Legal? Says Who?!

One can quote, mis-quote or interpret most any source as a basis for winning, getting the leverage, attempting to gain advantage, justice or at least towards getting ones own way. Sometimes even God would agree. Sometimes He would not.

It’s easy to confuse or worse, deliberately spin or play with “facts” in order to “win”.

People quote hearsay, gossip and slander, liberal or conservative press, solid or skewed histories, theology, science, the U.S. constitution and even the Bible to get control and win an argument or political, business or another kind of “payday”.

Certainly every human beings sense of morality and ethics, concern for good conscience are not -always- ignored or buried. But oh how winning can mean everything to a person.

I preached a message that I am sure bothered a number of peeps some years ago that mentioned how one somewhat understandable view was that Jesus lost, was a loser and that His followers have often been considered losers too.

Nobody loves defeat, loss, pain, or uncertainty about the future. It seems only winners get the good stuff.

Jesus and plenty of His disciples appear to have suffered and indeed lost a great deal. Human history seems much the same. I do believe He was raised alive forever out of that tomb, but this only after a brutal and truly undeserved death.

So consider conquering another country, race, people group, however such victory might be won.

How do we -in the light of God and His Word- always claim moral, ethical and even practical purity and superiority much less the “legality” of such? When is liberation in actuality domination? How many historical references accurately portray love, grace, compassion and respect toward a nation or people group that you, I or others “in our name” conquered?

My point is that all of us have and at times do violate the ten commandments for example, yet demand others live by them. Since when is genuine love a matter of force rather than something given voluntarily?

Indeed, what does love have to do with humans conquering other humans?

We sometimes want to win on the ground of law, and in terms of civil law two major issues come to my mind: the victors create or modify laws often to gain or keep power… and secondly, in a democratic election with winners and losers, losers can fall to temptations driven by self interest, fear and anger at their real, imagined or expected sense of loss now that they’ve lost power. Sometimes what is or is not “legal” is invoked.

Had the result been different some of the same motives and perhaps tactics may have been used by the other side.

Ethics, morals, love, compassion and justice- especially for widows, orphans, the poor, the minorities, the foreigner,  those most marginal are often going to take the hardest hit. Why?

Power, money, winning regardless is the deal. In Jesus’ time on earth it was no different. Before and after He walked the earth yields little difference. Those with the power, money and military win. Those without for the most part, lose. The winners write the laws, the losers just lose.

On top of all this, often those who speak the most (in a spiritual sense) about love and grace vs. legalism and law in the churches are the first to scream for law and order in terms of civil law. They, of course, mean THEIR choice of law, THEIR interpretation of the law, etc.. Make no mistake, the same thing happens if “the other side” wins.

The attitude is all too often: “If I lose don’t expect ‘love your enemies’ or ‘do unto others’ to affect my heart toward you jerks!!”

Did Europeans “legally” colonize? Has the U.S. “legally” done so in every case throughout our history? Has -any- nation or people who subjugated another always done so “legally”… and what truly moral, ethical, legal ground do we stand on when power, control, wealth and fear are core to such decisions?

Certainly there are exceptions. One can make a case for people one likes. One can speak of atrocities in pagan cultures God told Israel to conquer. Does that mean Israel has done no wrong then or since, can do no wrong?

“My country right or wrong” can be cited along with the other sources I’ve already quoted to proclaim “righteousness” about all sorts of immoral, unethical and deeply oppressive acts and laws. History is strewn with this.

When I bring the Bible into this sort of discussion, I mean exactly what I believe the writer meant: “NONE are righteous, not even one”.

It is sooooooo easy to claim moral superiority on the basis of law -until you face the tragic, troubling fact that plenty of times human motives are laced with selfish, immoral, “too-bad-you-lost-dude” attitudes mixed with a heritage of conquest that wasn’t “legal” in the first place.

My own pain often comes from siding with both “friends” as well as “enemies” on the basis of thought, prayer, study and a serious weighing of the bulk of historical facts. Sometimes this puts me in the hot seat with either or even both “sides” of an issue. So be it.

Such is life in a fallen, imperfect world of people like… um… like all of us.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn



  1. Excellent read Glenn! It’s hard to live by “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me” when you are also saying “To the victor goes the spoils”. I have come to the point in this culture where it makes no sense to argue with anybody because the only real change that is made happens when someone decides for themselves to change. Gone are the days of civil discussion and “Agree to disagree”. I will always defend what I have come to know what is right, but we have to start asking about out motivations and what has driven us to believe what what believe.

    1. Thanks Mark. I hear and agree with you. I still enter into the lion’s den at times, but I pick and choose. Yes, civil discussion is more and more a thing of the past, but it doesn’t need to be. So there are times to speak and times to refrain from speaking (read that one somewhere… heh!). Motives are huge and often the soul-searching and hard look in the mirror is something all too easy to avoid. Examine yourselves (said Paul) and I think checking our motives before pulling ANY trigger is a massive and under-served matter. Thanks, -Glenn

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