The Founding Fathers recognized that the Bible was the keystone of our society and its strength. Many of them, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, espoused that man-made laws, including the Constitution, would become hollow husks if the citizenry lost its individual obedience to God’s law.
The Bible’s lessons can be especially valuable for lawyers who work for small legal departments because we typically don’t get the moral guidance and inspiration that a large legal department can provide.
When Biblical “law” is woven together, it forms a beautiful tapestry of the values and ideals upon which America was founded: Liberty, Justice and Equality. This isn’t a coincidence. The framers instilled in all of our great documents–including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution–the Bible’s basic premise of divine law and the divine rights of man over the laws of man.
As the Bible says, “the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23)–light which can help to lead us as in-house counsel.
Some inspirational quotes follow.
Law’s Purpose: “The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for the sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers ?? 1/2 liars [and] perjured persons” (1 Timothy 1:9?? 1/2 1:10).
Legal System: “Avoid foolish questions ?? 1/2 contentions and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9).
Equality: “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well as for the stranger, as for one of your own country” (Leviticus 24:22).
Speedy Trial: “Let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods or to imprisonment”
Judicial Role: Judges shall “make diligent inquisition” (Deuteronomy 19:18), and shall “justify the righteous and condemn the wicked” (Deuteronomy 25:1).
Passing Judgment: “Judge not, that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matthew 7:1?? 1/2 2).
Scales of Justice: The Bible states that anyone who testifies falsely against another shall be punished according to the punishment he had sought against his fellow man. “Life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:18?? 1/2 21).
Property: If you kill a man’s ox, you must replace it. But the Bible also demands a proactive duty to restore found property to its rightful owner (Deuteronomy
22:1 ?? 1/2 22:2).
Individual Responsibility: “Every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16).
Mediation: The book of Matthew tells us to strive to make peace with our adversaries and warns us against “delivery to the judge” (Matthew 5:25).
Obeying the Law: “A wise man hateth not the law; but he that is a hypocrite therein is as a ship in a storm” (Ecclesiasticus 33:2).
Whether or not you are religious, Biblical passages can help guide in-house lawyers by reminding us of our deepest obligations as attorneys. We should constantly strive to contribute to the “light” of the law for the benefit of all.