Corruption of the Civil Law and Remedies                                                                   by Jack Kettler

Corruption of the law can refer to legal corruption, which refers to the abuse of power by public officials or politicians that is unethical or outright instituting wicked practices, as seen in the bullet list below. Such an idea is not a foreign concept in the Scriptures.  

“Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Psalm 94:20)

“Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed.” (Isaiah 10:1)

The above passages highlight the conflict between man-made laws and divine laws. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had more than 600 man-made laws they were required to obey, but God’s laws for the world are found in the Bible.

In the case of Israel, as seen above, justice had been corrupted, and man’s manufactured law, instead of being in accord with God’s Law, Israel had become opposed to it. Man’s law was working towards injustice and unrighteousness. This corruption seemed unbearable because the rulers of the day claimed to be acting according to the law, seeking to hide their unrighteousness under the cover of the law.

While both passages deal with the corruption of law in the Psalmist's and Isaiah's day, the problem is just as pronounced now. One example is how wicked leaders use the machinery of the law to crush and ruin their opponents and advance their interests.

The Western world law codes are based upon biblical law:

The influence of biblical law on Western legal systems is a topic of much debate. While it is true that the Ten Commandments and other directives contained in the Pentateuch of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures have informed our notions of right and wrong, some would argue that it is difficult to say to what extent they have influenced Western law codes.

That being said, Christianity has had a profound impact on Western culture, and the rule of law, in particular, has profoundly influenced virtually everything that makes the West unique. The societies where the rule of law exists are the societies that hold a belief in a divine lawgiver standing over and above his creation as judge and jury. Historically, the rule of law prevails, whereas monotheistic Christianity shapes the consensus worldview.

Christianity has played a significant role in shaping Western culture and its legal systems. Law codes did not arise in a void absent from the influence of a worldview.

For example, to name first, and second-degree murder, manslaughter, rape, self-defense, restitution, bearing false witness, kidnapping, adultery, fornication, laws of inheritance, and crimes of passion. The modern-day application of eternal principles from the Old Covenant is one of the many aspects of the Judeo/Christian worldview that has made an indelible impact on the law codes of modern nations.

Examples of modern-day governmental corruption of the law:
•    Favored status for sexual deviants
•    Abortion
•    Putting debt upon future generations
•    Favored status for the pagan religion of Mohammedism
•    Failure to follow its own laws
•    A Two-Tiered Justice System
•    Banning biblical truth from the public square
•    Intrusion into the marketplace, creating financial bubbles (housing, stock market) that burst
•    Pagan indoctrination of children in government schools
•    Political public lying
•    Anti-Christian foreign policy
•    Confiscatory levels of taxation or theft by the government
•    Onerous levels of regulatory abuse
•    Debasing the currency
•    Corruption and mistrust of elections
•    The rise of police state tyranny

What should Christians do when civil authorities make unjust laws? Like the Psalmist, believers should pray:

“Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.” (Psalms 5:1)

“When he is judged, let him be found guilty, and let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few, and let another take his office.” (Psalms 109:7-8)

“His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.” (Psalms 7:16)

“Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.” (Psalms 10:15)

“O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord! Let them vanish like water that runs away; when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted. Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.” (Psalms 58:6-8)

“Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!” (Psalms 104:35)

“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)

The Prophet Isaiah pronounces woe upon wicked rulers:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

Calvin's comments are correct to the point when the law is perverted:

“20. Wo to them that call evil good. Though some limit this statement to judges, yet if it be carefully examined, we shall easily learn from the whole context that it is general; for, having a little before reproved those who cannot listen to any warnings, he now proceeds with the same reproof. It is evident that men of this sort have always some excuse to plead, and some way of imposing on themselves; and, therefore, there is no end to their reproachful language, when their crimes are brought to light. But here he particularly reproves the insolence of those who endeavor to overthrow all distinction between good and evil.”

“The preposition l (lamed), prefixed to the words good and evil, is equivalent to of; and therefore, the meaning is, they who say of evil, It is good, and of good, It is evil; that is, they who by vain hypocrisy conceal, excuse, and disguise wicked actions, as if they would change the nature of everything by their sophistical arguments, but who, on the contrary deface good actions by their calumnies. These things are almost always joined together, for everyone in whom the fear of God dwells is restrained both by conscience and by modesty from venturing to apologize for his sins, or to condemn what is good and right; but they who have not this fear do not hesitate with the same impudence to commend what is bad and to condemn what is good; which is a proof of desperate wickedness.”

“This statement may be applied to various cases; for if a wo is here pronounced even on private individuals, when they say of evil that it is good, and of good that it is evil, how much more on those who have been raised to any elevated rank, and discharge a public office, whose duty it is to defend what is right and honorable! But he addresses a general reproof to all who flatter themselves in what is evil, and who, through the hatred which they bear to virtue, condemn what is done aright; and not only so, but who, by the subterfuges which they employ for the sake of concealing their own enormities, harden themselves in wickedness. Such persons, the Prophet tells us, act as if they would change light into darkness, and sweet into bitter; by which he means that their folly is monstrous, for it would tend to confound and destroy all the principles of nature. (1) (under-line emphasis mine).”

Some pertinent human observations regarding when the corruption of the law happens:

“When government engages in the involuntary transfer of wealth, that's nothing more than legalized plunder. There is nothing noble or laudatory about it. It is contemptible, evil and profoundly wrong.” - Frederic Bastiat

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“To make no decision in regard to the growth of authoritarian government is already a decision for it.” - Francis A. Schaeffer

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.” - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“When the Christian is treated as an enemy of the State, his course is very much harder, but it is simpler. I am concerned with the dangers to the tolerated minority; and in the modern world, it may turn out that most intolerable thing for Christians is to be tolerated.” - T.S. Eliot

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand-fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” -  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956

“If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the government has been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the living God.” - Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto

“True spirituality covers all of reality. There are things the Bible tells us to do as absolutes which are sinful- which do not conform to the character of God. But aside from these things the Lordship of Christ covers all of life and all of life equally. It is not only that true spirituality covers all of life, but it covers all parts of the spectrum of life equally. In this sense there is nothing concerning reality that is not spiritual.” - Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto

Courses of action in response to the corruption of the law:

Beyond prayer, we must act positively against public manifestations of evil. Personal sanctification is a given. Christians are called to do more than live in our circle of influence.

The “Lesser Magistrate” and the jury system, if appropriately utilized, can be a powerful bulwark against the evil laws of men:  

“If the jury have no right to judge of the justice of a law of the government, they plainly can do nothing to protect the people against the oppressions of the government; for there are no oppressions which the government may not authorize by law.” - Lysander Spooner

“For more than six hundred years — that is, since the Magna Carta in 1215 — there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust, oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating or resisting the execution of such laws.” - Lysander Spooner

The precedent of taking advantage of safeguards found in America’s Republican Social Contract is established by the Apostle Paul:

One of the most well-known examples of Paul asserting his rights as a Roman citizen is when he used the provocatio procedure to move his trial from the jurisdiction of the provincial governor of Judea, Festus, to Rome. This significant move allowed Paul to be tried before Caesar, which was considered a privilege for Roman citizens. The provocatio procedure was a legal right that allowed Roman citizens to appeal to the emperor in cases where they felt that their rights were being violated.

By invoking this right, Paul was able to ensure that he received a fair trial and that his rights were protected:

“Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, with a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.” (Acts 22:27-28)

Today, judges never inform a jury of their right to nullify unjust laws, which is a perversion of the law itself by judges. In reality, today, if a judge suspects a juror knows of this historic right, the juror will be thrown off the jury.

An example to illustrate the importance of a Juror’s right to judge the law:

Imagine a King making a law that whenever a person hears the King’s name, they must fall and kiss the ground, and if not, the offense is the death penalty. A properly informed juror would conclude that an individual may have broken the law but, since the law was unjust, refuse to convict.

Today, citizens may be ignorant of the power of a juror; historically, this was not so considering the Magna Carta.         

The Magna Carta, the Great Charter, is a medieval document signed by King John of England in 1215. It was created to address the grievances of the English barons against the king’s arbitrary rule and to protect their rights and privileges. The Magna Carta established that everyone, including the king, is subject to the law. It also established the right to a fair trial and due process of law. English Common Law exists because of the Magna Carta.

The Magna Carta is considered one of the most significant legal documents in history and has influenced many constitutional documents worldwide, including the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, the title page of the 1774 “Journal of The Proceedings of The Continental Congress” features an image of 12 arms grasping a column on whose base is written “Magna Carta.” The image was probably included to accentuate the importance of the Magna Carta in establishing the rights and freedoms of English colonists in America, sometimes referred to as English Common Law. The Magna Carta cannot be understood apart from a biblical view of history; the document did not arise in a theologically free void. The Judeo/Christian worldview is unmistakably the source.

Before the Magna Carta, King Alfred of the Anglo-Saxons reigned from 886 until 899. King Alfred's law code is of particular interest. In the prologue to Alfred's law code, one finds the Ten Commandments of Moses, and Alfred’s code incorporated rules of life from the Mosaic Code, which became what is known as the English Common Law.

Building on the Magna Carta, consider the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Nullification logically is built upon the Tenth Amendment:    

The states come first! The states created the Union. Therefore, under the doctrine of nullification, and since the states are the foundation of the Union, they have the power to renounce unconstitutional laws. Ultimate authority resides in the states, not an entity formed by the states.

Nullification maintains that the states have the right to overrule any unconstitutional laws. Nullification is the ultimate check on the balance of power and removes power from the Supreme Court and the federal government and its agencies in extreme cases.

In essence, some states, before ratifying the Constitution, maintained that they had the right to leave the Union. For example, Virginia made the right to secede from the Union unambiguous in their agreement to sign the Constitution.

Consider the following selection from Virginia’s delegation:

“We the Delegates of the People of Virginia duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly and now met in Convention having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us to decide thereon Do in the name and in behalf of the People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination can be cancelled abridged restrained or modified by the Congress by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any Capacity by the President or any Department or Officer of the United States except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes.”

The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798-99 was a series of resolutions passed by the state legislature protesting the Alien and Sedition Acts. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Kentucky Resolutions. Virginia passed similar resolutions drafted by James Madison. These resolutions were a protest against what Jefferson and Madison wisely considered a dangerous usurpation of power by the federal government.

The Kentucky Resolution of 1799 was the most radical of the resolutions and asserted that states had the power to nullify the laws of the federal government:

“The representatives of the good people of this commonwealth [of Kentucky], in General Assembly convened, have maturely considered the answers of sundry states in the Union, to [the ongoing debate and discussion of] ... certain unconstitutional laws of Congress, commonly called the Alien and Sedition Laws, would be faithless, indeed, to themselves and to those they represent, were they silently to acquiesce in the principles and doctrines attempted to be maintained.... Our opinions of these alarming measures of the general government, together with our reasons for those opinions, were detailed with decency, and with temper and submitted to the discussion and judgment of our fellow-citizens throughout the Union.... Faithful to the true principles of the federal Union, unconscious of any designs to disturb the harmony of that Union, and anxious only to escape the fangs of despotism, the good people of this commonwealth are regardless of censure or calumniation. Lest, however, the silence of this commonwealth should be construed into an acquiescence in the doctrines and principles advanced... therefore,”

“Resolved, That this commonwealth considers the federal Union, upon the terms and for the purposes specified in... [the Constitution], conducive to the liberty and happiness of the several states: That it does now unequivocally declare its attachment to the Union, and to that compact... and will be among the last to seek its dissolution: That if those who administer the general government be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by that compact [the Constitution], by a total disregard to the special delegations of power therein contained, an annihilation of the state governments... will be the inevitable consequence: [That the construction of the Constitution argued for by many] state legislatures, that the general government is the exclusive judge of the extant of the powers delegated to it, stop not short of despotism - since the discretion of those who administer the government, and not the Constitution, would be the measure of their powers: That the several states who formed that instrument [the Constitution] being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of the infraction; and, That a nullification of those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under the color of that instrument is the rightful remedy: That this commonwealth does, under the most deliberate reconsideration, declare, that the said Alien and Sedition Laws are, in their opinion, palpable violations of the said Constitution.... although this commonwealth, as a party to the federal compact, will bow to the laws of the Union, yet, it does at the same time declare, that it will not now, or ever hereafter, cease to oppose in a constitutional manner, every attempt at what quarter soever offered, to violate that compact.... This commonwealth does now enter against [the Alien and Sedition Acts] in solemn PROTEST.”

Moreover, as seen above, the wording of the Tenth Amendment strongly supports Jefferson's and Madison's view of nullification.

Another modern-day example of restrictions placed upon public servants or officeholders is that employees of the United States Government, including all members of Congress, must take the following oath before assuming elected or appointed office.

5 U.S.C. 3331:

“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So, help me God.”

The above oath is made before the God of the Bible, similar and historically to the juror swearing an oath before God with their hands on the Bible.

In light of this oath, the breaking of this oath is an act of treason. As noted, the above public oath is made before God. Therefore, the violators are essentially spitting in God’s face when making unjust laws contrary to God’s Word. The Latin equivalent of this phrase, “spitting in God’s face,” is literally “in faciem Dei spuere.” 

Relevant observations:

“If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the government has been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the living God.” - Francis A. Schaeffer

“We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which they possess as magistrates - a dignity to which no injury is done when it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God.” - John Calvin

A none serious cynical solution, yet to the point:
“The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights.” - H. L. Mencken

In closing, from John Calvin, a biblical course of action:

“He was compelled to obey God, and he neglected what the king had ordered in opposition to it. For earthly princes lay aside all their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy of being reckoned in the number of mankind. We ought rather utterly to defy than to obey them whenever they are so restive and wish to spoil God of his rights, and, as it were, to seize upon his throne and draw him down from heaven.” - Commentary on Daniel 6:22

The English phrase “utterly to defy them” in Latin was conspuere in ipsorum capita, literally: “to spit on their heads.” The present writer understands that this brief quotation, if taken in isolation, does not represent in totality Calvin’s view on submission to governing authorities.  

What are the costs of no action?

“If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready-made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. We should not live to see the new culture, nor would our great-great-great-grandchildren: and if we did, not one of us would be happy in it.” - T. S. Eliot

There is reason for hope that our efforts can bear fruit because of what is noted by Calvin:

“Men of sound judgment will always be sure that a sense of divinity which can never be effaced is engraved upon men's minds. Indeed, the perversity of the impious, who though they struggle furiously are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God, is abundant testimony that this conviction, namely, that there is some God, is naturally inborn in all, and is fixed deep within, as it were in the very marrow.” - John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1

The historic Presbyterian approach of John Knox: 

John Knox, a Scottish Protestant preacher, believed in the right of armed resistance against ungodly rulers. In 1558, he wrote a series of pamphlets justifying this stance. He also attacked female rulers as “monstrous” in one of his works. Knox’s views on the roles of both secular and religious authorities were based on his religious beliefs and political authority perspectives. While he was concerned with political influence on the church, his allegiance was not to any mortal being but God.

Therefore, it can be inferred that John Knox believed that ungodly rulers could be removed from office through armed resistance.

Reconciling the differences in approach between Calvin and Knox can be found in the doctrine of the lesser magistrates. It should be noted that Knox sat at the feet of Calvin’s preaching in Geneva.

The Lesser Magistrates must stand up:

Today, the equivalent of Israel’s Judges are the lower magistrates, i.e., governors, judges, sheriffs, county commissioners, and elected representatives. Some on this shortlist have begun to stand up against fed gov tyranny. Pray that many more like Samson of old will stand up for righteousness and freedom and cast off the yoke of the modern-day Philistines and their system of wicked, unbiblical laws!

Those holding to the Judeo/Christian worldview have every right to fight to restore the biblical influence to modern-day civil law codes:

Just like in history, the pagans will fight to keep their dominance in civil law. However, Christians have the advantage since the pagans have a materialistic worldview that leads to nowhere. The materialistic worldview cannot even explain the use of or justify the meaningful discussion of ethics, logic, and the basis for rational scientific research. The best the materialist can appeal to are arbitrary social conventions.

Moreover, the philosophy of non-belief contradicts itself when it claims not to know (uncertainty, agnosticism) and to know (certainty, atheism). Both atheism and agnosticism are two sides of the same coin. Thus, the non-believer is left with contradictory uncertainty and certainty, which are manifestations of his epistemological inability to derive meaningful intelligibility from the materialist’s scheme, an ultimate irrational, meaningless universe.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1.    John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Isaiah, Volume VII, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p 186.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife, Marea, attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of 15 books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at Amazon.