This week's question: “Christians should not try to impose
their moral standards on the rest of society.” (if you want to catch up on this excellent series, you can read the previous 4 questions by Alan here)
two separate, but related, implications to this challenge. The first is that it’s
wrong to impose any moral rules on
society. The second is that it’s wrong for Christians
to impose their morality.
implication is a common myth that needs to be debunked. It’s perfectly
acceptable to legislate morality. When you think about it, morals are the only
thing you can legislate. For example, we have laws against stealing for one
reason: it’s immoral to take someone’s
property. So, we take that moral rule and establish it in law.
The same is
true for laws against murder. The reason they exist is because we think it’s
immoral to kill an innocent human being. So, we take that moral rule and make
it against the law to break it. By legislating that rule, we are legislating
it’s the moral rule that legitimizes the law’s power to limit freedom. Without
a moral grounding, laws would be unjust. They would be the raw use of power to
get what someone wants, not to do what’s right. That’s called tyranny.
all laws reflect a moral viewpoint. The only question is whose morals will be legislated and which viewpoint will be
implication of this challenge is that it’s wrong for Christians (or religious
people for that matter) to impose their morality (i.e. views on homosexuality)
on society. Because their policies are motivated by religion, they shouldn’t be
allowed to inform the political process.
But why are
only Christians limited from imposing their moral views? Why can’t we restrict
other people? Homosexuals want to impose their moral standards on society.
Let’s make them keep their private beliefs out of the public square. Does that
sound fair? It doesn’t because our country endows all citizens with the
privilege to participate in the political process. No one is excluded, not even
Christians or homosexuals.
respond by saying that Christian morals should be excluded because they are religious
and that violates the separation of church and state. But the words,
“separation of church and state” are neither in the Declaration of Independence
nor the Constitution. Even the First Amendment protects religious expression,
it doesn’t silence it: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom
of speech...” Notice who and what is restricted: the government is restricted from establishing
a state religion. The people are
free to exercise their religious beliefs.
are motivated by religion are free to advocate for public policy. Yet the
establishment clause is often read as restricting religious people, when in
reality its purpose is the exact opposite. Every citizen enjoys the freedom to
legislate their morality. You can’t be disqualified because of your
our laws restrict religiously motivated people leads to absurd conclusions. Most
of the framers of the Constitution, for example, were practicing Christians. It
doesn’t make sense that they would willfully write into the Constitution and
Bill of Rights a system of law that they knew would disqualify them from
that, but it would also mean that if an ordinary American was against theft
because the New Testament (Ephesians 4:28) forbade it, then they wouldn’t be permitted
to legislate against larceny. Every person with a religious view would have to
remain silent on public policy. This would disenfranchise massive portions of
United States population.
have the right, as well as any citizen, to impose their morals on society. To
try to limit their role in public policy is an illegitimate attempt to silence
dissent. It’s a group’s way of saying, “Just go away,” while at the same time
imposing their own moral vision on society. It’s not only unlawful, it’s
*Find out more about Alan Shlemon's excellent work here.
Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow
Labels: Alan Shlemon, Bible, Love, same sex marriage, Tough Questions - Homosexuality, Truth