Why Martial Law Didn’t Work and Would Not Work
I am not a Martial Law Baby. I was born in 1979. During the People Power Revolution I remember just playing in our backyard. The stories of the Martial Law I got from my uncle and aunts who were surprisingly pro- Marcos. Maybe the reasoning behind it was because they were Ilocanos.
As I read through some stories of the martial law like this one and this one, you could see traces of trauma and disgust over such a cruel law that they say helped disciplined the Filipinos. But did it really helped us at all? What are some things we can learn from the Martial Law that reflects the reality of the gospel? I can think of two major gospel lessons:
1. The Martial Law produced short term behavioral change but it never produced real change.
The law was based on fear and intimidation. You break the rule, we break your bone. The relationship was based on law and not on love. President Marcos was known as a dictator and not as a leader. Once law supersedes love and grace, it tends to strangle people. They might change for awhile but would later revolt and challenge authority if they can’t take it anymore.
ROMANS 7 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
The law is good. It is not bad. Imagine a world without law. Scary thought. But when Paul says we die to the law what does it mean? What is the OLD WAY OF THE WRITTEN CODE? – do not smoke, do not drink, have a haircut, don’t hold hands, don’t have a boyfriend. The relationship is based on rules. What was the effect?
5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.
Thammie and I we don’t base our relationship on rules. We have rules but the rules don’t give our marriage life.
A relationship with Christ based on the law and rules, eto ang theme song: Gusto kong bumait pero di ko magawa. Masarap ang bawal.
2. The law defines sin and also provokes sin but it will never give life
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.
The law is not sinful and please don’t misinterpret this verse as a license to sin because Paul was clear. It is when we look to the law for life, identity, security that it becomes a burden. The mistake the Marcos government made was to look to the Martial Law to bring life to the nation. The reverse happened. The Martial Law brought death.
Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of your self to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
So how do we see national transformation happen?
It is when the people understand the abounding grace of God.We can live under law or under God’s grace. If we say we are the only Christian nation in Southeast Asia, then we have to start living out under God’s grace. God’s grace produces transformation.
The solution is not more laws. We can’t keep the 10 commandments, so do we really need more?