The angst which many feel in relationship to a number of political issues is the result of a longstanding human failing. This failing is quite the opposite of what the religious moralists are prone to insist, namely that humanity is by nature disobedient to the laws, both divine and secular. Instead, the failing is the egotistical way we eagerly use the law as an excuse to label and abuse people. Instead of the law being our personal ethical guide, it becomes our ready excuse for ignoring or even denying the supreme moral principles as taught by Jesus and which reverberate in the heart, when we bother to listen.
Convenient labels like illegal and criminal are thrown about in abundance to reinforce this avoidance of ultimate ethical responsibility. As long as there is a law, that is all the justification that is needed to set aside the more important issue of what is ethically right so as to do whatever serves my self interest, sense of privilege, and need for security.
The rule of law is a two edged sword inevitably. The law can guide and elevate or it can oppress and demean. Dedication to the principle of rule of law requires constant attention to this dichotomy. Additionally, it is quite evident from our history that oppression under the law is very easily disguised as its proper use, especially by the religious who feel that they are the supreme moralists among us.
Those prone to fear, for whatever reason, are particularly susceptible to using the law without regard to its larger ethical context and becoming abusers of the law. Unfortunately we live in a world of ever more rapid change, which is frightening to many.
What will guide us as individuals and a nation, self serving laws or noble ethical principles? What is the ultimate guide for a Christian, the law of Moses or the Golden Rule? How will we deal with our fears? Arm and segregate ourselves or renew our faith in God and His creation?