Legality

July 7, 2017

Extremely important thought for the day:   Why is it that when crunchy things get stale they get soft and when soft things get stale they get crunchy?  It’s these kind of things that keep me awake at night.  Now you can stay awake too.

On to more important subjects.

You may have seen the recent decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court related to “disparaging trademarks.”  Don’t know what I mean?  Continue on.  Back in 2011 a rock band of all Asian men decided to name themselves “Slant.”  You might know that the moniker “slant” is an offense, for good reason, to many Asian people.  “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had refused to register the band’s name, citing a law that denied trademarks that disparage individuals, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”    So the band took the government to task and also to court.  After rulings in several lower courts and various appeals up the line the case was finally heard at the U.S. Supreme Court.  The court ruled that denying the use of the name “…offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend”.  The short of it is this… offensive names and words cannot be outlawed as that would violate our freedom of speech.

Let me respond by first saying that I would not want the job of the justices who sit on the Supreme Court.  And no matter which way they went with this decision, the future would be fraught with complications.  For example the biggest problem facing anyone making decisions about all of this would be, “Who determines what is offensive and what is not?”  Now that decision is essentially moot, since folks can say or name themselves most anything they want.  The most offensive, disgusting words are now within our reach… legally.  Whoo, whoo!  Aren’t we lucky!  Seriously however, this was a major no winner no matter which way the Court decided.

Frankly I didn’t really start this rumination to discuss Supreme Court rulings.  What I really want to say is this:  Because something is legal and or allowable, that does not make it moral, good or Godly.  Right?  There are things that are legal, but frankly are anathema.  The question is… Where do we learn to make decisions about these things?  Who teaches discernment anymore?  In particular who teaches our kids or grandkids?  Who teaches them that because the government deems something to be legal that does not mean it is good or pleasing to God?  Do we leave it up to Hollywood?  Ha, ha, ha, ha… whoops almost swallowed my tongue.  Do we leave it up to television networks?  Seriously?!?!  The internet?  Really?!?!  Do we leave it up to the schools?  I wish.  They are so frightened of lawsuits they can hardly function.  Do we leave it up to the Church?  Well, given that over 90% of our kids have little if any contact with Christian organizations that seems unlikely.  Maybe the family?  Um… do you know what “dysfunction” means?  It defines the families in which too many of our kids live.  Sadly, something inside of us says that if the government says “it’s” okay then… “it” must be okay.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH……………………………………. NOT TRUE!

In Galatians 5, Paul lists numerous things that are, for the most part, legal but are they good?  19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  Clearly, none of these things fall under the category of “good.”

Paul then goes on to list those behaviors that ALL Christians should exhibit.  We call them the “product” or “Fruit of the Spirit.”   …love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

He then goes on to say that there is no law prohibiting these things.  The same as the list above… no law.  No direction from the world.  No help from those who establish the guidelines for the world in which we live.

I’m not sure where to go with this other than to say, even those with the best intentions in the “law making business” are restricted by what the law and the world allows.  We, in the Christian community, can and must be more discerning about what is Godly vs. what is “legal.”  Please teach those in your sphere of influence what it means to do what is “good” vs. doing with is “legal.”

As stated above… they are NOT the same!