Legislating Morality – Jeremy Austill
Legislating Morality

This has been a historic week in our nation as Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed into the Supreme Court. Much has been said about her nomination and its implications for our present and future American society. Certainly it has been rife with political posturing and fighting. It seems everything these days turns into a Republican and Democrat stand off. Unfortunately, the general population has allowed itself to be drug into and used in the toxic wasteland of American politics, but I digress lest I begin to rant.

While it undoubtedly has significant political elements, Judge Barrett’s confirmation is also saturated with matters of morality. Anytime you are discussing the concepts of justice and law, you cannot avoid the reality that human morality is at the center of the conversation. This is especially true of the practice of abortion and its legality in our nation.

I want to preface my next few thoughts with an expression of grief. It is painful to ponder the emotional and physical trauma endured by those who have had abortions. I say that not from some morally superior high horse. I grieve with any woman who feels abortion is her best option, regardless of the details of her decision making. I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel so much life pressure that you would end a pregnancy. These are not women who should be chastised, but instead loved and nurtured. I have heard enough stories to realize these are not typically calloused, vile hearted people. They are most frequently afraid, lacking resources, abandoned, and insufficiently equipped. In the church, we would do well to remember that the mother is made in God’s image just as the child in her womb. She is precious in His sight, just as the little children.

Nonetheless, saturated with compassion and mercy, the church has a responsibility to stand against the abortion industry. I use industry intentionally, because you can always look at immorality and find a money trail. While our stand should be filled with lovingkindness, it is virtually impossible to claim a Christ-Centered world view and simultaneously justify abortion. It is one issue that supersedes political preference for it deals in terms of life, death, sexual practice, and human pain. I will not assume the role of evaluating the salvation of a professing Christian if they support abortion, but I do feel confident the person has misunderstood Jesus and the role the church plays in His kingdom come.

I have repeatedly heard the retort, “you cannot legislate morality.” I agree with this sentiment. History has proven that laws do not make people moral. Immoral people will break laws. No legislation will ever completely institute morality in a nation. However, legislating morality is not the objective. We all understand only Jesus can make a person whole. Only Holy Spirit can make a person holy.

Christians who stand on the idea that we cannot legislate morality have a poor hermeneutic. Those who are not followers of Jesus simply, understandably, do not comprehend the role of the church in the world.

I don’t have enough space to exhaustively deal with interpretation of scripture, but for varying reasons many believers have misunderstood the role of the church in society.

For some, our rapture theology positions us to believe that the world is going to be increasingly evil, and this increasing evil is good news for us who are going to be raptured, so we sit idly by as the world grows darker. Many accept when wrong things are established as normal, instead of believing the Kingdom of Jesus has come to make wrong things right.

For some, we have made the whole of our faith centered on “personal relationship with Jesus”, and in the process become predominantly focused on salvation of the individual. We become intensely evangelistic, winning individual souls, without embracing a sense of prophetic responsibility for the fabric of society as a whole.

For some, we have inadvertently embraced our own version of “separation of church and state”, where we disgustingly shake our heads at the “state” and amicably agree to let “them” do what they are going to do and we will do what we are going to do. In the process we forget that Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a little leaven which works its way through the whole batch. The church does not have the luxury of separation.

For some, we have allowed the core doctrines of the world to influence our theology. We have allowed ourselves to be discipled more by society than the Holy Spirit. We are just as well acquainted with political talking points as we are the parables of Jesus. The end result is that we concoct philosophical and legal loopholes so that we can remain in good graces with the world around us.

I could go on, but I digress…

While laws will never make people moral, the church is called by God to prayerfully, humbly, lovingly, and prophetically hold government, and society at large, accountable to heaven’s standard of morality. It is what prophets have done since the earliest biblical accounts, they hold government and the norms of society accountable to the ways of God and the real way to be human. We do this because we know that God created all things, and each human is made in God’s image, and people create their own versions of hell when they step outside of that perfect design.

We stand against abortion because we know individuals, families, communities, and a nation cannot bear the weight nor endure the natural and spiritual consequences of being so casual with life and death. Contending against abortion is an act of mercy, not only for the unborn, but for every potential mother and our nation as a whole. We stand as a people, so resolute in our belief in God’s ways, that we try to save the world from itself.

Make no mistake, this prophetic accountability is not reserved only for abortion. It also pertains to greed, foreign policy, violence, racism, predatory behavior, and any other toxin that plagues society. We must demand that our government remove itself from the business of building on the pillars of sin. I will admit freely, the church must become more comprehensively assertive, much more gracefully aggressive across the entire landscape of humanity.

But “whataboutism” is a pathetic tactic.

When the church stands for life on the issue of abortion, it seems all these other plagues are thrown in its face. The reason, in large is because we are more interested in winning arguments and defending our turf than actually seeing the land made whole.

Church, our vocation extends beyond getting individuals to recite a sinners prayer. Our vocation extends beyond holding on for dear life until Jesus comes. Our vocation extends beyond creating a sequestered sacred community.

Our vocation is to identify evil in the world, prophetically call it into account, and proactively demand it abdicate its position in society. We do this in a variety of ways. Certainly voting is a piece, but not the whole.

Judge Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation feels significant in our nation. It feels like an opportunity to petition our nation and government to change its laws. No, we cannot stamp out every immoral person or act, but we can contend for a moral standard.

This world is burning.

Jesus came to save the WORLD.

We are a part of that process. Not just for the individual, but society as a whole.

1 Comment

  • Carol Herrera says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you for your love of momma’s that find themselves in the situation to choose. It’s not easy. Its not easy with the aftermath of abortion because of the deception that surrounds abortion clinics and they do not tell the truth about what happens to a woman after it’s been done. Thank you for recognising it.

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