You Can’t Legislate Morality!
That is the charge by secularist’s and others against Christian involvement in politics, but is it true? Isn’t it true that every law written and adopted is about someone’s idea of what is right and what is wrong? Why do we have laws against murder and stealing? Isn’t it because we, as a society, have determined that it is immoral to kill people and to steal other’s property? And what was the purpose behind that light bulb law? Wasn’t it someone’s version of the moral obligation to protect the environment from greenhouse gases?
I think the better question is, “whose morality will we legislate?” We live in a pluralistic society with competing, and often times incompatible worldviews, such as those who would like to see Sharia law enacted in the United States.[i][i] According to Sharia law, women are under legal guardianship of their male relatives, and the penalty for theft is amputation. Would it be a better society if the Christian’s just sat this election out, much like we did in 2008? It has been estimated that 30 million evangelical’s did just that, and the 2008 presidential election was won by 10 million votes.[ii][ii] Are we a more Godly society than we were four years ago? Are we going to abstain from politics unless Jesus Himself is running in our elections?
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.~~Matthew 5:13-16
When I read the powerful metaphors in the above Scripture, I understand it to mean that as believer’s we are to keep ourselves pure while engaging ourselves in the world in which we live. I don’t read it to mean that we are to confine our activities to those conducted behind the church building walls with other believer’s. To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world requires our involvement in every aspect of society; evangelism, charity, and yes, politics.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. ~~Romans 13:1-7
God ordained government for the purposes of good. According to Chuck Colson in his book God and Government, “The state was instituted by God to restrain sin and promote a just social order. Western political thought often mistakenly assumes that the role of government is determined solely by the will of the people. The biblical reality is different. On the eve of His execution, Jesus told Pilate that he held his office of political authority only because it had been granted him by God. The apostle Paul spoke of civil authority as ‘God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.’ Peter used similar language, saying that governments were set by God to ‘punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.'”[iii][iii]
If it is true that God ordained government, not as a means to remedy sin, but rather to restrain it, how do you suppose God intends to see His moral laws reflected in our government if His children, the salt of the earth and the light of world, fail to engage in the process? Isn’t it true that God uses His people for His great purposes?
Laws Shape Morality
What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”~~Romans 7:7
History proves that laws shape morality. People tend to believe that which is legal is also moral and that which is illegal is immoral. Case in point─ slavery. Slavery can be traced back to the Code of Hammurabi in 18th century BC Babylon. Its practice continued throughout human history, including 19th century America.[iv][iv]
Slavery became illegal in the United States of America on the 6th of December, 1865, when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.[v][v] Prior to ratification of the 13th Amendment, the morality of slavery was controversial. Most argued that it was in fact moral because after all, it was legal. In American culture today, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would claim that slavery is anything other than unequivocally immoral. Laws shape morality, and Christian American’s have the opportunity to shape the law.
Election 2012 – What is at stake?
The answer to that question is…everything! Election’s have consequences. Some of the issues facing voters in November are abortion, same-sex marriage, foreign policy, fiscal responsibility, size and scope of government, Supreme Court appointments, healthcare, right to work versus labor unions, immigration laws, energy policy, war, and when to go to war. And let us not forget, religious liberty.
Unfortunately, our nation is bitterly divided on these issues. We are not only divided, but the level of political discourse has grown downright vitriolic, especially towards those of us with a Biblical worldview. No longer can we have thoughtful, adult discussions on these important issues, which incidentally, affect all of us. If we dare to even speak the Biblical worldview, or disagree with the ‘tolerant,’ we are labeled as intolerant bigots, racists, Islamophobes, homophobes, and even accused of spewing hate speech. Why is that? When did the tide turn? Has the church been sleeping?
Some of you might remember the case of Pastor Steve Boissoin of Alberta, Canada. Pastor Boissoin was convicted of hate speech for writing a “letter to the editor of his local Red Deer, Alberta, newspaper… denouncing the advance of homosexual activism as “wicked” and stating: Children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights.”[vi][vi] He was not only ordered to pay a fine of $5000 to the homosexual activist who filed the complaint against him, he was also ordered to “never again publically express his religious belief that homosexuality is immoral.”[vii][vii] Did I mention that he is a Christian pastor? It is interesting to note that same-sex marriage is legal in Canada. Laws change morality and elections have consequences.
How should Christian’s vote?
My goal here is to convince you that elections matter and your vote counts. I have been hearing from many of you, especially considering the presidential ticket, and a lot of you have said you intend to sit this one out. I’m asking you to please reconsider. The non-votes still affect the outcome. There is no getting around that fact. For whom you vote is up to you, although I intend to be transparent as to my thoughts on the candidates.
I happen to be a big fan of the great thinker and prolific writer, Jack Kinsella. Jack writes a daily column for The Omega Letter Intelligence Digest. Jack is a very perceptive watchman on the wall, and if you haven’t yet, you should consider subscribing to his daily column. It’s only ten bucks a month, and worth so much more than that.
Jack recently wrote a column titled, “Reader Asks: If God Ordains Rulers, Why Vote?”[viii][viii] I agonized with Jack through that column, which was mostly a walk down memory lane, documenting the decline of America, but also shining a light on the blatant liberal bias in what we now call “the mainstream media.” Jack also addressed the attacks on him as a Christian, having come out in support of Mitt Romney.
Can a Christian Support a Mormon for President?
We have two, not so perfect choices for president. There are no perfect options in a fallen world. While our Christian faith “is not one of compromise, our political participation is the art of compromise.”[ix][ix]
We have the incumbent, President Barack Obama, who professes Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. What do we know about this Christian? We know that he supports unrestricted access to taxpayer funded abortion, and as a Senator in Illinois, he voted three times in favor of infanticide.[x][x] We also know that he supports same-sex marriage.[xi][xi] According to David Barton of Wall Builders, Barack Obama “is America’s most Biblically-hostile U.S. President.”[xii][xii] Mr. Barton lists dozen’s of examples to back up his assessment.
And what about his opponent, Mitt Romney? “For American Christians, it is helpful to remember this as the November presidential election approaches. They face a choice between a politically and theologically liberal Christian and a politically conservative Mormon.”[xiii][xiii]
I think Jack said it best when he wrote, “It isn’t entirely accurate to say that I support Mitt Romney for president so much as I am convinced by observation, logical analysis, and reasoned calculation, that if re-elected, Barack Obama will be the last president of these United States as we know it…although I believe we are in the last days and that the Lord is about to return, that doesn’t necessarily translate into my being eager to see the “wheels come off the bus,” as a friend of mine is fond of saying. Along with everybody else, I’m ON that bus.”[xiv][xiv]
From discussions I have had with other believer’s, there are two issues to which they object, regarding Mitt Romney’s candidacy. The first is his Mormonism, and the second is his prior not-so-conservative voting record.
Voting for Mitt Romney, a former Mormon bishop, is a legitimate and moral choice for those of us who want a pro-life, pro-business, pro-defense, pro-capitalist country. There is no sin in making this choice. We are electing a president to govern a republic, not a pastor to lead our church. We are choosing a civic leader, not a spiritual leader, so choosing the leader who is most likely to adhere to Biblical principles is what is important.
Some have concerns that if we elect a Mormon into the White House, millions of souls will be lost to the LDS church. To that I say, have a little faith in the Holy Spirit! Have you considered that having a Mormon in the White House might be the perfect opportunity to shine a light on LDS doctrine, opening up the mission field to convert millions of LDS members to orthodox Christianity? Again, have a little faith.
With regard to Mitt Romney’s prior pro-choice stance, he has since come out with a boldly pro-life view.[xv][xv] Again, there are no perfect presidents. Please remember that Ronald Reagan, while a governor was pro-choice. He was also the president of a union, the Screen Actors Guild. Later in life he became pro-life, and pro-individual, and was one of the greatest leaders in modern times.
Although past actions can indicate future ones, they do not always mandate them. We might not be certain of what Mitt Romney will do if elected, but one thing is certain, on November 6th we will choose a president. We will either choose one who has said he is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and conservative on all other issues, or we will chose one whose record proves him to be hostile to Christian issues.
I pray the church rises in November and does so in a mighty way!
[i][i] Activists Warn US Women of Sharia Law Threat. CBN.com
[ii][ii] Rev. Jeffries- I believe Evangelical’s need to go with Rick Perry. CNN Press Room
Rev. Jeffress: "I believe Evangelicals need to go with Rick Perry."
[iii][iii] Charles Colson, God and Government. (Zondervan, 2007). pp 101-102
[iv][iv] History of Slavery. History of the World
[v][v] Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: (Abolition of Slavery, 1865)
[vi][vi] Government to Pastor: Renounce Your Faith! World Net Daily
[vii][vii] What is Prop 8? Ministers who preach against same-sex marriages may be sued for hate speech and risk government fines.
[viii][viii] The Omega Letter Intelligence Digest. Jack Kinsella. Volume 132, Issue 19. September 19, 2012
[ix][ix] Dr. Dix Winston. Crosspoint Community Church
[x][x] National Review Online. When Obama Voted For Infanticide.
[xi][xi] Fox News. Views Shift Little After Obama Backs Gay Marriage.
[xii][xii] Wall Builders. David Barton. America’s most Biblically-Hostile U.S. President. February 29, 2012
[xiii][xiii] The Village Green. Is there anything wrong with voting for a Mormon for President? Religion and Politics. Christianity Today. September 2012.