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Legislate Morality?

By R. J. Rushdoony
December 23, 2013

The other night, a prominent lawyer, appearing on television, asked for the repeal of laws against abortion, narcotics, sexual perversions, and a number of other things. "You can't legislate morality," he said, "and it's about time we stopped trying to do it." The man was lying, and he knew it, because all law is about morality. When you legislate against murder, theft, libel, and the like, you are legislating morality. When you institute traffic laws, you are again legislating morality: you are penalizing traffic behavior which may endanger the life and property of another man. In other words, you are enacting specific forms of God's law: Thou shalt not kill, and Thou shalt not steal. Legislation about the forms of court procedure is in terms of the law banning false witness; the purpose of such laws is to further true testimony. Even the salaries of public officials have moral implication: "[T]he labourer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18).

At every point, the law deals either with morality directly or with procedures for its enforcement. All law is enacted morality. Every criminal law says that a certain thing is right, and another wrong. Every law is thus a piece of legislated morality. Moreover, all morality represents a religion, as that every system of law is an establishment of religion. Thus, there can be a separation of church and state, but there cannot be a separation of religion and the state, because every system of law is a religion and a morality in action.

What the lawyer was actually saying was that he hated a Christian law system and wanted to replace it with a system of humanistic law. This is exactly the nature of our legal revolution today. The courts are changing the law by changing the religion behind the law.

What all law does legislate is morality, and you had better believe it before it is too late before you wake up to find the revolution is over, and you are the new outlaw in terms of the new morality, the new law, and the new religion. This has happened elsewhere, and it is happening here.

By R. J. Rushdoony. Taken from A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Vol. III, p. 66.


Topics: Biblical Law, Culture , Dominion, Education, Government, Justice

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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