What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate and it has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice.

Law influences politics, economics and history in many ways, and different societies develop their own unique approaches to settling disputes and setting rules for their citizens. Law can serve a variety of purposes, from keeping the peace and maintaining the status quo to protecting minorities or providing for orderly social change. Governments that control the law are often able to wield a tremendous amount of power and influence in society, and some laws may have unintended consequences.

Generally speaking, there are several areas of law:

Administrative law concerns the rules and regulations that govern how a government operates, including its budget, contracts, and property rights. Employment law encompasses the legal rights of workers and employers and involves labour unions and collective bargaining. Civil and criminal procedure are the rules that courts must follow as they hear and adjudicate cases. Evidence law includes the rules about which materials are admissible in court for a case to proceed properly.

Other areas of law include contract law, copyright law and patent law. Tax law is the collection and administration of taxes on goods, services and capital. Space law is a fairly new area of law, dealing with international agreements and policies regarding human activities in outer space.

The nature of law is highly dependent on humans and their mental operations, which makes it very difficult to empirically verify its content or ad hoc claims about its nature. Nevertheless, the biblical scriptures affirm that the law is a tool of hope for righteousness (Hebrews 10:4). Christ-followers are called to live in the freedom of God’s Spirit, which empowers them to obey the law for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom.

The concept of the rule of law is a key principle in contemporary politics and economics. Its definition is generally agreed upon by most of the world’s major legal traditions and consists of four universal principles: