“If we just passed a law, that would fix it!” That has been the “Christian” response to so many moral issues in our national dialogue over the past decade: abortion, homosexuality, etc.
And while I might be also be troubled by the the moral slide that this world has gone through over the past forty years, I don’t see how changing the law would make any difference, for two basic reasons.
External Morality vs. Internal Problems
Sin is an internal issue. Make sin illegal doesn’t change the root problem: the human heart. Jesus spoke to this issue in Matthew 23 when He criticized the Pharisees for the outward appearance of morality without concern for the heart.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
These individuals had managed an outward morality that had not filtered into their hearts. It did not fool Jesus, and yet this is what many advocate for our society.
Tried and Found Lacking
Legislating has been tried in the past, and it didn’t work. What will make this time different?
Now, you might assume that I’m about to talk about Prohibition or even the practice of backroom abortions pre-Roe v. Wade.
But I’m not.
I’m going to use the Israelites as my example. God gave them the Ten Commandments, and they were almost immediately violated. Furthermore, God gave them other laws and restrictions as an outward sign of His presence among them so that they might be distinguished from their pagan neighbors.
And yet, these restrictions were constantly being ignored.
So if God cannot legislate us into obedience, how do we think that the US government is going to pull it off?
Forcing others into behavioral holiness will not get them any closer to the heart change needed to secure their place in eternity. If anything, our attempts to do this only succeed in pushing them further from us and from God. Is morality important? Of course, but what is an outward morality without the presence of God in the heart to transform the individual and bring them out of darkness and into the kingdom of light?