Friday, February 16, 2007

Should We Legislate Morality?

On Fetter Lanes' 200th post we examine a big topic today. Should we Christians attempt to affect the passsing of laws on the local, state and federal level or should we devote ourselves to the salvation of souls?

I think this creates a false disjunction; I believe this isn't an either/or proposition but, rather, a both/and: I believe we should participate in government while never forgetting that the Church's mission is to bring sinners to Christ.

John Wesley saw no problem in working both sides of the street, sacred and secular, to achieve a better society. Here are his words from his Sermons, # 52:

"...that the making an open stand against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness which overspread our land as a flood is one of the noblest ways of confessing Christ in the face of his enemies. It is giving glory to God, and showing mankind that even in these dregs of time,

There are, who faith prefer
Though few, and piety to God."

And, he raises a common argument against his position and then refutes it:

"'But if the end you aim at be really to reform sinners, you choose the wrong means. It is the Word of God must effect this, and not human laws; and it is the work of Ministers, not of Magistrates; therefore, the applying to these can only produce an outward reformation. It makes no change in the heart.'

"It is true the Word of God is the chief, ordinary means, whereby he changes both the hearts and lives of sinners; and he does this chiefly by the Ministers of the gospel. But it is likewise true, that the Magistrate is 'the minister of God;' and that he is designed of God 'to be a terror to evil-doers,' by executing human laws upon them. If this does not change the heart, yet to prevent outward sin is one valuable point gained. There is so much the less dishonour done to God, less scandal brought on our holy religion; less curse and reproach upon our nation; less temptation laid in the way of others; yea, and less wrath heaped up by the sinners themselves against the day of wrath."

Besides, if a person truly believes it is wrong to legislate morality then he is an anarchist; to enforce any law is to legislate morality. If a person commits murder our society legislates morality by saying, "Murder is wrong. You're going to prison." Why, then, are Christians mocked when they oppose, say, legalized gambling?

Why can't American Christians both lobby Congress and evangelize sinners? Are we lesser citizens of the United States than secular people? Do we have fewer rights of citizenship?

I say no.