Friday, February 01, 2008

Christ and legislating morality

An old friend of mine recently made the following assertion:
Christ never legislated anything. Rather, He seemed to take great offense with the Jewish leaders who did.

When we allow our nation to become a Theocracy, we start heading down exactly the same path as the ancient Jews.

Christ never legislated anything?
"I tell you, anyone who looks on a woman with lust has committed adultery with her in his heart."
"If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
"But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
"But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is(BM) the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil."

Etc.

Of course He did.
What He criticised the Jewish leaders for was being hypocrites (Matt 23) and for adding their own human traditions to God's law (Mark 7). Yes, God's LAW.
But what else did He say about the Law?
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (Matt 5:17-18)

He had a pretty high opinion of the Law, since it came forth from God and all.

I didn't argue for a theocracy. I said that any law is a moral statement.
It's wrong to go faster than 25 mph in a school zone.
It's wrong to burn down someone's property.
It's wrong to hold up a bank.
It's perfectly fine to stick a scalpel into a nearly-born baby's brain and then dismember her and 'birth' her that way.
It's perfectly fine for the gov't to force me to give them lots of the money that I earned.
It's wrong to kidnap a woman in order to protect her baby from the scalpel at the abortuary to which she is en route.

Etc.
So the struggle in gov't of a nation is WHOSE morality will be imposed, not WHETHER it will be. EVERY law is an imposition of morality on everyone else. Even a nation that makes no laws makes a moral statement - it's not a high-enough moral priority to make any laws governing behavior.

7 comments:

BJ said...

Great statement at the end there. It's amazing how few people realize that.

------- Theo ------- said...

"EVERY law is an imposition of morality on everyone else."

Rhology:

Yours is an excellent point that touches on the very nature of morality and civilization in concise statement. I've planned to write on this very topic in my own blog. I'm glad to see that this simple observation, which one expects to be obvious, but is so easily overlooked, has not gone unmade elsewhere.

Your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

------- Theo ------- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
davidbmclaughlin.com said...

I asked a friend at work the following question a while back:

If you do not base laws on any religion, then on what basis do you determine which laws are moral and which are not? Whose morality do you adopt?

We discussed it briefly a few times over the next few months. After a year of thinking about it, he concluded that there is no rational basis for any law without a religious basis for the law.

I agree. And yet-and here is the dilemma for me-I do not think we should establish a Christian theocracy in America. I love the idea of Freedom of Religion. However, that leaves us with the reality that our laws are inconsistent in rationale and application.

On a theological basis regarding "the law"-

GAL 3:10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."

GAL 3:23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.


HEB 7:18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

Rhology said...

Gamelot has responded.


Here is my response:

He legislated *the Church* and not the political system.

Well, now you're changing the issue a bit. Your original statement was "morality doesn't necessarily have a place in politics".
Jesus criticised the religious leaders (read: governing authorities, since it was a theocracy) of His day for making bad laws, for hypocritically twisting around others, and straight-up disobeying still others.
And you're arguing that they had no responsibility to change?


Even Jesus submitted Himself to the human authorities.

Not b/c they were in the right or had authority over Him. It was b/c it had been planned from eternity past that He would be put to death unjustly.

None of them ever tried to change it.

Jesus' numerous criticisms of the way the Pharisees had changed the Law of God and refused to obey it themselves overthrow this assertion.

And did you have a response to my last paragraph that started with: "I said that any law is a moral statement." ?

Gamelot said...

Check my website for my own followup.

But I also want to prompt you with this:

If you believe that America should be ruled by Christians, which Christians should rule it?

Rhology said...

I didn't say that, for one thing.
But it's not a bad idea.

Conservative Reformed people should rule it.
Much like it generally was in many parts of the US at the country's inception.
This way, not only would they have the right beliefs about reality (ie, they'd be Reformed Christians) (which is always a huge help, when a gov't understands reality), but they'd have healthy debates about topics of importance with interest in finding truth, and there's a great chance they'd actually have hearts transformed by Jesus Christ, and that would be wonderful in and of itself.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil."
"How blessed are the people who are so situated; How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!"
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance."