Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the law and the golden rule

10/15/18

 

I have wondered before at the emphasis many in Christianity place on the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses. My question has been this- why not focus on the two great commandments proclaimed by Jesus. It always seemed ironic to me that Christianity remains dedicated to law keeping, specifically the Mosaic Law, when Jesus reduced everything down to love God and your fellowman. After noting what Jesus taught about judgment in Matthew 25, we see that loving God and loving humanity are really the same thing. We love God by loving mankind. Thus the essence of the law is the Golden Rule.

 

Strangely though, the  Golden Rule and the Mosaic Law appear basically incompatible. We know that the punishments under the Law, especially death, could never survive the commandment to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. That should tell us something about the purpose of the Law and its proper use. It could never have been intended as a means to suppress and punish people. Its intended function would have to be that of serving as a guide to personal conduct. The addition of a humanly administered enforcement system is by nature a violation of the essence of the law as taught by Jesus and Paul (see Romans 13).

 

This explains why a law oriented, humanly administered religious system, like Orthodox Christianity, can never really embrace what Jesus proclaimed as the greatest commandment. Law systems, as viewed through the lens of human history, always incorporate threats of punishment. Under the auspices of any administrative law and its humanly managed judicial system, there can be no room to honor the greatest commandment. In fact, the law says we must sacrifice the well being of some to enhance or maintain the well being of others, the ones to which we feel most attached. The one who commanded to love your enemies could not have seen the greatest commandment as a choice to love some by hating others. That may make sense to our natural mind, but apparently it does not reflect the mind of Christ.

 

As difficult as it may seem, the ethics of Jesus set aside the requirements of any judicial law system, especially any which says do or die at the hands of an external agent. Any agent, acting with the blessing of Jesus, could never violate the great commandment because such would establish a new even greater commandment, namely kill or be killed, punish or be punished. If the Golden Rule is as tightly focused on the deserving few as many of us seem to believe, then Jesus spoke nonsense; and we just need to admit that Moses had the better message.

 

None of this means that ignoring the law has no consequences. The point is that those consequences come about without any human agency. They just occur naturally, being self inflicted.