Morality vs. law

There was a time, long, long ago when morality and the law were generally synonymous. The law, particularly the 10 commandments as received by Moses, was accepted as the basis for all moral behavior.

Modern democracies were founded based upon God and recognition of His law. God is cited in the very first paragraph of the US Declaration of Independence. In the next paragraph, the core premise is presented. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That is, explicit acknowledgment of the dignity of every person as given to them not by their government, but by God.

This was the culmination of our Christian religious beliefs from the very beginning:

  • 1565 – Spanish missions to Florida Indians began after the founding of St. Augustine, by Jesuits.
  • 1568 – Spanish missions to Georgia Indians comprised religious outposts established by Spanish Catholics.
  • 1620 – Mayflower Compact cited …”for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”
  • 1639 – Fundamental Order of Connecticut cited …”where a people are gathered together, the Word of God requires that to maintain peace and union of such a people there shall be an orderly and decent government established to God…”
  • 1643 – the New England Confederation cited …”to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel.”
  • 1646 – the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed an act that prohibited people from denying that the Bible is the Word of God under penalty of death. They also imposed a fine for failing to attend church on Sunday.
  • 1649 – the Maryland Toleration Act cited “No person…   who professes to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be any way troubled…” Anyone who spoke against the Virgin Mary could be fined and whipped.
  • 1683 – the Rhode Island Charter cited “We submit our person, lives and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ…”

We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.

James Madison

Our founders were deeply religious and founded our country on their beliefs. 52 of the 55 framers of the Constitution were members of orthodox Christian churches. There was no “separation of church and state” in the sense of isolating the state from Judeo-Christian morality. That “separation of church and state” is not in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. The concept appeared in one of Jefferson’s letters and subsequently in the first amendment ONLY to restrict the government from forcing a specific religion (or form of Christianity) on the people. That the government itself should not be enlightened by religious beliefs appears absolutely nowhere.

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Patrick Henry

Our official motto is “In God we trust.” Our official pledge declares us to be “one nation, under God.” Our high court building includes Moses holding the 10 commandments on the stone facade, engraved into the huge oak doors and over the judges. Bible verses are etched in stone over many federal buildings and monuments. Our legal system itself traces its roots to Catholic canon law.

Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.

John Jay, 1st Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Today we are in decline. Our president repeatedly references the Declaration of Independence purposefully omitting “by their Creator.” The only Catholic president committed himself to making decisions completely isolated from his professed faith. Most people believe “separation of church and state” was a founding principle to keep religious morality out of government. The administration hides the 10 commandments at the supreme court. Numerous attacks on our motto and pledge are underway.

The shining light of a great Christian nation, abundantly blessed by God, has dimmed.

A good measure of how far we have fallen can be had by simply comparing the 10 commandments to current law. Every commandment of God may be legally broken. Let’s take a quick look, with some examples (I am sure that you will be able to think of many more):

1. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.

Today we worship big government, our political ideologies, science, sports teams, unions, homosexuality, and ourselves. The legal and social support for these is strong. The legal and social support for God is only weakening under continuous attack. The effort to expunge Him and His will has never been stronger.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Public obscenity laws reflected this commandment. To the extent they exist and are enforceable today, directly profaning our Lord is certainly excluded. A large segment of the population has embraced this sin as a routine part of their every-day speech.

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.

50 years ago most businesses were closed on Sunday. People went to church then spent time with their families. They rested. Most would not have wanted it any other way. Today, Sunday is indistinguishable for most from any other day.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

The law supported the family. No one thought that marriage could possibly be other than 1 man and 1 woman (not “honor your father and your other father”). Divorce wasn’t easy or no fault so people expected to stay with those they married. The law had not flourished to support “pre-marital agreements” anticipating the dissolution of the marriage before it even began. Parents were supported in how they raised their children. Children generally had a mother and a father and respected them.

5. You shall not kill.

Abortion.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

Once illegal, now considered perfectly OK. Anything goes between any consenting adults.

7. You shall not steal.

Still the law, but with many exceptions that are not considered “really stealing.” The law is often used by those skilled in it to legally acquire property by force. Financial manipulations abound to enrich some at the expense of others.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Only restricted by law when it rises to the level of perjury, libel or slander. People routinely gossip (detraction) and have few qualms about promoting unfounded theories or just making things up (calumny).

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

See commandment #6.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

The sin that was once called “keeping up with the Jone’s” has evolved into “entitlement” (at its root, forced redistribution of wealth). The government encourages this dependency, far from discouraging it in favor of the personal responsibility and hard work that built the country.

The law no longer serves as a guide to moral behavior. Being legal means only that one can not be prosecuted for an act, but the law is a very unreliable guide to morality. For that, we have only the Church.

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