You Can’t and Shouldn’t Legislate Morality

dont legislate morality
Morality has been a topic of discussion for several millennia from the Bible to Aristotle, Kant, utilitarianism and most recently moral relativism and multiculturalism. In his Op-Ed, You Can’t and Shouldn’t Legislate Morality, millennial author, frequent radio show guest and Christian, Allen Thomas, explains that we individually must take more responsibility for ourselves and our culture.

When I first took an Environmental Ethics course at college, I was surprised at the number and breadth of different ethics and morality arguments there were. Morality has been a topic of discussion for several millennia from the Bible, to Aristotle, Kant, utilitarianism and most recently moral relativism and multiculturalism. The topic of what makes a person good and what makes a person moral has raged on throughout the generations and sparked many debates for a very very long time.

I wouldn’t be shocked if our own founding fathers had similar debates and differing views of what makes a good man. Were some of the founders a little…disappointed in Benjamin Franklin and the high number of women he saw? Was he equally disappointed in the lack of drive by some of the other founders? The inner workings of a person’s life have been and remains a point of interest. The question that is most concerning is what is the government’s job in deciding the character of a person? Or furthermore, should that even be a job of a government?

The beauty of our Constitution and the wisdom of the founders’ creation is that they did not see the proper role of government as having to worry about the morality of man, they only cared that the citizens had virtue; they believed absolute right and wrong existed. The founders knew that if they protected the rights of the people then the government did not need to solve an age old riddle of which morality or religion to choose, we would all be free to live, debate, and decide that for ourselves. The rights unalienable to us as human, act as a safeguard against the government dictating morality.

Unfortunately, we now live in a time where large amounts of people want to take that decision away and decide what is moral, what is a sin and how you should live your life. On the Colorado ballot this year is another example of a tobacco “sin” tax. Most people will say taxing tobacco more to “give” to education is a good thing because smoking is bad and morally wrong and others should not do it. Or perhaps Amendment 77 which “allows” gamblers (in only select cities) to expand the different gaming types and betting limits. When the government has the power to decide what is moral and immoral and who the winners and losers are, we are forsaking our rights, disengaging in that safeguard the founders so wisely put in place for us.

We all, right and left, seem to turn this into an issue especially around election season: which candidate will provide the most for me, who will advocate for the best social (read Marxist) programs, and which candidate is most (or least) Christian. I have seen some people say that they are voting for President Trump because of his belief in God and then some say that he is not truly a Christian so they cannot vote for him (honestly, I heard the same arguments for President Obama as well). But should Christianity or any belief system be a measuring stick for who we elect?

As a Christian, I am humbly going to say no. I have seen more harm come to the Christian church by people who wanted to use the government to do the church’s work and mission and thereby giving the government power so when power inevitably swung in the opposite direction, Christians were targeted. What we really need is someone who advocates for protecting and defending the constitution and our rights to do, think and say whatever we want as long as it does not infringe on anyone else’s rights. My rights are the only thing protecting my religion in this country.

When given the choice between President Trump and Biden, my barometer should not be religion. When picking a supreme court justice, my qualifications should not include religion either. It should be who is going to defend my rights the most. It is then my own self-responsibility to go out and live my life as an example of what I believe. The morality of man will be up for debates and ethic classes, in our homes and places of worship. But it is not something to be legislated and dictated from the White House. We need to take more responsibility for not only our own lives but the culture that we have in this country. And the way to change the culture is individually, not cudgeling the country into believing your ideas.

 

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