Sailing Ships

It’s been said that every human tragedy can be traced back to some relationship gone wrong. And it’s always due to someone’s pride or greed. But our laws don’t focus on that…they focus on behavior management/conformity/control. How effective is that really?

C.S. Lewis’ book “Mere Christianity” made a great illustration that explains why laws aren’t the most helpful at making societies better. All over the world we look at morality from the outside…as something that makes humans operate more harmoniously together. That’s what our laws are supposed to do. But there is nothing to guide or govern the morality INSIDE a person. That’s really where the problem starts.

Consider a fleet of ships…we want them to sail without running into and sinking each other. So we make laws for lanes and signals and penalties and so on. Which is fine in itself, but say the crew in one ship has no Captain and did whatever they saw fit. They’d soon run into another ship. Even if all other ships were running according to the external laws. Of course we know that most crews are carrying on however they see fit….and so no matter how many laws we have, ships will still run into each other.

There’s also the problem of destination. It might be great that a fleet as sailed, without collision, from New York to London, but it’s still wrong if the destination was supposed to be Hong Kong.

We have increasing numbers of laws. Laws regarding murder, bullying, fraud, theft, etc etc. But there is nothing these external laws can do to change a person who hates or is proud or lies or cheats. External laws force behavioral modifications so a person doesn’t get caught…but it does not change a person. The more laws we have, the more we reveal how we all fail to follow the law. And so, it seems pretty futile doesn’t it? What in this world can transform us from the inside…that will dissolve our vices and tinted glasses such that all our addictions (whether to power or praise or substances or thrills, etc) will no longer have its death-grip hold?


Try as we might to pull one foot out of the mud by yanking on our bootstraps, as soon as we go to work on the other foot, the first foot has sunken back in. We need someone greater than ourselves to lift us out. A Captain who is like us, who understands what we have to face, but who is also greater than us because He’s never failed. But recognizing the need for a Captain and inviting Him on is the first step. Then as He works on our internal processes, disciplines the crew into shape, repair what’s malfunctioning, maybe even changes some of the crew entirely, our ship will now be able to follow the external laws. And as all ships receive this same transformation, we’ll all be able to sail harmoniously and sail to the correct port. But until then….

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