The Bible says we are to obey the law of the land -- its authorities and their rules (1 Peter 2:13-17, Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1). If going against laws instituted by the government is sin wouldn't this include breaking traffic laws? Well, I break traffic laws every day. Maybe if I have always disobeyed the traffic laws then I never was a disciple. -- Robert

A disciple is a learner. That s what the word means. The fact that you are earnestly asking this question indicates that in spirit you are a disciple. So to begin with, let's not question our salvation just because we are unclear about how to obey the thousands of laws that have been legislated in our country. Yet it is true that Peter's and Paul's passages on obeying the authorities implicitly enjoin obedience to laws.

Some laws are simply stupid to disobey: Park in a tow zone and pay $100 to get your car back; drive 80 in a 55 zone and pay a hefty fine in addition to endangering others' lives; run a red light or pass on the inside lane and make all other drivers even more nervous and uptight than they already are, etc.

Some traffic laws, however, are baffling to me! I find myself probably once every month or two not being able to figure out what a sign is intended to get across. I have been to college, so I reckon if I am struggling with this probably most other drivers are confused too. In cases like this, I try to guess right and be consistent. I want to obey the law--to have no fear of the authorities--but there is a certain latitude we as citizens take in our understanding of the law. This is actually unavoidable.

Now I don t know which traffic laws you are breaking every day. If you mean you are driving 70 in a 65 zone, I probably wouldn't sweat it (though I realize there are some disciples who would take issue with me). But if you mean you are dealing with your own road rage; you jump the red; and you park where you please--no offense--I consider you a menace to society and a nuisance to me. Of course, civil disobedience necessitated by conscience or biblical principle is a totally different matter to careless disobedience of clear safety regulations. But that is not what you asked about; otherwise, we would be examining Daniel 6. I read somewhere that the US has literally tens of thousands of laws. The Old Testament has 613. The New Testament has just "the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2), which itself consists of a few simple precepts.

Let's keep it simple. As a disciple, you shouldn't be breaking traffic laws every day. Repent! But obedience to the law of the land is not the highest good you can fulfill in your life. In fact, the context of Romans 13 is laws backed by the power of the state to execute. (The "sword" refers to the Roman custom of decapitation, the preferred method of executing its own citizens. This is the fate that ultimately befell Paul.) Whatever you decide on these sometimes tricky matters, make sure you are not judgmental towards others who may not share your opinions (Romans 14-15). Drive safe. Arrive alive!

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