Legislating Morality

28 03 2006

Here’s a couple of interesting quotes from George Washington’s farewell address in 1796 :

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. … Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.


It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.  The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government.

You can read all of his speech here.  (I wonder if you can still read this official government document in public schools because it mentions “the Almighty”…)

Think about what he said… can we expect to have national morality without religious principle?  I know many will debate that, but look at how our country is progressing morally as we continue to push religion (specifically Christianity) out of government and society.  But even without that “evidence” (because that is somewhat subjective), think about whether his statement is true.  If we don’t define our morality from our religion, where do we get it from?  Is it just what is right in each person’s eyes?  It should be obvious that such a “standard” would result in a debacle.  So who defines what is moral?  The government?  Is it their place to try to legislate morality?  Perhaps to legislate some of it, but what about defining it?  We must define it somehow, because we must have enforced laws to prevent crime and corruption from ruining our country.

Fact is, anytime society or our government has deemed something to be “wrong”, it has cast a moral judgment.  And we need to be careful where we get our morals from, because there are some special interest groups with a lot of political power who don’t have our best interests in mind.  (They might claim to, but that doesn’t mean they do; or they might even think they do yet be wrong.)  There’s also a trend these days to dilute our morals.  What once was wrong is now considered to be sometimes okay.  Now a lot of people think it’s sometimes okay to lie or break a contract or steal, in certain circumstances.  We are throwing away part of our country’s foundation and heritage, thinking it’s “old-school” and not applicable anymore.  While our technology and our access to information is advanced beyond what previous generations had, our moral clarity is not.  I look at the lifestyle of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations and see that general morality was higher and accepted.  Now we want to do wrong things and call it good.

Anyway, I could go on and on…  I’ll probably write on this topic more in the future, but I have to stop somewhere for now.  This is definitely something to think more on…

If you want to read more about this, here’s a good article.




4 responses

28 03 2006

I understand why people would want to legislate morality, but if it’s without Jesus, then it’s just legislation. Those that could care less about Jesus could care less about morality as a whole so to them it’s hog-wash.

That’s why we’ve gotta give them Jesus and let Him legislate their lives! 😉

28 03 2006

What could be said to add to this write-up? Very well said. It comes down to: Who is your God? The Almighty? Or Government? In a secular environment, the answer is obvious. Just look at societies in Europe where secularism has taken over; churches are empty and the standard of right & wrong is eroding. Amazingly enough, many view this as “freedom” FROM religion to do as they please. OK, I am free to slap you in the face for your ignorance…

28 03 2006

If anything, I like that you used the word debacle in this posting. Well said.

10 09 2006

Found this quote by C.S. Lewis and was reminded of this post, so I thought I’d share…

“The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law. But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his own creation.”

This makes a lot of sense, and unfortunately our country is wading deeper every day into ‘subjectivism about values’.

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