Sure you can! We do it all the time. Laws are either moral or immoral but they’re not amoral (without any morality). For example, speeding laws are moral because we want people to drive & arrive safely. Murder is against the law because we want to protect people so they can live in safety. If you don’t legislate morality, what are you legislating? Warm fuzzy feelings? Traditions? Platitudes? The question shouldn’t be can you legislate morality. It should be whose morality are we going to legislate? Historically, America has replied on Christian morality. This has helped to produce the freest nation on Earth. We started getting away from this morality in the early n20th century. Now in the 21st century, we’ve made things legal that we wouldn’t have made just a few years ago. We’ll cover whose morality we should legislate in another FAQ.
The people who say you can’t legislate morality just don’t want you legislating your morality. They’re fine with legislating their own morality. The person who says you shouldn’t force your morals on a woman who wants to get an abortion, will force their morals on the unborn baby. They will also force you to pay increased taxes to support their ‘pet’ projects, whether it be welfare spending, global warming or supporting Planned Parenthood. They’re being selective in their outrage and in the application of the law. Once again, they’re telling you not to force your morals on someone else, but they’re more than willing to force their morals on you.
Slavery is a good example of something that’s been socially acceptable for thousands of years. No religion before Christianity had EVER proposed that all people are equal. Even many religions started after Christianity, like Islam, supported slavery. In fact, Mohammed gave his wife 40 slaves. The American & British idea that slavery was wrong was a moral & religious value right from the start. Whose law was slavery against? Not man’s laws as it was legal. It was against God’s law. So to those people who say the Church should stay out of politics, they’re saying the Church shouldn’t have spoken out against slavery. Are you really willing to say that? If the Church isn’t qualified to address these issues, who is? Someone else who will be forcing their morality on you, that’s who.
No one is saying that the Church has to weigh in on everything. But they should weigh in on matters that directly affect our beliefs.
Some people say that if a law doesn’t directly affect you, you shouldn’t speak out against it. This is particularly true in the abortion debate. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one but don’t stop another person from getting one just because you’re against it. What a weak argument this is. I’ll switch the participants to show you the fallacy of this line of reasoning. In pre-WW II Germany when the Nazi’s were rounding up and killing the Jews, you shouldn’t complain because, hey, you’re not Jewish. While you may think the Nazi’s are wrong and you would NEVER kill a Jew, you don’t want to force your morality on the Nazi’s. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Edmund Burke’s comment comes to mind about “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran pastor in WW II who survived a concentration camp, said First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Here’s a very partial list of practices that Christians helped to make illegal thru the political, governing system:
– infanticide (the killing of infants)
– child marriage
– child prostitution
– purchasing of wives
– killing special needs children
– killing of widows
– the superstitious killing of twins
– polygamy (one man marrying multiple wives)
– the gladiatorial games
– child labor
– etc., etc.
Up until 374 A.D., it was still legal in Roman society to kill any baby you didn’t want. Then a Christian pastor named Bishop Basil of Caesarea convinced Roman Emperor Valentinian to outlaw infanticide. Do you still want to Church to stay out of politics now?
Another example is when people try to use the idea of human rights to justify same-sex marriage. A good response would be to ask them, “Why do you think all humans have equal rights?” This idea of all people having the same rights comes from the Bible (Galatians 3:8). Some might say that equal rights are a modern concept. Aside from being wrong, isn’t it nice that we’ve just discovered this modern concept now (said very sarcastically)? So now our own moral standards are just our own preferences? But our preferences change over time. What was illegal 40 years ago is now legal. What is illegal now may be legal 40 years from now….like polygamy or lowering the age of sexual consent (don’t laugh, both of these are making their way into the court system and they’re being argued on the same basis that same-sex marriage was). So our moral standards become like shifting sands. Without an external, transcendent moral standard, our national morality becomes whatever we decide at the moment. It didn’t work for Israel (Judges 17:6 & 21:25) and it won’t work for us. Why aren’t we learning from biblical history (1st Corinthians 10:6, 11,12)? What a recipe for disaster!
So how far should we go in legislating morals? Should we make kissing on a date illegal? This is where wisdom comes in. We don’t want to be legalistic (2nd Corinthians 3:6). Many rules make for many transgressions (Galatians 5:19-23). We don’t want a Christian Taliban. But our moral system needs a foundation. This moral foundation in America has, in the past, been Christian. While we can’t dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’, we can provide a framework from which to work. Wayne Grudem’s book, listed below, provides an excellent overview of what standards to apply and how to apply them.
“Politics according to the Bible” by Wayne Grudem
“Jesus is involved in politics” by Neil Mammen
“True for you but not for me” by Paul Copan