This past weekend my wife and I headed down to Charleston, SC, for a quick 48-hour visit with her parents, who had just moved there last month. We wanted to check out their new digs and see the sights of one of the most beautiful cities in the South.

While taking a stroll around lovely downtown Charleston, we came upon a strange sight: a doorman scraping gum off of the telephone pole in front of his building. We then noticed that all of the telephone poles at that intersection were completely covered in people’s “ABC gum” (Already Been Chewed).

My father-in-law decided to ask the doorman why this was the case, to which the man replied, “There is a $500 fine for putting gum on telephone poles.”

My wife and I chuckled to ourselves (outside of earshot of the poor doorman left to the nasty deed of removing the gum, of course), that this was a perfect example of how the law works. It always brings about the opposite of its intended effect. The end result of this law was telephone poles covered in gum.

There is usually confusion over the function of the law. Often we think of it as something that is supposed to prevent certain behaviors, but in actuality it reveals the existence of those behaviors and, more often than not, it causes the behaviors in question.

I know some may think this is up for debate, but next time you walk around your town, take a look at the telephone poles. There may be a little bit of gum or something on them, but I bet they will be pretty clean. My bet is that there is no known law against dirtying the telephone poles. Then, consider the poles in Charleston where the law is intended to prevent the gum, and remember this picture.

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“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” – Romans 5:20