Friday, September 24, 2010

Legislating Morality

"You can't legislate morality."  I don't know where that saying came from, but it seems to me that it has always been part of my consciousness - and I'm old enough that my consciousness stretches way back to the last ice age.  Well - not quite - but definitely back into the 60's and 70's.

It seems to me that many people that I agree with on conservative social issues have missed the point.  You cannot legislate morality.

I am not opposed to having laws against things that I consider immoral.  The purpose of civil government is to provide order (versus anarchy) and to maintain peace for the citizens.
(Romans 13:3–4) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 
I'm glad that the government sets up the laws by which we all drive on the same side and mostly all follow the same basic rules of the road.  I am glad to see the police cars out on the highway encouraging people to restrain themselves and follow the rules.  Not everyone DOES follow the rules, but many people do - out of fear if for no other reason.

I am also glad that there are laws against murder and promoting self defense.  It doesn't mean that I am absolutely sure I will not be murdered, but at least the police would investigate if I were murdered - and MAYBE that will restrain my potential murderers.

I believe that abortion is the murder of an unborn child.  I am in favor of laws that would protect the lives of those millions of children who would otherwise be murdered by their own mothers.  It wouldn't save the lives of every unborn child - not by a long shot - but it would save many.

So, I am in favor of such laws and I will vote that way - for politicians who could make a difference in the laws and the judges who have so much influence.

But having said that, I will not use the Church as a tool of the political process to influence the vote.  The political process is the political process.  It certainly has an important place.  But the Church is not a political instrument or a political platform.  The problems of our society are moral problems created by selfishness and immorality in people's hearts.  All the laws in the world cannot change the hearts that are at the root of the problems.  The law has temporary and limited effects in people's lives.  It cannot do anything positive - it only punishes those who do not comply.

But the Church is all about changing people's hearts.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is applied by the Spirit of God to bring about "new birth" -  a conversion from death to life - from spiritual darkness to spiritual light.  The Church is about changing enemies of God into the people of God.  The Church is about ordering our hearts according to the truth as revealed by God to His people.

God's work in people's lives - of which the Church is a part - is miraculous and eternal.  It goes way beyond anything that can be accomplished in the arena of politics.

My point is this.  You can't legislate morality.  When you hijack the Church and divert it from it's life changing mission to use it in the political process - THAT is IMMORAL.  If we win the political battles, but fail to do what we have been commissioned to do - to make disciples for Jesus Christ - then we have sinned against Him.

Keep your eye on the ball.  You cannot legislate morality.  The only real solution to immorality is to have people become genuine followers of Jesus Christ - and for the followers of Jesus Christ to be instructed in the truth of His Word.
(Matthew 28:19–20) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

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