Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Law as a Curb

We recently watched "Beyond the Gates of Splendor," a documentary that came out several years ago, around the same time as the movie "The End of the Spear" (which I haven't seen). It is the story of the missionaries in the 1950's who were killed by violent tribesmen in Ecuador. But the families of the missionaries stuck around.

At the end of the movie, Gary commented that there really wasn't anything about the Gospel. We couldn't tell from the documentary if these five men (and their wives) were missionaries who preached the forgiveness of sins, or if they were primarily trying to bring morals and Western culture to these tribes. Either way, though, the violence of the tribe was greatly diminished after they received the missionaries' wives into their community.

I never really understood that whole thing about the law serving as a "curb, mirror, and guide." I understand that God's law shows us our sin. I understand that God's law shows us what holiness looks like. But I struggled to understand the "curb." How can the law curb society's immoral behavior if society doesn't want to listen to God's word in the first place? But the movie showed Mincayani talking about how their spearing-to-death would have wiped out the whole tribe. He tells about how people were angry and easily resorted to killing. He talked about the self-destruction of acting for yourself instead of acting for the good of the community. Self-sacrifice and self-control is objectively good for society and her members ... even for those who have no love for God's word and His ways. And I suspect that this may be what "the law as curb" is getting at.

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