“You Cannot Legislate Evil”?

Paul Derengowski, ThM

That was part of a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article that was written back on November 10. 2017, and finally came out in hard copy today, as it lay in my driveway this morning.

Thanks for the timely delivery.

The commentary attempted to stress the need for more gun control in America, using the usual left wing subtleties that the media is infamous for.

But it was a quote given by the former police chief in Fort Worth that caught my eye that (1) did not make sense and (2) is patently untrue, if I understood what he really meant to say.

He said, “You cannot legislate evil…No matter what we do—state laws, federal laws—you will never convince that person who is so inherently evil to change his or her mind.”

First of all, why would anyone want to “legislate evil”? What does that even mean? Who legislates evil, other than maybe the devil himself?

What I think Halstead meant is that we cannot legislate morality, which is a complete falsehood.

Just take a look at a law library sometime. There are volumes upon volumes of books with printed statutes whereby morality has been legislated.

For instance, because theft is looked upon as a bad thing, varying levels of law have been written by legislators to make sure that theft is kept at bay.

Because murder is considered a heinous, immoral crime against humanity, if a person chooses to disobey the law regarding first, second, or third degree murder, then that person is exacted the penalty for his or her defiance.

Because lying is frowned upon, and especially if it leads to further immoral, criminal behavior, then should a person decide to lie before a judge, a police officer, or officer of the court, while under oath, then depending on the crime committed, inevitably it will lead to serious consequences, which may include imprisonment.

The list is virtually endless the numbers of laws that have been legislated to shape society’s moral behavior. Again, just visit a law library sometime.

So, it is not that evil is legislated or that morality cannot be; it is that too often those who are supposed to uphold the law choose not to, which is an undermining, if not a breaking, of the law itself.

They become laws and legislators unto themselves, with judges, police officers, and lawyers legislating from the bench, the street, or private office.

When that happens, the law is neutralized, as the individual breaking the law at the top of the food chain, so to speak, disregards the very society that gave sanction to the writing of the law through their government representatives.

Halstead also referred to those who are so “inherently evil” that regardless of what laws have been written, they will not have their minds changed.

But, who is not inherently evil? According to Almighty God, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

We are all “inherently evil,” in other words, simply because we are related to the first man, Adam, who passed on his sin nature to everyone.

Sin is inherently evil. All men are sinful. Therefore, since all men are sinful, all men are inherently evil too.

That said, if those in charge of enforcing the laws, already written, would consistently do their jobs, which would include carrying out the prescribed penalties for breaking the law, then I guarantee everyone, even the most hard-hearted wannabe or about-to-become criminal would think twice, or maybe even three or four times, before doing something antinomian (against the law).

Yet, the sad fact is, and as mentioned previously, too many of those charged with enforcing the law let their personal or political agendas override doing what is right and lawful, and before long, inherent evil is allowed to reign.

Instead of the first degree murderer being put to death upon conviction, he/she is allowed to spend seemingly endless years being coddled by the justice system, at law-abiding taxpayer’s expense.

Instead of the illegal aliens being rounded up and deported, they are allowed to stay, as they suck up resources that legal citizens of the United States are denied.

Instead of holding fast to laws that, at one time, prohibited sexual perversion, now the homosexual lot have been given our public streets to hold parades glorifying their sin, the transgenders have been given the women’s bathrooms to sneak a peek at our wives and daughters, and the pedophile is slowly being allowed to make his case for acceptance.

Ironically, as I write this piece, all kinds of sexual abuse and harassment charges are flying about with one Hollywood actress recently confiding that at one time she thought all the abuse and harassment was  “so commonplace for women that it’s taken for granted as ‘part of the process.'”

No, Mr. Halstead, you cannot legislate evil, but you can legislate morality.

The question now is, are people like you going to enforce that morality or simply stand on the sideline making excuses, while letting the inherently immoral have their way?

My guess is that it will be most likely the latter.

About the Author


President, Christian Apologetics Project
PhD Candidate, Northwest University (2018)
MA Apologetics w/ Honors, BIOLA University (2005)
ThM, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2003)
MDiv, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2000)
BA Pastoral Ministry & Bible, Baptist Bible College (1992)

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