Should We Legislate God's Morality?

To what extent should Christians support public policy which reflects God’s standards? If we support these policies, but couch our support in secular reasoning, are we achieving anything meaningful? As a foil for this discussion, I’ll use the example of gays in the military.

Missing the Point:

I served for 10 years. I don’t honestly care whether gays are allowed to serve openly or not. They were already serving alongside me anyway. Making it “official” changes nothing about their status before God, and changes nothing the fact that they were serving anyway. The typical laundry list of reasons why they should not serve openly are unconvincing and ultimately unhelpful, because they do not strike to the heart of the issue – homosexuality is an abomination before God which violates His standards for His people. We do not live in a theocracy, so this fact is never made part of the public policy debate. Therefore, unless Christians are prepared to base their objections on Scripture, they are wasting their time couching these objections in secular reasoning.

Separation:

Should Christians separate from this blatant secularism by, perhaps, getting out of the military? I know some good men who have. I, however, am tempted to say it is not necessary. There is a fine line between isolation and separation. Peter spoke of Christians as being strangers and pilgrims in this world, setting a good example so as to have a clear testimony before unbelievers (1 Pet 2:11-12). I admit a tendency towards pragmaticism here, but nonetheless, why should we separate at this point? We “serve” alongside homosexuals every day in our secular, civilian workplaces. Do we quit our jobs? I doubt it! The yardstick for separation is when public policy infringes on a Christian’s ability to live out his faith day to day.

Implications:

I see no need to oppose public policy which is opposed to God’s standards unless we are willing to base our objections on Scripture itself. I likewise see little practical benefit from separating from these organizations, to the extent possible on a case-by-case basis, unless Christian liberty is infringed upon. The issue of gays in the military was handled very badly in both of these respects.

The reaction of certain organizations (e.g. Hobby Lobby) to the so-called “Obamacare” mandate is a good example of these principles in action. Hobby Lobby’s objections are clearly based on Scripture, and they protest the law because it infringes on a Christian’s personal liberty in that the company is forced to provide coverage for healthcare it finds morally objectionable.

Thoughts? 

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Anne Sokol's picture

what you wrote sounds great. 

My mom once was part of a grant-funded think-tank type of experience where a wide range of people came together to explore the topic of "religion in a democracy." 

athiests, etc, all took part. my mom was the fundamentalist contributor Biggrin

The basic conclusion the group reached was that democracy cannot survive without religious underpinnings. 

Now, I live in Ukraine, a very government-corrupted, all-society-corrupted society (post-communism), I see how this is true. There is no true democracy without the religious underpinnings. it's hard to bring capitalism into corruption.  

The nonexistent basic level of trust, the socially forced and accepted "stealing" by multiple parties in a transaction . . . 

Anyway, I say that to say, I think in one way American freedom does actually protect homosexuals. But, at what cost are we eroding the "religious underpinnings" needed to remain a democratic society? does this particular moral question influence democracy? Maybe not. Or maybe. I don't see that it does, but maybe I am not seeing something. 

 

Andrew K.'s picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

what you wrote sounds great. 

My mom once was part of a grant-funded think-tank type of experience where a wide range of people came together to explore the topic of "religion in a democracy." 

athiests, etc, all took part. my mom was the fundamentalist contributor Biggrin

The basic conclusion the group reached was that democracy cannot survive without religious underpinnings. 

Now, I live in Ukraine, a very government-corrupted, all-society-corrupted society (post-communism), I see how this is true. There is no true democracy without the religious underpinnings. it's hard to bring capitalism into corruption.  

The nonexistent basic level of trust, the socially forced and accepted "stealing" by multiple parties in a transaction . . . 

Anyway, I say that to say, I think in one way American freedom does actually protect homosexuals. But, at what cost are we eroding the "religious underpinnings" needed to remain a democratic society? does this particular moral question influence democracy? Maybe not. Or maybe. I don't see that it does, but maybe I am not seeing something. 

 

For another example of the same sort, look at China: sometimes it feels like the people there have completely lost their morality,--just google "Chinese food scandals" and see what people are willing to do to others to make some quick qian (money). Many Chinese themselves are willing to admit this sad truth, and many of the more shrewd have even blamed it precisely on the destruction of their traditional religions and social structures.

神是爱

TylerR's picture

Editor

I understand what you're saying. It seems, however, that if Christian morality is legislated without reference to the Christian justification - then we are missing the whole point. 

I see the increasing acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle as being indicative of a marked drift away from the Christian morality that used to characterize American society - even if these same people didn't realize it was Christian morality. Can any country legitimately get this morality back without reference to Scripture and saving faith in Christ? I don't so - which is why unless individuals are prepared to defend the faith based on Scripture the whole thing is pointless.

I'm not sure how public policy can be implemented with direct reference to Christian values - people will think we're insane. I just realized this whole post is very depressing . . .!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Anne Sokol's picture

TylerR wrote:

I'm not sure how public policy can be implemented with direct reference to Christian values - people will think we're insane. I just realized this whole post is very depressing . . .!

For example, I do believe in the distinction between church and state . . . maybe in that we can't live in a theocracy, like Calvin tried to create. However, I think that "church" (aka religious beliefs) should inform the govt.

But how to state that in a way that makes it understandable/acceptable in the public conversation ... that is a very philosophical sounding question, and I bet someone really smart like francis schaeffer or marvin olasky wrote about it. 

 . .. . I will think about this some more. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Tyler. Did a little workshop that overlapped much with this topic.

You can find audio notes etc. under Society, Politics and the Gospel here:

http://truthconference.org/resources/

I bit off too much topic for the allotted time, but you might find it helpful.

To try to nutshell:

a. Much of the way we look at political issues today is colored by assumptions we've accepted without knowing it. They are part of the furniture of modern Western culture since the elightenment. We're really not ready to think about political questions until we identify these assumptions and compensate for them.

b. "Separation of church and state" refers to institutional separation, and it's an idea quite compatible with Scripture (God has assigned very different tasks to government--Rom.13--and church--Eph.4, Matt.18:19, etc.)

c. Other than procedural stuff for good order, nothing much is worth legislating except "God's morality."

d. In a free society, we should avoid making biblical arguments to the general population. In most cases, wiser policies are evident enough once we filter out the modern bias in favor of innovation and "progress" and look at history with some respect.

e. The basic attitude of conservatism is that we are not wiser and better as human beings than our forbears, that stable relatively moral societies got that way by learning lessons we would do well to retain, that the perennial human problems of poverty, crime and war will never be solved by human government, enlightened or otherwise.

nancygrace's picture

None of this type of ungodly behaviour is new and our stand as Christians should remain one of separation. Romans chapter 1 goes into virtually all of the worlds philosophies of proper conversation (lifestyle)
I side with Paul....Romans 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgement of God.

In His Hands, Nancy

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Biblical "separation" is another topic entirely from separation of church and state or the believer's relationship to public policy.

A good example of the difference (ESV):

1Cor 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—
1Cor 5:10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
1Cor 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
1Cor 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

Paul's reasoning here is that persistently disobedient professing believers are the primary target of separation. Our place in the world is accepted because Paul's rejects the idea of going out of the world.

Of course we also have 2Cor.6:14 and context. There, we're called to avoid partnering with lawlessness, darkness, "Belial." We know from 1Cor.5 that distance from unbelieving people isn't the idea (John 4 comes to mind, too--as well as Matt. 9:10-13). But there are kinds of relationships with unbelieving people that yoke us to darkness, lawlessness, Belial. And, given the context of 2Cor, it's quite likely that once again, relationships with professing believers are mainly in view.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Aaron:

I agree. This is why, though I understand why folks leave military service over the homosexual issue, I don't think it is necessary. I know one Pastor who left the military over that issue back in the Clinton days. I understand, but it's not Scriptural.

Again, because there are homosexuals in the secular workforce, would you leave your job because of it? Probably not.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Anne Sokol's picture

 

I'll give you an example from home birth midwifery: lesbians are sometimes prone to home birth (social stigma reasons, several popular midwives are lesbian, home birth has a big new age-ish following, etc.)

so a christian midwife has a lesbian couple that comes to her and wants her to be their midwife--that means prenatal care and birth. 

what does she do? I think it's possible for God to lead people differently but the particular midwife i know had to tell them that she wouldn't be their mw. and she said it in a nice way--I don't judge you, that is God's place, but I wouldn't be able to attend your birth and feel joy at the event for the birth of the baby into this type of family.  (that's not word for word. and she was kind) 

So . . . yeah, it's hard calls sometimes.