[Welcome to the Defense Series. The aim of this series is to help Christians more effectively “make a defense” (1 Pet. 3:15) to those who challenge the teachings and values of New Testament Christianity. My prayer is that the following words will help and embolden you as you stand for Truth.]
“Government has no right to legislate morality. What religion would be the standard? Not everyone is a Christian like you. Get over it,” one man said in a discussion via social media.
This point makes a lot of sense on the surface, and usually shuts down the discussion fairly quickly. Most Christians don’t know how to handle this argument.
The answer to the question is this: It is impossible not to legislate morality. Isn’t every man-made law created because of a moral value? Can you think of a law that isn’t? I can’t think of a single exception. Even tax codes* and traffic laws are examples of legislating fairness (which is a moral value) among citizens. The morality behind laws against murder and stealing are more obvious.
Every law imposes a moral value upon its constituents. What value or beliefs should our legal system use? Should society subscribe to secular values? Even secularism (a type of humanism) is its own belief system. Who has the right to say that secularism is a better belief system than Christianity? Why not Islam’s Sharia law? Why one over the other?
It is simply uninformed to say that government cannot legislate morality. The question needs to be, “What moral standard should the government use?”
The United States of America is a representative democracy, meaning that to a degree the majority moral value rules. Christians have just as many rights secularists do in being involved with the political process (e.g. voting and running for office). This is simply a fundamental American freedom. Likewise, the 1st Amendment guarantees Christians the right to voice their opinions. They may speak, publish, preach, teach, and broadcast about Christian values on issues like homosexuality, abortion, drugs, and civil rights.
Christians, don’t bow to the uninformed argument that it is wrong and unfair to legislate morality (Doesn’t the argument itself imply a moral belief?). Yet, we must also recognize that civil legislation is not the answer to America’s moral problems. Gun laws are not the answer to gun crime, abortion laws are not the answer to abortion, and marriage laws are not the answer to the homosexual marriage debate. Such laws are simply representative of the culture in which we live. Every moral problem is a result of sin, and the only answer to sin is the blood of Jesus Christ through repentance and complete obedience to Him (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:5-7).
We know that God instituted civil government; therefore (whether or not it recognizes Him) it is still bound to His Law (Rom. 13:1f). We also know that the only reliable standard for society is God’s Word (Psa. 119), not secularism. Yet our ultimate desire is not to improve the legal system of our nation, but to prepare lost souls for eternity. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:10-11).
*You may argue the fairness of the U.S. tax code.
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