Dr. Ed Young - Can Morality be Legislated?
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A T.V. reporter with cameramen in tow, and a microphone in his hand entered a bar. Went up and sat at the counter of the bar, and there was a man there with a mug enjoying himself, drinking a little Bud Lite. And the reporter looked at him said uh, "May I ask you a question"? He said, "No problem! Ask away..." So he put the mike here, and the cameraman there. He said, "What do you think are the two problems, the two greatest problems we have in America"? The man sort of "Hahh..." yawned, and took another swig and said, "I don't know, and I don't care"! Reporter said, "Amazing! You got both of them right"! That's our problem, ladies and gentlemen. Apathy. "Oh, I don't know...and, I don't care"!
So much of that which we have counted on, and stood on, and been a part of is now broken in so many, many ways... So we have to ask the question, "What happened to us"? We began to believe some lies. You know, you tell a lie often enough and regularly enough, and we hear it over and over again from many different arenas; we begin to believe it. We take it as a part of a general realm of pedestrian truth. "You know I-that, that's right. That sounds right to me. I believe that..." It all began-our problem of lying-in the Garden of Eden. The Devil told the first lie. He told Eve, he said, "Eat that fruit. God says you'll die. You won't die". First lie. "Eat that fruit-let me tell you what'll happen to you! You'll be like God"! Second lie. "You won't die. You'll be like God".
Eve believed it. Adam believed it, and therefore, we call it "The Fall of Mankind". When you believe a lie, you always get in trouble as a person, as a family, as a nation. You live a lie; you always get in trouble. Lying is absolute. Lying moves into the moral realm, and nobody much debates with the fact that a lie is deadly. So, I want to deal with some lies, and the one I want to deal with today is this: You can't legislate morality. Now we've heard that so much, a lot of us say, "Sounds right to me. Sounds like what everybody's saying... It sounds like what we've bought into..." Let me say up front, my thesis is: Morality is always legislated! That's my thesis. Morality is always legislated. So we've got to ask the question, "Do we legislate my morality, or your morality"? The truth is, we don't legislate either one. We legislate our morality.
Let's look at the first part of the Declaration of Independence. Look on your screen, if you would. I want us to read this together. Could we do that? Here we go! "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they're endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these, governments are instructed among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". That will stay on our screen for a while. Let's sort of see exactly what Thomas Jefferson penned.
Now this is a declaration of independence. And remember, this follows by twenty-five specific charges against the King of England. In other words, those 13 colonists were saying that the King is not legislating and dealing with us in a moral fashion, and there's all those specifics... Not only taxation without representation, but they enumerated 25 different charges of exploitation of the people, and brutalizing the colonies. And therefore, the rationale was built on this premise, that because we have been treated immorally, we are going to revolt. This was the beginning of the Revolutionary War. In legal documents, we are going to revolt and establish our own nation.
Now notice the basis upon which America, the United States, beginning with those 13 colonies, were founded. It was founded upon-look at the key words in this. Look at your screen. "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." it's built in, mankind. "...that all men are created equal". It's built in. They are endowed. We have this inside of us by our Creator, by God. We have unalienable rights. Unalienable means we are born with privileges that we cannot acquire ourselves, and we cannot give away. We're just born with this stuff within us. Within us... It is called natural law. It is called the law of nature. Now every government is founded either upon, and this was the debate I'm sure our forefathers had. "Will we establish a secular government that is totally godless"?
Many nations have a secular government. China, Russia... and they have established the framework of their government on the secular principles that are godless, based upon the opinion and the ideas of the rulers, the dictator, the despot, or a committee, or a group, and they're totally secular, and God is not mentioned. Many governments are based on a secular foundation. America, the United States is not. Those 13 colonies were not established as secular people. Now, the other extreme of that, many governments are founded on religious principles, on a religious judgment. In other words, there is a dominating religious persuasion, and that religious foundation is built on those moral principles that are prescribed by that, that book usually, or that particular doctrinal teaching of that religion. And a lot of nations are refined on a religious basis. You go to Iran-Sharia Law. You have church and state are one.
When Jesus was born in Israel, you have theonomy was there, or a theocracy was there, and church and state was one. The nation was governed and ruled by Old Testament Law. That's what Jesus went into. Now, what about America? Are we founded on a religious foundation, prescribed and doctrinal? Now a lot of people would like for us to be. They are theonomists who are alive and well today. And their reformed, protestant theonists. And therefore, they would say we should take the Old Testament Law and put it and let it be the basis of law in America. And a lot of us get confused by this, because the left wing says to those of us who are Biblical Christians, "This is what you want to do. You want to take the Bible and put it into law". And that is not what we want to do. We are not founded on the teachings of the Bible.
Remember, they said to Jesus-or they said, uh, you know, "Jesus, where's Your army? Where's Your soldiers"? He said, "I didn't come to set up a kingdom. I would have brought soldiers with Me". He said, "I came to set up a spiritual kingdom..." and there was a theonomy in Israel, or a theocracy-church and state together. But when Jesus came, He superseded that. Now let me put this in perspective. Therefore, if we're not built as a secular government that is godless, and we're not built on any particular religious foundation. And by the way, we say, "Oh, I want to go back when America was built and the laws of America were based totally on the Bible"!
Ladies and gentlemen, there has never been a moment in our history when that was true. The pilgrims are the closest thing to it. A hundred years before we became a nation, the Pilgrims established a colony in which they instituted a religion, a reformed kind of view and said "Everybody in here-we are ruled by the Bible. That is the law of the land". And it was the Baptist, Roger Williams, who got in that atmosphere and said, "I'm out of here! This is the reason a lot of us left England, because the Church of England dominated and said, 'This is what you have to believe religiously.'" Said, "I'm out of here". So we're not founded as a religious entity. We're not founded as a secular entity. Upon what basis do we make our moral law? It's found in the opening words here of the Declaration of Independence, and it's found in Romans, Chapter Number 1.
Open your Bibles if you would. Paul is talking about this very same thing. Romans 1, Verse 18. Very clear, very accurate for all of us to understand: "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident (watch this) within them; for God made it evident to them, for since the creation of the world, His, God's divine attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse; for even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened". Look at Romans Chapter 2, Verse 14: "For when Gentiles, who do not have the Law (the Decalogue, the Law of Moses) do instinctively the things of the Law; these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves". Verse 15: "In that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts and their conscience, bearing within, and their thoughts..."
Their thoughts. There it is. There it is... Now what am I saying? Don't want to be confusing here. There is the realm of natural revelation. The Bible is special revelation; it is for the Church; it is for believers. But in civil government, our nation is built on natural revelation. Illustration: Some of you remember reading about the Nuremburg Trials. The Nazi war criminals were tried, and in that trial, their defense was, "We did not break a single law of Germany". They broke no secular laws. They simply followed obedience. They stood in line. "We broke no laws. How can you accuse us of these heinous crimes? We're not guilty. We just followed the law of Germany".
And the judges there, the judges there, one from Houston, Texas, incidentally, stood up, and they said, "Look, you broke no law of Germany, but you broke a higher law which is natural law that is given to all humanity. It is that natural law that is the principles upon which our government is based". Now, you say, "Well, what's the difference between that and the Biblical Law"? Listen-the Ten Commandments are true, even though they were not even written in the Bible. We know this. Most of them are universal in their application, and that is that law upon which we stand as the United States of America.
We're not secular; we're not religious, but in our laws, this great natural law, certainly, it was prescribed there in these early documents by our fifty-four fore-fathers. Fifty-four of them. Twenty-seven of them or twenty-six went to a theological seminary. Most of them were Orthodox Christians. About thirty-five or thirty-six were evangelical Christians. There were some Deists thrown in. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist. He is the one who printed and wrote out these words of the Declaration of Independence. Now, let me show you how we do legislate morality. Now some of our legislation is moral; some of our legislation I think is immoral, some of our laws; and some of our legislation, I think, is morally neutral.
Let me show you how morality has been legislated with a quick tour through a little bit of history. What was the big sin that the authors of our Constitution evidently did not see, or did not notice, or didn't understand? I'll tell you what it was; it was slavery. It was slavery... That was the big sin of that day, and I guess they said, "Well, it's not against the law; therefore, it must be all right"! And it was a heinous evil that ruled over that day, and it wasn't dealt with in these fundamental documents. It was only 75 years later in the 13th Amendment in which it was dealt with and said that slavery is morally wrong. On what basis did they say that? They said it on the basis of common sense, of giveness, of understanding that all mankind is created in the very image of God Almighty!
So there is a beautiful illustration, a beautiful illustration where morality is written into the law, into the foundation documents of our land. But I want you to see the thesis that I am offering, that all legislation, virtually, is speaking of somebody's morality. Now, we're battling secular humanism today. We know that. All of us understand that, and we have to see that when-we'd say, "Well, what is secular humanism"? Let me explain that. Let me do it as simply as I can. What is secular humanism? The secular humanists believe that the creation came through evolution, through natural selection. That's how our world came into being. There's no Creator. That's what a secular humanist believes. The secular humanist also believes that man, human beings are just high-classed animals. We're not made in the image of God. No, you're not made; I'm not made in the image of God.
We're just high-classed animals, you know. There's no Creator there... Uh, and then you boil it out, and it spells down the simple fact that, who are we anyway? There are no absolute, absolute moral principles. Nothing is absolute... Everything is relative. You know, you got your truth, I've got my truth. You be...oh, everything! There are no absolute principles. This is secular humanism, I think, simply defined. How did we get in this mess? Well, the Garden, the Garden of Eden. Let's just bring it right up into history. Let's go to 1947. A decision was made by the Supreme Court, Emerson vs the Board of Education. In this decision, Justice Douglas talked about the wall of separation between church and state.
Now, all of you are familiar, with the wall of separation between church and state in the Constitution? You, you familiar with that? Lift your hand! The wall of separation in the Constitution? Lift your hand! If you're familiar-you've heard of that? Only one problem with that. It's not in the Constitution. I want you to look at the 1st Amendment. Look at your screen. Let's read it. This is what it's based on, this wall of separation: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." This states there's freedom of religion, not from religion as this has been interpreted.
Let me show you: If you say it's freedom from religion, look what you gotta say. Your freedom from the freedom of speech; your freedom from the press; your freedom from the right of the people to peacefully assemble; your freedom from the petition of government, that's not what it says. It's freedom of religion. So what are we saying? This whole idea-when Paul Douglas, the justice said, "Oh, if one brick is taken out of that wall of separation..." Let me tell you how this bogus Supreme Court decision has played out in our history. By the way, I asked Judge Ken Starr personally about this decision, and to paraphrase, he said, "It is erroneous. It is tragic judicial judgment".
Now, this is where we are folks. Now that one Supreme Court decision, watch how that's played out. It's almost like the government said, "Okay, we're gonna separate religion from the government. What do you folks in religion want"? "Well, we want church". "Okay, you've got church". All right? "We want the Bible". "Okay, we're gonna give you the Bible". "Uh, we want great hymns"! "Okay, church, you've got hymns". "We want eschatology! We want Heaven and Hell..." "Okay, you've got Heaven and Hell. Anything else you want in the church"? "Naw, that's pretty good for us". Said, "Therefore, you keep God in the church out of the schools; keep it out of government; keep it out of business; keep it out of any federal activities. You just keep that God stuff, that Bible stuff in the church, and we'll run all of this in the world. Keep God out of the world because Jefferson put down that wall of petition..."
Ladies and gentlemen, the wall of petition was to save the church from imposition of the state or the federal government is not to keep religion out of the public forum! So here we are, and we're battling this all the time. Did you read about the VA? The Veteran's Administration? They decided that we shouldn't have Bibles in our VA hospitals. No religious material! Man, there was a ground swell from the people, and they backed up on that one. Well come to our own area here. We have a Houston National Cemetery. And some administrator there said, "Well, this is Federal property. You can't say 'God' or 'Jesus' in this National Cemetery when you're burying someone who's been in the military". What we had to do-we had to sue 'em! And they backed up, because it won't stand in the light of day. This kind of prejudice against God in the public arena!
Ladies and gentlemen, understand we are dealing with secular humanists who want to take God out of everything, except lock Him up in the church. Lock Him up in the church... and this is one reason we have so much moral confusion in this hour. Let me point you to the really big problem. I want you to see a picture of my granddaughter, Becca. She's 4-years old, my youngest grandchild. Got ten; she's the youngest. That was made in August, and she had dressed herself, obviously. This past week, she'd been in a Bible study group, I guess right here in this church, Keith... and they'd learned a little Verse in Scripture, you know, when Eli and Samuel and uh, Eli told Samuel when he heard voices in the night, he said, "That's God speaking to you. That's God speaking to you, Samuel. When you hear that voice, you just say, 'Speak Lord. Thy servant heareth...'" or in modern translation, "Speak God. Your servant is listening".
And so she was-little Becca, quoting this Verse to her, her mother, Danielle, and uh, Danielle said, "Becca, are you a servant of God"? She said, "No"! And she said, "Well, Becca, why are you not a servant of God"? And she said, "Well, I don't want to do what God tells me to do! I want to do what I want to do"! Now she is going to be 5 this Saturday, but that's not going to help her because most of us here are a lot older than that, and we got the same problem. We got the same problem... Until that problem is dealt with, one by one, through Jesus Christ, His grace; we come to the point, "Lord, it's not my will, but Thy will be done".
Then we'll have renewal and revival and healing of a broken America! Morality is always legislated. Therefore, whom we put in office is important; but the most important thing is whom we allow to live in our lives, and our minds, and our hearts. It begins with-guess what? "If My people who are called by My Name will humble..." the operative word is "humility". That comes with brokenness, and it's through our humility and our brokenness that it is our prayer that He will once again build into America a God-fearing nation. Ladies and gentlemen, when the government fears the people when they step out of line; that's healthy. But when the people fear the government; that is exceedingly unhealthy. May we bring a holy fear that we've been missing for dozens and dozens of years in our country, back to the public arena so God once again can not only bless America, but we will be a blessing to America with the life you and I live.