The claim is sometimes made that as Christians around the world are getting more involved in politics that they are plotting to christianise their societies. Even many Christian leaders have criticised this Christian political movement by saying that it is not right to enforce Christian standards (such as marriage) onto a secular society. One leader even defended his view that marriage need not be limited to a man and a woman, based on the assumption that it is wrong for Christians to expect non-christians to act like Christians. He cited Canada as an example of how non-christian standards had not caused the “sky to fall in” on their society.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE
This line of reasoning often includes the appeal to a “separation of Church and State” where this means that the Church should not expect non-christians to uphold Christian teaching (which is not what this expression was ever intended to mean). This expression has now been so pummeled into this new definition that even some Christians now unquestionably accept it. The concept of separation of Church from State was originally proposed to describe the illegitimate role of secular governments interfering in the affairs of Church matters- not the other way around! The Church surely has as much right as any other lobby group or organisation to promote views it regards are for the best welfare of a society.
Claiming that Gay-Marriage or any other aberration of marriage should be accepted by society with the argumant that marriage is as much secular as it is Christian and therefore secular variations should be accommodated is misguided. Marriage is neither intrinsically Christian or even religious. Marriage is actually “original” and a part of the Covenant of Creation which God made with people. It is therefore found in every culture in every time throughout the history of mankind. It is not a Christian concept, but a divine one which overrides any appeal made by secularism.
BY SPEAKING OUT AREN’T WE CHRISTIANISING?
When we defend the place of the Moral (or “Natural”) Law aren’t we in essence appealing to non-christians to at least behave like Christians? Not at all. In fact, if this was what we were asking for we would be severely injuring the cause of Christ since Christianity is not merely about a change of behaviour but a change of heart!
If we were trying to “christianise” our societies we would be asking for Holy Communion to be made compulsory for every citizen, or for Sunday to the day for compulsory church attendance. That would be attempting to Christianise our society.
When we defend the rights and welfare of individuals and their property we are simply upholding the moral law which are laws common to all whether they are religious or not. The Moral Law tells us that certain things are right and certain things are wrong- no matter what our opinion of those things might be.
The test of morality is the welfare of the individual. That which is immoral is inherently harmful to a person’s welfare. Therefore murder is immoral because it is so harmful to a person’s welfare. Adultery is immoral because it too is harmful to not only the parties involved but also the betrayed spouse. Sexual misconduct is immoral because of the harm it inflicts physically, emotionally and spiritually upon its victims.
To claim that when immoral legislation (that which counters the Moral Law) has not really harmed a society, such as Canada, is a curious statement when these decision were only made within the last few years and already there is indeed negative fall out from it (none the least from those who have taken advantage of this radical legislation).
The “sky” doesn’t actually have to “fall in” for a negative impact to be made upon a society!
Sometimes legislative decisions take decades for their full implications to be outworked. It then sometimes takes generations to undo the damage done by what secularists felt at the time was rather innocuous legislation. For example, the Prohibition of the 1920s in the USA is frequently cited as an example of how it is just not possible to legislate morality. Yet the Prohibition of Alcohol in the USA was introduced due to the alarmingly high rates of alcohol induced family breakdown, domestic violence, workplace absenteeism and deaths, and premature deaths. The rate of hard liquor consumption in the USA at this time had reached record levels on a per capita basis. The Prohibition lasted 15 years. At the end of this time the rate of alcohol consumption per capita plummetted! Interestingly, so did the rate of negative welfare affects. Did the Prohibition stop all people from drinking? No. Does that mean the Prohibition failed? No. Facinatingly, the rate of alcohol consumption in the USA did not return to the pre-Prohibition rate until 1975! (Which demonstrates the powerful educative role any legislation plays.)
People who claim that Morality can not be legislated because legislation does not change anyone’s behaviour do not understand that the purpose of any legislation is to articulate what is right (moral) and what is wrong (immoral). If we honestly believe that morality can not be legislated then we would do away with any legislation which didn’t bring universal observance. The question should then be asked, “Is any legislation universally observed?” The answer is no. Think about it. If we believed that legislation against murder was failing to prevent murders, then why not simply do away with laws against murder- if legislation is only valid if it changes everyone’s hearts and behaviour!
Are we trying to Christianise our societies by speaking up for laws which reflect the Moral Law? Not at all. Are we claiming to be superior to our society because we are religious? Not at all. Do we want to see penalties prescribed under the Old Covenant enforced today for people who violate sexual laws? Not at all. All of the penalties of the Old Covenat Law have been borne by Christ. Does this mean that these sexual laws no longer reflect the Moral Law? Not at all. Indeed we have compassion for all people caught up in any form of immoral sexual addiction. But compassion should not be confused with tolerance.
I don’t think there is any other group within society that does more for both the victims and perpetrators of crime than Christians. While Christians are cast as intolerant soap-boxing, finger-pointing bigots, the reality is that it is Christians who have established halfway houses, soup kitchens, prison visitiation programs, drug rehabilitation centres, medical clinics, and schools to show compassion to all people, and especially those impacted by violations of the Moral Law.
We are trying to promote laws which are beneficial for all of society. We know that this is often met with hostility by those who interpret this as bigotry. And it is our wish that all those who believe in Higher Laws will defend this position graciously and in a way that is genuinely compassionate for those who hold a different perspective.
© Andrew Corbett, 23 November 2004