Periodically, an article will appear in the conservative press bemoaning the preponderance of lawyers in Congress.
Recently Vision to America blamed Congress’ all-time low approval rating (9%) on the over-representation of attorneys. “The overall feelings expressed by most Americans is that they don’t accomplish anything worthwhile and are so rich and elite that they no longer have any connection to the common working man.”
This leads to a popular Myth: The problem with Congress is too many Congressmen are lawyers.
This myth certainly has much to commend it. Christ put lawyers on the same level as Pharisees in his dinner-table denunciation recorded in Luke 11:46-54.
“Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”
This certainly describes the hypocrisy of the United States Congress, which is notorious for excusing itself from the burdensome legislation it imposes on everybody else. Social Security and Obama Care are examples, and more recently the hypocritical call for disarming the American public, all the time surrounding themselves with their own heavily armed bodyguards.
But Jesus had more to say, “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”
The plethora of lawyers in Congress is merely a symptom of a deeper problem: the key of knowledge has been taken away. A culture that has rejected the law of God, will of necessity multiply laws and lawyers. When man goes into the god-business he becomes a control freak. When manmade law abounds, it is a dead giveaway that man is exalting himself as god in a system of humanism.
Therein lies the root of the problem. First century Judea was a culture much like our own – a culture that had rejected the law of God and embraced the law of man. You can always identify the god of a society, by locating the source of law in that society.
It was a body of predominantly lawyers who met in Philadelphia in 1787 to give America its current Constitution. It was Article VI of this Constitution that took away the key of knowledge – the law of God – in favor of manmade law. The fateful words are found in the first paragraph: “This Constitution and the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof and all treaties made … shall be the supreme law of the land….”
Noted social commentator Otto Scott put it this way, “The United States was a government whose constitution claimed no higher authority than its own laws. That was essentially a lawyer’s concept of civilization, and could be traced not to the church, but to Roman tradition. In effect, the Founders had recklessly placed the government in the position of what ancient Greeks called a “tyrant” which, in its original sense, meant a rule without divine authority” (The Secret Six, Uncommon Media).
The common man senses this and fights back with humor. Lawyer jokes abound.
Q: How does an attorney sleep? A: First he lies on one side, then he lies on the other.
Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and God? A: God doesn’t think he’s a lawyer.
Q: What do you call a lawyer gone bad. A: Senator.
Nonetheless, lawyers are apparently not quite as irredeemable as the humorist would have it. In his letter to Titus, Paul urged him to “Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them” (Titus 3:13). That proves there was at least one good lawyer.
“But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John” (Lk 7:30). That proves God has a purpose for everybody — even for lawyers.
Case Closed: Lawyers per se are not the problem. The arena of law and the lawyer are but one more realm desperately in need of Christian reconstruction. The “key of Knowledge” must be restored to the legal profession. And there will come a day when “The mountain of the house of the Lord will be established…and all the nations will stream to it…That He may teach us concerning His ways…For the law will go forth from Zion….” (Is 2:2,3).