Wednesday, June 10, 2009

law, the

I always thought that listening to debaters talk about federal law was funny. They had all of these cute examples about pork spending and ridiculous regulations. Like regulations about how to install toilets, or regulations about dental care. I thought it was funny, because the examples were funny. Now, I just found out a little bit more about just how real, and how funny it is.

My dad is a really, really smart person. He knows business, and not in the way that an economist knows business. An economist knows why business does what it does. My dad doesn't really care how it does it, but he always know how to make it work for him. He is the king of profit schemes, and all of his profit schemes are the result of prayer. His best ideas are the simplest ones, like the most true things are the most basic. I'll have to write about my dad some time, because he's an amazing person. But, this post isn't about him. For now, satisfy yourself with the knowledge that tomorrow he's meeting with some person in state legislature about some new bill regarding the Internal Revenue Code. As part of that meeting, he was preparing the night before, he was reading through the proposed bill. And, since I wasn't doing anything (having just finished Jayber Crow and not wanting to start another book until I had more time to think through what I had read) I was helping him by looking up particular laws that this bill referenced. Here is my latest Google search term: "Chapter 1, Sub-chapter A, Part IV, Subpart C of the Internal Revenue Code 1986"

Why can't we just have a flat tax? Or a fair tax? The cynic in me says that we can't have that because it would make sense, because that would be equality, that would mean that the special interest parties don't get anything for lining the pockets of crooked politicians. Oh, it is a struggle not to think such thoughts, not to think the worst of everyone. But even someone who is not a cynic can agree that something is fundamentally wrong with our nation. Part of me fails to see how humans are even capable of writing trash like our current legal code. Why is it necessary that it be so complicated? I read the bill, I didn't understand what it was saying, but after five minutes of my dad explaining, I figured out that it was actually an okay idea. Five minutes of plain english was all it took to explain this one idea.

That's still a lot, when you compare it with "thou shall not steal" or "love your neighbor as yourself." But, in this world, there are always going to be those who have to know "who is my neighbor?" There's always someone hoping that the law isn't saying what they know it is saying. Are they the ones that write the laws? Are they the ones that need the laws. I don't know, but it feels as though bureaucracy defines the difference between order and bondage.

But, if you look in the Old Testament, it wasn't just the ten commandments, there was more, there were rules, regulations, how things were supposed to be done, details about not just what kind of clothes the high priest wore, but also what colors to wear, how to make the garment, and what accessories went with it. But even those, the words of God, felt like the letter of the law rather than the spirit. They felt like an expression of the duty to have no other gods put before the Lord. The command to steal, feels only like an expression of the higher law to love our neighbor as ourselves. Ultimately, I think that all law can and was summed up when it was said "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." Perhaps, then, the other laws are only an answer to those who insist on asking how they are to love God, and who their neighbors are. I think, the more we obey the law, the less we need the law to be there. The more we love God and others, the less we need to be told how, even why. It simply becomes apparent, it becomes simple, we are shown what is true, and the law was simply a tool to show us what is true. The law is the letter, the Law is the spirit, and the spirit is love.

The nature of truth is a source of much speculation for me. Because it seems that truth is simple, but that it is also bigger than any more complex falsity. But, at times, truth feels incomprehensible, or illogical, and I have to remind myself that logic isn't truth. That reason and faith can lead to truth, but neither necessarily does.


  1. Wow, awesome post, great things to think about. "The law is the letter, the Law is the spirit, and the spirit is love."
    It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses ever, Hebrews 10:1: "For since the law has but a shadow of the true things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near."

    (A side note of appreciation: This post is beautifully clear and organized, and it must have taken a long time to write.)

  2. Yes.

    Yes. :) I think the reasons we need these laws of "do not steal" or "do not murder" etc is partly because human beings tend to look for ways to wiggle their way out of meaning of the law. "Love your neighbor" is too vague for us. The other part is that we don't really even know what love is. "Do not steal" is part of the definition of love.