Dissolving the Rule of Law

Allowing laws that everyone ignores, is a bad habit.

In the fierce culture wars that have been waged in the U.S. for the last several decades, most arguments seem to eventually come down to "the children."  Abortion, of course, is all about children, whether they be pre-born infants or fetuses.  The Christian school and homeschooling movements, as well as arguments about school choice, vouchers, Afrocentric schooling, and many others, are caused by a desire on the part of parents to control how their children are raised.  And the flip side of these movements, is a feeling that what children are being taught by mainstream society, by the dominant mass media, and by standard public schools, is indeed the opposite of what many parents want.  A great many people appear to believe that public school attendance for their dear children, makes it more likely that they will engage in alcohol and drug abuse, dangerous sexual behavior, and other social pathologies.  Hence a desire to remove the children from this environment, and to place them in another more congenial to the parent's beliefs.

Now comes a book by Mark Regnerus, by the name of Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers.   According to various studies he cites, "Christian" teenagers are actually more likely to get involved in early sexual activity, than the national average.  Snap!  And a snicker from the liberal left.

But apparently it is more complicated than that.  The numbers apply, more or less, to self-identified Christians, which covers an enormous range - from liberal Presbyterians who are all but indistinguishable from any other liberal Democrat, to the Amish.  When you break the numbers down by religious intensity - that is, how seriously the person takes the tenets of his own religion - a different picture emerges.  There's an enormous difference between people who go to church occasionally, and the truly devout.

For those who say they are Christians, but don't really act like it in terms of church attendance and other objective evidence, they do indeed have a much greater chance of early sex.   For the devout, though, the numbers show a clear difference - much later entrance into sexual activity, as advertised.  Maybe not as much later as the parents might wish, but a worthy difference all the same.

Now what would cause this?  It's easy to understand why devout practitioners of a religion that preaches abstinence, would in fact be more abstinent than your average horny teen.  But why would nominal Christians have worse behavior than your average kid who never even goes to church?

Let's consider a totally unrelated issue.  In recent Washington DC metro news, it was announced that the area police agencies are going to enforce a no-speeding policy on their own officers.  That is, when your friendly local cop is driving around in his cruiser, and not in an actual hot pursuit, he will be required to obey the posted speed limit.  What a shocking idea!

But this isn't the no-brainer it sounds like, when you consider that the posted speed limits on most area roads are anywhere from 15-20mph below the standard average speed of traffic.  For example, on the infamous Beltway, the speed limit is 55 MPH; but if you're going 70, you need to watch your back and stay in the slow lane, lest you be rear-ended.  A vehicle going 55 is a serious road hazard.

Now, assuming the police actually start doing this, one of two things will happen.  There will be a sudden increase in police cars being rear-ended (with resulting horrible traffic jams); or, there will be traveling clogs on the road, as everyone within eyesight of the slow-moving cop stands on the brakes (with resulting horrible traffic jams).  Either way, there will be an awful lot of infuriated commuters.

This stems from the fact that the supposed "law" of 55 MPH has, for many years, been ignored.  People have got used to disregarding the posted speed limit, because it is clearly ridiculously low, and as a result, they tend to go 80.

Supposing the speed limit were a more reasonable 65.  Would cars then go 90?  Unlikely - in fact, studies have shown that it doesn't work that way at all.

Or consider the case of German autobahns, on which there is NO speed limit between cities, but a fairly low one in known congested locations.  Naturally drivers go enormously fast in between cities, where it's perfectly legal to do so; but also, they tend to obey the posted speed limits where they exist, in part because they are enforced.  And the German highway death rate is a bit over half the American one.

It is better not to have a rule at all, than to have one which is not taken seriously, because disregarding the rules grows habitual.  And that's clearly the case with liberal "Christians."  Everyone knows that a Christian is supposed to attend church regularly - in fact, the Bible says "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is."  But if that is not really important, then why worry about the other religious teachings, like abstinence?

You can't change the rules of your religion, if it's one based on a book that's already been written.  But we can, at least in theory, change the laws.  What possible benefit is served by having laws that nobody wants or needs to obey?  Did we not learn this lesson from Prohibition?  Why, then, is there an ever-increasing burden of nonsensical rules and regulations?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

As an experienced parent (definition: having followed at least one offspring from birth to adulthood), I can tell you that it is human nature (AKA sin nature) to push the limits.  No matter where you set a rule, there will always be those who insist on going "beyond".

Second comment--this is one major answer to the question "What's wrong with modern society?"  Parents don't enforce rules; governments don't enforce laws- so disobeying and disregarding regulations, as you say, becomes habitual.  "Crime" becomes the norm.

August 5, 2007 10:57 PM
yes..the social problem not came from family but from the media massa also..so,why should the burden pass in family?
August 19, 2008 9:53 AM
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