Can Morality Be Legislated?

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It’s often said, “You can’t legislate morality.” Let’s examine this from two angles. 

On one hand . . . .

A society must have laws that uphold high moral standards. How would you like to live in a land with no laws against murder, theft, bribery, perjury, rape, child abuse, etc.?

God saw fit to legislate the morality of Israel, with appropriate penalties for infractions of these standards—in some cases capital punishment.

Israel’s government was the only true theocracy—a nation whose laws were directly decreed by God. Other than that one exception, God delegates the enactment and enforcement of laws to civil government (Romans 13:7). Legislating morality for their citizenry is one of the necessary functions of a just government.

As Paul wrote, “. . . the law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching . . .” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

On the other hand . . . .

While government can and should legislate morality and penalties for violations, no law code can make anyone do right. Those who obey or disobey the law are making a free will choice in either case.

For those who disregard the law, even if they “get away with it,” God will eventually call them to account on the Day of Judgment (Romans 2:1-16).

It is the power of the gospel of Christ that can truly transform from the inside out the thinking and behavior of all who submit their will to God’s.

Some do not violate the law because they fear such consequences as jail time, fines, or public embarrassment.

And yet what God desires most is not mere outward compliance, but a sincere desire to please Him and live in harmony with His good will.

Conclusion 

Genuine Christians make the best citizens, not only because they are law-abiding, but because they seek the glory of God and the welfare of others.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“Thanks, I Needed That!”

This morning Peter and I pulled up behind the resale shop downtown to unload some items. As we carried in the boxes, a man who had been working in the alley informed me, “Your front tire is low.”

I thanked him, and a few minutes later we had the inflater connected and the pressure back to normal.

That stranger did me a real favor. Otherwise, I might have ruined the tire.

Another example

If I ask others to proofread my writing, should I hope they won’t find any errors, even if there are some?

If there’s a mistake, I want to know it.

Other more objective eyes could see what mine had overlooked.

But what if it starts getting personal?

Would I be just as grateful to someone for pointing out a serious shortcoming in my life that needs correcting?

Even when correction is gently given (Galatians 6:1-2), why do we humans so often get defensive and feel resentful when we could really benefit from constructive criticism?

It is no time to lash back with, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

Is our pride showing?

What if the apostle Peter had taken offense when Jesus or Paul had to correct him?

Instead he grew.

David had the humility to admit, “I have sinned against the LORD” when the prophet Nathan rebuked him for his sins (2 Samuel 12:13).

Instead of resenting he repented.

On another occasion David wrote, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it . . .” (Psalm 145:5).

This old head needs a dose of oil occasionally.

How about yours?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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God, Government, and the Bible

A vital principle of Bible study is to take everything it says into consideration on any particular subject. Often one passage serves to qualify another. Together, they give a more complete picture of God’s will in the matter.

For example, Christians are taught to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).

No exceptions?

But what if a specific law of the land is in conflict with God’s word?

The Bible is clear on this: God’s word always has the last word.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to obey King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to worship the idol he had set up, they were obeying God’s higher command to have no other gods before Him (Daniel 3).

When Daniel kept praying when it became illegal to do so, God was pleased with his courageous faithfulness (Daniel 6).

When the highest court in Israel, the Sanhedrin, ordered the apostles in no uncertain terms to stop preaching Christ, Peter spoke for all of them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

And so . . . .

While God has ordained government, He has not ordained any specific form of government for our day.

But whatever the form of government, God requires that it must not exceed the authority He has given it to maintain order in society.

God never gave rulers carte blanche authority to do as they please.

God detests bribery, corruption, oppression, injustice, or any other abuse of power that hurts the governed.

And so should we.

And another thing . . . .

In addition to the Christian’s responsibility to obey laws that do not violate God’s will and also to pay taxes, we have this from Paul:

“. . . I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior . . .” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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