We pick up again today with the thought of legislating moral behavior. (As a note on the title, I have no intention to affirm or disparage Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority – other than to say that I fully support the right of Christians to organize for political purposes; we’re citizens of this country too.)
Legislation on personal behaviors, handed down from the government, must come from the seat of government power. (Where else?) In a kingdom, it is the king alone who makes these decisions. If you happen to be the subject of an unjust king, well, you’re just stuck. The same holds for dictatorship or just about any other totalitarian regime. You must rely on the moral edicts (and moral whims) of those in power.
In a democracy, things are different. Perhaps better, but certainly different. Leaving the quirks of voting trends, habits, and eligibility aside; the morality legislated in a democracy must be morality agreed to by the majority. (For those who will now protest that we live in a republic, I agree, but it is still a democratic republic.) There are obvious conditions to the statement. Certainly a majority can oppose or favor a particular government policy without caring enough to vote on that basis alone (see coming post on “Single Issue Voters”). However, if a majority of the citizens agree on a particular definition of morality, and agree vehemently, then it is unlikely you will see government policy in direct contradiction to the agreed upon morality.
This presents both an opportunity and a pitfall. First, the opportunity. The battle for morality as understood by the masses can be taken directly to the masses. We wage a battle for the hearts and minds. This is good. As Christians, this is a natural battlefield for us. Not that we wish to promote Christ through logical discourse alone (I Cor 2:1), but making a broad appeal to all who will answer the call is certainly consistent with the history of the church.
The pitfall is quite sinister though. It is well within the nature of man to rebel against God. With this comes the realization that morality as agreed to by the majority may be no morality at all. In fact, it may be direct rebellion against God. History is replete with examples of majorities agreeing to “morality” that is in direct contradiction to the word of God. It is the fallen nature of man.
To trust now the moral discretion of the masses is to open the way for deception, corruption, and abuse. Do I then promote theocracy? Absolutely not. That hasn’t worked out very well for us either. What I prefer is a government that stays out of these decisions, a government that doesn’t force a preferred (dare I say “politically correct”) worldview, a government that doesn’t interfere with personal morality that violates no one’s rights, and a government that resists the urge to define any and everything as a human right to achieve their goals via the back door.
Lastly, let me offer a word of caution. As we build the necessary infrastructure to allow government to enforce moral behavior, we may be building the very tools necessary to oppress our children in future generations.