Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Take a Stand for True Liberty, Part 2

In our area we had a very prominent political figure and recently elected mayor convicted of sixty counts of receiving bribes and corruption. This was a Bible quoting mayor, too. I commented on it hearing the announcement on the radio in our car and my son said, "Is bribery wrong Dad?" I said, "Yes, son, it is." That set me to thinking about where our concept that bribery is wrong came from. It didn't come from Roman Law, as did much of our legal inheritance, for the ancient Romans were notorious as rulers for accepting bribes. One case in point comes from the New Testament itself, in Acts 24: 26, where Felix was noted as hoping to receive a "gift" from Paul in exchange for his freedom.

So where does the Western legal system's criminalization of bribery come from? Exodus 23: 8 says, "You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just" (NASB). The notion that bribery is wrong comes to our legal system by way of the Hebrew Scriptures. The logic of it is clear: Bribery undermines trust in the legal system and makes it possible for those with means to get their way against those who have less.

Does this somehow establish a joining of "church and state" because the origins of our proscription of bribery derives from the Bible? No, because there is no implicit endorsement of any one religion in it. Is the forbidding of bribery an attempt to legislate morality? Yes. Laws, when at their best, are legislating morality, whether in the form of forbidding murder, theft, bribery, prostitution, etc. Without such laws society would descend rapidly into sheer anarchy. Christians should never shrink from engaging the foolishness of the catch-phrase of our day--"you can't legislate morality". Engage that kind of thinking with keen logic and show the logical conclusion of a society without objective moral foundations. In so doing you will take a stand for true liberty.

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