25 Jun '11
Can you legislate morality?
In a recent address, the president of Trinity Law School in California made the point that most evangelicals would answer no, you cannot legislate morality since morality is a matter of the heart. However, morality is being legislated every day.
When the state of New York made gay marriage legal yesterday, putting it on par with the marriage of a man and a woman they were in effect legislating morality. A generation from now few will question that this is as life should be (I have gay friends whom I love dearly but I cannot find justification for the redefinition of marriage). When the Netherlands made it legal to euthanize infants with serious abnormalities it is legislating morality – just as Germany did in the days of Hitler. Countries that have made abortion legal – and even promote it as a means of birth control, have made immorality legal and largely accepted.
When people try to take Christianity out of any and all public discourse, they are legislating morality – their morality. Indeed, little by little, chip by chip, the underpinnings of Judeo-Christian ethics are being intentionally legislated out of the law both in the United States and elsewhere.
It was William Wilberforce who through his undaunting opposition to the slave trade and the institution of slaver who led the passage of the abolition of both in England leading to its eventual abolition in the United Sates. Wilberforce was a politician who rightly brought his biblical convictions to bear on one of the most insidious institutions in modern history. Through law, a grossly immoral practice was outlawed. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, congress through law, outlawed racist practices embedded in American society.
Certainly one cannot legislate the condition of the human heart. But, the laws that we pass and the court decisions that are made impact the morality or lack of morality of whole nations by their consequences. In effect, the law can move a nation either toward or away from biblical morality: issues of justice and poverty included.
I thank God for men and women in the public arena who are willing to bring their biblical convictions to bear in bold ways from all parties. The liberal elite, after all have been bringing their version of morality to the public square for a long time. They have an agenda for our society that is in large part antithetical to morality as defined by Scripture. While the law and courts are not the answer to all evils, their laws and decisions impact the moral behavior of entire nations. Both morality immorality can be legislated.