THE purpose of all human law is not to enforce what is right, but to enforce rights.
God’s law commands what is right; and it seems, at first thought, that the laws of men should do the same. It is often said that we must have laws which will enforce the laws of God. Many have the idea that unless the ten commandments were “backed up” by the laws of the land, society would lapse into chaos, and government would go to ruin.
But as a matter of fact, the law of the land does not enforce the law of God in any case. In the first place, it cannot do so, for the divine law prohibits wicked thoughts as well as wicked acts. It prohibits covetousness as well as murder. It commands love to God and to man. And in the second place, it would be suicidal for the state to attempt to enforce God’s law.
Why?—Because that law prohibits sin, under the penalty of death. And as all men are sinners, there would remain only the death penalty to be enforced upon all by the state. The state would thus exterminated self.
There is a large religious party in this country which is laboring to “put God into the Constitution” and incorporate his law into the law of the state. They are trying to get Congress and the legislatures to remodel the Government on this basis; and if they could succeed they would be ready to run the Government on this Christian (as they call it) plan. But where would they begin executing the penalty of violation of God’s law? Would they begin on themselves? or on others? Evidently, they would begin on the dissenters, and would never reach themselves. History tells us it has always been this way in the past, and there is no reason to suppose it would be different now. Of course, it would be bad enough if they should be consistent enough to begin at home; for the purpose of the gospel is to save man  from the immediate execution of the penalty for sin that he may have time to repent and accept the substituted sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Enforcement of the law of God by a human government would be a proceeding diametrically opposed to the gospel.