The Cost of a Lawless Society

Friday, Nov 13, 2020
Jim Sutton

Lex Rex, the book written by the Scottish Presbyterian minister Samuel Rutherford that was published in 1644 provides a framework for understanding the two types of governing societies. The two are based on the words Lex, which stands for the law, and Rex, which stands for the King. The phrase Lex Rex in Latin translates to “The law is king”, while Rex Lex translates to “The king is law”. The differences between the two are at the heart of how America came to be.

With Rex Lex societies, the law is vested in the character and whims of the ruling authorities. In Lex Rex societies, the law supersedes the whims and character of the ruling authorities. While this is a simplification of the book that advocated limited government and a constitutional form of government and a theory of Church-State relations which I will leave to the reader to discover, the framework was pivotal for John Locke’s political theory which largely shaped the framers of our nations Constitution and our system of government.

The essential idea is that law should determine the boundaries between right and wrong of a nation’s society rather than arbitrary human governmental authorities. This may seem shocking to the present-day reader, especially with the disparate voting standards that exist throughout the nation and are causing a national crisis. How far we have come from that standard of Lex Rex to the inner courts of Rex Lex in terms of our means of apportioning governmental authority.

So let me make an appeal to my reader. Have you considered the personal cost that Rex Lex, or arbitrary and capricious law may intrude on you personally, your family, your city, your nation and the nations of the world? We read in Scripture where Samuel was entreated by the people for a King. These were the days of the prophets, times when people were responsible for their safety, food, family needs and social interaction. Perhaps they wanted the King to provide stability where there was a fear of danger from strong enemies that lived near them. But the cost, as Scripture tells us, was greater than what they ended up gaining from a Rex Lex arrangement.

To live is to incur cost at some level, whether it be focused more on survival, or the ability to pay the governing authorities for their “services” to the society. Some desire safety even if the cost removes their access to freedom and the pursuit of happiness via the economic environment produced by governing authorities. Others will see the fallacy present in this that was recognized by Benjamin Franklin when he stated: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. I’ve written specifically on how this relates to the current dubious practice of wearing masks in another post.

Let me sum up with these recent observations. Some Pastors (who should know better) have chosen the path of safety in not taking a biblical stand against obvious moves toward Rex Lex in our nation when it would require them to indicate where a political party is the culprit for the slide toward Rex Lex. Some commiserate with those who are suffering under illegitimate governments yet neglect to guard against evil in their Lex Rex leaning society by taking a passive or “pc” stance when it involves drawing a distinction between political parties that are vying for leadership. Too many people overlook the corruption of a voting system that is fast removing the ability of a free society to maintain leadership integrity. Could it be that the desire for safety couched in a “peace and unity at all costs” mindset that ignores evidence for election changing fraud results in a slide toward Rex Lex? The cost of this slide will be enormous and will cause far more suffering to people than taking a stand while the slide could have been arrested.

A commitment to the Lex Rex which is inherent to Scripture coupled with exercising the freedom to speak out against evils is the salve that begins a nations healing. If the aim, however, is to cause more suffering in the world to minimize the sins inherent to materialism and prosperity, then our nation is on the right path. But I maintain that is not in keeping with our Lord’s words which said; “I have come to bring life, and that more abundantly”. Are we involved in the adventure of healing our land by encouraging the shift to Lex Rex that blesses a nation (whose God is the Lord), or are we pursuing a safety in our words and deeds that in the end will not only destroy our ability to relate the Christ we know to the world, and cause great misery to our fellow travelers on earth by our negligence to understand the times? The costs in terms of human life and capital of a Lex Rex society will never be greater than the costs of a Rex Lex, or lawless society when evaluated over time.