim Crow law.)
Since it seems no such explicit law can be found in the Bible, it might be dismissed as custom. However, Peter says it is a law. If it was a law, as Peter said, it may have been a law set down by the ruling Jews. Who else? Be that as it may, it would still fall under the usually excepted definition of what Paul calls a “Ruler.” Romans 13 says nothing about the ruler’s religion, qualities or background. Under this definition, would we say Peter broke the law of a God-ordained authority?
That would be a problem since Peter says it was God who told him it was a bad law. “But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” (v.28)
I ran off a list of Jim Crow laws. Keep in mind, these are laws laid down by the “authorities” and “rulers.” (Rom. 13:1-3)
Would we as Christians obey something like this? “Any person who shall be guilty of printing, publishing etc. in favor of social equality etc., shall be guilty…and subject to a fine not exceeding $500.00 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.” Wouldn’t Peter’s vision speak to that? Wouldn’t that also make it fall into the category of “Better to obey God than man”?
No doubt we have an immigration problem. No doubt there are “bad” people who slip into this country. But the “blanket” approach does not work any better than the Jim Crow laws. It was easy to keep the blacks in line with such laws, except when there were those who challenged them by breaking them. This is also historically true.
What we are seeing with immigration is that “one covers all” does not work, at least for those with the compassion we expect from good (Christian?) people.
On the Jimmy Kimmel show, he had a husband and wife with a small child. The husband, a citizen, was in the military. The child was born in the US. The wife was undocumented. Kimmel asked about six people what to do. All of them pointed to the law being broken, but one man insisted the child could stay but because the mother broke the law, she had to go. He’s right. She broke the law. How would you view that law? The same as the Jim Crow law? A blanket which treats the person by color regardless. Or in this case an undocumented person, regardless?
As we watch this issue unfold, as Christians we should recognize that all bad laws were broken and replaced because someone had the courage to break them, like Peter. And to know that God knows the difference and expects us to speak for God.
In Paul Simon’s words, “The mother and child reunion is only a moment away.”
I hope so.
CONCERNS: Judy Hall may be home by this weekend. She will be at home and cared for by home health care providers. Susan Jordan has asked our prayers for Carlos and Silvia Baltedano in Montellano, Guatemala. Deana McRoy continues cancer treatment, as does Teryn Gaynor’s mother. Both Joni and Alan Beach’s parents have health issues, as does Del Bolin’s mother. Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
This Sunday is Super Sunday. We will share a meal together in the annex following the service. Plan to stay, and if you are a visitor consider yourself our guest.
On this third Sunday of the month we have a special service. It will be built around a devotional service lead by one of our members.
Karen Branch has spent the week in Costa Rica with AC on a religious retreat
REPAIRS TO BEGIN
After a rather large gas bill, (It appears we were undercharged in December) the gas company checked out
our service, including installing a new gas meter. It seems the old one was too small for both buildings. It was also discovered that the main furnace had a draft problem. When our H&C man checked, he found that the top of the furnace had rusted out due to water collecting for the air conditioning coil. This will require removing the side of the furnace and patching the hole, as well as raising the whole unit so the water will drain properly.
The work will begin on a Monday and should be done by the following Friday. So it will not interfere with the Sunday service unless something unforseen occurs.
The class is studying the Gospel of John.