Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Government and Morality

"Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again" (Deuteronomy 13:11).

Yesterday we looked at how the law reveals our sin to us, drives us to Christ, and shows us how to live in a way that pleases God. Today we want to consider how the law restrains evil.

Often we hear the phrase, You can’t legislate morality. This originally meant: If people are misbehaving, or are inclined toward a certain activity, just making a rule against it will not automatically change the disposition of the hearts or the behavioral patterns of people. This is obviously true.

However, the phrase has come to mean that government should never legislate on matters that have moral significance because it is not proper to have laws restricting moral matters. When we scrutinize this position we find it is not a very intelligent position to hold. It means that all our lawmakers can do is decide on the state bird and the state flower, and given environmental considerations, perhaps even those two matters have moral dimensions.

Obviously, when the government penalizes murder, it is legislating morality. When the government regulates how we use our automobiles, it is legislating morality. When it penalizes theft, it is legislating morality. Every government must legislate morality. The question is: Whose morality is being legislated? God’s or ours?

We know that merely putting a speed limit sign on a highway does not eliminate all reckless driving on the road, but the question is: Does it reduce the amount of reckless driving and help save lives? The answer is obviously yes. There is a restraining power and function to law and law enforcement. Passing and enforcing laws through punishment helps restrain sin, make society a safer place and glorify God.

Our forefathers maintained that the Bible reveals clearly the fundamental principles of social order and legislation. While we tend to see government only in its federal forms, our founders saw the principles applying more comprehensively. Resolve this week to raise your level of local involvement by praying for your local government and representatives.