As the 2020 election recedes in our rearview mirror and the godless media relentlessly push a false narrative that “Biden won,” it’s instructive to consider just what price America — and you, dear reader — will pay if evil becomes established by law. In most legal theories, there are two kinds of illegal actions: malum in se and malum prohibitum.
Malum in se is a Latin phrase meaning “wrong in itself.” It refers to those actions that are self-evidently wrong, that violate the natural moral principles of humanity, irrespective of time, place, culture, or theology. It has its roots in the instinctive human recognition of injustice and the desire to see it rectified.
Robbery, murder, and lying are examples of actions that are malum in se. They were wrong before any human laws were passed. Cain’s automatic desire to hide his murder of Abel from God when he was questioned about it demonstrates that he knew that what he’d done was wrong. It was wrong in itself, automatically and beyond any question.
Malum prohibitum is different.
Malum prohibitum is a Latin phrase meaning “wrong due to being prohibited” or “wrong because it is prohibited.” A good example of this is a stop sign or stoplight.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with running a stop sign or stoplight, especially late at night or early in the morning when there’s no other traffic around. Those traffic signs exist to keep people from running into each other. In 1895, there were only two cars in the entire state of Ohio, yet they managed to crash into each other! This was due to the fact that the roads weren’t designed with automobiles in mind, and there weren’t any traffic signs indicating who had the right-of-way.
While safety is important, running a stop sign or light isn’t automatically wrong in and of itself, especially if no injury or accident results from it. It’s wrong only because a law was passed declaring it wrong.
No one has a problem with laws forbidding actions that are malum in se. The problem arises when the Legislature declares that something is evil by law.
Churches have been meeting together for prayer and fellowship since before Pentecost. During the early days, when the Roman Empire declared Christianity an outlaw religion, Christians were forced to meet secretly in caves and basements to avoid arrest, imprisonment, and death by torture, crucifixion, or lions.
Today, we’re seeing a return to that same mentality among the secular left. Governors and mayors around the country have used the excuse of the Wuhan virus to crack down on religious services, particularly of the Jewish and Christian variety (I dare say they’re being somewhat more circumspect in their dealings with Muslim gatherings.)
Churches met regularly for services during the Black Plague in Europe (1346–1353) and every other pandemic or disease outbreak before and since. Individuals were understood to have the capacity to make their own rational decisions about what was best for them and their families without being forced to obey a one-size-fits-none government mandate.
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Now, an “emergency” order making it malum prohibitum for churches to exceed arbitrary limits is completely outside governmental purview. The Johnson Amendment has already declared it malum prohibitum for pastors or churches to endorse or oppose political candidates. It was proposed by Senator Lyndon B. Johnson in 1954, who was angry that non-profits in Texas had supported his political opponent. For the most part, pastors have meekly gone along with it even though Scripture explicitly notes, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).
Those who are fond of quoting Romans 13:1 about being subject to governing authorities should look just two verses down, where it explains what those authorities are supposed to do: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil” (Romans 13:3).
Going to church is a good work. Being absent from church is a cause for concern, not the other way around. The Letter to the Hebrews makes this explicit:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
So assembling together in church is a good work, and rulers aren’t supposed to be a terror to good works. Therefore, when rulers are a terror to good works, as many governors and mayors are today, they have become wicked, and the people will groan.
Evil by Law
If President Trump keeps his promise to concede if the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden, we can expect to see many more things declared evil by law. The Christian desire to play fair, obey the law, and not start fights will be weaponized against us.
The left believes that whatever is passed into law is moral because it’s the law. The intrinsic differences between malum in se and malum prohibitum will be ignored as leftists outlaw anything they don’t like and mandate whatever they approve. With the power of government at their disposal, the left will harass, cancel, fine, arrest, imprison, and eventually execute anyone who disobeys their evil laws. No excuses will be allowed, and forgiveness won’t be an option.
The specifics of the left’s plans are irrelevant, because all its efforts will lead to the same dismal result: America as we know it will never be the same. It might survive as a single country or become balkanized along regional lines or state lines.
If it survives as a single country, it will become a totalitarian state like Communist China. Freedom will die, gulags and re-education camps will spring up, and the midnight knock will become the new normal. It will become a dark, blighted country, the 21st-century version of Mordor.
If America is balkanized, the new countries will vary from dictatorships to free-wheeling democracies. Those with abundant resources and/or limited governments will flourish. Those with limited resources and/or authoritarian governments will suffer or go to war with the others.
It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen a lot faster than you think. As the song says, cha-cha-changes.
Author’s Credit: Michael V. Wilson is an author, freelance writer, curmudgeon, and husband who writes for the joy of it at Scribe of Texas.
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