You have heard people say, "You cannot legislate morality." This has been the mantra of those clamoring for the separation of church and state—meaning, to them, "Keep the church, the Bible and all forms of morality out of the public arena."
The truth, though, is laws are the legislation of morality. The confusion people have is their misunderstanding of morality. Morality is simply the divine laws that determine positive or negative results of one's actions. The fact we have a moral universe presupposes a God who demands right behavior.
Morality, therefore, is good deeds that benefits both the doer of the deed and those affected by the deed. Immorality, conversely, is simply bad deeds that hurt either the doer of the deed or those affected by the deed, and sometimes both. In other words, morality is a win-win for everyone, while immorality hurts society.
Let's take stealing, for example. "Thou shall not steal" is a written commandment from God. Simply because stealing is wrong from the Bible's standpoint, including the three major monotheistic religions, that does not mean we should refuse to implement the law because it is religious. It is no doubt religious, but it is moral as well. Stealing is wrong because, though it may temporally help the thief, it hurts the victim.
Any good law, therefore, is based on morality. Good laws must be good for everyone. As I see it, there are four important facts that legislators and judges must keep in mind when they make or implement laws:
1. They must discern between good and evil. If a judge's moral compass is broken, then he will not be able to judge properly. This is confirmed in the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Is. 5:20, NIV). I believe seven of the nine Supreme Court justices' moral compass was broken, or at least out of kilter, when they ruled that a mother-to-be has the right to kill her pre-born children in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
2. They must not legislate or judge in contradiction to natural law. God instituted nature as a law to us. For example, if God intended polygamy to be good, then nature would have produced more women for men, but instead, the population of the genders is about equal. This shows God's intent is for marriage to be for one man for one woman. Also, if God intended for men to marry men, then same-sex partners would be able to procreate in the same way as opposite-sex partners do. Legislators and judges that promote laws that go contrary to nature will hurt society.
3. They must not micromanage morality. This was the mistake former mayor Michael Bloomberg made when he wanted to ban large soft drinks in New York. I think most agree that drinking too much sugar is unhealthy and thus immoral; however, people do not want government micromanaging their moral behavior in such minor ways.
4. They must not reward immorality. Although it is not the government's job to punish all bad deeds, it should never reward them either. This is the error the previous city council made when they rewarded unmarried couples with health benefits. Unwed pregnancies are hurtful for parents, children and, ultimately, society, because society will end up paying for this irresponsible behavior.
Morality is the basis of good laws and good judicial decisions. As citizens, we must demand our legislators and judges follow the moral laws God has written on our hearts and confirmed in nature, logic and the Scriptures.
Tom Brown is the founder and pastor of a growing congregation in El Paso, Texas, Word of Life Church.
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