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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Jesus, Yes! Church, No?

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It’s probably true to say that most people who know anything about Jesus truly admire Him.

He showed such compassion for the downtrodden. He sacrificed Himself for others—including those who crucified Him.

No wonder so many find Him appealing!

And yet . . . .

These positive feelings often don’t transfer to the church. Why not?

“Church members don’t practice what they preach.”

“They think they’re better than others.”

“They’re intolerant of those who don’t believe as they do.”

“They can’t even get along with each other.”

“When I tried going to church I did not feel welcome.”

Etc.

Guilty as charged?

Sad to say, many of these charges are true. Christians are often poor advertisements for Christ.

But let’s see if we can put things into perspective.

If we are to see the church accurately, we must view it through the eyes of its Founder.

In the New Testament Christ reveals His will for His church.

We read of congregations that greatly pleased Christ (like the Philippians), but also those He was extremely upset with (such as the Galatians).

Even the best churches had their faults. The letters of Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude and the book of Hebrews show what was right with the church and what was wrong.

Where churches fall short, repentance is called for (Revelation 2-3).

The same is true today

Only Jesus is perfect.

The plan He left for His church is perfect (1 Timothy 3:15).

Those who profess to belong to Him are often far from perfect—including me.

Jesus warns that on Judgment Day He will say to many who call Him Lord, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Jesus does not accept all who claim Him: “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

He is the only Head of only one body, His church (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:16; 4:4).

What Christ establishes, Satan counterfeits.

But Jesus embraces His true disciples who humbly and penitently admit their failures and who make a sincere effort to grow into His likeness.

Jesus never gives up on His church.

Nor should we.

 

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

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