Tuesday, August 02, 2005
  Legislating Whose Morality?
"You can't legislate morality."

How many times have you heard it? It's usually being spouted by someone who wants you to accept or condone whatever deviant behavior or taboo activities they espouse. It's their way of trying to tell those of us with morals, who believe in absolutes rather than relativism, that we might as well accept any and every perversion because we can't stop it.

Recently someone in a position of spiritual leadership, who I have a great deal of respect for, has taken to saying it. In discussing church history and some of it's failures and missteps over the centuries he says the idea of a faith based government or the church as government has never, and can never work because, "You can't legislate morality."

Baloney! Of course we can. As parents we do it with our kids. We tell them what behavior is acceptable and we impose discipline and punishment when we deviate from that standard. We do it in a marriage relationship. We take vows to our mate and promise fidelity and a certain level of behavior. Breaking that vow of loyalty (committing adultery) is grounds for ending that relationship. Sounds like legislating morality to me.

Morality is simply a standard of acceptable conduct. It is a code of conduct that regulates the manner in which members of society participate in that society. This common standard or code is spelled out in the laws that govern our city, our state, and even our nation.

Our entire society is based on legislating morality. Powerful CEOs of corporations are sent to prison for lying to and stealing from stockholders. Rapists are sent to prison for violating the rights and virtue of their victims. Those who violate the rights of minority races or "alternative lifestyles" are charged with "hate crimes." We "legislate morality" all the time.

The late R. J. Rushdoony wrote in The Christian Statesman
"The statement, 'You can't legislate morality,' is a dangerous half-truth and even a lie, because all legislation is concerned with morality. Every law on the statute books of every civil government is either an example of enacted morality or it is procedural thereto. Laws are all moral laws, representing a system of morality.
"[A]ll law is enacted morality and presupposes a moral system, a moral law, and all morality presupposes a religion as its foundation. Law rests on morality, and morality on religion.
"[Today] Law and order are deteriorating, because the religious foundations, the Biblical foundations, are being denied by the courts and by the people. Our American system of laws has rested on a Biblical foundation of law, on Biblical morality, and we are now denying that Biblical foundation for a humanistic one.
"Laws grounded on the Bible do not attempt to save man or to usher in a brave new world, a great society, world peace, a poverty-free world, or any such ideal. The purpose of Biblical law, and all laws grounded on a Biblical faith, is to punish and restrain evil, and to protect life and property, to provide justice for all people.
"...we have two religions in conflict, humanism and Christianity, each with its own morality and the laws of that morality. When the humanist tells us therefore that 'You can't legislate morality,' what he actually means is that we must not legislate Biblical morality, because he means to have humanistic morality legislated. The Bible is religiously barred from the schools, because the schools have another established religion, humanism. The courts will not recognize Christianity as the common law foundation of American life and civil government, because the courts have already established humanism as the religious foundation of American life.
"The new America taking shape around us is a very religious America, but its religion is humanism, not Christianity. It is a very morally minded America, but its ethics is the new morality, which for Christianity is simply the old sin. This new, revolutionary, humanistic America is also very missionary-minded. Humanism believes in salvation by works of law, and, as a result, we are trying as a nation, to save the world by law. By vast appropriations of money and dedicated labor, we are trying to save all nations and races, all men from all problems, in hopes of creating a paradise on earth.
"The basic function of law is to restrain not to regenerate, and when the function of law is changed from the restraint of evil to the regeneration and reformation of man and society, then law itself begins to break down, because an impossible burden is being placed upon it. Today, because too much is expected from law, we get less and less results from law, because law is put to improper uses."
So, don't tell me we can't legislate morality. The truth is those on the "anything goes, tolerant" left don't want anyone to legislate Godly, Biblical morality.
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Location: alexandria, Virginia, United States

Retired from the US Air Force after more than 20 years of service. Now working as a contractor for various government agencies.

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