Can Morality Be Legislated?

battered woman-tagged

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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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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The Police Who Deserve Our Respect

Bad Apples

Every vocation has them: unethical or incompetent individuals who give their profession an undeserved bad name.

But has there been a time in recent memory when the police have been so vilified as they are today? It’s a wonder anyone these days would choose law enforcement for a career.

Granted, there are those wearing badges who are bullies or racists.

They’re the exceptions.

But the majority are public servants in the best sense, courageously willing to be placed in harm’s way, who would pull out their guns only as a last resort.

Think how stressful it must be for those whose duty it is to investigate domestic disturbances, drug trafficking, and other potentially volatile situations in our increasingly violent world.

And what must it be like for their spouses and loved ones?

A call for common sense

Imagine your community without law enforcement: no one to call when you desperately need protection from those who have absolutely no respect for law and order.

Recently I talked with an officer whose duty it is to handle fraud cases. It was obvious he genuinely cared about those who are scam victims.

Everyone should read what the apostle Paul wrote about our obligation to submit to governmental authorities. God has ordained government, he says, to keep order and to restrain wrongdoers. “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God . . . .” (Romans 13:1-7).

We are to pray for “all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

In light of all the messiness, danger, and disrespect they must deal with on a daily basis, the police are definitely underpaid and underappreciated.

May the Lord watch over those who watch out for us!

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

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Rules and Rebellion

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“Employees must wash hands before returning to work.” Have you seen a sign like this in a restaurant restroom? One can only hope this rule is followed!

“Rules were made to be broken.” That’s a rather sad commentary on human nature, isn’t it?

Surely those who make rules don’t make them for the purpose of having them broken.  But has there ever been a rule somebody didn’t break? Every single day rules are ignored, defied, or circumvented.

This happens with parental rules, NBA rules, school rules, traffic laws—and especially the commandments of God.

Why rules are necessary

God gave Adam and Eve only one prohibition, and we all know how that turned out!

In spite of rules there are illegal drugs, cheating on tests, counterfeit money, and falsified tax returns.

Many laws were made to ensure fairness and provide protection. Wouldn’t it be true to say that many if not most of society’s ills today are due to the violation of rules of one kind or another?

So what’s the solution? Doing away with the rules so people can’t break them?

God has authorized government to make and enforce laws (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14). A society without rules is a chaotic mess. Law and order are a pair that naturally go together.

Disobedience to government is disobedience to God—unless the laws conflict with God’s laws (Acts 5:29; Daniel 3, 6).

Attitude is everything!

There is a certain mindset that chafes under rules. Some people break rules because it’s not convenient to comply. Some because they are determined to get what they want, regardless. Others break rules because they are there. “Nobody’s gonna tell ME what to do!”

One of the colleges I attended was rather conservative. Daily chapel was required. Curfews were in place. Many students were happy to be there and were cooperative. Others complained about the restrictions. The boundaries weren’t wide enough to suit them and they kept stepping over the line.

Obedience at all levels is a hard lesson for most of us to learn. It was excruciatingly difficult for Jesus to do His Father’s will, especially when it meant going to the cross.

He not only submitted but He did it with a good spirit. It cost Him His life (Philippians 2:5-11).

In this ultimate act of obedience He took away all our excuses.

 

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

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