Bad Laws Make Good Citizens Lawbreakers

All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions… Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.” (Dan. 6:7,9)

Daniel, the prophet of God, was a faithful, loyal, and good citizen in the Medo-Persian Empire. Unfortunately, there was a bad law passed that made this good citizen a lawbreaker. Daniel lived by principles—principles based upon the perfect law of God. His enemies came up with a plan to make him a lawbreaker, by making it illegal to ask any petition of God or man for 30 days (Daniel 6:7). These men feigned wanting to honour the king by this proposed law. King Darius unwittingly fell into their trap and passed the law (Daniel 6:9).

Being a man of prayer and principled living, Daniel “prayed and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10). These jealous leaders reported Daniel, as a lawbreaker, to the king: ” (Daniel 6:13). Try as hard as he possibly could, King Darius could not deliver Daniel from the consequences of this bad law (Daniel 6:14-15). Daniel was thrown into the den of lions.

God has ordained human government for the primary purpose of “the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” (1 Peter 2:14). Governments are to punish evildoers by upholding the law of God, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. Further, governments are to praise those who do well by acknowledging the good they do by awards, medals, feasts, and proclamations. No government has authority from God to pass laws that are evil or violate His laws.

Some examples of bad laws in Bible times would be the command by Pharaoh to kill all the male Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:16-22). This command made the Hebrew midwives and Moses’ parents lawbreakers. Another was the law by King Ahasuerus to kill all the Jews in his kingdom simply because they were Jews (Esther 3:8-14). This command was a death sentence for Mordecai and Queen Esther. Further, the decree by Nebuchadnezzar that forced all people to bow down and worship his golden image made Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lawbreakers (Daniel 3:4-7). Additionally, the command of the Sanhedrin not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus made Peter and John and the rest of the disciples lawbreakers (Acts 4:16-21; 5:27-29).

Today, laws that endorse confusion can make good citizens who do not support immorality lawbreakers. Laws that prohibit the free exercise of religious belief such as public praying, Bible reading, or preaching on certain issues, can make good Christian citizens lawbreakers. Hate speech laws can make a good citizen a lawbreaker as he expresses his beliefs and exposes error. Disagreement does not equal hate. Let’s pray that for our leaders that they will pass good laws and rescind bad laws so that we can we “may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Pastor David Harness Sr.