Rule of Law or Whim of Man

Rule of Law or Whim of Man

2015 | Week of July 6 – #1105

“We basically have two options when it comes to governing—the rule of law or the whim of man.” That’s how I start one of my presentations on religious liberty. It’s a stark comparison and a startling truth for most people.

Supposedly America is a nation governed by the rule of law—and for us, that rule of law has been, or is supposed to be based on the Constitution. The US Constitution is an admittedly imperfect document because it was written and voted on by imperfect people. However, by most anyone’s standard, it is still the finest example of an extant governing document in the world, especially for establishing a Republican representative form of government limited in its powers and recognizing “we the people” as the source of the government’s authority.

Where the rule of law is based on an independent, external, objective source on which those governing rely for determining right and wrong and applying justice, the whim of man is based on the emotions and the completely subjective sense at any given time of the person in charge.

If you don’t think the whim of man is currently alive and well in the world today, may I remind you about the incredible genocide in various countries in the 20th and 21st centuries, including in recent years Darfur and Syria? Such atrocities are committed because a ruler, a despot, a potentate, a dictator decides he or she doesn’t like or can’t tolerate a certain group or sect of people based on their ethnicity or their gender, or their religion or their nationality or something.

The decision to get rid of these people on a massive scale is based largely on the emotion, the whim of the leader. Governing by the whim of man is volatile and unpredictable—and almost always dangerous.

Absent the rule of law—or when a nation decides to ignore or reinterpret the governing document on which the rule of law, the whim of man almost always kicks in, especially since nature can’t abide a leadership vacuum. And it’s really never a good outcome when this happens. Leaders begin making it up as they go along, doing whatever seems right in their own eyes—in their own emotions and mind.

America is quickly becoming a nation governed by the whim of man rather than the rule of law.  Our federal courts, in particular the US Supreme Court, have been for years creating ideas and so-called rights that are not in the Constitution, such as creating a right to abortion on demand or a right to marriage between persons of the same sex.

It’s not just the courts, of course, that is remaking the Constitution in their own image. Consider that President Obama rarely talks about what the First Amendment really says about religious freedom, preferring to use terms such as “freedom of worship.”

He’s made it quite clear that as long as Christians in particular don’t have the unmitigated audacity to live their faith 24/7, 365 in public—including in their businesses, in the halls of government or anywhere else in the public arena, but keep it within the confines of our churches and homes, he’s ok with whatever it is we believe. But he and many others in positions of high leadership across the country don’t want and will likely do what they can to silence the true free exercise of one’s faith in the public arena.

Consider what the State of Oregon just last week told the bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage:  not only will we fine you $135,000, but we are ordering you not to talk publicly about your beliefs on this subject. That is governing on the whim of man not the rule of law.

God blessed this nation with founders who had the insight and ability to craft a government based on the rule of law. They knew that keeping this rule of law would not be easy, especially since doing so depends on the character of those elected to govern and on the character of “we the people.” But they at least gave us the opportunity to avoid the ugliness and danger of government based on the whim of man.  The question we must soon answer is what are we willing to do to keep the rule of law in this nation? Doing nothing almost certainly means we will be subject to the whim of man.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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