• Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.

The Abuse of Power by Passing and Enforcing Sinful Laws

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness… Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 5:20, 24NKJV


Question 130 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What are the sins of superiors?” It gives the answer, “The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, an inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure, commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counselling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.” Last time we looked at how parents can misuse their authority to sin against their children. Today we broaden the scope of our focus to consider the sins of other God-ordained authorities in our lives.


Whenever a government representative acts in order to please some lobbyist group, he is sinning against God. Whether he does what they want to gain their support or to avoid their protests does not matter. In either case he acts for his own glory, ease, and profit. God has not given him a position of authority in order for him to use that authority to serve God through promoting his own good, but God has given it to him so that he would use his authority to serve God through promoting the good of others. Thus, government representatives are responsible to use their authority to do what is right in the eyes of God, who is the ultimate authority in this and all worlds. Every legitimate exercise of authority must be out of the desire to do what God has revealed is the good and right thing to do.


Likewise when authorities command things unlawful, as that unlawfulness is determined by the Law of God, they sin against God in abusing their authority. Right now authorities in Miami-Dade County, FL, are considering legislation with regard to minors that would prohibit “any counseling, practice, or treatment performed with the goal of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward a person of the same gender.” While there can be room about how phrases such as “changing a person’s sexual orientation” are to be interpreted, this law could potentially make it illegal for Christians to deal with sinful desires in themselves or in their children in a Biblical way.


The passing of this law would not protect children but it would legalize the sexual abuse of children. It would protect sinfully immoral and evil sexual desires and practices, making illegal any effort to stop them. Every governmental authority promoting, backing, or voting in favor of this law sins against almighty God in “counseling, encouraging, or favoring… that which is evil.” Likewise, regarding the people that this sinful law would tyrannize, the penalty of a $500 fine for every violation of it is an example of “dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good.” Furthermore, the passing of this law would by definition imperil the physical and spiritual welfare of minors by “careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger.” The law would outlaw God’s command to “abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Th. 4:3; Acts 15:29), and to “repent from sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:21; 9:21). It would make what God commands of all human beings to be illegal, and it would protect what is sinful towards God and physically and spiritually harmful towards human beings and human society.


Unfortunately there are other awful examples of the wicked abuse of governmental authority in our day by our legitimate authorities. We have legalized the intentional killing of unborn children, the marriage of persons of the same gender, and the recognition of genders other than male and female. All of these things are obviously and manifestly wrong and false and yet our laws say they are right and true. God cannot allow these things to stand indefinitely. Let us all pray for our authorities and our country that we would sincerely repent and turn from our evil ways.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

Reformed doctrine. Reverent worship. Real life.

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