California Farmer 237:2 (Aug. 12, 1972), p. 23.
A man of prominence, closely connected with law enforcement, told me recently that drunk driving is a major problem in highway accidents and deaths. Nothing, he added, could be more easily controlled. Simply by taking away drivers’ licenses on a mandatory basis and by mandatory sentences and penalties, every community could witness a drop in accidents, injuries, and deaths, because so many drunken drivers would be off the roads in a short time. He added that no such legislation was likely to occur, because, in virtually every state, too many legislators are heavy drinkers, and they are ready to legislate everybody’s sins except their own.
He was right, of course, but before you start damning legislators as a particularly bad breed, remember that this is also a sin we are all prone to. All too often, the only sins we take seriously are the sins of other people. It is much easier to see the faults of our neighbors’ children than our own. In fact, the faults of our husband or wife are usually far more aggravating to us than our own faults. We are far more likely to spend time trying to reform our spouse than to change ourselves. Somehow, our own faults have a sensible or even lovable look to us.
This was an important part of what our Lord was talking about when He condemned hypocrisy. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:3–5).
If our Lord is right, and He is, then very obviously most of our legislators, governors, presidents, and other civil officials, are hypocrites. They have the habit of hypocrites. They try to reform everyone except themselves. They legislate for all of us, but never for themselves, to punish their own sins.
We have as many hypocrites in government as we do because so many of us voters are hypocrites. We are all for reforming everyone except ourselves.
Our Lord made clear that we can only try to reform others when we have reformed ourselves. We must first cast out the beam in our own eye before we can even see clearly what needs to be done to our brother’s eye. Until then we are unrighteous judges.
Drunkenness may not be our fault, and our own sins may be less easily detected. This does not make them any the less serious, nor any the less destructive. The hypocrite is not against sin as such. It is not all lawlessness and the principle of lawlessness which he hates. The hypocrite can be against many particular sins, in fact, against almost all sins, but he will nurse, protect, and justify his particular sins. The hypocrite is thus mainly against sins when other people commit them, not when he does. Because he is against so much sin (by other people), the hypocrite assumes that he is righteous. But righteousness is not gained by condemning the sins of other people, but by grace, and by obedience to the law-word of God. The hypocrite is against sin in other people. The godly man is against sin anywhere but, first and foremost, against sin in himself.
- R. J. Rushdoony
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.