Click the player above to listen to the podcast, or you may read the transcript below.
Thank you, Mark. And thank you for dropping by to listen or read.
Episode 70 “Legislating Morality”
Christians often get accused of “trying to legislate their morality” on those poor, unsuspecting non-Christians.
The people who accuse others of “trying to legislate their morality” feel like they are putting forth a powerful argument to shut down anyone expressing their views.
And the people on the receiving end of such accusations often run for cover or retreat into silence, because who wants to be “legislating their morality” on others?
It sounds so … so … bad.
But I want you to think about it for a moment.
That’s right. I want you to think.
Let’s consider a real-world example.
I believe it’s wrong to kill babies in the womb. I believe it’s wrong to kill babies as they are being born. I believe it is wrong to kill babies after they are born. I believe that killing babies is murder.
Because of that, I believe killing babies should be outlawed.
“You’re trying to legislate your morality,” say those who want to kill babies in the womb.
Those people have a point. That’s precisely what I am trying to do. How can I say that? If I’m admitting to wanting to legislate my morality, I must be an evil person.
A word of caution here.
Remember, I asked you to think.
Keep your brain cells functioning.
As a Christian, I believe that each life is created by God and it’s wrong to murder a person, whether that person is a baby in the womb, a depressed teenager, or an older adult who has severe medical issues.
I want the laws of our country to protect those people.
That is, I must admit, wanting to legislate my morality.
Does that mean I’m a terrible person?
Well, there is something you should consider.
All Laws Legislate Morality
All laws, in essence, encode a society’s values and morals.
Think about that for a minute1.
If a law says you are not allowed to go into a store and take anything you want without paying for it, that is legislating morality.
What if a person doesn’t believe it’s wrong to take what they want? What if they believe stealing is okay?
If that’s what they believe, isn’t a law saying it’s wrong to steal, legislating someone else’s morality on them?
Let me give you another example.
Mata, viola, controla
Perhaps you’ve heard of the gang called MS-13. They are a violent gang that operates in Mexico, the United States, and even Europe. They have an infamous motto “Mata, viola, controla.”
Translated, that motto means “Kill, rape, control.”
Members of that gang believe in their motto and they practice it — executing people, engaging in gang rapes, and running sex trafficking operations, among other criminal acts.
And yet, in most jurisdictions, there are laws that criminalize these very actions. Are these laws not legislating morality?
Who do those people think they are, legislating their morality against the members of the MS-13 gang?
I hope your brain is still working.
I drive by a school a couple of times a day. When school is in session, there is a flashing light that says it’s a “School Zone” and the maximum speed limit is 30 miles per hour.
Thirty miles per hour? Who made that sign and who passed a law saying I had to drive 30 miles per hour?
What if I want to drive 45 mph in a school zone?
Who do they think they are keeping me from driving the speed I believe is safe?
Someone is “legislating their morality” on me.
Which leads me back to my point.
ALL LAWS ARE MORAL IN NATURE
It doesn’t matter what the law is, whether it says you shouldn’t exceed a certain speed limit, or you shouldn’t kill a person, or you shouldn’t steal, laws legislate morality.
If you understand that — and remember, you are still thinking — don’t toss phrases around to avoid dealing with the real question.
THE REAL QUESTION
The real question is, what is the basis for your morality?
What determines your sense of right or wrong?
My belief is rooted in the conviction that each human life is a divine gift from God.
God communicates this sentiment to the prophet Jeremiah:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you …”
Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)
David shares a similar understanding, that God created us and knows us.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. …”
Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)
When I argue that we should have laws that protect the precious God-given lives of babies in the womb, I am definitely wanting to legislate my morality.
But let’s look at the other side.
They don’t believe God created the life that is in the mother’s womb. Many of them consider the baby just a mass of tissue that can be destroyed for any reason. But even at 10 weeks, that “mass of tissue” has hands, arms, legs, fingers, toes, eyes, a mouth … and many more features that don’t really match up with a being merely a mass of tissue.
Yet they are willing to crush that baby’s skull, cut off its arms and legs, suction its body parts out of the womb through a tube, or starve it to death.
And the people who want to keep killing babies and sacrificing their own children, also want to pass laws that guarantee their “right” to continue the practice.
The question is not about who is trying to legislate morality. It’s about which morality is right and which is wrong.
Zeeland East junior Jules Hoogland, who is completely blind, successfully makes a basket in front of a crowd of 2,500 cheering students and staff from Zeeland East and West high schools on Tuesday, March 22. Hoogland, 17, plays on Zeeland's Unified Sports team made up of students with and without disabilities, which took over the court for a game during an assembly Tuesday morning. (Video provided by Brandy Navetta | Zeeland Public Schools)
Before I go, I’d like to share a blessing with you from the Old Testament.
“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 (The Living Bible)
Until next time … be the reason someone smiles today!
I heard this on a radio program by Ben Shapiro, who, in addition to being a conservative broadcaster is also a lawyer.