You can not legislate morality said the anarchist

Shawn and Glennys Hyland   -  

“Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.” This quotation has its roots in the temperance movement of the late 19th century. It dares to strike a balance between the freedom to make personal choices and the legal restraint against such choices if they cause harm or affect people in a negative way. This legal argument is helpful to determine the rights of adults in a free society to behave and believe as their conscience dictates. How often do we hear the justification for more personal liberty:

“It’s my life, I am not hurting anybody.”

Americans, by default, assume anyone should be allowed to do anything if it does not affect anyone else in the process. We demand moral liberties and less restraint imposed by legislation – legalized marijuana, abortion on demand and without restriction, assisted suicide, etc..  From the political Left to the Libertarians, a relativistic personal code should be the unfixed standard that is protected by so-called constitutional liberties not found in the Constitution. Naturally, the only objection would be if a person was harmed by the actions of the person expressing their right to personal liberty. In other words, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”

In similar fashion, many Christians believe that to legally ban certain behaviors is akin to an anti-gospel, anti-grace approach to moralism. I heard many times:

“You cannot legislate morality.”

If that logic holds true, then the criminalization and imprisonment of murderers, rapists, human traffickers and others must end. Lawlessness would necessitate the shutdown of government. Anarchy would rule! The effect on society would be fatal.

Human conscience cannot be the final authority to determine legal standards of acceptable behavior. Therefore, the only reason governments exist is to legislate morality. Uncontroversial, well-established legislation such as recycling requirements and speed limits are moral laws at their core. Harming the environment will cause a hardship on generations to come. An auto accident at high speed has a high probability of causing injury or death. Your personal choice directly impacts others without their consent; therefore, it should be illegal. It is a failure of government to legalize actions, choices, and behaviors that cause others to suffer.

I believe few people will argue with this concept of fair legislation in a civil society. But the statistics show an inconsistency in our public debate.

  • 60 million children have suffered lethal violence at the hands of an abortionist since 1973.
  • Crime, impaired driving, drug use among minors, ER visits and overall opioid addiction has increased in many states that have legalized marijuana. via learnaboutSAM. org (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 
  • The Netherlands legalized assistance in dying in 2001. By 2017, 25% of all deaths in that country were induced (traditional suicide, doctor assisted suicide, etc.), compared to only 2.5% in America. via Liveaction.org 

All these proposed personal choices victimize people – and people matter. Yet, 50% or more of Americans support legalized marijuana, abortion on demand, and assisted suicide.  We face a hypocritical culture that limits the right to life through an abortion performed by a doctor but promotes the right to death through euthanasia performed by a doctor. A just and fair society would not allow individuals to swing their arms and hit the noses of others as they demand erotic rights, psychedelic rights, or terminal rights. In response, we must diligently work to encourage government to faithfully carry out their duties without compromise – maintain laws that protect life, restrain evil and promote good.

Just laws are based on Natural Law. A higher eternal law governing the relations of mankind. These laws are common sense revealed codes that prohibit selfish destructive behavior. For centuries, this natural law of moral order was understood to be God’s common grace upon society to prohibit chaos. The three great lawgivers of history, enshrined in the U.S. House of Representatives, are Moses the Hebrew prophet, Justinian the Byzantine Ruler, and Sir William Blackstone. Though separated by thousands of years of human experience, they equally understood the rational laws of nature and nature’s God in creating fair and flourishing civilizations. Furthermore, it was the role of government to enact and enforce these laws for the safety and betterment of its people.