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July 2014 - Volume 20, Number 3


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Legislating Morality?

By Brad Sherman, Libations for Liberty #188, Purpose Ministries


“The Bible carries with it the history of the creation, the fall and redemption of man, and discloses to him, in the infant born at Bethlehem, the Legislator and Saviour of the world.”
— John Quincy Adams
6th President of the United States, 1767 – 1848

True or False?
You cannot legislate morality.


Though it is true that laws cannot make people good or change the human heart, the statement above is false. Those who say, “You cannot legislate morality,” are usually expressing a concern that religion in government will become coercive, ultimately forcing religion upon the citizens.


But by its very nature, true Christianity does not and cannot coerce or force people to become Christians. True Christianity is a matter of the heart, between Christ and the individual. 


Maintaining order in society requires certain laws to be written and enforced that are moral in nature. Laws against murder that protect life are moral laws. Laws against theft that protect personal property are moral laws. Laws that prohibit adults from having sex with minors are moral laws. 


The concern that religion could become corrupt and dominate government is why the founders put the establishment of religion clause in the First Amendment. Whether in church or state, centralized power has a tendency to grow corrupt.


Just as they separated the powers of government into three branches, they also wanted to spread the Christian influence upon government among the many denominations of the Church. They accomplished this by restricting congress from respecting any one establishment of religion above another, and by providing that the free exercise of religion would not be restricted. 


When it comes to religious values in civil government, neutrality is a myth.


There is no vacuum; someone’s values will influence the laws made. The religion where man is god (secular humanism or atheism) has given us the cruel dictatorships of communism.


Islam has also given us brutally oppressive forms of civil government under sharia law.


And under the banner of Christianity, corrupt centralized religion has reared its ugly head at times through history, producing severe persecution for any who dared to disagree with the state church.


But government influenced by the values and principles taught by Jesus Christ, guarded by the decentralizing wisdom in the First Amendment, produced the freest nation the world has ever known.


So we are left with the question: 


“If Christian values do not influence our laws, then whose values will?” 


Reprint permission granted by Pastor Brad Sherman, Purpose Ministries, Coralville, Iowa. Originally published as Libations for Liberty, #188, June 19, 2014, <>.


FACTS & OPINIONS is one of our quarterly membership newsletters, arriving in January, April, July, and October. It consists of short articles of public interest with an emphasis on current issues.


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