Tag Archive for law

You Can’t Legislate Morality?

Legislation and morality are indivisible

I have lived long enough to remember several election cycles and the debates that have occurred with them. One of the great slogans that I have heard thrown out there in these debates is; You can’t legislate morality. For many years I partially believed this lie. It is true that no law can force all people to do the right thing nor can it make people “good”. That line of thinking, however, misses the point entirely.

Law and morality are indivisible. By its very nature, a law is crafted in morality of some sort. Someone who claims to craft morally neutral laws is not being intellectually honest. Micah Watson, William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Affairs at the James Madison Program at Princeton University and Director of the Center for Politics & Religion at Union University has written an essay on the subject entitled, “Why We Can’t Help But Legislate Morality,” in that essay Watson states:

To legislate, then, is to legislate morality. One can no more avoid legislating morality than one can speak without syntax. One cannot sever morality from the law. Even partisans of the most spartan libertarian conception of the state would themselves employ state power to enforce their vision of the common good. Given this understanding, the term “morals legislation” is, strictly speaking, redundant. The real question is not whether the political community will legislate morality; the question is which vision of morality will be enforced and by what sort of government.

So the debate should not be whether a law is legislating morality but rather whose or what kind of morality is it legislating. This should give us much to consider as we filter through the legislative goings on of this next session of congress.

HT: Justin Taylor

Teachers of The Bible Beware!

Teaching the bible in public can land you in jail. At least that is what happened to Dale McAlpine of Cumbria, England. I might understand this if it were in a militant Muslim nation like Indonesia but in England. This is cause for great concern.

The arrest occurred in the famous “speakers corner” of Hyde Park in London. I have been there many times and seen all kinds of speakers practicing their right to free speech. It so happened that Mr. McAlpine is a Christian. He was speaking about sin when he was challenged by a passerby. According to the London paper the Telegraph:

During the exchange, he says he quietly listed homosexuality among a number of sins referred to in 1 Corinthians, including blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness. After the woman walked away, she was approached by a PCSO [Police Community Support Officer] who spoke with her briefly and then walked over to Mr. McAlpine and told him a complaint had been made, and that he could be arrested for using racist or homophobic language. The street preacher said he told the PCSO: “I am not homophobic but sometimes I do say that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin.

What is even more troubling than the fact he was arrested was the language written into the police report. The citation stated that the aggravating factor in the incident was that he said his views in a voice loud enough to be heard by others. So by this we can assume that we can have our views as long as we say them under our breath.

I hope this sends a clear signal to all teachers of God’s word: beware! Despite the dangers, however, I pray that men and women will continue to proclaim the truth in love. Satan loves to use incidents like these to silence the gospel. As believers we have an obligation to trust the Lord and let our humility and righteousness silence our critics.

Be sure to keep Mr. McAlpine in your prayers.

HT: Dr. Al Mohler

Of Judges And Justice

supremecourt“Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!”

– Psalm 106:3

It is nice to be blessed. It is nicer still to know how to consistently obtain blessings. This passage from the Psalms makes it clear how this can be accomplished.

So if it is true that we obtain blessing by observing justice, what are our chances of obtaining blessing as a nation? Are the people we are given to uphold justice likely to do so? No president nominates a person to serve on our highest court whom he thinks will pervert justice. So the discussion then becomes a matter of definitions. What is justice and who has the right to determine what is just?

According to President Obama and his recent nominee for the highest court, Judge Sotomayor, justice equals empathy. This is a very dangerous basis for deciding impartially. Writing in a recent article, Charles Krauthammer, summarizes the flaw of Judge Sotomayor’s philosophy:

Empathy is a vital virtue to be exercised in private life — through charity, respect and loving kindness — and in the legislative life of a society where the consequences of any law matter greatly, which is why income taxes are progressive and safety nets built for the poor and disadvantaged.

But all that stops at the courthouse door. Figuratively and literally, justice wears a blindfold. It cannot be a respecter of persons. Everyone must stand equally before the law, black or white, rich or poor, advantaged or not.

Obama and Sotomayor draw on the “richness of her experiences” and concern for judicial results to favor one American story, one disadvantaged background, over another. The refutation lies in the very oath Sotomayor must take when she ascends to the Supreme Court: “I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. … So help me God.”

So what is in store for our land? Are we in store for blessing based on the President’s choice of Ms. Sotomayor. I’m not so confident at this point. What brings me comfort, however, is remembering this prophecy concerning Jesus, the ultimate judge:

He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

– Matthew 12:19-21