My reflections and musings on the struggle to leave a Christ-shaped impression on the world of law and public policy.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Struggle

I have recently been confronted by someone who would call herself "pro-life" and yet opposes efforts to limit or ban abortion. Surprisingly, there are many in this camp. They would say that while they believe abortion is wrong and would never choose to have one, they still believe that each woman should retain freedom to make the decision for herself. They are found among those in our society who argue that it is wrong to "legislate morality."

This viewpoint puzzles me, and I struggle with how to respond. If legislators aren't legislating morality, what are they legislating? Surely all of the most fundamental laws of a civilized society concern morality. So it seems that the real objection is perhaps not so much to the passage of laws that impose some sort of moral order upon society, but to the basis that these laws have in religion. And yet, unless we are to prohibit Christian individuals from holding public office, how can we possibly demand that laws not be rooted in religious faith? For the true follower of Christ (and perhaps followers of other faiths as well), the Word of God informs every aspect of his or her life--including vocation--and is the basis for every moral belief.

The response to this is generally something like, "Well, Christians shouldn't impose their beliefs upon others." But the question remains, at what point do Christians become disqualified to participate in our government because of the basis of their moral beliefs? Is it when they become a majority?

Of course, legislation should never purport to regulate matters of conscience, which cannot in any event be compelled and should not be constrained. However, I submit that our government can--and indeed must--"legislate morality" where behavior is concerned. It is certainly a sense of "morality" that produces laws that protect the weakest among us from physical aggression by the strongest. Would anyone truly suggest that such laws are illegitimate?

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