Are Christians Allowed to Impose their Moral Standards Regarding Homosexuality on the Rest of Society?

Posted: February 22, 2012 by Alan Shlemon in Do the Right Thing
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There are two separate, but related, implications to this challenge. The first is that it’s wrong to impose any moral rules on society. The second is that it’s wrong for Christians to impose their morality.

The first implication is a common myth that needs to be debunked. It’s perfectly acceptable to legislate morality. When you think about it, morals are the only thing you can legislate. For example, we have laws against stealing for one reason: it’s immoral to take someone’s property. So, we take that moral rule and establish it in law.

The same is true for laws against murder. The reason they exist is because we think it’s immoral to kill an innocent human being. So, we take that moral rule and make it against the law to break it. By legislating that rule, we are legislating morality.

In fact, it’s the moral rule that legitimizes the law’s power to limit freedom. Without a moral grounding, laws would be unjust. They would be the raw use of power to get what someone wants, not to do what’s right. That’s called tyranny.

Therefore, all laws reflect a moral viewpoint. The only question is whose morals will be legislated and which viewpoint will be advanced.

The second implication of this challenge is that it’s wrong for Christians (or religious people for that matter) to impose their morality (i.e. views on homosexuality) on society. Because their policies are motivated by religion, they shouldn’t be allowed to inform the political process.

But why are only Christians limited from imposing their moral views? Why can’t we restrict other people? Homosexuals want to impose their moral standards on society. Let’s make them keep their private beliefs out of the public square. Does that sound fair? It doesn’t because our country endows all citizens with the privilege to participate in the political process. No one is excluded, not even Christians or homosexuals.

Some will respond by saying that Christian morals should be excluded because they are religious and that violates the separation of church and state. But the words, “separation of church and state” are neither in the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution. Even the First Amendment protects religious expression, it doesn’t silence it: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Notice who and what is restricted: the government is restricted from establishing a state religion. The people, however, are free to exercise their religious beliefs.

People who are motivated by religion are free to advocate for public policy. Yet the establishment clause is often read as restricting religious people, when in reality its purpose is the exact opposite. Every citizen enjoys the freedom to legislate their morality. You can’t be disqualified because of your motivations.

Finally, thinking our laws restrict religiously motivated people leads to absurd conclusions. Most of the framers of the Constitution, for example, were practicing Christians. It doesn’t make sense that they would willfully write into the Constitution and Bill of Rights a system of law that they knew would disqualify them from political involvement.

Not only that, but it would also mean that if an ordinary American was against theft because the New Testament (Ephesians 4:28) forbade it, then they wouldn’t be permitted to legislate against larceny. Every person with a religious view would have to remain silent on public policy. This would disenfranchise massive portions of United States population.

Christians have the right, as well as any citizen, to impose their morals on society. To try to limit their role in public policy is an illegitimate attempt to silence dissent. It’s a group’s way of saying, “Just go away,” while at the same time imposing their own moral vision on society. It’s not only unlawful, it’s un-American.

Comments
  1. Very well said! We often take tremendous heat over this issue.

  2. Jane Clark says:

    Which is why strength will eventually win over truth, and the democratic republic will turn into a totalitarian regieme. The question is, which one? The tyranny of the many will overrule the convictions of the few. As our culture becomes increasingly post-Christian, our voices will be silenced and it will be the new, American way. I’m not looking forward to that, but I expect it.

  3. Ryan Lynn says:

    Follow up questions:
    Does that mean might makes right? Will we use the same tactics that the LGBT movement is when we are the minority?

    Which laws do we legislate from the Bible? All moral laws? Would that include adultery, fornication? And what should be the punishment or restriction?

    Don’t mean to play the devils advocate because I really have been struggling with this question!

  4. Jane Clark says:

    If you don’t play the devil’s advocate, we’ll never fully comprehend the issue. It’s a necessary part of thinking it through. We are not a theocracy, and liberty for all is guaranteed – including those we disagree with, although the early state laws did have death penalty for things like adultery and homosexuality. Do we want to go back to that, or do we want (as Christians) to persuade rather than coerce? I don’t think the way our national government is set up (Constitutionally) that we have the right to force clean and moral living on others, but when a crime is committed (and that is the state’s juristiction, not the federal government), there should be a just and reasonable consequence. I think following the Biblical law for homosexuality (OT days) is not lawful, or reasonable for America, where religious freedom is permitted, and expression of various viewpoints encouraged. However, it is true that homosexual behavior and Christian morality cannot peacefully coincide. Neither can Islam and Christianity. Someone will force their morality on someone else, and that’s why I say our days of freedom are numbered.

  5. Thomas B says:

    Christian morality cannot peacefully coincide with homosexality or Islam? Tell that to Christianity’s founder… too often do we forget morality isn’t a mere set of rules. That was the mosaic law. We don’t keep the Ten Commandments anymore. Now we are under the Law of Love–a better, more complete law. We do the commandments because we love. We SHOULD have peace with all because we are under the Law of Love. Homosexuality and Islam are not the problems. We are. Individually. Do we really think Jesus would have a problem with a Muslim or Homosexual? Or would He say: “What are you doing tomorrow, can you invite me to your Mosque/House?” We don’t need to defend morality. Let morality do its job, which is defending the people! We have it backwards.

  6. Thomas B says:

    As long as we know what Love is, we are fine. Rather than defend for the sake of defending morality, I have learned to use apologetics to defend the people. (Still learning lol)

    Apologetics is not a sword. It is a shield. Not an offensive weapon, a defensive one. To nurture the unknowing/unrealized conscious.

  7. Thomas B says:

    We do not give enough credit to reality. Strength will win over truth? This is akin to saying a lie will turn true. It is saying Ultimate Reality will be toppled by a non-powerful entity. It is not going to happen. It is an illusion. Yes, trials are coming our way. And this is the truth (not the strength, doesn’t fit well does it?), but so what? Truth is always the victor because it is the only thing that is there, our very ground that we walk upon. If the USA turns totalitarian we have no reason to worry. It can be compared to a kid taking another kids sand box since because his broke. It is no worry to Ultimate Reality/God.

    A plan is already underway, God deals with His children all the time. He knows us.

  8. Thomas B says:

    Better said, the problem is already solved…

  9. James Wiley says:

    I believe anyone asking this question isn’t asking if it is legal for Christians to impose their moral standards. I think the person posing the question wants insight. Why is imposing a Christian moral standard on marriage through the legal process a good idea? From a Christian point of view, what does it achieve? Is the creation of laws (that are consistent with the morality set forth in the Bible) a clear or implied mandate from God?

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