Our Threatened Freedom

Do We Have Too Many Laws? (04:20)

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:01 Do we have too many laws? This is R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:08 People are always saying there ought to be a law to take care of this or that matter. We are all surrounded by a number of problems, and we are all too ready to assume that a new law can solve the problem. We forget that we already have an abundance of laws. Moreover, we forget what Charles Curtis once observed, “Language in legal documents does not fix meaning. It circumscribes meaning. Legal interpretation is concerned not with the meaning of words, but only with their boundaries.” What this means is simply this. Any law passed means not what the lawmakers may have intended, but what lawyers, courts and juries make it to mean.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:58 We pass a law to control criminals or child abusers, and that law ends up very often controlling us. The lawbreaker is very difficult and almost impossible to control. The law abiding citizen is easy to control, he obeys the law. As a result, the bureaucracies created to enforce laws end up controlling those who are law abiding. This is why on the whole the only people controlled by the new laws we pass are us. The lawbreakers make it their business to devise ways to get around the law. The tax evader has made evasion an art, and often a legal one. Those of us who have no protection against the bureaucracy or a court wind up as the losers. The more laws we pass, the more we are taxed and the more we are controlled.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:58 People constantly rail at bureaucracies, even law makers do. What all forget is that almost all laws require either the expansion or the creation of a bureaucracy to define and enforce the law. To ask for another law is to ask for more bureaucracy and more taxes. As a result, when we say there ought to be a law, we’re also saying that there ought to be more bureaucracy and more taxes. The bureaucracy that helps define the law by the way it applies it, interprets it, and enforces it. Bureaucracies are law interpreting agencies. By and large most of the law which governs us is bureaucratic regulations. Congress and the state and local law making bodies annually pass a limited number of laws. For each page of laws the bureaucracy puts out thousands of pages of interpretation and regulation. As a result, we now have more laws and regulations governing us than any man can know or can possibly understand, including lawyers. Some years ago lawyers had to specialize in a particular branch of law, corporation law, tax law, trust law, criminal law, and so on. Now lawyers are specializing in specialized areas of their specialties.

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:33 Very definitely you will not improve matters by asking for another law. Why this mess? Is it not because men have come to expect too much from law? It is faith and character which makes men free, not laws. Normally we do not eliminate problems by legislation, but rather by our Godly lives and actions. Laws cannot save us. It is the undo trust in law which is creating problems for us. Men create laws as though law could be their savior.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder