The first time I was ever threatened with jail time by a judge was in Ogden, Utah. Nine days in jail, a $900 fine or 9 weeks of community service. Those were my choices. With my unquenchable bravado, I decided to defend myself with truth, justice and the America way behind me and the Lord as my Shield and Defender. I learned a lot about the law that day, and also I learned a lot of handy cooking tips during my 9 weeks at a local soup kitchen.
More recently, I was living dangerously with a mini van full of kids and groceries and was pulled over between Walmart and Crossgates Mall for holding my phone in my hand while driving. I dutifully handed the officer my deets and congratulated him on what was probably the first no-murder Monday in many weeks, which apparently had freed him up to focus his energies on addressing the explosive issue of cellphone scofflaws. He didn’t laugh as hard as I did at the time, but he did get a good laugh when he handed over my ticket and noted he would be in court for sure to hear more of my funny jokes.
Here’s the thing I’ve finally learned from my numerous brushes with traffic school/community service/ticket payments: ignorantia legis neminem excusa. It means this: “ignorance of the law excuses no one.”
Before Jesus, the curse of the Old Testament Law stated clearly that same idea: ignorantia legis neminem excusa. Romans 3:23 says, “For there is no distinction: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Whether or not we choose to follow Jesus Christ doesn’t exempt us from the curse of death as a punishment for sin. We cannot remove it ourselves. We need to be covered by Jesus Christ. All have sinned. But when a holy God looks at unholy sin and sees His Son Jesus, whom we have made our Lord, who died in our place, that curse is removed and nullified. Phew!
If only local law enforcement felt the same way! You see, it’s true that in Utah you can drive while holding your cell phone. You can also carry an AR-15 into a JC Penney and browse the clearance racks. It’s a simpler place. And it’s true that in NY, you can’t do either of those things. I know that now!! It’s also true that I didn’t know it at the time, and I made an honest mistake. Alas, ignorantia legis neminem excusa!
My court date is barreling toward me and I really, really hope that the respectable, kind, handsome, noble, selfless, promotion-worthy police officer decides he has a sense of humor after all… Or I find that I do… #Prayforme.