Politics, the Law and Christianity
What is the connection between 'politics', the law and Christianity?
An interesting question - Politics is about governing and making rules for society. Laws are enacted by parliaments and politicians and enforced by the police and the judiciary.
Christianity has a great deal to say about laws - both personal and public - and also something to say about government.
Perhaps a more important question is "What is the role of government?"
Let's start with the Bible. There was a lot of instruction given about the role of judges and kings in the Old Testament.
In Romans 13, Paul says that the authorities have been instituted by God and that the role of government is to maintain order. The authorities have been given the ability to punish wrong-doers. If we obey the law we should avoid trouble! Of course, elsewhere, he reminds his readers that if the law of the nation is contrary to the law of God then we have a duty to obey God first.
In Australia the Parliament (federal and state) has the authority to make laws. In recent years, some of the laws that have been passed are opposed to Biblical teaching (abortion, homosexuality etc).
Christians have a responsibility to oppose them and to let our elected representatives we don't agree with them.
What are good laws?
Good laws are laws that provide for a just and peaceful society that protects the good people and punishes the bad. So we have laws against stealing and murder and rape. People get upset about the exploitation of children through child pornography.
In essence, good laws are based on the Bible. The second half of the Ten Commandments tell us not to lie, not to murder and not to steal...
Previous documents such as the Magna Carta and the 1689 Bill of Rights from the UK were based on the Bible - and they form the basis of our legal system and the laws passed by parliaments. Over recent years some of these have been whittled away. But it doesn't remove the fact that much of our law is based on Biblical principles.
I have asked atheists who correspond with us... 'Where do you get your ideas of morality from?'; 'Why is it wrong to steal?' etc. If we all evolved according to some 'survival of the fittest' rhetoric, why be nice to others when it should be in your own interests to defeat the other?
The role of the 'moral law'
The first article addresses the role of law in our society. Governments are responsible for the laws. Laws are always based on someone's values. If they aren't Christian beliefs and values, then where do the values come from?
Law and Moral Purpose
Robert P. George, First Things, January 2008.
"The obligations and purposes of law and government are to protect public health, safety, and morals, and to advance the general welfare-including, preeminently, protecting people's fundamental rights and basic liberties.
At first blush, this classic formulation (or combination of classic formulations) seems to grant vast and sweeping powers to public authority. Yet, in truth, the general welfare-the common good-requires that government be limited. Government's responsibility is primary when the questions involve defending the nation from attack and subversion, protecting people from physical assaults and various other forms of depredation, and maintaining public order. In other ways, however, its role is subsidiary: to support the work of the families, religious communities, and other institutions of civil society...."
The Origins of Australian Law
Rev Dr David Mitchell
David Mitchell has written and spoken extensively on the subject of the origin of the Australian legal system, the constitution and so forth.
The Origins of the Australian System of Law - and more
This is the booklet originally produced for the Constitutional Convention on the Referendum in 1998.
David was a delegate at the Convention in February 1998.
The Constitution - Past & Future
by Rev Dr David Mitchell (1988) - Posted on the NACL website.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE COMMONWEALTH CONSTITUTION
Australian Monarchist League, 1999.