Legislating for Morality

Every law is a legislation for some kind of morality 

Right and wrong

It never fails. Whenever people take a stand on a moral issue, some liberal somewhere will indignantly claim, "You can't legislate morality!" How many times have you heard that worn-out phrase? Incredibly, it's not even true. Morality is about right and wrong, and that's what laws put into legal form. Can you think of one law which doesn't declare one behavior right and its opposite wrong?

The truth is all laws legislate morality (even speed limits imply a moral right to life). And everyone in politics - conservatives and liberals - is trying to legislate morality. The only question is: "Whose morality should be legislated?"

Laws against murder and rape

Laws against murder, child abuse, rape and theft are moral (not just religious) issues, because they are needed to restrain evil and protect the innocent. We can and should avoid legislating religion, but we can't avoid legislating morality - that's what laws inevitably do! We don't want to make a law to tell people how to worship, where to worship, or if to worship; that would be legislating religion. But we can't avoid making laws that tell people how we should treat one another; that's legislating morality.

In short, legislating religion is unconstitutional, but legislating morality is unavoidable. All laws legislate morality. Let's use the most divisive issue - abortion - to illustrate how morality is always legislated and imposed on others by both sides in the debate. It's widely believed pro-life people are the ones who want to cram morals down the throats of everyone else, while the "pro-choice" (pro-abortion) folks are the reasonable ones who don't want to impose on anyone.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, both sides in the abortion debate are actively seeking to impose moral standards on others.

Pro-life is to protect

Everyone realizes what pro-life people want to impose: they want to protect the baby and, thus, impose on the mother the duty to carry her baby to term. But what is so often missed in this debate is that pro-abortion activists want to impose their morals on others as well: they want to impose the morals of the mother on the baby and, in some cases, the father. When abortion is chosen, the morals imposed on the baby come in the form of a knife, vacuum, or scalding chemical.

Such a "choice" also imposes on the father by depriving him of fatherhood and the right to protect his own baby In short, while the pro-life side wants to impose continued pregnancy on the mother, the pro-abortion side wants to impose death on the baby. That's right - even liberals want to legislate and impose morality on others! The only question is: "Whose morality should be legislated?

Morality should be legislated?

In an imperfect world, these rights will conflict at times. In such cases, the lower right must give way to the higher right. When life and liberty conflict, as they do on the issue of abortion, liberty must give way to life, because life is the ultimate right. The right to life is the right to all other rights - if you don't have life, you don't have anything. We all don't agree about abortion because some of us suppress the truth about right and wrong (Rom. 1:18).

We know this truth about right and wrong (i.e. the Moral Law) by how we react to what's done to us rather than by what we do to others. In other words, our reactions help us discover right and wrong better than our actions. For example, you may not be conscious of the Moral Law when you lie to someone else (your action); but when someone lies to you, the Moral Law becomes bright as the sun because being lied to upsets you immediately (your reaction).

Likewise, a pro-abortion activist might not think abortion is wrong if she wants the convenience of getting an abortion (her action), but if you could put her back in the womb her opinion regarding abortion would change immediately (her reaction). As Ronald Reagan said:

"I've noticed all those in favor of abortion are already born."

Imposing Morality

Some people assume that it is immoral to impose morals! Is it just their opinion or is it really, absolutely wrong according to an objective standard? Notice that the person stating this objection is really trying to cram their own morality down your throat. As we have seen on the issue of abortion, pro-aborts are trying to impose their morals through political (or judicial) means. Indeed, all political positions are attempts at legislating morality. Once again, the question is not whether morality can be legislated; the question is: "Whose morality should be legislated?"

Whose morality? The answer is very simple. We shouldn't impose my morality or your morality; we should impose our morality - the one inherited by us all.

Abortion might help me get out of trouble, and theft could solve my money problems. So I'm not imposing my "personal" morality on you any more than a maths teacher is imposing her "personal" maths when she teaches her students that 2+2=4. Morality like math is not based on subjective feelings; it is based on objective facts." If they say, "Well, that's just your interpretation!" Respond this way, "Of course, but that doesn't mean my interpretation is false.

For example, when you say that the unborn are not human beings so abortion is okay, you are indeed making an interpretation. Why should your interpretation be the law of the land? Why should your interpretation go unchallenged?

The question is not about who is interpreting; the question is: Whose interpretation and conclusion best fits the facts? While many in our society may want to suppress the medical facts which affirm the humanity of unborn children, those facts compel the conclusion that the morality which should be legislated is the pro-life morality. This is the morality inherited by all of us, but only accepted by some of us. It is our common morality.