Saturday, July 31, 2004

LT # 7 International Current Interest item:

On Legislating Morality

GEM 04:07:12a

“The Glory and the Shame.”

That’s how Roman Catholic Priest and Scholar Peter Hocken summed up a basic human puzzle: for all our vast potential to do good, we ever so often fall short of the glorious image of God that is in us; because of the shockingly deep roots of sin in our hearts: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” [Jeremiah 17:9.]

So, injustice, oppression and corruption all too easily and rapidly spread across state, church, families and the wider community, damaging or even destroying a society. Government, therefore, always has to address justice and morality as issues that are of first importance. As David said in his last words: “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” [2 Sam 23:3, KJV, cf. Rom 13:1 - 7.]

“But, you cannot legislate morality!”

This is a popular saying nowadays, but it is simply wrong. For, our rights are moral claims we make on one another: in defense of our life, liberty, property, reputation, family etc. So, if Government is to protect our God-given rights – i.e. if it is to be just – it MUST address morality: in its Laws, its Courts, Parliament and the Cabinet, as well as the Civil Service, Police and Schools. Otherwise, the state becomes tyrannical, and the people will either be utterly crushed or else they must rise up together to reform or if necessary replace such a corrupt and devilish Government. That is what our history of liberation from slavery and from share-cropping – not to mention the right to vote -- are all about!

So, since our region is so strongly influenced by trends in America, let us look with deep concern and prayer as we see the current debate in the United States Senate, over protecting what is now called “traditional marriage.”

For, Judges in Massachusetts have recently twisted the long-settled law on marriage; to promote so-called “same sex marriage” – never mind: (1) what God has to say on the sin of sodomy [e.g. Rom 1:16 – 32], (2) the known personally and socially destructive consequences of such homosexuality, (3) the absence of credible scientific evidence that this perversion is rooted in one’s genetic make-up and (4) the demonstrated importance of sound marriages and families to the survival of the community. Sadly, the proposed Constitutional Amendment is likely to fail; as most Democratic Senators (including Candidates Kerry and Edwards) and several Republican Senators are unwilling to confront the powerful Gay Lobby, now a major force in American politics. And, given the pressure from Amnesty International on Jamaica to legalise sodomy and buggery, and the similar pressure on the Netherlands Antilles to accept homosexual marriages from Holland, ill winds from the North are already blowing across our region.

But, while we look with shock to the North, we face a similar – but subtler -- dilemma at home. For, our own Montserratian legislature last week again considered the question of introducing Gambling as a fund-raising measure, and it was only with great difficulty that the public petition against the proposed act was finally read in the House. Thankfully, the bill had to be postponed again, due to the courage of concerned members. However, it is increasingly clear that Christians and others of similar moral convictions who hold responsible positions in Montserrat are under terrific pressure to accept gambling; regardless of well-founded and widespread concerns that such a policy promotes a greed-driven, addictive, selfish, corrupting and socially destructive practice. In short, Montserrat, too, is at the point of decision, and the issue is in doubt.

Are we really determined to be “a healthy, wholesome . . . truly democratic, God-fearing society” as our SDP vision statements have said – since at least 1997? Don’t these words actually acknowledge that we have a national covenant under, and with, God – a covenant that we break at our peril?

Let us therefore reflect soberly, let us pray, and let us talk these things over. After that, let us come together as a people, to act with courage to build a healthy, wholesome, truly democratic, just and God-fearing future.


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